Tag Archive | olde hickory brewing

Redux Review 0022: Olde Hickory The Event Horizon Imperial Stout (2012)

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Back in December 2012, I first reviewed Olde Hickory’s The Event Horizon, a limited-release Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels. I gave it high praise, awarding it 95 points, calling it “perhaps the finest example of chocolate in a beer that I’ve had to date.” Why not age one and see how it does over the course of time? That’s why we are here today.

Olde Hickory Brewery is located in Hickory, North Carolina, and was founded by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates in 1994. They started making beer on a seven barrel system, and the small batch mindset continues to this day, with batches being 800 gallons or less at a time. In fact, Olde Hickory are so small, the majority of their beers have hand stamped best by dates on the bottles.

The Event Horizon is brewed once yearly, using ten different malts and local honey. It is then placed in oak bourbon barrels and allowed to age for an undetermined period of time; release is always in the late fall. The beer is 8.5% ABV (alcohol by volume).

My initial review:

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Appearance: 15 of 15 points
Aroma: 13 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 34 of 35 points
Drinkability and Overall Experience: 33 of 35 points

Final Score: 95 points, or classic on my rating scale.

With around 18 months of basement time, let’s drink this one again…

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The pour issued up a small, dark tan head that was creamy in texture, but didn’t stick around very long. The beer is a spectacular stout black, with not even a glimmer of light coming through around the edges. This brew is dark; it’s so dark, that I couldn’t begin to tell you anything about the body of the beer other than it didn’t appear to contain any particles or sediment. Lacing was good, leaving behind initial solid yet thin sheets of suds, but it grew more sparse as I sipped.

One word to summarize the nose: AMAZING! Well-rounded: tons of chocolate, both dark and milk, semi-sweet and bitter, plenty of sweet caramel, and it’s balanced with just enough bourbon barrel character to make it really interesting. The bourbon lends itself more to the spicy end, with notes of vanilla bean and mild oak. Waves of these scents compete, and as it warms, a dark fruit twist joins in. Sweet, complex, and nearly mind-blowing…now I’m ready for a sip!

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The initial flavors go off like a bomb: thick caramel, sweet chocolate, then vanilla and heavily roasted malt. There’s a kiss of dark fruit (cherries and prune) before a solid note of bourbon kicks in and continues to linger throughout. The finish sees the return of dark chocolate, and it’s layered — echo upon echo of fudge bittersweet goodness, this beer is suddenly like climbing a mountain of fine chocolate. Wow. There’s a nice honey sweetness in the back, and the concluding notes bring a wash of hot alcohol, bourbon, and toasted oak barrel. Event Horizon is full-bodied, with a thick, creamy mouthfeel.

Not only has age been super kind to this beer, but it’s turned it into a work of art. The flavors are strong, complex, and it has all melded together breathtakingly well. When I say this was a treat to drink, I’m not exaggerating. Pure joy!

Olde Hickory The Event Horizon Imperial Stout (2012), 98 points. Price: $12.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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Beer Review 0499: Olde Hickory Oktoberfest Lager

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Olde Hickory Brewing is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Hickory, North Carolina. Founded in 1994 by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates, production started on a seven barrel system and quickly outgrew, forcing upgrades. In 1997, Olde Hickory renovated an 1880 historic landmark building which now houses the brewhouse.

Still, this brewery isn’t a giant mega facility, instead choosing to make beer in small batches, 800 gallons or less at a time. Just to show you how small batch Olde Hickory are, all of their bottled offerings (as of this writing, the brewery only produces 22 oz. bomber size bottles and few scattered 750 ml containers) are hand dated. Distribution is limited to Tennessee and North Carolina, so most of my readers might have trouble finding anything Olde Hickory.

Naturally a fall seasonal, Olde Hickory’s Oktoberfest is a malty lager balanced by imported Noble hops. The beer is 6% ABV (alcohol by volume) and served in traditional one-liter mugs at their taproom.

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This beer spilled out of the bottle with an average size, creamy head that has a bit of staying power. Color of the beer was golden-orange, a little light for the style, but very attractive with a clear body, free of particles and sediment. Lacing is very nice, leaving behind solid sheets of thin foam.

The aroma immediately smacks you with sweet caramel; dig deeper and you’ll find a bready backing that hints at Tootsie Rolls. This beer is sweet and nutty but does contain a slight edge of herbal, spicy hops. It’s a very simple aroma that upholds the style, if a bit on the sweet end.

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On the palate, Olde Hickory have produced a complex Oktoberfest, offering up initial notes of caramel, bread, nuts, and hints of grape and tart Granny Smith apple. It’s sweet but not cloyingly sweet; however, it is more sweet than is typical for the style. Continue the sweet theme in the middle of the taste, until those hops hit and provide just a light bitterness and some herbal notes, cleansing the palate with herbal tea and faded caramel. The beer is medium-bodied with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

Out of all the Oktoberfest beers I reviewed this season, Olde Hickory have produced my favorite. That’s no surprise as they make stellar beer — and this decidedly American take on the classic style is very good, with a high drinkability and nutritious quality that I typically find in beers of this ilk. It’s a bit sweet for the body provided, but it’ll do nicely in a big mug. Jubel!

