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

  • Ooky Spooky : An Imperial Stout from Running Walker

    Ooky Spooky : An Imperial Stout from Running Walker

    Happy Halloween! With a name like Ooky Spooky, this beer will give you the chills. Running Walker Beer has put together a great beer that you should be drinking on this Halloween night. Ooky Spooky is an Imperial Stout with dark chocolate, cinnamon, and pumpkin. The nose alone should be a candle and I’d light

  • Drink like you’re German at Back Pew’s Oktobeerfest

    Drink like you’re German at Back Pew’s Oktobeerfest

    It’s the prost wonderful time of the year, it’s Oktoberfest season again! In our previous article we covered a few of the happenings around town during this season – give it a read! Every year, I make it a point to visit Back Pew Brewing’s Oktobeerfest for the festivities and great beer and this year

  • Middie Back Amber Ale from Elder Son Brewery in the Heights

    Middie Back Amber Ale from Elder Son Brewery in the Heights

    In my personal opinion, I feel Houston has been lacking in American amber style beer options. What was once a booming style has been dwindled down to just a small handful of breweries offering a solid year round amble ale. I found what is definitely a contender for my favorite amber in Middie Back from Elder Son Brewing.

  • A taste of the tamarind sour at Turkey Forrest Brewing

    A taste of the tamarind sour at Turkey Forrest Brewing

    Agua frescas have long been a popular way to keep cool in the summers for many mexican american children and Turkey Forrest Brewing has taken that idea and made it into something that will bring you right back to childhood. Already in their line up of fresca beers include Northside Red a hibiscus (jamaica) sour, Issavibe


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.


  • dan-beck
  • ronnie-risner
  • sylvia-benavidez


  • sylvia-benavidez