Rum Barrels, Unlocked

One of my favourite things to do here at the ol’ tank farm is finally announce news about an upcoming beer release that has been comfortably stowed away in the “We Can’t Tell You Or We’ll Have To Kill You” vault. This time of year, after a busy summer season of churning out pale ales and session beers, the WCTYOWHTKY vault becomes particularly rotund, encompassing the various barrels that we've been monitering so closely over the course of the past year.

The thing about barrel-aging beers is that it's really just an exercise in fortune telling. Though it may look like we have large steel tanks full of fermenting beer in the brewpub, those vessels mostly contain a combination of newfangled crystal balls, tarot cards, and dream catchers. With this spread of shamanic tools, we do our best to channel the brewing spirits, and use their guidance to decide what we'll want to drink most, several years down the road. Beers that we age for a year end up being the easiest to anticipate because, despite the long wait, it makes sense to anticipate that the type of beer we feel like drinking in October 2013 is probably the type of beer we feel like drinking in October 2014.

The obvious sub-text to this seemingly difficult foresight challenge is that there is no barrel-aged beer you (or we) don't want to drink 1 year, 2 years, or 3.27 years down the road. Every beer is the right beer! So while I may not have convinced you of our razor-sharp discretion, I still have some positive news to share.

Just over a year ago we brewed a big beer that became the topic of much discussion over 2014. How are the XXX barrels doing? When can we release this secret project? How long is long enough? And then in September when we revisited the barrels during routine tastings it was clear -- they were ready. We eagerly added them to the packaging schedule, which brings us to today, as this sweet elixir is going into bottles. This is a pretty significant beer for us, for quite a few reasons. First of all, it's really old and wise. Second, it's our first release to come out of those rum barrels that were so hard to get (remember that first shipment that was sawed open at US Customs? We do). Third, and this is the kicker, it's the highest alcohol beer we've ever created. Ever! Just to throw you a bone, the alcohol percentage rhymes with 'birteen'.

Fine folks, flora, and fauna of the earth, may I present to you our spiced, rum barrel aged, imperial stout -- we call her Skeleton Key. Intended to be a Bellwoods take on spiced rum, we added a melange of ginger, all spice, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, and juniper berries to barrels full of a velvety imperial stout, and allowed the concoction to age for a year. What has emerged is a refined, smooth, warming, and lethally delicious spiced stout that'll induce sharp pangs of nostalgia long after your final bottle is empty. Jokes and violent hyperboles aside, Skeleton Key is so ridiculously delicious, and if my mom didn't read this blog I'd express my feelings with more profanities.

And in an effort to make sure we can keep all our promises, I won't say too much about that other beer that we may, perhaps, release on the same day. I wouldn't want anyone to get the impression that the 2014 version of one of 2013's most popular releases could emerge simultaneously, or that another year old barrel aged beer is hovering on the precipice of go-time. So let's just zip it right there, shall we?

Skeleton Key rum barrel-aged imperial stout will hit the retail store on October 24th at 11am, with a limit of 8 bottles per person.