Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Big Eddy

Today's the day that nary a person has been anticipating. That's right, it's Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout day. Not familiar? Well, Big Eddy is Leinenkugel's version of big beers like New Belgium's Lips of Faith or Boulevard's Smokestack. The first of these hitting our market is the Russian Imperial Stout, but an Imperial IPA also exists.

The Russian Imperial Stout is a hearty 9.5% ABV and comes in 4 packs of 12 oz. bottles priced between $11-$12. I had one last week and found it to be a real departure from the normal substandard fare that Leinenkugels usually brings (Summer Shandy excepted). It had the taste you would expect from an RIS, roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruit, but was just too sweet for me. I like my stouts, with the exception of Left Hand Milk Stout, on the more bitter side. I'd much rather get a 4 pack of Great Divide Yeti, Old Rasputin or Dark Truth than Big Eddy.

I find the same thing with Sam Adams' more experimental brews that I found with the Big Eddy. They both play to the masses. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, your mileage may vary. Sam Adams and Leinenkugel are nationwide, very recognizable brands. They're not meant to be challenge brands. Sam Adams is definitely a step or two above Leinenkugel in terms of quality, but they're both going for the same thing, to be the beer between BMC and more challenging local beer. Many breweries play in this space, Boulevard, New Belgium, Summit, etc., but Sam Adams and Leinenkugel are the leaders in distribution. The fact that Leinenkugel is brewing Big Eddy signals that the big companies care about the beer geeks and want credibility with them. The Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout was a miss for me, but I appreciate the effort, and look forward to more in this vein.

Big Eddy should be available on both sides of the state line today. I don't anticipate there being a huge demand for it, but there's not a huge amount of it in town either. If you see some, pick up a quad (I need a fun word like sixer for the 4 packs, I choose quad) and give it a shot, maybe you like your stout sticky sweet or maybe you don't think much of my opinion, whatever.

On a side note, with all of these 4 packs becoming prevalent, is there a liquor store that does mixed 4 packs? There's probably about 30 different beers in town being packaged in 4 packs, it seems to me that the consumer that would buy mixed sixers would love to buy mixed quads as well.

Disclosure: I received a bottle of Big Eddy free (not really free since I had to drive to hell and back to get it) from a source interested in selling more Big Eddy. This did not affect my feelings toward Big Eddy, but you can be the judge of that.


  1. Brown Bag Liquor out in Olathe prices their mix-a-pack beers by the bottle and have 'quad' boxes out for people to use. They keep things like Myrcenary, Old Rasputin, etc. in stock as options, pretty nice.

  2. I think Tipsy's (Mission), Gomer's (Lenexa) and Missie's (Shawnee) all allow you to buy singles of their make-your-own-6-pack beers. There's usually a slight discount for getting a full sixer.

  3. Pat, that's just the kind of information I was fishing for.

    JJS, Do those places put the beers from 4 packs in the single beer cooler? I don't think Tipsy's does.

  4. I think that, were Leinenkugal an independent brewery that there production would be lower than New Belgium, Spoetzl, Yuengling, and Sierra Nevada in addition to BBC. It's kind of hard to get numbers on the production of the two breweries making Leinenkugal parsed out from the rest of Miller but they were at 350,000 barrels in 2006 and I can't find any news releases since then about them expanding capacity or production. I never even heard of the brand until I moved here.

    There is a liquor store in Lawrence I think on 23rd that has like 3 different sections of singles marked with different colored stickers that result in differently priced mixed six packs (and I think can be bought as singles) and so they will have more expensive stuff in there.

  5. I've been wrong in the past, but I don't believe that the byo at Tipsy's allows for singles to be sold. I think you have to buy a mixed sixer. They are usually under the 8.99 price tag sold as a matched sixer. With that said. 4 packs are hardly ever combined with the byo sixer.

    There are exceptions from time to time.

  6. Actually, you can buy singles at Tipsy's. $1.67 a bottle.

  7. From what I can tell, most stores do mixed sixers thusly: decide on a price ($9), include only beers that are below that price point, and include only year-round beers so you don't have to enter any more UPCs than necessary. That's why you end up with a ton of Schlafly, Boulevard, and Leinenkugel's in that section.

    Gomer's has a mix-a-six section like that, but they also have a selection of individually priced bottles that are outside that price point. Not a lot of seasonal stuff, but they do have some Belgians along with things like Avery individually priced.

    The selection at Missie's has fluctuated, but I remember making a mix pack of Imperial Stouts a while back with Old Rasputin, Black Cauldron, Left Hand, and Odell, each priced appropriately. I haven't been there in a while, but they usually have a pretty good selection.

    Tipsy's only carries beers in that $1.67 each/$8.99 sixer price range, but they're pretty generous with their offerings. I've seen Lagunitas and Odell mixed in with the usual suspects.

  8. Had Big Eddy in Denver and was shocked how good it was. I know MDL Wine and Spirits at 95th and Antioch sells single bottles from 4 pack sets.

  9. I meant to get back here and kick my own ass before you did. Once again, I got beat. I can except my mistakes. Sorry JJSKCK, will you forgive me for ever doubting you?

    I have also noticed higher priced beers that slip in to the build your own from time to time at Tipsy's as well.