The first craft beer I ever remember truly loving was New Belgium Brewing's 1554 Black Lager. There was something about its dry, chocolaty finish that captivated me and reminded me of Ghirardelli Chocolate in the most shameful and addictive way. I still pick up a 6-pack of it from time to time to remind me of the good ol' innocent years before craft beer.
It should be no surprise then that I quickly fell into the deep, dark hole that is stouts. And, I fell hard. I started indulging in all things stouts — American stouts, milk stouts, oatmeal stouts, imperial stouts and everywhere in between. Free State's Oatmeal Stout became a favorite of mine since I lived near Lawrence and spent a lot of time drunkenly running up and down Mass Street from Free State to Merchants Pub & Plate. Somewhere along the way, someone gave me a barrel-aged imperial stout and the world has never quite been the same since.
Some of my top rated beers on Untappd include Fremont Brewing's Dark Star, J. Wakefield's It Was Just a Dream and The Bruery's Black Tuesday. I'm a sucker for bourbon barrels over just about any other kind of barrel, but I also enjoy rum and wine barrel-aged beers and blends.
When I started planning the layout of Servaes Brewing Co., I wanted to make sure there was plenty of room for barrels. I wanted to be able to stack them high. And, I wanted to be able to stack quite a few of them into my 3BBL brewhouse. I have big plans for our barrel program at SBC. I've already secured a variety of bourbon barrels, including a couple of W.L. Weller, Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill barrels. I've also added a Four Roses barrel that I'm pretty excited about. But I won't just be using bourbon barrels. I've secured port, rum and apple brandy barrels as well.
My goal is to get my current inventory of barrels filled within the first few months of opening. We'll taste them periodically until we feel they are ready to bottle and sell. I expect some beers will take longer to cool down than others, and that's perfectly fine with me. We'll sell them as soon as we feel they are at their best. I'd love to know what some of your favorite barrel-aged beers are!