Good things come to those who wait.
This beer has been a bit more of a journey than we expected, but the end result is truly a thing of beauty. As the name implies, this beer was initially brewed for our Second Anniversary, which was October 13th, 2014. But, as these things sometimes go with barrel aging, we’re releasing it about 3 months shy of our 3rd anniversary instead!
We started off with a traditional Belgian-Style quad recipe. This is a trappist-style ale which was brewed traditionally for special occasions or holidays. Usually darker than a Tripel and higher alcohol, these beers can easily clock in north of 10%, and ours was no exception. Before it went into whiskey barrels, the beer had a beautiful off-white head with a nose of caramel, dates, and prunes. It is dry for being 11%, and had a lovely deep dark reddish brown color.
A delicious beer, by any measure, but we had further plans for it. So into the whiskey barrels it went, for a bit of a rest.
As these things sometimes turn out, the barrel aging of this beer ended up taking a bit loner than expected. We started off by thinking that the whiskey flavors weren’t developing enough, so we left it in longer. Then, as time went on, a couple of the barrels started developing a slight sourness. As many of you know, this sourness is indicative of some wild bacteria which was apparently harbored in a couple of our barrels. In the spirit of embracing the wild nature of the barrels, we let them go a bit longer to see what came of them.
About the time that we discovered this background sourness starting to develop, we set to work with our favorite local design firm, We Are William, to work out a new label design. As much as we loved the previous screenprinted bottles that we used for the last 2 bottle releases, the ability to do small runs of bottles was just not a straightforward endeavor with screenprinting. We also had a desire to be able to go with either a cork and cage or a cap for out bottles, so they were tasked with a labeling scheme for these beautiful 500 mL bottles.
As you can see, the bottle artwork came together in an amazing way. This artwork represents the first of many with a new look and feel for out bottled beers, with an eye towards bottling much more often than we have in the past. Our barrel aging program is finally starting to bear fruit on a regular basis, and we’ve got some ideas for other non-barrel aged small-batch releases that will be available in bottles as well.
As the labels came together the barrels of Quad which were slowly maturing in our cellar. We had finally started to get a feel for the flavors that were developing in these barrels, and although different than we initially expected, we really liked what we were tasting and made the call to blend 3 of the 4 barrels together and put it in bottles.
The resulting blend is a dark, bold, rich Belgian-style ale which has notes of vanilla, oak, caramel and raisins, with just a hint of the whiskey that shines through, and a clean finish provided by a residual tartness in the bottles from the wild bacteria. The aroma speaks of dark fruit, including plums and cherries, and has a beautiful background of vanilla. The quad clocks in at 11% ABV but drinks much smoother than a beer of that strength. The bottles are available for sale in the taproom as well as around Flagstaff, and some will be making it down to Sedona and Phoenix in the near future as well.
Thanks to everyone for your patience on this bottle release, and I promise that we’ve got more coming very, very soon!