It’s not every day you can say you are the best in the world at something, but for the next 12 months, Thornbridge can claim to have the ‘World’s Best Flavoured Beer’. Necessary Evil Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, the flagship barrel aged beer in the Thornbridge portfolio has won one of the most acclaimed awards in beer. The beer won ‘Best Flavoured Beer in the World’ at the 2022 World Beer Awards. The 13% Imperial Stout won the National Qualifying round in the ‘Best Wood Aged Beer in the UK’, then progressed to winning ‘Best Flavoured Beer in the UK’ before advancing to compete against all of the other National winners from around the world and subsequently winning the prestigious ‘Best In The World’ title.
Necessary Evil was first launched in 2018 when Production Director and Head Brewer, Rob Lovatt, was challenged by Thornbridge CEO, Simon Webster, to produce a beer inspired by Barrel Aged beers from across the pond including Brooklyn Black Ops, Founders KBS, Firestone Walker Parabola and Goose Island Bourbon County.
Rob set about producing a grist that was robust enough to stand up to the barrel ageing process but subtle and nuanced enough to have its own character so that it could be drunk ‘straight’ without barrel ageing. However, the ambition for a barrel aged beer led Rob to source some of the finest Bourbon barrels available on these shores, from Heaven Hill, an independently owned distillery nestled deep in Kentucky’s bourbon country. The need for casks still ‘wet’ meant that we needed to get the beer in to them as soon as feasibly possible after the whisky had been removed so that the barrel did not have a chance to dry out and lose a lot of the whisky character imparted in the wood.
In January 2018, Necessary Evil was brewed and filled in to 75 wet 200 litre casks and stored in the Thornbridge dunnage. From 6 weeks in, the casks were checked weekly for seepage and to sample the nectar within! After 8 months it was concluded that the beer was at its optimum flavour profile in terms of the original beer being enhanced by the barrel ageing. At that stage, the original 2018 vintage was bottled and went on to sell out in a matter of weeks leading us to ramp up production for the following annual vintages.
By 2021, the beer had won a string of National and international awards and was widely regarded as one of the UK’s leading barrel aged beers. It had also been exported to no less than 26 markets around the world including most of Europe, Singapore, Brazil, Mexico and Thailand. It was at this stage that the decision was made to push the Barrel Ageing programme on. Sales and Marketing Director, Dom Metcalfe, decided the brand had established itself well enough to start bringing out variants and set about looking for some interesting spirit barrels from around the world to age the Imperial Stout. In early 2022, Necessary Evil Cognac was launched closely followed by a Caribbean Rum version! The former very quickly picked up a Bronze Award in the ‘Best UK Wood Aged Beer’ category at the World Beer Awards and the latter took silver in the same category…. No prizes for guessing what took Gold… Bourbon Barrel Aged Necessary Evil.
CEO, Simon Webster commented – ‘Necessary Evil is gradually becoming as iconic as Jaipur for us. The original Bourbon version has won so many National and International awards in recent years and the latest variants including Cognac, Triple Sec and Caribbean Rum have also received multiple awards and high acclaim. This gives us the confidence to push on with the programme and invest in more exciting barrels from around the world to keep up with consumer demand’.
Thornbridge have two other brand new Necessary Evil variants which will be released later in 2022. If you want to try the World’s Best and other variants, head to the Thornbridge website.
Necessary Evil Triple Sec won Gold