Mike Hunsaker likes the weird barrels.
While most breweries buy big lots of oak from Kentucky bourbon houses, Hunsaker tracked down the odd lots, making connections with hyped craft distilleries like Utah's High West.
Fat Head's was already making Portland's best West Coast IPAs—we had a panel of experts blind-test all 67 IPAs made within city limits, and Fat Head's placed first and second. Now, Fat Head's also has the city's most distinctive barrel program, with a dozen-plus one-offs aged in Mellow Corn, Madeira and cognac barrels.
My pick was a Belgian strong dark aged in barrels used to make Nocino, an Italian liqueur flavored with green walnuts. The bitter green nuts and smoky sweet caramel notes paired perfectly, creating a beer with an absurd depth of flavor.
Pimp My Sleigh is a silly name for a beer, Fat Head's is a silly name for a brewery, and the brewery's branding ain't doing it any favors. But damn if this Ohio transplant isn't crushing Portland at its own game. Recommended. MARTIN CIZMAR.