In April 2005, a group of wildlife scientists reported observing several “firm” sightings of an ivory-billed woodpecker in Central Arkansas. Nicknamed “The Lord God Bird,” the last authenticated sighting in the United States was in 1944 in the swamps of Louisiana. Well, it’s with great pleasure I can now tell you exactly where you can find your very own Lord God… beer?
Flyway Brewing has recently released the fourth annual version of their highly anticipated Lord God Triple Chocolate Imperial Stout, and this year they’re also sharing some variants of the original, highlighted by a special release of a barrel-aged version in 12-ounce cans direct from the brewery. That release starts today at 11 a.m.
The history of this beer goes all the way back to when Flyway brewed on a Sabco BrewMagic pilot system before moving into their current location in Argenta. They made the beer to be sold at South on Main exclusively for a Valentine’s Day treat and were just shooting for a stout with a lot of chocolate. Four versions later, it’s still much the same as that original small batch beer: big, robust and chocolatey.
You can try the 2019 version, as well as the 2018 version, right now at the brewery and there is even a version aged on Mylo Coffee available. Expect a new, very limited, Indonesian vanilla bean version on Friday as well.
If those versions aren’t enough, they’ve aged it for 10 months in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, and that version you can take home today in cans. This is the first barrel-aged canned beer from Flyway.
“We think that it’s a perfect beer to put in bourbon barrels. It stands up really well on its own,” says co-owner Jess McMullen. “There’s just some great barrel-aged beer in this state and we wanted to throw our hat into the ring. We think releasing it in cans has taken it to the whole next step.”
He tells me their goal this year was to do a smaller release only in the tasting room, in four-packs, and see how people like it. McMullen hopes that next year they can quadruple that amount.
“The beer has a lot going on. It’s balanced,” says Jess. “Any barrel-aged beers, the thing is you want to be drinking beer, but you want bourbon in the nose and flavor. Tim and Mark do so well with our high ABV beers that hide the ABV. This beer is the same way, but coming in at 12 percent. And letting this beer warm up a bit is the way to go.”
Once again, Harvest Creative out of Memphis has created a unique, eye-catching label for the can.
“We were hoping for sort of retro vibe… it’s solid gold,” Jess told me. “It’s got a wood grain when you look up close, with a cool 70s sort of neon vibe.”
There will be more beers in this “imperial series” coming. There are no other plans for a “barrel-aged series” at this time, but they’re hoping to go that direction as well.
Is it as elusive as the fabled Lord God Bird? Well, not quite, but it’s an elusive beer that comes out once a year and might be hard to find. The bourbon barrel-aged version is even going to be more scarce, with four-pack sales today at 11 a.m. with a limit of one case per customer. Try a flight while you’re there and see if you can pick up on the subtle differences between the years and variants.
Once it’s all gone, it won’t be spotted for another year.