One of the nice things about having a couple years of brewing behind us here at Alesong is that our collection of barrels in the cellar is getting bigger and more varied, allowing us a little more to play with come blending day. Within our cellar, we keep things separated between our “clean” (Saccharomyces yeast only) barrels and our “wild” (mixed culture including Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus) beers. As it turns out our “clean” cellar is pretty much entirely spirits barrels so we’ve started referring to it as our “rackhouse,” a nod to the naming convention used at distilleries.
Anyway, our rackhouse at the end of 2017 was filled with a pretty good variety of different beers that were tasting delicious, so while we knew we were getting ready to blend up some more specific batches of things (bourbon barrel-aged stout, rum-barrel-aged quad, etc.), we also wanted to create a blend that encompassed and showcased the variety of barrels we were cellaring. So we sat down with a table full of barrel samples and tasted them all, weighing the relative flavors and characteristics of each and how they might fit together. Then comes the really fun part: blending!
I’d characterize blending as an exercise in educated guesses and trial and error combined with some very enjoyable sampling. So over the course of the next hour we probably created and tasted 12-15 different blends before narrowing in on the one we liked the best. Admittedly, these are pretty big beers, and as we go, the assessments and disagreements get more and more animated and enthusiastic… So after coming to a general consensus on what we like, we circled back the next day with fresh pallets to make sure we were still happy where we ended up and to tweak as necessary.
The final blend that we’re presenting to you now as Rackhouse Reserve is a combination of imperial milk stouts aged in barrels that formerly held Jamaican rum, Old Forester bourbon, Woodford Reserve bourbon, and Early Times whiskey. The result is a rich, chocolatey stout that oozes with aromas of rum-induced molasses and brown sugar over the top of a bourbon vanilla base. We recommend serving this one in a snifter and a little bit on the warmer side so you can experience all the layers of decadent flavor revealed.