Beers Reviews

Make No Mistake: 11 Below’s Big Mistake is as Good as it Gets

One of the yearly beer releases that I look forward to the most is 11 Below Brewing’s Big Mistake. It’s a rich stout aged in Yellow Rose Distilling rye and bourbon barrels, with the beer clocking in at a smidge under 13% ABV. The beer pours thick with a very dark brown foam head. The aroma is very boozy though also a little sweet. On first taste, the bourbon really pops through immediately, which gives Big Mistake a very boozy taste, probably one of the booziest tasting beers I have ever had. As the taste lingers, it becomes more sweet and rich with quite a bit of chocolate and coffee flavors in the aftertaste. 

11 Below Brewing Company – Big Mistake

Two years ago I decided that in 2021 I was going to do a vertical taste test of the ‘19, ‘20, and ‘21 variants to see how the taste and complexity changed throughout the years of aging. I had never aged cans before, so I was curious how well the beers held up and how they changed. Plus I enjoy the progression of the boy on the cans, who is growing up and always getting in trouble. He must’ve been the big mistake, since this beer sure isn’t!

The 2021 variation was exactly like described above. The bourbon taste smacked you in the face, but the beer was still delightful with chocolate and caramel notes. 

For some reason the 2020 version was my least favorite of the three, albeit still solid. The beer had lost some of its crispness and carbonation, but really didn’t lose much of its bourbon flavor.

Finally the 2019 version, two years of waiting really did this beer well. It lost a fair amount of its harshness from the bourbon, and instead was super smooth from the moment of the first drink to when the taste dissipated a while later.

My anecdotal recommendation is to wait two years to drink your Big Mistake, if, of course, you have the patience. Though if you can’t wait, there is no mistake in when you drink it.  



Cody is a native Houstonian and is an encyclopedia of fun facts about the city. You can find him at a brewery, disc golf course or spending time with his wife and two dogs. He still has yet to find a beer he didn't like.

Related Articles

  • Houston-area beers you should be drinking this Summer

    Houston-area beers you should be drinking this Summer

    Summertime in Houston has me reaching for all the ice cold crispy light beers with tons of flavor. Whether you are enjoying a few beers after work in your backyard, or out around town with friends – here are a few Houston area beers you should try that are guaranteed to make you feel cool

  • A Hangout in the Heights

    A Hangout in the Heights

    Located just off White Oak Bayou at 17th, New Magnolia has created a great spot for the Houston beer drinker. Their taproom and brewery feels old school in the best way possible. They don’t try to be anything but a place to drink their great beer, with an assortment of seating from a long bar

  • Quadratonic by City Acre

    Quadratonic by City Acre

    I like strong beers. Barrel-aged stouts, boozy barleywines, high ABV DIPAs, whatever. Unlike some breweries whose sole intention seems to be making all of their beers so strong no mortal man can finish a pint while remaining upright, City Acre doesn’t generally produce especially strong beers just because they’re bored. So when I saw that

  • Hard Seltzers Have Landed at Houston Breweries

    Hard Seltzers Have Landed at Houston Breweries

    The summer of 2019 was the summer of White Claws and Trulys. They were the perfect option for a low-calorie, light, refreshing beverage for people who may not like beer. Hard Seltzers could barely stay on the shelf at the grocery store. The big beer brands took notice, and the summer of 2020 was the


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *

Email *


Houston Beer Guide

Please excuse our enthusiasm. We're not professional journalists, we're just passionate beer lovers. Our goal is to give Houston's beer community a voice. We hope you'll listen.


  • bryan-soliz
  • cody-miller
  • james-weiss
  • josh-wharton
  • lazeric-white
  • sylvia-benavidez
  • tristin-marcks


  • sylvia-benavidez
  • tristin-marcks

Enjoy our site? Follow us to see more.