October 2012 was when the beer world first got a taste of Narwhal Imperial Stout. The beer joined Sierra Nevada’s “High Altitude” Series, shortly after the brewery had debuted another huge stout – 30th Anniversary Imperial Stout. Soon, it looks like another Narwhal will be spotted – Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Peanut Butter Cup Narwhal.
This is far from the first variant of Narwhal that Sierra Nevada has released. The brewery’s Trip in the Woods Series has seen Barrel-Aged Narwhal with red and black currants, as well as Barrel-Aged Cocoa Coconut Narwhal.
As for Barrel Aged Peanut Butter Cup Narwhal., the artwork is all we have right now, presumably brewed and both Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina locations, and at a minimum – available in both gift shops.
Hold tight as this flavored Narwhal Imperial Stout dives to new depths, an abyss that’s rich with cocoa nibs, peanut butter flavor, and hints of vanilla from bourbon barrels. No need to unwrap candies, power the legendary dessert right into your glass.
Barrel-Aged Peanut Butter Cup Narwhal Imperial Stout is a 16-ounce can or bottle release.
The sun is setting over Wild Heaven brewery in Avondale Estates. It’s finally turning cooler in the south, which is perfect “beer and bourbon” weather. But then again, what weather isn’t.
This beer collaboration wasn’t easy to come by. Bulleit Bourbon barrels have never really been available to the broker market. You couldn’t broker a few barrels to age your beer of choice. The whole project exists thanks to industry networking, planning, discussions with the distillery, and of course, your PR push. Remember, beer is as much sales as it is an art form.
There’s Bulleit/Beer cocktails and food from Chef Shay Lavi cooking outside, but I’m here for the beer.
Drawing on something I said in part one of this series. Years ago, possessing a bourbon barrel-aged beer in your cellar meant you were winning. Being good at brewing barrel-aged beer meant understanding where the beer and barrel came together in a unity of amazing flavor. That means making sure it and doesn’t fall flat with no barrel notes, or worse the barrel overruns it. “Not enough barrel aging” was the “too hoppy” 1-Star rating on Untappd of a decade ago.
That’s not the case with Wild Heaven 95 Shilling. It’s the balance of toasty caramel, and rich vanilla oak that blend together in a greater sum of the parts of the process. Exactly what it should be. This beer is an instant reminder of the well-made classics that got so many addicted to craft beer in the first place. Beer meets barrel extremely well with fresh Bulleit barrels for the win.
Josh Franks has been brewing at Wild Heaven for years. In my head, I’ve always thought of him as a quiet creative. A talented brewer that has neither a beard nor a cocky attitude. Franks worked hard creating 95 Shilling, and you can just see the pride beaming through his persistent humility as we talk about this new beer. “I can’t believe how this turned out,” he tells me, trying not to smile mid-sentence. “I was just shooting for it to be good.”
“For me, this is one of the more rewarding parts of what we do,” says Executive Vice President Sarah Young. “The more we can spread Wild Heaven around in front of more than just beer people, is always something we look for.” The list of local partnerships nearly doubled in just 2020 alone. To date they have worked with Atlanta icons like Giving Kitchen, Mercedes Benz Stadium, The Fox Theater, 680 TheFan radio station, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Big Peach Running Co, CURE Childhood Cancer, Stuckey’s Corporation and more. Basically, Young has been busy.
One thing I can tell you for certain. Not every bourbon barrel makes great barrel-aged beer, but after trying Wild Heaven’s and Bulleit barrel collaboration, Bulleit definitely does.
Standing here drinking this beer at the brewery’s bar, campfire smoke heavy cold fall air whips through the open garage doors. For a second it feels like a fun dream after the year we’ve all had. The excitement about beer releases has returned to me. I’ve missed this.
Wild Heaven and Bulleit created a great beer here, with a second creation just a week away. Not everything in 2020 is terrible.
Nearly 10 years ago, the craft brewing world was just a fraction of what it is now. IPAs were see-through and the more bitter they were, the better. Beer style guidelines were still very much a thing, and barrel-aged beers were gold. “Bourbon Barrel-aged” was all you needed to emit a Pavlovian-style response to the thirsty beer geek. It proved your street cred.
A lot has happened since those days, besides the obvious 10,000 brewery swell from coast to coast. IPA has gone through quite a few phases. Sour beer has made a big name for itself. Food and candy now have a near-permanent home in many brew kettles. Barrel-aged beer never went away, but feels a bit like it’s not the cool kid in school anymore.
At Wild Heaven in Atlanta, barrel-aging was never a trend, it’s something brewmaster Eric Johnson just did. Quite artfully, I might add. Hell, the brewery was at least 3-4 years into operations before releasing their first IPA because Johnson wanted intention as well as science to have roles in the beer’s creation. Not some trend mandate. Simply stated, doing something just to do it isn’t in his vocabulary (unless it’s drinking).
