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.
Creature Comforts Well, I Declare debuts in March.
The base beer for this upcoming release is an imperial stout, brewed with toasted pecans, cocoa nibs, and aged on American oak spirals. Creature Comforts really wanted to showcase the pecan crop from Fort Valley, Georgia based Pearson Farm.
The cocoa nibs are sourced from Condor Chocolates in the brewery’s hometown of Athens.
500-milliliter bottles of Creature Comforts Well, I Declare will be available at the brewery on March 14th.
Hi-Wire Chocolate Macaroon 10W-40
Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy will be available nationally again this month. This time around, the stout is getting a little packaging makeover.
It takes the better part of a year to brew and barrel-age Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy. 19.2-ounce cans of the imperial stout were first found in the brewery’s taprooms in fall of 2015. The demand was so high, Oskar Blues ramped up production and made it nationally available for the first time in 2016.
This month, Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy will be nationally available again, but this time in 12-ounce cans. Ten Fidy is aged in a blend of Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill bourbon barrels for at least 8 months.
“Ten FIDY is a complicated beer for our brewers but they really dig into the behemoth task of delivering a big-time stout. Barrel-aging ups the ante even further – ramping up the chocolate, coffee and roasted notes to the maximum.” Tim Matthews, Head of Brewing Operations
To celebrate this beer’s return, Oskar Blues is releasing variety 4-packs of barrel aged variants of Ten FIDY, including JAHvanilla, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Hazelnut Praline, and Java on November 29th.
Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy is available in 12-ounce cans and limited draft by mid-November 2019.