At Alesong, we often have to look at our history to understand our future. Such is the life of a brewery who utilizes aging to craft their beers!
Four Brothers Quad was a Belgian-style quadruple that we released in late 2016. Half of that batch was laid to rest in retired Rum barrels and was transformed to become Four Pirates, which we released in early 2018. Both beers were rich and strong and had a great malty complexity, especially the latter. We happened to brew that base quad again last year, but this time filled some pinot noir barrels to see what results we could muster from the oak. Because aging in wine barrels is very different from the boozy vanilla flavors you get from bourbon barrels and the deep molasses sweetness from rum barrels AND because we are rushing right into another holiday season (it's true. Less than 8 weeks until Christmas as I type this!), we decided to complement the aroma and flavor with a few seasonal spices. We first hand zested fresh oranges and ground up some fresh ginger. We steeped the aged quad on these spices and continued by adding a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg— just a kiss of each. I liken it to your barista shaving a touch of aromatic spice to your eggnog latte, if you're into that kind of thing.
Now, all of the aforementioned spices are sitting on the beer as I tell you about it. I could wax poetic about how it's been sitting in bottles for the last month, rough corners being smoothed, or I could be real since we choose to pull back the curtains and let you inside our brewery with these blog posts, and just tell you what I taste instead. The level of spicing that we chose to add was just enough to enhance the character of the beer that's been maturing for just under a year, but not bury it. From the aroma, notes of fruit (fig, apple, plum) and spice meld with medium-high alcohol notes, all typical fermentation characteristics of strong Belgian Ales. The body is dry to medium with a touch of cocoa on the tip of the tongue and maybe a little citrus on the mid palate. It finishes with a little tannin like drying on the tongue, a vinous fruit flavor, and mildly lingering baking spice expression. Each individual spice that we added doesn't really stand out from the rest, and is almost hard to pick up, but they intertwine with the flavors from the base beer and are held together by the oak structure.
Drinkability and enjoyment is our main goal during blending and finishing of all beers at Alesong, and Four Merchants fits the mission. This beer is complex and intriguing, but not overpowering. Four Merchants is going to be a beer you'll want to pair with many of your courses this Thanksgiving— from grandma's cranberry sauce to your brined and smoked heritage turkey, this will be a winner. Even the pecan pie will sing if you crack a Four Merchants. Time to get this in the bottle for our November 11th release party.