Olde Hickory Oktoberfest Lager, 92 points. Price: $3.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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Beer Review 0493: Olde Hickory Eiraphiotes Imperial Pilsner

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Olde Hickory Brewing is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Hickory, North Carolina. Founded in 1994 by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates, production started on a seven barrel system and quickly outgrew, forcing upgrades.

Still, this brewery isn’t a giant mega facility, instead choosing to make beer in small batches, 800 gallons or less at a time. Just to show you how small batch Olde Hickory are, all of their bottled offerings (as of this writing, the brewery only produces 22 oz. bomber size bottles and few scattered 750 ml containers) are hand dated. Distribution is limited to Tennessee and North Carolina, so most of my readers might have trouble finding anything Olde Hickory.

We’ve got an extremely limited beer from the brewery today — only 1980 bottles of Eiraphiotes, an Imperial Pilsner aged in Chardonnay barrels, were produced. The barrels come from Shelton Vineyards in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, which you might recognize as the inspiration for the fictional town Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show. Mr. Lyerly acquired the barrels, which he equates to nice furniture when compared to bourbon barrels, in 2011. The beer aged inside the barrels for six months at 38 degrees Fahrenheit; each barrel was sort of an experiment, but in the end, all the barrels were combined to create the final beer. The name Eiraphiotes refers to Dionysus, the god of grape harvest and winemaking in Greek mythology. It means “twice born,” which fits the bill here considering the barrel aging.

Eiraphiotes is 7.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and in a nod to winemaking, is packaged in 750 ml bottles. It should be noted that this beer was made available in early 2012; I only recently purchased a bottle (more on this later), so it does have some age on it and I will factor that into my review.

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The pour produced a very small, fast diminishing head that was soapy in texture. It regenerated better than it poured out of the bottle; color is a very pleasant burnt orange, much darker than your typical Pilsner. The body was cloudy, making this brew opaque, and there were no particles or sediment. Lacing only existed in very small groups of suds.

On the nose, we’ve got some subdued aromas but a nice interplay, especially between the hops and the Chardonnay characteristics. Obviously faded by now, there’s some sweet grapefruit hops, herbal notes, and a big white grape hit. It’s sweet with hints of honey, caramel, and some sweet breads; there’s also some noticeable alcohol.

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The taste is full-throttle up front, and only fades from there. Big notes of faded grapefruit, herbs, honey, and Chardonnay open the palate before fading a bit into a general honey sweetness. The sweetness continues until after the swallow, bringing on a finish that is laced with heavy white grape, then turns bitter with woodsy, oak notes from the barrels. Eiraphiotes is medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy mouthfeel that leaves the tongue parched. The carbonation is very soft, nearly flat.

Unfortunately, I don’t think age has been kind to this extremely limited beer. Fresh, I’d expect the hops to be amped up and provide another layer of flavor. That said, this is still decent, but it makes you really wonder what it was like several months ago. Chalk this one up to being my fault; I could have purchased this when it first came out, but I balked because of the price (regularly $14.99). A couple months ago, I found this in the discount bin and decided to give it a shot. I’d call it worthy of what I paid for it now, but I wish I had bought into it much earlier. Perhaps Olde Hickory will brew this again in the future; sometimes, they do bring back old recipes.

Olde Hickory Eiraphiotes Imperial Pilsner, 77 points. Price: $8.99 US for one 750 ml. bottle (deep discount).

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Beer Review 0456: Olde Hickory Irish Walker Barleywine (2013)

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Editor’s Note: Beer 4 of 7 in my birthday beer week, in which I celebrate my birthday by reviewing beers I’ve sat aside for the occasion. I turn 31 on August 14. I advise you to celebrate your birthday accordingly, too!

Olde Hickory Brewing is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Hickory, North Carolina. Founded in 1994 by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates, production started on a seven barrel system and quickly outgrew, forcing upgrades.

Still, this brewery isn’t a giant mega facility, instead choosing to make beer in small batches, 800 gallons or less at a time. Just to show you how small batch Olde Hickory are, all of their bottled offerings (as of this writing, the brewery only produces 22 oz. bomber size bottles and few scattered 750 ml containers) are hand dated. Distribution is limited to Tennessee and North Carolina, so most of my readers might have trouble finding anything Olde Hickory.

Olde Hickory is located about two hours from where I live (Winston-Salem), and on a recent visit, I tried their Irish Walker Barleywine. Of the twelve beer flight sampler, it was the most impressive of the bunch, so I had to pick up some bottles of it — and I deemed the beer good enough to want to have on my birthday, which is today. Irish Walker is an English-style Barleywine, brewed with Fuggles and UK Golding hops. It is also dry-hopped, but don’t let all those hops fool you; there are plenty of malts here and the brewers are going for a spicy, malty beer that has notes of dark fruit. Irish Walker is 10% ABV (alcohol by volume) and hits 60 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Is it as good in the bottle as it was on tap?

