Each year, our anniversary has presented us with an opportunity to celebrate where we’ve come from by showcasing where we’re going next. It’s a really fun challenge, to think about what sort of projects we want to dive further into and then take the first steps to move in that direction. Over the last few years we’ve been building a pretty amazing barrel program, creating beers that showcase the nuances imparted by long maturations in wooden casks and then waiting for them to mature. Today we have over a hundred casks of stout alone, resting quietly in our cellar, waiting to be selected, blended and presented for your enjoyment. It’s actually a bit surreal when you take a second to think about how long some of these beers have been with us. We have barrels in our cellar that were filled during our second year as a company and the majority of our stock is over 2 years old. These casks have been along for the ride with us, so it only seems fitting to bring them into the fold as we celebrate Six years!
Towards the end of 2021 we introduced two new barrel ages series, Anaphora and Noema. Anaphora explores the very best of what our barrel aging program has to offer, the creme de la creme, the best casks, carefully selected and blended to showcase the beauty of what can happen with stout, barrel and extended aging. Noema explores the spirit of improvisation, taking notes and listening to what these beers have to say as they arrive at the end of their journey in wood and finding the right counterpoints for finishing. As we rounded the corner on our sixth trip around the sun since we opened our doors, we pondered what we could add to our portfolio to showcase yet another level of exploration and nuance. This brings us to the two featured releases of our sixth anniversary, 6.1 and 6.2.
With these two extremely special releases we’re embarking on yet another journey. We wanted to add yet another layer of nuance to these already extraordinarily complex beers and we couldn't think of a better way to achieve this than to double down on the very essence of the program, wood. So, without further ado, we would like to introduce you to our latest endeavor in barrel aging, wood finishing. Our barrel aged stouts are almost exclusively aged in casks that previously held spirits, this means a couple things for what we yield from them. First and foremost we extract characteristics from the spirit that resided in the barrel prior to filling it with beer, but maybe the more interesting nuance is how the interaction between the prior spirit and barrel affects what we yield from the wood itself. Since the wood has already undergone an entire voyage of extraction with the spirit, there are characteristics that are no longer present to impart into the beer. In many ways this tends to be a beautiful result, with some of the more intense flavors already softened we can yield a much smoother and more subtle extraction and with less maturation time required to mellow these flavors. With that said, there are some wonderful complexities to fresh wood aging and our goal with this program is to showcase the best from both sides.
For these first iterations of what we plan to grow into a long term program, we selected some of our favorite barrels and paired them with fresh wood varietals that would enhance the flavors already present.
For the first version, 6.1, we started by selecting bourbon barrels that held one of the biggest stouts we’ve brewed to date, filled in January of 2020. The liquid from these barrels was rich with caramel and toffee with hints of a nutty aroma and notes of graham cracker. The mouthfeel was substantial, reminiscent of beers matured on vanilla with a subtle hint of oak char rounding out the balance. Looking at these notes we selected Amburana, also known as Brazilian oak, for the wood finishing maturation. Amburana is used in the production of Cachaça, a Brazilian, sugarcane spirit with similarities to rum. It’s known for imparting vibrant notes of spice that many have compared to graham cracker and vanilla. The result of this wood finishing is pretty surreal, if we told you we loaded this one down with coconut, cacao and cinnamon you’d probably believe us. The mouthfeel is rich and structured and it drinks way too easy for everything it has going on underneath the hood.
For the second version, 6.2, we started by selecting rye whisky barrels which held a roast forward stout base, which were also filled in January of 2020. The beer inside these barrels was exploding with notes of vanilla, almond and chocolate with hints of barrel char, spirit and caramel lingering in the background. The mouthfeel was pillowy soft and the beer finished with a pleasant warming sensation from the alcoholic intensity. With these notes in mind we selected Sugar Maple, a sweeter wood used in the production of maple syrup, for the wood finishing maturation. Not surprisingly, sugar maple is known for imparting notes of maple syrup with hints of bourbon, vanilla and pecan dancing in the background. The final result of all these pieces coming together is a beautifully balanced beer that showcases caramel and cacao from the spirit barrel while marrying those flavors with distinctive notes of fresh maple wood, vanilla and a subtle char. Where 6.1 tastes almost as if it was matured on adjuncts, 6.2 showcases the unique flavors of fresh wood aging with characteristics that, while not vinous, are reminiscent of the structure of a reserve wine.
We can’t wait to share these beers with you all next week. It’s been an incredible journey to arrive at this moment and we look forward to the many years we have ahead of us, to be creative, to build relationships and to grow. So come help us celebrate by joining us next week for the official anniversary party. We couldn’t do this without all of your support and, now that we can safely host you for a proper, in-person celebration, we’re ready to throw down.
Thank you, truly, for everything. Cheers to six years!