Akademia BBA Shiver | ABV 5.6%
BJCP Style: Specialty Wood-Aged Beer
CraftBeer.com Style: Barrel Aged Beer
CraftBeer.com Sensory Style: Crisp & Clean
Hops: German Hops
Brewery: Akademia Brewing Company
City: Athens, GA
(A quick note on Sensory Style: A recent, very thought provoking article from CraftBeer.com (It’s Time to Rethink How We Talk About Craft Beer Basics) by Mirella Amato introduced the idea that separating beers into Ale or Lager categories really doesn’t help newer craft beer consumers determine what beers they may or may not like to try. Sensory Style is actually more informative. I tend to agree with this, so I have introduced CraftBeer.com’s Sensory Style categories, in addition to beer style, to help someone reading my reviews get quicker understanding of the overall experience they should expect from the beer. Sensory Style is divided into six broad categories: Sour/Tart/Funky, Crisp/Clean, Dark/Roasty, Malty/Sweet, Hoppy/Bitter and Fruity/Spicy. If you would like to explore these more on your on, you’ll find them here: CraftBeer.com Beer Styles. Go ahead and explore, you’ll find they work quite well.)
Appearance: Very slightly hazy gold. White fluffy head with moderate retention.
Aroma: Oak wood and bourbon-like. Alcohol not noticeable. Slight floral note.
Flavor & Aftertaste: Oak wood and bourbon-like. Mild bitterness.
Palate: Medium bodied and dry. Very crisp and clean start to finish. Moderate length finish.
I think most craft beer enthusiasts are constantly on the look out for those one or two unique beers. You know what I’m referring to. That beer that you may not drink on a regular basis, but really fits the mood when you are looking for something different. It may not be the most well known beer a brewery produces but you always know it when you find it. Akademia Brewing Co.’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Shiver Pilsner is the perfect example of what I’m referring to.
I’ve had many BBA beers, all of which have been a stout or porter up to this point. These are hearty, big bold beers that lend themselves to the colder months of the year, primarily due to their roasted malt notes and warming alcohol levels. I’ve often wondered what a pale lager beer would be like aged in wood barrels. I wrote here about my visit to Akademia Brewing Co. back in December, but what I did not mention was Co-Founder Matt Casey was gracious enough to give me a sneak peak of a bourbon barrel aged pilsner they were going to do a limited release on. That really peaked my interest. They had gotten their hands on some used bourbon barrels and simply taken their Shiver Pilsner and fermented/aged it for a few weeks in the oak barrels. That’s the fun part of craft beer – no limitations. It was quite unique, met all of my expectations and I couldn’t wait for it to get released. Akademia is one of my favorite breweries/brew pubs to visit, but the hurdle always is that it is about an hour and a half east of me, so I have to really plan to go there. They released BBA Shiver in January of this year as a limited run. Unfortunately, I was not able to get by the brewery to pick some up and not much had trickled down to retail near me.
Low and behold, on recent perusing of Jax Fine Wine and Spirits I spotted four packs of sixteen ounce cans! This was my lucky day. Right away I began thinking, how did this turn out canned? It’s about three months old, I wonder how it may have changed? I am happy to report that it turned out and held up very well.
If you enjoy Allagash’s Curieux you would like this. It’s similar except the lager, rather than ale base gives it a cleaner character without the fruity esters. It does not have quite the complexity of Curieux or BBA stouts, but that was not what they were shooting for. Also, it will not come across boozy, seeing it has a lower ABV. It pours to a very slightly hazy gold, developing a white fluffy head with moderate retention. A visually pleasing beer as most pilsners are. A quick sniff reveals distinct oak wood and bourbon-like aromas. A few swirls of your glass and a little aeration time reveals some light floral notes in the background from the German hops. The mouth-feel is medium bodied and quite dry. It is very crisp and dry start to finish, with the oak wood flavors extending the finish from a short pilsner to moderate length beer finish. While at 5.6% ABV it’s not really considered sessionable, compared to most other BBA beers it is quite sessionable.
I realize that I made a very bold assertation comparing this BBA pilsner to the award winning Allagash Curieux, but that is the best comparison I am aware of. I drink Curieux aften as it is one of my favorite BBA beers. Those fruity ester characteristics from the bending increase its complexity. But I really like getting the oak barrel flavor up front in BBA Shiver without the distraction of esters. This is not to mention how it is much more of a year around beer. I don’t feel like I should only drink it in December, January and February.
BBA Shiver Pilsner was a one-off beer as far as I know. That’s unfortunate because I really think they hit on something unique in the market place. Hopefully they will try this again down the road. Akademia BBA Shiver Pilsner is a well crafted brew. There is still some of it floating around on the selves out there, so I recommend you grab it if you see it. I’ll be headed back over to Jax Fine Wines and Spirits soon for more.
Thanks for reading, until next time…Let Us Drink Beer!