From our inception as a company, stouts and barrel aging have held a special place in our hearts. When we first started brewing in Colorado, our very first batch was a wheat wine, Wood, that went straight into barrels so that we could open with a barrel aged beer on tap. Among our opening lineup was an adjunct stout, Melanoidin, which featured varying profiles built from roasted malts and adjuncts. Over the years we have iterated on various one offs and series as we’ve continued to experiment but our capacity has always been limited due to the scale of our production and means for long term storage, but all that started to change back in 2019 when we built our production facility.
Our barrel aging bases have always been a challenge to brew and in our original brewhouse there were some serious limitations that made it not just difficult, but truly unsafe to brew them to the parameters that we really wanted to hit. Early on we decided to pause our focus on barrel aging until we had the tools to do what we wanted, not just correctly, but safely as well. When we designed our production brewhouse in 2018 we took these projects specifically into consideration and ensured that these limitations and hazards would no longer be present once it was installed. After a long, hot summer in 2019 of operating at a sprinters pace keeping up with our growing production, we finally had the opportunity in the winter to start building an inventory of barrel aging base and we wasted no time. Over the course of about 4 months we built our wood cask inventory from 8-10 casks to over 100 with the vast majority being big to gigantic stouts.
The next step in the process was relatively simple, patience, as we like to give our barrel aged beers a minimum 12 months before we start to assess them but generally we like to wait 18-20 months before we start to call them mature. If you’re keeping track in your head then you’ve probably already realized where I’m headed with this! As of this fall, we have a large number of barrel lots that are reaching full maturity and with that we are FINALLY ready to debut some new series that will be making regular appearances moving forward.
If you follow other major barrel aged beer producers then you already know that one of the keys to making exceptional barrel aged beers is blending. In order to blend successfully it helps to have a variety of blending components of various ages, roast profiles, sweetness and cask substrates. With all of these pieces to the puzzle on hand, we are able to sample matured lots periodically and then decide what sort of projects they’re suited to, which brings us to our first new series, Anaphora.
When we sample our barrel inventory and assess the quality of the bending components there are always standouts, barrels that distinguish themselves from the pack with nuances that make them beautiful and complex without any additional processing needed. When we find a handful of these barrels, we blend them to match their best features with counterparts from other standout barrels, the resulting blend then becomes Anaphora. The very best of our aging program, the cream of the crop, the blend will not see any additional adjuncts so that the nuances from each barrel can come through in full color. This series sets the tone for our aging program, teaching us the most about our bases, our barrels and the processing that we do to ensure they are preserved with their original quality. As this series evolves over time you will be able to note the subtle changes from the base beers, the storage conditions, the casks they came from and the little, unpredictable nuances that come from working with the products of another artisan.
For this inaugural release of Anaphora, we have chosen blending components from a roast forward base, aged 20 months in Colorado rye whisky barrels as well as a sweeter base we call “bitterless black” aged 18 months in Kentucky bourbon barrels. The first base contributes big notes of barrel tannin, intense caramel, pungent spiciness and subtle while the second brings with it a smooth body, subtle sweetness, notes of marshmallow, cacao and coconut. While either component on its own is a wonderful beer, the sum total of the two is a perfect balance of compliments and counterpoints. This release is very lightly carbonated so that the most subtle notes are able to come through without sharpness or acidity masking them/ We recommend serving this beer at cool temperatures between 40-45 degrees and hard pouring it into the glass.
Our second new barrel aged series, which will be launched alongside Anaphora, is our adjunct focused blend, Noema. As we sample the blending components and identify the casks that will become Anaphora, we will also find barrels that, while fully mature, leave some room for more creative opportunities. These barrels have many of the hallmark notes that we look for in barrel aged beers, but they often leave a component or two open ended so that we can interpret the rest of the song and dance for ourselves. With these barrels we seek to take stock of their strongest features and add compliments and contrast through additional adjuncts, the resulting blend is Noema.
For this inaugural release of Noema, we selected blending components from our “bitterless black” base aged 24 months in Kentucky bourbon as well as a sweet stout base aged in Colorado rye whisky. Upon tasting the blend we noted marshmallow, vanilla, subtle roast and delicate tannin and felt that the barrels were asking for a bit more sweetness, toast and chocolate. After being racked from their respective casks, the blend was then further matured on toasted coconut, raw coconut and ghana cacao nibs. As you might expect, the result is incredibly smooth, boasting a sweetness and fattiness from the coconut, a rich chocolate from the cacao and all of the original compliments from the barrels that were present in the original components. As this blend was a touch sweeter, we opted for a bit more carbonation to add balance and bring out the silkiness and coating quality of the body. We recommend serving this beer at cool temperatures between 38-42 degrees and drinking it slowly so that it can evolve and change in the glass as you enjoy it.
If you’ve held on this long, then you get a gold star, but don’t forget to sign up for our online pre-sale program through Oznr to ensure that you have first access to these inaugural releases, which debut November 5th with pre-sales starting on November 3rd. We will have limited draft and bottles available at the taproom in Olde Town Arvada on the 5th as well.
Thank you for joining us on this journey and we look forward to sharing these beers with you very soon!