An experiment, born in the year 2000, has blossomed into a highly anticipated event at the reputable Town Hall Brewery at Seven Corners. Czar Jack (an Imperial Stout), which was their first Barrel Aged beer, went on to win a medal at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in 2001. This was before there was even a category for the Barrel Aged style. The category itself was called “Experimental Beer” and Brewmaster Mike Hoops acknowledged the risk in entering a Barrel Aged beer back then. “You’re throwing at a dart board,” he said.
After 15 years and 15 GABF medals (3 for Barrel Aged beers) the brewery has a reputation to live up to. They don’t take that lightly as evidenced by the time, money, and skill they allocate to the program. This is important as more and more breweries enter the market and quality tends to be all over the map. At Town Hall, quality is the first priority—even if it means dumping a batch that doesn’t meet their standard. “Tickets went on sale and all of a sudden there’s this line and people are buying these tickets for these beers and they’ve never had them before. They’re going off reputation,” notes Hoops. “So we got a barrel that wasn’t what we expected; so it’s going down the drain,” he explains. “We don’t have the space to see what it will do in time, and it’s certainly not the quality that consumers have grown to expect. So we’re not going to give it to them. It wouldn’t be fair.”
A sense of pride emerges from Mike’s smiling face as he is asked about his favorite offering this year: Foolish Angel. “If there’s a day to come, Tuesday is the day.”
The beer release schedule looks like this:
Monday at 5 PM - Manhattan Reserve Cherry Gran Cru
This beer is a bit fruity from the Belgian yeast and tart cherries plus it has a wonderful bourbon character from the Woodford Reserve barrel.
Tuesday at 5 PM - Foolish Angel Belgian Quad
Expect a lot of malt character in this one, which was aged in an Angel’s Envy bourbon barrel. ***Brewmaster Mike Hoops considers this the “brewers favorite” for this year.***
Wednesday at 5 PM - Buffalo Bock Weizenbock
The Bronze medal winner at the 2014 GABF. Expect some banana flavor from the yeast and some nice, toasty, caramel notes from the bourbon barrel.
Thursday at 5 PM - Twisted Trace Barleywine
This took home the Silver medal at the 2013 GABF. Big on caramel and toffee and heavily hopped, this is what we call a perfect winter warmer.
Friday at 5 PM - Project 3106 Kumquat Chocolate Brown
Another newcomer to the lineup, this brew offers toasty flavors of dark Belgian chocolate and a little coffee with hints of citrus in the nose from the kumquats.
Saturday at 11 AM - Czar Jack Imperial Stout
The Gold medal winner in the Experimental Beer category back in 2001. It’s no secret that this one is brewed in a Jack Daniels barrels and it brings the wood flavors from barrel straight to your palate. A robust and roasty beer that is the favorite of many.
Saturday at 3 PM - Brown Label Maple Syrup Bruin
This vintage beer (with the same base as Project 3106) offers a hint of vanilla—thanks to the homemade maple syrup—to go along with its lightly toasted, chocolate flavor.
Saturday at 3 PM - Duke of Wallonia Imperial Wit
The coriander comes alive in this unique, citrusy concoction and it finishes very clean. This one stood out; probably due to the fact that it was aged in a red wine barrel as opposed to a whiskey barrel. This one impressed me the most out of the beers I was able to sample.
Saturday at 3 PM - Le Baltique Baltic Porter
A dark and rich red wine barrel aged lager.