Name: Lagerness Monster
Brewing Company: Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers
Location: Framingham, MA
Style: Porter – Imperial / Double Baltic
A complex, rich, delicious beer that marvelously upends the expectations of Lager beer.
From the Jack Abby’s landing page for the beer:
Something monstrous has surfaced. Lagerness Monster is an Imperial Baltic Porter aged in bourbon barrels. Last spotted years ago, this strong dark lager features deep flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. Grab one while you can, this one won’t lurk long.
Jack’s Abby is one of the premier lager breweries in the United States. Jack Hendler and his crew have pushed the boundaries of what a lager can be across the many styles that can be produced with bottom-fermented yeast. Lagers are traditionally thought to be yellow or yellowish-golden in color, though many people who enjoy beer know that Bocks (usually dark brown) are lagers, too. What many people may not realize (and I didn’t initially know years ago) is that Baltic Porters are actually lager beers. Some of the most highly rated beers from Jack’s Abby are their “Framinghammer” series of Baltic Porters, which are often barrel-aged. But the rarest Baltic Porter from Jack’s Abby is this one, Lagerness Monster. (what a great name!)
So is the beer as good as the name?
Pouring a deep black reminiscent of an 8-ball into the glass, there’s a slight head. With the high ABV (14%!), I’m not too surprised at the thin head, but the beer pours fairly thick, which is nice. The aroma is strong on the bourbon, but it doesn’t drown out the malty elements of the beer or the slight licorice elements associated with the style.
The first sip impresses me. I like the beer quite a bit from that first taste and I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy this 500ml bottle over the next hour or so. Moments later, I have a second sip and it is stellar. I start to get a pleasant tingly feeling in my belly when the beer hits, a familiar feeling I associate with good beer.
The more I acquaint myself with the beer, the more I enjoy it. I’m not a licorice fan and many Baltic Porters have that flavor element in them. The hints of licorice are here in Lagerness Monster, but mild and far more pleasant than any hints of licorice I’ve ever tasted. The barrel elements soften that strong element, balancing out the flavor with some oak and bourbon, along with very welcome hints of vanilla and maybe even toffee.
About halfway through the beer, as I’m sitting on my couch, I can feel my legs becoming slightly heavier. That’s when I know I’ve had a beer with a high ABV and it isn’t a bad feeling. It just reminds me that I’m glad I had no real plans that night other than maybe watching a movie or reading a book and enjoying this beer.
What impresses me the most is the balance in this beer. The Baltic Porter elements are omnipresent, the barrel character wraps itself around the malty core of the beer and gives Lagerness Monster one of the cleaner flavor profiles I’ve enjoyed in a barrel-aged beer. Jack’s Abby is pushing the boundaries of craft, pushing the boundaries of what to expect from Lager, and doing so marvelously and deliciously.
As I was finishing up this beer and thinking of how I’d rate it in the end, I came to a slight crossroads. I initially landed on a 4.5 bottle caps on the untappd rating meter but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the beer had almost no flaws. I upped my rating to a 4.75 because it was nearly perfect. The only minor slight: I wouldn’t mind if it was slightly lower in ABV, but that’s it. Even at that high ABV, the booziness isn’t the punch to the face you might expect. The beer is incredible.
Jack’s Abby distributes fairly widely along in the Northeast but I’m not sure how widely they’ve put Lagerness Monster into distribution. If you see it, grab a bottle. At the $11 I paid for it, it was practically a steal especially taking into account the quality of the beer and what I’ve paid (and prices I’ve seen) for other barrel-aged dark beers.
Highly Recommended, link to 4.75 bottle cap untappd rating check in.
Untapped badges earned with this beer:
To The Port (Level 16)