Some breweries boast hotly anticipated bottle releases, with lines of customers wrapped around the block and bottles immediately hitting the secondary market with a dubious markup. Others put out quality products without the hype and these bottles stay in inventory — sometimes for a long while.
These forgotten releases are nonetheless worth seeking out. Some outstanding beers have been relegated to “shelf beer” status despite being deserving of a taste, and if you don’t mind traveling off the beaten path, you’ll occasionally be rewarded.
Tampa’s Wild Rover Brewing Company has undergone some changes over the past few years, moving locations, scaling up and down in production and releasing a darn-good barrel-aged beer called Shadow on the Sun. Shadow on the Sun was released more than a year and a half ago, but you can still snag a 750ml bottle at the Wild Rover pub (13921 Lynmar Blvd.) for $15. It’s a blend of three bourbon barrel-aged beers: an imperial stout, a barleywine and a scotch ale.
Over time, the heady beers and boozy bourbon notes have mellowed and transformed into a remarkably pleasant and smooth brew, featuring rich flavors of coffee, cocoa, plum and tobacco, with a moderate bitterness in the finish that melds nicely with the otherwise malt-centric format. This ale clocks in at a hefty 11 percent alcohol by volume, but time has been kind to it, allowing it to drink much more smoothly than you might expect.
Shadow on the Sun may have flown under the radar until now, but it deserves another look. Grab one at the Rover to drink on site or to take home. If the former, be sure to throw in the pub’s truly excellent Beverly pilsner as a palate cleanser — you won’t regret it.
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