what: CSM Brew Project #1: BAM
price: $9.99 for a 64-ounce growler fill at Sam’s Fine Wine & Spirits (multiple locations in Columbia and Lexington, samsfinewineandspirits.com), $6 per pint at Motor Supply Co. Bistro (920 Gervais St., motorsupplycobistro.com)
ABV: 6.2 percent
Let’s break these anagrams down, shall we? CSM stands for Cottontown Brew Lab, Sam’s Fine Wine & Spirits, and Motor Supply Co. Bistro, the collaborators behind this particular beer. BAM stands for Barrel-Aged Manhattan, after the classic cocktail.
Making beer to taste like something else (key lime pie, PB&J, etc.) is bit of a tightrope walk. It needs to taste something like the flavor you’re trying to tribute while still being a good beer on its own merit, and folks, this one checks both those boxes. The beer style is something of a gruit beer, meaning that much of its bitterness comes not from hops but from herbs like gentian, and this is the genius of this brew that makes it so uncannily resemble a Manhattan, the quality of which often comes down to the bitters used and how much. Like all good Manhattans, there is a sweet (but not too sweet) start with a citrus kick that blends to a little bitter and then a smoky wood finish, achieved here by aging in Motor Supply’s house Russell’s Reserve barrel.
The beer is available for growler fills at Sam’s, and is on tap at Motor Supply. Don’t miss it. And if you head out to Sam’s, make sure to check out their other Cottontown collaborations. There’s Feedback River 2.0, a tasty saison brewed with lemongrass and ginger, and What’s He Brewing In There?, a smoked chocolate porter aged on oak chips soaked in Maker’s 46 bourbon that would get mention for the Tom Waits reference alone, but it helps that it is perfectly balanced and delicious.