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The pour only eked out a very small, light tan head, which was soapy in texture and quickly faded away. With 10% alcohol, that was to be expected. The beer was ruddy dark red in color, quite murky as it seeped from the bottle and into my glass. It’s opaque but there aren’t any particles or sediment floating. Lacing is pretty sparse, almost non-existent, but there are some little bits here and there.

On the nose, despite all the hops involved, this is a malt bomb. Tons of dark fruits are present after the pour, and those scents only get deeper as the beer warms. Prunes, raisins, figs, even rum-soaked raisins create a dessert-like aroma that just begs to be sipped. Add in some sweet caramel and lots of toasted notes, and you’ve got a beer that screams to be consumed. But wait, it gets better: fruitcake, and a touch of herbal hops. It’s sweet and it’s big and it’s AWESOME!

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Tasting, and Irish Walker completely holds up to what I expected and to the stellar nose — tons of sweet raisin, prune, and plums with a mildly sweet caramel. The palate only gets more complex as it warms, if you can save enough of the beer for that occasion — this is highly drinkable, with the alcohol completely hidden. Some rum-soaked raisins come to the forefront, and makes you swear this is barrel aged, even though it isn’t. MIddle of the mouth issues up some hoppy spice and fleshy grape notes, and the finish comes on with a mega-dose of toasted bread and subtle notes of dark chocolate and even some coffee. Irish Walker is full-bodied, with a thick, creamy mouthfeel.

Wow. Blown away here — perhaps Olde Hickory’s most underrated beer, Irish Walker is a beer that gets made every year but tends to sit on shelves, making you wonder if they’ll make it again the next year. Let me tell you: Olde Hickory should never, ever NOT make this beer, as it is a fine example of an English Barleywine and a malt lover’s dream. This is super tasty, and one of the finest beers I’ve had in a long time.

Olde Hickory Irish Walker Barleywine (2013), 97 points. Price: $7.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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Beer Review 0429: Olde Hickory Orion Farmhouse Ale

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In 2012, Olde Hickory Brewery (Hickory, North Carolina) released a series of three Belgian-style Farmhouse Ales — I reviewed the first one, Saison Gee, which was a Saison aged in chardonnay wine barrels. I rated it 93 points. The second beer in the series, Southern Belle, I failed to review (sometimes these brews are hard to find!), and the third one — Orion — I recently acquired while on a trip to the Olde Hickory Taproom.

Founded in 1994 by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates, production started on a seven barrel system and quickly outgrew, forcing upgrades. Still, this brewery isn’t a giant mega facility, instead choosing to make beer in small batches, 800 gallons or less at a time. Just to show you how small batch Olde Hickory are, all of their bottled offerings (as of this writing, the brewery only produces 22 oz. bomber size bottles and a select few 750 ml containers) are hand dated. Distribution is limited to Tennessee and North Carolina, so most of my readers might have trouble finding anything Olde Hickory.

Named after Orion, a giant huntsman in Greek mythology, this Saison is brewed with rye grain to enhance a spicy, earthy character. The beer comes in at 8.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and was released in a limited amount in June 2012.

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Release from bottle produced a small, soapy and almost fizzy head that disappeared quickly. The beer was golden-orange in color, and was quite cloudy, making the liquid opaque. There were no particles or sediment (I poured as instructed on the side of the bottle, and didn’t disturb the yeast at the bottom of the container) and lacing was fair, leaving behind a few thin, weepy sheets of foam.

The nose is all over the place, and that’s a good thing, because it’s quite complex. Initial notes of clove, bubblegum, and banana lead to a heavy hit of alcohol, which mixes with a peppery spice. Under that layer are whiffs of orange peel, rye grain, and some funk in the form of musty and soapy yeast. Believe it or not, as this warmed, I found the alcohol note to ease up — usually, it’s the other way around.

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The taste surprises with an initial tart note that reminded me of a Granny Smith apple; this tartness is retained throughout the mouth during tasting, but it doesn’t overwhelm all the other flavors. There’s clove, bubblegum, and overripe banana; in the middle, the spiciness ramps up and mixes very well with a dry orange peel. A touch of funk brings on the finish, which is oranges, banana, and tart alcohol. There’s just a trace of bitterness, but otherwise this is a very clean drinking Saison that has no discernible rye flavor other than the peppery spice, which I feel is more due to the yeast than any grain addition. I found Orion to be medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

Unfortunately, I’ve got to fess up with what I think is going on with this brew: I think it is past its prime. That’s my fault; I had an opportunity to buy this at my bottle shop when it was fresh, and passed. Several weeks ago, I picked up one of the last remaining bottles at the brewery. I also had this on tap, and it was significantly better. Age has brought the alcohol out more, while damping the classic Farmhouse flavors. Also, I found the carbonation to be a little off from where it should be — too soft. If you’re sitting on a bottle of this, you might better open it now.

Olde Hickory Orion Farmhouse Ale, 84 points. Price: $9.00 US for one 750 ml bottle.

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