A Bourbon Opportunity
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey has become a household name in Kentucky Bourbon over the past decade. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bar that doesn’t have Bulleit on their shelf. If you were a brewer hoping to snag some wet barrels to throw your imperial stout into, you were out of luck. Years ago, founder Tom Bulleit told Beer Street Journal almost all of the distillery’s wet barrels were shipped to Scotland. Frankly, the idea of aging beer in Bulleit barrels seemed foreign to him at the time when we asked about it. Over the past year, that mentality has changed.
The distillery and the brewery incidentally share the same distributor in the Peach State, Georgia Crown. GC brought the barrel opportunity to Wild Heaven who eagerly agreed.
Other than collaborations with Guinness in 2019, this Bulleit and Wild Heaven creation is just the second barrel-aging collaboration that Bulleit has done (that we know of).
It’s 2020, and you COULD throw everything from chicken wings to gummy bears in a Bulleit barrel, rip off some throwback 90’s cartoon artwork, and call it a day. Again, that’s not Eric Johnson’s style, and probably not Bulleit’s either. “I wanted to go with beers that would really compliment the wood and the original spirit,” Johnson says.
Two beers are born out of this collaboration, using both Bulliet 95 Rye and Bulleit Bourbon barrels. Each one a classic beer style crafted to express what beer and bourbon can create together. “I liked the idea of pairing a big Scotch ale that featured dried dark fruits, smoky peaty notes, and hints of molasses with the warm spiciness with the Rye barrels.” The original bourbon barrels were home for months to an imperial stout that leans hard into rich chocolate and coffee.
“That one drinks like vanilla chocolate milk and is just downright dangerous,” Johnson adds.
The first of the two releases is 95 Shilling, aged in Bulleit Rye. 16-ounce cans and very limited draft debut this week.
437 Miles South Imperial Stout (the distance from the brewery to the distillery), aged in original Bulleit Bourbon debuts in December.
This is part one of a two-part series on collaboration. Image: David Cone Films
Founders KBS Maple Mackinac Fudge, a variant of the well-known Kentucky Breakfast Stout, debuts in October.
This is just the second variant the brewery has released of KBS after KBS Espresso debuted earlier this year. This edition is brewed with Mackinac Fudge Coffee and maple syrup, then aged in oak bourbon barrels.
“We’ve been enjoying beers brewed with the Mackinac Fudge coffee in our taproom for years, and now we’re finally bringing that treatment to KBS. It takes the chocolate flavor traditionally found in KBS to a whole new level. Add in a hint of maple syrup and now you have an elegant, yet explosive new flavor experience.” – Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki.
Founders KBS Maple Mackinac Fudge will be available in the taproom on October 8th, shipping nationally shortly after, with the exception of Mississippi. The estimated retail price is $24 dollars/4 pack.
Debut: Early October 2020
Decatur, Georgia’s Three Taverns Double Snack debuts in large bottle format this weekend – formerly known as Midnight Snack.
Double Snack’s base in a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, brewed with coffee, cherry, chocolate, and hazelnuts.
If you like dessert flavors, bourbon, and coffee, this beer will blow you away!
This 12.5% alcohol by volume decadent beast is available for pre-sale on the Craftcellar app starting today, for pickup this weekend.
When Dogfish Head and Boston Beer merged last year, it was nothing short of big news. After the dust settled, we were left wondering what’s next. Will it just be Sam Adams and Dogfish Head, independently but together? The sales team for Dogfish Head grew by more than 400%, and there was talk of seeing the Boston Beer logo on Dogfish Head, and vice versa. All that is just boilerplate business stuff.
This, on the other hand, is pretty freaking crazy. Dogfish Head Utopias Barrel-Aged World Wide Stout.
The combination of those two things might make you a little dizzy. Besides 120 Minute IPA, World Wide Stout is one of Dogfish Head’s strongest beers.
Utopias is a blended strong ale that comes from a plethora of barrels, hovers around 27% alcohol by volume, and runs more than $200 dollars a bottle.
These two big beers have come together in something boozy, rare and special. World Wide Stout rested for 7 months in freshly emptied Utopias barrels.
Utopias Barrel-Aged World Wide Stout, a jet-black, rich and roasty beer with balanced notes of espresso, cocoa, sherry and vanilla.
That’s one hell of a way to intercompany collaborate.
Dogfish Head Utopias Barrel-Aged Utopias World Wide Stout will be available throughout the brewery’s home state of Delaware in limited quantities on March 27th, in 12oz/4 packs
Style: Imperial Stout (Barrel-Aged)
Availability: 12oz Bottles. Limited Release, Delaware Only.
8th Wonder Viet-Irish Coffee debuts at the Houston, Texas brewery this weekend.
This first bottle release by 8th Wonder is indeed a big one, especially since the brewery calls this beer Imperial Rocket Fuel. Viet-Irish Coffee is based on year-round Rocket Fuel, a 4.6% alcohol robust porter brewed with Greenway Coffee and milk sugar.
This imperial edition features the same locally roasted Greenway Coffee and aged in Jameson Whiskey barrels.
8th Wonder Viet-Irish Coffee will be available in 22-ounce bottles and draft when the brewery opens on Saturday, January 25th.
Image: 8th Wonder