Its creators used the patience of a wine maker but stuck to the basics of beer. The result will be unveiled Monday, not by the pitcher, but in 5-ounce servings in snifters typically reserved for brandy.
With an alcohol content of 14 percent, this beer, yet to be named, is meant to be sipped.
"It's a dessert beer, something you can sit and relax with," said Kirby Nelson, brewmaster at Capital Brewery in Middleton. "It's like Korbel, only better."
Nelson, 54, and Rob LoBreglio, 43, brewmaster at the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., used their 53 years of combined brewing expertise to create the brew, a beer style called barley wine, in December of 2008.
Since then, the beer has been fermenting at the Great Dane's Downtown brewpub - the only place it will be on tap, for about $6 a glass.
In recent years, brewers have been pushing the envelope trying to create beers with alcohol contents of 20 percent or more. On Tuesday, for example, Scottish microbrewery BrewDog released a quadruple India pale ale called Sink the Bismarck that's 41 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). That's boozier than Captain Morgan spiced rum.
While those beers are typically made with sugar additives like molasses or maple syrup, the beer made by LoBreglio and Nelson sticks closely to the Reinheitsgebot, a repealed German purity law that dates back almost 500 years that required beer to be made from just water, malted barley and hops.
"The goal for this beer is simply just to have malted barley be the only sugar source and not use any type of distillation," LoBreglio said. "Right now, it's a work in progress."
They were hoping for 17 percent ABV but may try again and use bourbon barrels during the fermentation process to enhance the flavor.
The initial batch yielded about six barrels of beer and in the first two weeks, required the brewers to regularly feed the yeast with malted barley, a time consuming and costly process.
"We're not going to make money on it," LoBreglio said while sipping a sample. "Like most of the bigger (tasting) beers, it will benefit from aging."
Most mainstream beers have alcohol levels ranging from 4 to 6 percent, but both Capital and Great Dane have created stronger drinks.
Capital's Eisphyre, brewed in 2006, came in at 10 percent. Its Autumnal Fire, with 10 gold medals in national and international beer tasting competitions, weighs in at 7.8 percent. LoBreglio's Uber Bock comes in at 9 percent, and a different upcoming Great Dane barley wine beer should have an alcohol content of about 10.5 percent.
"What I like about this beer is that it's not shocking my tongue," Nelson said of the latest creation. "I still recognize it as a Belgian ale style of beer and I can drink it."
LoBreglio and Nelson, who also deer hunt together, began collaborating in 1996.
The smaller brewing system at the Great Dane allows both to experiment without making 40 half barrels, the minimum at the larger Capital Brewery facility. The pub also is a fertile testing ground where Nelson can get instant feedback.
"Kirby and Rob are probably two of the best brewers around," said Tom Porter, brewmaster and owner of Lake Louie Brewing in Arena. "When they collaborate, you can pretty much bet on a pretty good product. They're really good at what they do."