In the fall of 2016, we made a Belgian Quadrupel and named it Four Brothers in reference not only to the history of the beer style in which monks would patiently create these Abbey beers, but also because Brian, Doug and I all grew up with three other brothers. Makes all the sense in the world, right?
At the same time, we were able to source some freshly emptied Jamaican rum barrels and thought their big molasses notes would provide a great complement to the rich malt and yeast character in Four Brothers. So we took about half of the batch of Four Brothers and barreled it down to rest and pick up some of that amazing rum character. Well, we waited a year, and found the results to be, well, quite 'rummy.' This beer was always intended to be a big beer, but the rum flavors were out of balance with the underlying base beer and frankly a little boozy. And, when we had it tested, it had become a 15.4% abv behemoth! We were all in agreement that some artful blending with a little bit of fresh quad would provide a much more balanced beer.
Enter Jensen Cummings, a Denver based chef and founder of Brewed Food and the Good Bugs Project. From his website, "Brewed Food is a cutting edge Food Lab tapping into the most innovative applications of fermentation and integration of raw brewing ingredients and aims to spark a full-fledged food movement. It's built on the belief that craft beer brewing is a culinary art and can be applied as the core philosophy of cooking." We totally agree! Furthermore, Jensen and his project really wants to focus on what fermentation means to flavors, aromas and experiences in beer. It's often a forgotten piece of craft beer today.
Well, that definitely sounded right up Alesong's alley and we were thrilled to be asked to work on a collaboration beer, along with Inland Island Yeast (out of Denver), that could be featured at January's Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywine fest in Breckenridge Colorado as part of the Good Bugs project. After a little discussion, we realized a wild, mixed culture fermentation beer with brett, et al was not going to work out in the timeline we were given, but we wanted our collaboration to be a barrel aged beer that had a signature Alesong character. So what we settled on was a blend of two Belgian yeast strains from Inland Island (Monk III and Gnome) to produce a fresh batch of Belgian Quad that could then be blended with the strong Quad in Rum barrels to create a beer that highlighted the yeast and malt of the quad as well as the molasses character of the rum.
At blending day, we sat down with the barrels and the newer version and came up with a blend that we felt was balanced and enjoyable to drink. We felt that cutting it with a bit of fresh quad, which was absolutely necessary, acted a little like when you add a drop of water to your neat whiskey. It truly opened up the flavors from the wood and spirit. Notes of brown sugar and molasses blend nicely with the malty base beer and hints of apple, pear and banana can be detected from the fermentation.
It's tasting delicious now, but I think this strong beer can also hang in your cellar if you choose and round out to a really balanced tipple. You might want to grab a couple! We did premier it in Colorado in early January for the aforementioned fest, but are thrilled to release the full batch to you now with the rest of our February release to our mailing list for presale the first week of February and at the 2/11 release party and to select accounts and at the tasting room shortly after. We're excited to see how you think the original Four Brothers Quad has transformed into Four Pirates by these rowdy rum barrels.