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

  • A Whole (Foods) New Brew

    A Whole (Foods) New Brew

    Whole Foods Brewing just released their second can this week without much fanfare. I was fortunate enough to be at the Post Oak location earlier this week and saw these cans in the cooler, so I had to grab them to try. This is the first of Head Brewer Chris Shelton’s original recipes that I

  • Great Beers and Food Make Local Group Out of This World

    Great Beers and Food Make Local Group Out of This World

    With their official grand opening February 28th last year, Local Group Brewing has had a difficult first year in business. I fortunately got to check them out then and was looking forward to trying more of their beers and food. Then the pandemic and ensuing shut down went into effect, and ended all plans. I

  • Eureka Heights’ Tipsy Clover Beer Review

    Eureka Heights’ Tipsy Clover Beer Review

    No, it’s not green. Which I think in the minds of most people over 24 years old is a good start. Especially considering first of all that this is a stout, and if it had been green something has gone terribly awry. Nevertheless, as we approach that most sacred of day drinking holidays and I


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.