Twisted X and Adelbert’s Brewery have not only recently dabbled in barrel-aging their beers, but have collaborated with local distilleries Treaty Oak, Dulce Vida Tequila and Garrison Brothers to do it.
The older, the better
The Señor Viejo ("the old man") from Twisted X spent time in multiple barrels. The Mexican-style schwarzbier was first imperialized (its alcohol content was pumped up); Twisted X brewers then let it age in 10-gallon barrels from Garrison Brothers’ Straight Texas Bourbon Whiskey. Dulce Vida Tequila took those bourbon-and-beer-soaked barrels for their Lone Star Edition Añejo tequila — but the sharing didn’t stop there. Twisted X wanted some of tequila’s sweet agave notes for the Señor Viejo, so the beer went back into the barrels.
The final result is Twisted X’s biggest, darkest beer yet at 8.2 percent ABV. A concept that Twisted X brewers, including Shane Bourdeau, first thought up two years ago, the multiple barrel-aging lent some "unique characteristics" to Señor Viejo, Bourdeau said.
"We’re calling it the best little threesome we’ve ever done," he joked.
Although the imperial black lager is indeed a rich chocolate color, it’s much milder and not as bitter as typical stouts and porters because, as Bourdeau explained, it was brewed with lager yeast rather than ale yeast.
"Being that it’s a lager, it’s not heavy and thick, but you get the vanilla of the barrels, the oakiness of the barrels," he said. "At the end of it, you get the sweetness from the agave. It’s definitely our strongest beer, our most multi-layered."
Eventually, Twisted X wants to release the non-barrel aged version of Señor Viejo. Bourdeau said the Dripping Springs brewery is interested in doing more special summer bomber releases, such as a double IPA.
Adelbert’s Brewery also decided to team up with a local distillery to see how wood and spirits might influence one of their beers. The first in their barrel aging series with Treaty Oak Distilling Co. is Contemplating Waterloo, Adelbert’s Philosophizer aged in Treaty Oak’s Waterloo Antique Gin barrels.
The collaboration came together through — what else? — the brewers and distillers sitting down together with a couple beers. After musing about the results of aging Adelbert’s brews in Treaty Oak’s barrels, they decided the idea wasn’t just an idle thought but a real possibility, and they were right.
"The unique flavors their barrel aging brings to their liquors complements several of our beers extremely well," Adelbert’s founder Scott Hovey said.
One of those beers was the Philosophizer, and the result of adding it to barrels where gin once aged turned it into one of the booziest beers I’ve ever tasted, a full-bodied example of barrel aging done right. Lavender, juniper and other floral notes from the gin (which was more present in the beer than the bourbon and the tequila in the Señor Viejo, I thought) filled the nose with thoughts of spring, while crisp citrus and ginger in the finish brought me back to summer. The wood notes of the barrels were harder to detect, especially if Contemplating Waterloo sits for awhile. That’s when the gin really came through.
At 7.8 percent ABV, Contemplating Waterloo is a complex beer, big and floral. And I thought the choice of using Philosophizer was a smart one: Aging it in gin barrels only served to highlight the spicy elements of the saison.
Adelbert’s plans to release the second installment in the barrel aging series in the next few months. The Tripel Treat will be Adelbert’s Tripel B aged in Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum barrels.
Both beers are limited releases available at area stores and bars. For more information, visit the breweries’ websites at texmexbeer.com and adelbertsbeer.com.