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Forager's Nilerzzzzz a big beer with big buzz

If you’ve tasted this top-ranked Minnesota beer, you’re in select company. Forager Brewery’s Nilerzzzzz barrel-aged vanilla imperial stout has the highest average rating of Minnesota beers on Beer Advocate’s list.

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Nilerzzzzz
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If you’ve tasted this top-ranked Minnesota beer, you’re in select company.

Forager Brewery’s Nilerzzzzz barrel-aged vanilla imperial stout has the highest average rating of Minnesota beers on Beer Advocate’s list.

The beer, released in a batch of about 450 bottles in June, was met with rave reviews from the people who were able to get their hands on it.

The release, along with a re-release of other popular beers on June 2, drew a long line outside the brewery with some people claiming a spot in the queue before sunrise. The bottles sold out that day.

The beer started as one of Forger’s flagship brews, Sherpa’s Survival Kit, with some extra malt for more body and additional fermentable sugars. The batch was then aged more than a year in different bourbon and rye barrels from Few Spirits of Evanston, Ill.

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"As blenders, we really want to understand what those flavors do over time," said Austin Jevne, Forager’s head brewer. "It’s a completely different process from brewing."

The barrels that imparted the most vanilla flavor were then conditioned with vanilla beans from Madagascar, Indonesia, Tahiti, Uganda, and Mexico. Nilerzzzzz’s moniker has a "z" for each variety of vanilla.

"You get a greater sum of all their parts," Jevne said of the vanilla combinations.

Even before it was released in bottles, the buzz was about as big as the 13 percent ABV beer. A younger keg of Nillerzzzzz was released in March at the Northern Lights rare beer fest in St. Paul, where it won the Aurora Borealis people’s choice award. Last year, Forager’s Magnus, a honey bourbon barrel-aged stout, won the same award.

"It’s worth it to produce a product that’s getting recognition, even somewhat internationally," Jevne said.

As of Oct. 29, the beer had only 45 reviews on Beer Advocate. However, those who weighed in gave it high marks with an average of 4.67 out of 5. It also made it onto mobile app Untappd’s list of top-rated imperial stouts in the world and is currently one of Beer Advocate’s top 10 new beers in the U.S. for 2018.

"The beer has a huge alcohol- and vanilla-forward aroma," said Louis Livingston-Garcia, a 507 contributor and freelance writer who covers the Minnesota beer scene. "On tap and out of a three-week-old bottle, the flavor is layer upon layer of vanilla, marshmallow, cocoa powder, and chocolate cake, with an underlying booziness and stiff whiskey presence."

If you missed this year’s batch, keep an eye out for a new version of Nilerzzzzz. Batch two is currently conditioning in barrels for another targeted June release, Jevne said.

Related Topics: FOOD
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