Third Space’s Mystic Knot Still Worthy of a Party

The once-a-year Irish cream stout drops at the taproom on Saturday.

Not too long ago, the mere release of certain beers was enough of an event to make it an event.

Aficionados would line outside a brewery in any season to be one of the first to buy and try whatever the beer was – usually some iteration of a barrel-aged stout. 

These days, with so many breweries putting out pretty good to very good versions of these beers, they have to put a little more party in their release parties to attract interest.

I’m thinking about this as I’m sitting down with Third Space Brewing co-founder Andy Gehl and marketing and events rep Lizzie Tenant to sample this year’s Mystic Knot, the brewery’s annual barrel aged coffee milk stout modeled on an Irish coffee releasing this Saturday. It’s one of my favorite beers, period, and as soon as the first can is cracked – the base beer, of which there are three variants again this year – I’m reminded why. 

It’s an intensely coffee-forward beer, with what seems to be a king’s ransom of Stone Creek 3 Volcanoes blend billowing out of the glass before even a sip. The coffee is added after aging seven months in (this year) Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, and that imparts a java sledgehammer over the top of a creamy, bourbony mocha that … I mean, those are the components, but it all comes together so well. It’s why I love Mystic Knot. 



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And then we’re onto the variants. First in our journey is Mystic Dude, modeled after a White Russian. Gehl notes the name was almost Mystic Abides, but that was deemed a little too subtle. It’s Knot with the beer’s cream component – milk sugar, usually added during brewing – pumped up with addition after the barrel-aging. It’s an unusual technique, and in this case is the equivalent of dumping a bunch of cream and sugar into the mug of black coffee. 

Next is Mystic Double Shot Rum, this year’s special variant, sold as a single 16-ounce can ($14) instead of the 12-ounce four-packs ($25) of its kin. It doubles the amount of coffee of the regular and swaps in Stone Creek’s Green Bike espresso blend, as well as adding a spiced rum barrel to its aging regimen. With all this extra, I’m surprised when my first sip is less coffee-forward than my first of the evening. 

Gehl and Tenant agree, so we revisit our glass of regular Mystic and, sure enough, our palates are fatiguing – though it’s worth noting that Green Bike is somewhat lighter roast than the dark Guatemalan 3 Volcanoes. The signature here, though, is the rum barrel, which comes through with a slightly spicy, caramelized sugar note that avoids the pitfalls (alcohol burn, overly sweet) of many rum barrel beers. 

With our palates in mind, we saved Mystic Caliente for last. This variant, modeled on Mexican hot chocolate, features cacao, vanilla, cinnamon and ancho chili peppers. I’m not surprised when those culinary additions (many potentially problematic) are present in harmonious balance. I’m not partial to chili beers, but the anchos here are particularly delightful, restrained both in selection – Gehl notes they’re not that hot but loaded with flavor – and dosage. 

It’s here that Gehl mentions that Caliente four-packs have already sold out from pre-orders, and I nearly spit-take. These special beer releases have become a little less special over the years, he says, so this year’s production run of Knot is down a little from previous years to ensure it sells through quickly. He expects Mystic Dude to sell out on Saturday as well, with cans of the regular and the Double Shot Rum available into next week, only at the taproom.

And while Gehl does expect a small line before the Third Space taproom opens at noon Saturday, it won’t be the hundreds-deep queues common just a few years ago. But it will be a party nonetheless, even if Mystic Knot and its variants are more of a guest of honor at a St. Patrick’s Day theme than the stars of the show. Live entertainment includes Celtic tunes from Derek Byrne & Paddygrass, along with hot-stepping from the Milwaukee Irish Dance Company from 1-4 p.m. 




Executive editor, Milwaukee Magazine. Aficionado of news, sports and beer. Dog and cat guy. (Yes, both.)