To commemorate their twenty-year history, Grand Teton’s brewers chose four of their year-round beers to strengthen and enhance. Their Bitch Creek ESB is a massively flavorful beer that was already pushing the limits when first brewed in 2003—and the Cellar Reserve version, known as XX Bitch Creek Double ESB, is the final release in their 2008 XX series. We had our eyes on this beer when we first got wind of it, and we’ve worked with Grand Teton before in our Domestic Beer Clubs—we knew it would age well, so we had them salt away some for us so we could check on it to make sure it was maturing as expected. At a full year after brewing and roughly ten months of bottle conditioning, we sampled the stash, and the stash was good… Very good… Already a cellar reserve when first released, our stash was cellared and reserved even longer (we can boast if we want to—this is important!), and has aged remarkably well, developing added complexities and nuances that only big-ass bottled-conditioned beers can provide. So rather than hoard it any longer, we’re sharing with our Rare Beer Club family (hey, it’s the holidays, right?). The beer is a collector’s item just by virtue of the beautiful packaging. A big ol’ quart+ bottle with wax-dipped swivel top and attached label showing the bottling date and story behind the beer. Now we’re not going to lie to you, it’s difficult to open. Best thing to do is to run the encased swivel band at the neck under very hot water for a minute or two to soften the wax, then give it a firm prying with both thumbs. Trust us, it’s worth the effort. Expect a massive psst! and a visible blow off of beer mist, leaving behind an intriguing smoky vapor just down the neck of the bottle. The beer is gorgeous as well, pouring dark brown and clear, nearly cola-like in color, topped by a deep beige-colored head that clings nicely to the edge of the glass. Smells as advertized—a doubled up version of their Bitch Creek ESB, which is already an extremely aroma- and flavor-forward beer. Massive resinous hop aromas are piney but also approaching ammonia-like in their edge. Not a bad thing at all—some of the best hop-loaded beers get so jacked up with hop oils that pungent, ammonia-like notes come forth—it might not be “natural” for a beer to be this hoppy, but the aroma is completely natural. Expect the alcohol content to come through a bit too, but the mild ‘burn’ here comes from the massive hop content. The tremendous malt base that creates the original Bitch Creek ESB is here, but again, beefed up beyond all sensible proportions, yet somehow managing to still smell clean, like fresh wort (unfermented beer). Malts are toasty in nature with a caramel-on-steroids aroma. Musty citrus notes mingle with suggestions of vanilla and oak (although this beer was not barrel aged), grapefruit zest, fresh cut grass and timothy hay. At the start of that first sip, you think maybe all the gusto was just in the aroma, as it goes down very mellow, but two seconds later you’ll realize you’re wrong as the flavor practically explodes across the palate. Look for this beer to really bloom in the mouth quite quickly after the swallow as burnt caramel and coffee notes develop to featured prominence, followed by biscuits, tangerine, and some alcohol notes akin to apple brandy, with the aggressive level of hops providing that wonderful searing quality that only an overdose of hops can provide. As it warms, look for notes of caramel and chocolate imbued with pine oils to develop. We found the finish marked by massive bitterness with flashes of chalk dust and espresso and a very lengthy, grassy, bitter hop fade. As for food pairing, get yourself a very gamey dish, like goat or pheasant, or a pepper steak, or the hottest Thai coconut curry you can get your hands on—as you’re going to need something very big and flavorful to stand a chance against this Bitch. A big fat Robusto, maybe a Churchill cigar, on the spicy side, would make for a fine partnering as well. This beer is so flavorful now, but we figure it’s got at least another year in it if you want to load up on bottles of the stuff—we’ve kept a few bottles of our original stash and will be checking in every 6 months or so—thanks to the brewers at Grand Teton for the gift that keeps on giving!