Welcome back to the Brewer’s Corner! This is your monthly inside look at what’s in the tanks, and what’s coming down the pipeline from our creative brew team.
It’s barrel season, baby. All the bourbon barrels filled with stout in our warehouse are practically begging to be emptied – and we will oblige them. As the summer months come to a close, and I hope you didn’t blink, we start focusing on the beers that will provide you those dark, toasty, and comforting vibes.
I get questions on where our barrels come from, and how long we age them. The answer is, like most brewing related answers, “It depends.” For the most part, we get freshly dumped Buffalo Trace barrels straight from the distillery. There is usually leftover bourbon still in them, which we keep in there prior to filling. Even if there was no leftover bourbon in the barrels, there would still be bourbon that had soaked into the wood that would eventually seep into the beer over time. Lets say we filled a barrel with 10% ABV stout and waited 8 months. At the end of those 8 months, the beer that comes out would be closer to 12-13%. Of course each barrel will have different properties that it lends to the final product, which is why we blend them all together to form one cohesive unit. This year our emptied barrels will range from nearly 6 months to 2 years old. Blending the old, with the new.
This year, we plan to release three different variants of the beer formerly known as SMASH tun. The base beer will still be the same, but we wanted to have fun with the presentation. Each year will have its own theme, which will span across a few different batches. Space exploration will be this years over-arching theme and will feature a straight barrel-aged imperial stout, a cherry infused barrel-aged stout, and a vanilla/ chocolate infused barrel aged stout. Each label will incorporate the other two variants in some way, and the packaging will be out of this world. We think this will be more fun for you guys when you start squirreling away your bottles for hibernation.
We are also working on incorporating apple-pie flavors into our beer, as sort of a successor for our Guava-stuffed Play the Hits when it runs out. To balance out the “that’s not even beer!” holdouts when it comes to new-age recipe design (I feel you, I do), we are also formulating a more classic styled amber ale for the fall. Clean, malty, and slightly bitter. It’s all about balance. While I understand that adding a bunch of hops, adjuncts, and fruits to beer is somewhat disturbing to some who just want something simple – I enjoy all styles and will never turn my back on what is trendy in today’s beer world. My promise to you is that for every weird beer we make, we will also make something classic to balance it all out.
Finally, another fun project we are working on is “Under 200”. This beer will be made with ingredients found 200 miles or less from the brewery. It will have some challenges, but as a proud Midwesterner, I really want to have a beer that is ours. Most breweries use malt primarily from Canada, hops from the Pacific Northwest, and yeast from all over the map. Ope!
Have a great end to your summer, and enjoy the hoodie/shorts combo season.
-Matt & the Brew Team