Ms Beauregard | 1840 Brewing
Barrel-aging beer is pretty commonplace now. It adds depth, unexpected flavors, and typically makes the beer better. With so many breweries doing it, though, acquiring barrels might get challenging, especially bourbon barrels. So when one of the premiere meaderies in the United States offers you some recently dumped mead barrels, you jump on it and make some like 1840 Brewing’s Ms Beauregard.
The meadery in question is Pips Meadery. Pips’ meads garner high demand and high prices to attain but also justify that by releasing a quality product. (Fun fact: A long time ago, we tried to get Pips, Afterthought, and others on a “New to Chicago” show. With the way both places are killing it now, that’d be an interesting capsule.) Routinely, Pips sits at the top (or near the top) of Untappd’s best breweries. So when they offer, you take.
1840 decided to put an imperial milk stout in those blueberry mead barrels (just off a quick look at Untappd, would suspect Blueberry Pancake is the mead). The folks at 1840 unexpectedly got a ton of “honey covered blueberry flavor” and so named it Ms Beauregard, after Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Ms Beauregard pours brown with a purple-ish color tint. Two fingers of head dissipate to about a half of finger, then even further disappear to a thin layer. That purple hue shows up again on the highlights of the beer. A film resides on top of the beer, most likely from the mead barrels. Ms Beauregard doesn’t coat the glass like other barrel-aged beers, but some particulate lingers on the glass after swirling or drinking it.
So I poured Ms Beauregard and sat it down on the table to look at it and enter my notes. Guessing a foot away from my nose at least. Clearly smelled it. Can’t say that I’ve had something that fills the room that much in a while. Sniffing in, chocolate domaintes with a fruit support of blueberries. Some sweet honey notes from the barrel come up as well. A hint of vanilla is there too, and the whole proceeding kind of smells like a Laffy Taffy. All good here!
First and foremost, Ms Beauregard is an imperial milk stout and that bitter chocolate stars on the palate. There’s a fruit there – whether or not I’d guess blueberry I can’t say. The honey from the mead hits immediately on the lips and does some heavy lifting throughout the beer, keeping things in check on this 11.8% beer. That sweetness shows up at the end of the sip, but in moderation and never approaching what a mead typically displays. Everything finishes smooth and there’s no alcohol burn at all. The blueberry really comes out and plays as the beer warms up. The sweetness seems to increase as you finish the 500 mL bottle, however, making those last few ounces a little tougher to get through. A medium mouthfeel keeps the chocolate, honey and fruit lingering while the beer moves out.
Ms Beauregard does what 1840 Brewing always does – a quality beer with some nice aromas and flavors that doesn’t go overboard. The imperial milk stout base plays nice with the Pips blueberry mead barrels and results in a smooth and enjoyable experience. The sweetness does catch up, but never so much to distract from the deliciousness of the beer.