When we received Lost Abbey's Ultimate Box Set set of 13 rare barrel-aged and sour beers with accompanying artwork, we knew it was begging to be imbibed in the same spirit of excess with which it was created. So we invited our friends Chris Cuzme (head brewer of 508 Gastrobrewery) and Mary Izett (co-host of the Fuhmentaboudit Podcast) to Jimmy's No. 43, one of our favorite watering holes in New York City, and we drank it all in one sitting.
Lost Abbey Brewing Company's Ultimate Box Set released in 2012 is the apex of their barrel-aging and wild yeast experiments packaged in an industrial-looking road case. A beer was released each month with a "bonus track" beer arriving in the final month. At the end of the series Lost Abbey released 450 cases of the complete set. Another limited "reunion" was released in 2013, but the beers remain extremely rare. It is unknown how many still exist.
The 13 beers in the Ultimate box come packaged in a metal road case, and each beer is named after a classic rock song and is accompanied by LP-size art to match the bottle's label. The visually stunning package was designed by Grammy Award-winning designer Matt Taylor of Varnish Studio. Beers in the set fall into three categories: "Re-Masters" that were barrel-aged iterations of the brewery's flagship beers; "Remixes" consisting of new blends of beers from the brewery's archives; and "Fresh Tracks," or new beers made for the set.
Not every beer in the box set was perfect, but most were close to it. We progressed sequentially from Track 1 through 13, beginning with "Runnin' with the Devil" a dark ale brewed with cabernet sauvignon grapes inoculated with wild yeast and aged in red-wine barrels, and ending with Track 13, "Message in a Bottle," an intensely rich 13 percent beast with sour cherries. The cumulative effect of intensely malty, powerfully flavored barrel-aged and bracingly sour ales was ultimately as revelatory as it was punishing. If you can find a case, you might want to take a little more time with it.