11 Below Big Mistake by Nick B



Big Mistake

11 Below Brewing


Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout

ABV: 11.5%

IBUs: 69

Packaging: Draft, 12oz. Cans



Readers, I have to say… I made a HUGE mistake yesterday. I had multiple pours of a delicious beer without eating and even though I sobered up before I went home, I passed out on my couch. We’ve all done it, so don’t judge me. When you’re drinking 11 Below’s Big Mistake all day, time just becomes a blur. But I’m all good now and here to try and tell you about this special nectar!

11 Below was finally able to release Big Mistake in cans. They tapped it a few months ago it at their 2nd anniversary party. To give you some more background on this beer, Big Mistake is a barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout that goes into 3 different types of barrels: 5 yr old Yellow Rose bourbon, 9 yr old Yellow Rose rye, and 11 yr old Yellow Rose bourbon. The contents of those barrels are blended back into the bright tank after 8 months of mischief. It’s their little barrel aged baby.

Speaking of babies, the label for Big Mistake features a very mischievous baby holding a match while sitting amongst the flames. The shades of purple look fantastic on the aluminum silver cans. I was told that the idea behind this label is to have it change each year and we will see this baby “grow up” through the years.


Big Mistake poured viscous and black with a light chocolate colored head. The aroma was a blend of whiskey tones, roasted malt and chocolate from the base beer, and vanilla. I was pleasantly surprised at how the alcohol heat was only slightly present in the aroma. There are plenty of barrel aged beers out there that just smell hot immediately.

Even more surprising is how balanced Big Mistake was itself in its flavors! I tasted bitter chocolate and vanilla with a minimal amount of roasty flavors as well. The rye barrel tones took down the sweetness from the bourbon barrels. The alcohol heat was in no way overbearing and was perfectly present. Excellent complexity on this brew.

I’m giving 5 stars to Big Mistake for its complexity and presence of the different barrels. I’m really glad that I ended up buying some because that wouldn’t been an even bigger mistake than drinking it all day. Right now, you can only get cans at the brewery for $8/can, $32/4-pack, or $168/case (if you’re feeling so inclined).

I know that price point sounds really high, but not only is this brew worth it, it’s similar to buying a $15 bomber of whatever special beer you hunt down. They should still have plenty left so head over, check it out on tap if you want, and take some home! Beers to you, Houston.

Nick B

Nick is originally from the Corpus Christi area, but found himself in Houston as of 4 years ago. You can spot him wearing a Hooks hat and drinking a glass of craft beer around the city. He typically prefers his beers to mirror his taste in music: complex, heavy, and dark.

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