Track 7 Vertical Tasting

Mike Ungerbuhler delves into the finer art of Vertical tastings. For more reviews and musings, visit Mike at Insatiable Thirst or on Twitter @InsatiableThrst.

When one thinks of vertical tastings, it usually brings to mind a vertical wine tasting, in which a few vintages of the same wine are tasted side by side.  This helps to discern the effects of age and different cellaring methods.  The same can be done with beer and Track 7 Brewing Company debuted its first ever vertical tasting on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at the Curtis Park location.  I had the good fortune to be invited to join the event, which featured six variances of their Imperial Belgian-Style Stout named Unrelenting.

A crowd of familiar faces filled half of the taproom and all were eager to imbibe upon Track 7’s first vertical tasting.  Charcuterie from Block Butcher Bar graced the table alongside the six samples of Unrelenting.  Owners Ryan Graham and Geoff Scott started the event with a few words about the history of the beers we would taste.  This Belgian-Style Stout began its life as a dismissed homebrew recipe of Ryan, which at the time was being poured out when he noticed that the beer actually smelled great.  He gave it a sample, loved it, and thought that he had to share it.  When looking for a brew with which to celebrate Track 7’s second anniversary in 2013, it was decided that this would be the recipe, although it wasn’t until the following year that the brew was named Unrelenting.  The vertical tasting consisted of bottle aged Unrelenting from 2013 and 2014 as well as the 2015 vintage which is currently on draught at the brewery.  Bourbon barrel aged (BBA) versions of the 2013 and 2014 batches were also tasted in addition to a spiced version of the 3 week old 2015 vintage.  The 2013 was aged in 20 year old bourbon barrels and the 2014 was aged in 12 year old bourbon barrels.  

Tasting Notes:

Second Anniversary (2013) – Aromas of dark chocolate, raisins and dates play against subtle notes of vanilla and tobacco.  The deep brown elixir is topped with a thin, light beige ring and has edges reminiscent of root beer.  The flavors of rich dark chocolate and light tobacco follow the nose and are paired with dark fruit and restrained vanilla.  This medium-full bodied sipper is chest warming and begs to be paired with cheesecake or chocolate mousse.

Unrelenting (2014) – This version of Unrelenting has notes of cherry and pepper opposed to the darker fruits and vanilla noted in the 2013.  The edges are a touch darker and the cherry and raisin are more prevalent than the 2013.  While still being a winter sipper, the 2014 does not warm the chest quite as much.

Unrelenting (2015) – This vintage has notes of plum and pepper paired with a darker chocolate character.  The thin beige crown lingers longer on this slightly deeper brown brew.  The chocolate notes are more dark chocolate than semi-sweet and are combined with the plum and pepper noted in the aroma.  The 2015 has an understandably sweeter finish and was still warming.

BBA Second Anniversary (2013) – Sweet bourbon character embellishes the dark chocolate, date and vanilla notes of the 2013.  The appearance is nearly identical as the 2013 as is the mouthfeel with the edges bordering on burgundy.  A very smooth bourbon character is graciously balanced with the dark chocolate and fruit notes.

BBA Unrelenting (2014) – Bourbon dominates the nose and is combined with subtle raisin and oak.  The hue of this brew and its foam match the 2015.  Brown sugar and cherry notes mingle with chocolate and subtle tobacco qualities.  This variance is a bit on the boozy side and warms the throat prior to warming the chest.

Unrelenting (2015 Spiced) – Holiday spices shower this already wintery brew with additional warmth.  The spices create a haze like that of heavily mulled wine as does the warming effects of the alcohol.

I hope that this event becomes an annual precession to Track 7’s New Year’s Eve anniversary and would enjoy tasting all of these brews again with another year or 7 on them.  The crowd favorite was the BBA Unrelenting.  If one was to twist my arm and demand a favorite of me I would have to go with the BBA Second Anniversary (2013).  I liked that the bourbon character, which was a bit more subtle and balanced.  That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole flight and I hope that I have the good fortune to do this again next year.


Mike Ungerbuhler