By now many of you have probably seen the bottle pictures floating around of our new “Shake Down Series” beer, the “Anniversary Baltic Porter”.
Many of you have asked what it tastes like, when is it going to be available, and where you can get it. I promise, at least some of your questions will be answered during this post.
In case you haven’t seen the bottles, there’s a nice little photo I snapped of one of them below. They’re a 375 mL corked Belgian-style bottle which was screen printed by the fine folks at Ceramic Decorating in California. These are the same guys that did my latest batch of growlers, and are also the same folks that screen print most (all?) of the bottles from Stone Brewing, so you can imagine that they know what they’re doing.
The bottle features a topographic map of our very own San Francisco peaks here in Northern Arizona. The topo map wraps around the bottle with a little description on the back of the bottle of what the shakedown series is. For those who need some orientation, Humphrey’s peak is right by the “E” in “Shake”. Many of you have been admiring the skateboard decks in the taproom with the similar graphics on them, now you know why we were messing around with topo maps for those.
When we were brainstorming about how to approach the bottling operation here at Wanderlust, I knew that initially we would be bottling in a very manual fashion. We don’t have an automated bottling line or even an automated labeler, so I knew that we weren’t going to initially be bottling any of our main lines of beers, it’s just too time consuming. But, as you all know, I also like to experiment so there was an opportunity to bottle off some of those beers. Especially ones that would lend themselves to aging well, and ones that might be a little more of a sipping beer.
So, the Shake Down series concept was born. You may have heard the term “shake down” before in regards to a vehicle, or and expedition. It’s a testing period, a short evaluation of the bigger endeavor, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with these beers. We have a whole series of these floating around in our heads, some involving barrels, some involving really big beers, and others involving some interesting concepts from both new and old school brewing techniques (bottle-conditioned with brett anyone?).
So, what we’ve done is we’ve created bottle artwork that allows us to put a small tag on the bottle with the beer that is inside of it on a common bottle. Keep an eye out in the future on the little ‘placemark’ tag you see on the current bottle to change as we bring our other ideas to fruition. I wish I could tell you a release schedule for these beers, but the only schedule I’ve got is “whenever they’re ready”.
So, with that background, lets talk about the first beer in the ShakeDown series, the Anniversary Porter.
This is a Baltic-Style Porter that we brewed this last summer and then stashed away in used whiskey barrels for the last 4-5 months. By the numbers it clocks in at 10.0% ABV, and started at 42 IBUs, although those are known to fade over time with aging.
It pours a dark black color with some deep ruby highlights, and a thick brown head. You immediately get a whiff of chocolate, vanilla, and whiskey. The beer is slightly sweet with a nice rich chocolate flavor, and some hints of coffee and dark fruit like plums and raisins. The barrel aging has imparted a nice wood flavor with a strong vanilla component, some charred (almost smokey) notes, and a distinct, but not overwhelming, whiskey flavor.
These bottles will be on sale at the taproom starting this evening, for consumption at the taproom or to go. We will be sending them out to several accounts starting tomorrow, and are really excited about having a bottle release party at McGaugh’s Smoke and Bottle at 6pm tomorrow (friday, December 13th). I’ll be over there to chat about the beer and say hello to everyone and we’ll have a truckload of these bottles ready for you to take home for the holidays.
Right now our confirmed locations for these bottles are McGaugh’s, Hops on Birch, Famous Pizza in Sedona, and the Taproom. We’ve got a couple other places in the works, so keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter when those become available. There’s a limited amount of this beer as well, so if you’re planning on picking some up, I wouldn’t wait too long.
And before all of my fans from the valley inundate me with the inevitable question of getting some down the hill, we’re working on it, and I’ll let you know. ;-D