Technical Challenge | Bottle Logic
Finding something you didn’t expect on the shelf does not happen anymore. Thanks to social media most people know everything going on with bottle shops. When the hot drops hit. When Easter Eggs hit the shelves. Everything. So when I recently stopped at Orange and Brew and saw a Bottle Logic beer on the shelf, it gave me those bygone era feelings of finding something special that you didn’t expect. Apparently I had missed a previous Bottle Logic drop (or realized they dropped at all), so I approached the bottle. The price intimidated me so it would have to be something that interests me. The beer gods knew that I’m the Orange Knight. I obviously grabbed Technical Challenge, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout with orange, hoping for the best.
Bottle Logic opened in 2014 in Anaheim, California but really became a nationally known brewery (by beer people) when Fundamental Observation, their barrel-aged imperial stout with vanilla, first hit in 2015. That led to a ton of barrel-aged beers being made, which led to Fundamental Observation hitting distribution and apparently sitting on shelves in California. Eventually Bottle Logic started participating in FoBAB in 2018, where Fundamental Observation won Best in Show. They followed that up with another Best in Show in 2019 for Arcane Rituals and have been participating in FoBAB ever since. They still rank high on our Fantasy FoBAB Power Ranking every year, and it’s a shame Deprecophobia or Somniphobia didn’t win last year.
Technical Challenge pours pitch black with absolutely no highlights. A half finger of thin head forms then quickly goes away to nothing. Some color staining of the glass happens but the legs on this beer – whoa. They look more like curtains than alcohol evaporation. Swirling Technical Challenge in the glass leaves some particles on the side of the glass behind.
Hello boozy! Big bourbon booze nose flavor greets you when you dive in, followed by a nice amount of chocolate and vanilla. Some peanut nuttiness shows up as well, but no nuts or peanuts were added to the beer. Some orange peeks out at the very end of the sniff, but it’s minimal and doesn’t go too far with it, keeping it in check and preventing it from smelling artificial. Put it all together, it smells like some candy bar, similar to Ethereal’s Candy Bar Baba Yaga but on a much lesser scale.
Technical Challenge really gets the chocolate right, with waves of it coming at the front and near the end. Bourbon and vanilla assist, with a big burn showing up on the back of the sip; it does lessen over time. That candy bar aroma holds on the tongue as well absent the peanuts. The orange briefly shows up near the end and kind of cuts things off instead of letting Technical Challenge ride off the tongue. The orange does become more prominent once warmed, but never anything that would challenge the chocolate in the beer.
Technical Challenge rests at a medium carbonation level. It coats the tongue a bit but does keep things moving. I’d honestly like it to hang around a bit more, keeping those chocolate notes on my tongue a bit longer. That being said, I finished my 500 mL bottle way too easily. I just kept going back for pour after pour until no more.
Naturally, Technical Challenge will be compared to Goose Island’s Midnight Orange, the only other bourbon barrel-aged stout that I’m aware of. Midnight Orange still rules the roost for me. Both have a ton of chocolate on the palate, but Midnight Orange – when fresh – really nailed the orange flavor. Technical Challenge lacks that big orange punch but compares favorably to Midnight Orange otherwise. Guess I’m still on the hunt!
Was it worth the $30+ dollar purchase? If this was like 10 years ago hell yes but given the absurd quality of barrel-aged beers available in Chicago – particularly stouts – I’d probably say go for a 2-pack of 16 ounce cans for $20 instead. This would be a solid purchase in the $20-$25 range. Even so, if you decide to splurge on something, this would be it. Bottle Logic puts out some of the best barrel-aged offerings in the country and Technical Challenge just reinforces that statement.