Side Project Brewing is known throughout the globe for their barrel aged beers. From fermented wild ales to their barrel aged stouts, Side Project’s beers are highly sought after for a reason: they’re damn good and some of the best beers in the world. For this reason, the owners of Side Project have mostly released their pinnacle stout, Derivation, as an on-site release only–meaning you have to drink it in the taproom. There are those that have access to bottles, but they are an exclusive few so there may be a few out in the wild.
Looking back at my Untappd list, I’ve been lucky enough to drink three variants of Derivation over the last couple years. The first was Derivation Blend #6 in September of 2016. I enjoyed that beer twice, and it was probably the best stout I’ve ever tasted. It was an extremely heavy beer at 15% ABV and one of the top-rated beers on Untappd with a 4.82 rating.
Two months later I shared a bottle of Double Barrel Derivation with a co-worker, and while I didn’t rate it quite as high as Blend #6, it was still an excellent beer. Untappd has it as a 4.81. Then in July of 2017, I shared a bottle of Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Derivation with a friend. I liked it but I’m not a big fan of Apple Brandy so this version wasn’t nearly as good. Untappd rated it as 4.33.
This brings me to today’s main event: Derivation Blend #10. For this version, I’ve come to the actual brewery to try it rather than the Side Project Cellar, which is closed on Sundays. So, let’s jump right in. Derivation 10 pours dark, like ink in a glass with little to no head at all. Any carbonation that appears is dark khaki and circles the edge of the tulip glass. Swirling the beer around in the glass leaves a dark translucent film on the glass. It’s beautiful. So much barrel on the nose, almost too much and dark fruit. There’s a hint of oats as well, which is nice.
The first taste was disappointing. This beer is too cold. Do NOT drink this cold, it mutes the flavors. After letting it warm, the flavors pop. Chocolate sweetness blends with the barrel on the tongue. This version is not as thick as I remember. It’s slick in the mouth, silky, but not as thick as I thought it would be. Expectations, I guess? There’s coffee on the back end mixed with the sweetness. There’s dark fruit in there as well, but it’s not unpleasant. This beer is really good. I don’t feel like it’s as good as Derivation Blend #6, but that was the first one I had so let’s put that in perspective. I do feel like the rum barrel aging is not my thing. If I’m going to drink a BA beer, apparently bourbon is more my palate than rum. Regardless, this is a solid beer, as usual, from Side Project. And judging by the number of people loitering outside the brewery this morning waiting for them to open the doors, I’d say Side Project has another hit on their hands.
Untappd Rating: 4.73