Cans of Epic Brewing's Big Bad Baptist sit in a line together.

My Week with Epic Brewing Co.’s Big Bad Baptists

Beer & Spirits

The holidays are here, and Epic Brewing Company has left a giant present under my tree. Six new varieties of the Big Bad Baptist are now available in 16 oz. cans, each completely different than the last, and only two are holdovers from their 2022 lineup. This year, I was able to open my present and take a whole week to taste these lovely treats. Overall, my week with Big Bad Baptists was a memorable one, even if those memories are a bit fuzzy. 

As a precursor to this piece, check out my barrel-aged stout-tasting primer for a guide to the flavor profiles that the pros use before diving into my reviews below. 

Day One: Blueberry Pie

Big Bad Baptist: Blueberry Pie
Big Bad Baptist: Blueberry Pie. Photo: John Taylor

I’ll be honest, I am not into dessert—or pastry—stouts. To me, they are not bitter enough to balance the sweet, and most of the time that abundance of sweetness clashes with the booze, which is an unpleasant combination. To be fair, I feared the Rum Barrel Aged Baptist the most last year, and that pirate ended up shivering my timbers. Let’s see if Blueberry Pie does the same. 

The blueberry, as the kids say, is HIM. It attacks the senses as soon as you open the can, wafting a scent that’s equal parts tart and sweet. This Baptist pours dark and inky with little to no head. Blueberry dominates the nose with a touch of barrel. The blueberry pie flavor—crust and all—comes through big on the taste with sweet, toasty malts, huge berry flavors and a good amount of whiskey in the finish. While my socks are not totally knocked off, as with Rum Barrel, it’s a nice way to kick off the week. 

Day 2: S’mores

Big Bad Baptist: S'mores
Big Bad Baptist: S’mores. Photo: John Taylor

Overall, I feel that the s’mores flavor is becoming something that brewers keep pushing for, even though it often doesn’t mix well in a beer. Think peanut butter from five years ago and hibiscus from three years ago—it sounds like the flavors should work, but they usually don’t. 

S’mores pours like motor oil with an off-white head that sticks to the glass, which is a big difference from Blueberry Pie. You can expect roasted marshmallows, graham cracker and baker’s chocolate on the nose. S’mores is A LOT to take in, with oodles of flavors, not a lot of restraint and very little finishing bitterness to reign them in. If you love sweet dessert stouts, you will probably enjoy this one. 

Day 3: Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt

Big Bad Baptist: Chocolate Caramel
Big Bad Baptist: Chocolate Caramel. Photo: John Taylor

Our Big Bad Baptist has once again shown up after supper as a dessert, this time as a treat of the chocolate and sea salt variety. It’s another flavor that is probably overdone right now in stouts, but makes for amazing espresso and ice cream. We’ll see if it plays well in Big Bad Baptist land. 

Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt pours with a wispy white head that quickly disappears into the glass delivering milk chocolate, whiskey and coffee on the nose; think a spiked Mountains of Mocha from Java Jo’s. It drinks more like a chocolate malt with sea salt coming through and just a touch of whiskey. These sweeter Baptists aren’t showing a lot of barrel—they’re more adjunct forward. The caramel is nice, though, and I would be interested to know how they got that flavor into a beer because it isn’t burnt, and offers just the right balance of sweet and salty. This dessert Baptist, of the three, is the most convincing and one that I would gladly enjoy again.  

Day 4: Brew Master’s Keep

Big Bad Baptist: Brew Master's Keep
Big Bad Baptist: Brew Master’s Keep. Photo: John Taylor

Coming out of the “dessert phase” of our Big Bad Baptist cycle, we now turn to this more, shall we say, refined release. Brew Master’s Keep is brewed with “no-sparge malts,” which is why Epic Brewer Jake Kirkwood was able to squeeze such a big beer out of a single-batch brew. 

The Biggest Baddest Baptist, at 14.1% ABV, pours even darker than the rest with a caramel-colored head that disappears back into the glass. Notes of toasted marshmallows, baker’s chocolate and coffee dance around on the nose with a fair amount of whiskey. Immensely satisfying in flavor, this high-proof stout has tons of chocolate, tobacco, soy, whiskey and wood with just a little alcohol in the finish. That finish is nice, however, with lots of chocolate and whiskey providing bitterness to offset any sweetness in the beer. It’s a good thing the brewers didn’t keep all of this to themselves, because now I can’t imagine my life without it! 

Day 5: Coquito

Big Bad Baptist: Coquito
Big Bad Baptist: Coquito. Photo: John Taylor

Last year, my favorite Baptist was the one from the deep, dark depths of the Caribbean. Rum Barrel Aged Baptist was single-handedly responsible for the mojitos and daiquiris that I forced upon confused dinner guests all through last winter. This year, Epic gives us their version of your grandma’s eggnog, Puerto Rican-style. What’s not to like about that?

Coquito pours like a black velvet painting, dark and mysterious with a caramel-colored head that sticks to the glass. Rum and coconut explode out of the can, and upon closer inspection, vanilla and cinnamon pop out of the beer in great balance. The rum isn’t as pungent as last year but it isn’t exactly shy either. Coquito comes out clean with a nice amount of vanilla bean and coconut to balance out the cinnamon with just a touch of wood. Cocoa and cinnamon complement the rum on the finish with a thick mouthfeel and just a touch of boozy heat. I’m not sure what connection Epic Head Brewer Jordan Schupbach has with the high seas, but this Baptist could be my first mate any time. 

Day 6: Naked Baptist

Big Bad Baptist: Naked Baptist
Big Bad Baptist: Naked Baptist. Photo: John Taylor

This final Baptist has been left out in the cold with nothing but a barrel around his waist. Brewed, barrel-aged then carbonated, Naked Baptist was created to show off the base imperial stout without any cacao nibs or coffee. How does it fare when compared to its more well-endowed Baptist brothers?

The look is certainly there, as it pours oil-thick and black as night with a head reminiscent of toffee and leather; there’s whiskey, dark roast coffee and oak on the nose with just a touch of vanilla. It drinks smooth on the palate with tons of whiskey, wood and a good amount of heat. Naked Baptist has a nice finish with slight hoppy bitterness and a good amount of whiskey throughout. This Big Bad Baptist might be Naked, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t well-suited to join this killer lineup of yearly stouts from Epic

The Next Day

Waking up without a Big Bad Baptist was a disappointing moment, but I guess even God rested on the seventh day, so who am I to argue? Former Epic Head Brewer Kevin Crompton first came up with the idea for Big Bad Baptist to showcase the coffee, whiskey and oak notes in a beer that would change over time through the addition of different coffee roasts, using whiskey barrels from varying distilleries and even adding adjunct flavors such as Mexican chocolate and cinnamon. Big Bad Baptist is a staple on my table for Thanksgiving morning (since it has coffee in it) and Blueberry Pie would be great after dinner on Christmas (instead of actual pie). Celebrate with Big Bad Baptist this holiday season because it’s always nice to have an original Utah beer on the table, especially if it comes aged in whiskey barrels. 

Read more features on Epic Brewing Co. and their Big Bad Baptists:
Which Baptist is the Biggest and the Baddest?
Squash Your Fears of Pumpkin Beers