Distilled: Barley’s barrel-aged one-offs rock

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
By
From the August 29, 2013 edition

Barley’s Brewing Co. is one of the godfathers of local breweries, but that doesn’t mean itsbrewers are resting on their laurels. The brewery has been experimenting with inventive approaches for years — cask conditioning beers for its firkin series since 1997 — while releasing new recipes constantly.

“We have a Firkin Friday every Friday, and that’s a great example of experimentation,” brewer Gabe Sturgess said.

Firkin Fridays have become a well-known event for beer lovers, but the brewery has some other limited-release brews worth tapping. Barley’s began barrel-aged/music-themed one-offs this year to resounding success.

When Auld Curiosity was tapped for the New Year, it bourbon barrel-aged with black currants. Brewmaster Angelo SignorinoJr. came up with the name AC/BC, and the music tie-in was born.

Well technically, the music-themed bourbon-barrel beers go back to Sturgess’ Russian Imperial Stout aged with cacao nibs and vanilla, called Sexual Chocolate (inspired by “Coming to America”).

“When we took it to Beerfest last year, [snaps fingers] gone,” Signorino Jr. said.

It was so popular — for both its deliciousness and awesome moniker — that people were taking pictures with the Randy Watson-emblazoned logo.

The 2013 series of barrel brews has been aged with fruits only. Results include Beastie Boysenberry (imperial stout with boysenberries), Divine Pits (Scotch ale with cherries) and Massive Attack (Point of Origin Golden Ale with black currants) at the suggestion of Columbus Crew’s brand ambassador Frankie Hejduk.

“There’s so such material in the world of beer and the world of music that’s rich to mine, we’ll keep coming up with more ideas,” Signorino Jr. said

Music isn’t the only inspiration for Barley’s brewers; movies have gotten into the mix. Theat and beer haven Studio 35 taps exclusive one-offs regularly. Most recent was a Scotch ale aged on French and American oak with honey the release of “The World’s End.”

“It’s nice to keep it interesting for the customers, but it keeps it interesting for us too,” Signorino.

Whatever the case, keep it up.