15 Nov Barrel-Aged Sticky Fingers is the Latest in Chilly Water Brewing’s Turn It Up Series
Having come back to Earth from the recent Festival of Wood & Barrel Aged Beer, Walter and I are now barrel aged experts and look forward to trying more beers mingled with wood. Going into winter is a good time to be so enthused, as many stouts come out this time of year, and many of those stouts end up in bourbon or whiskey barrels. Oddly enough, even though I tire of marzens about the end of October, and am ready to see pumpkin beers go away about the same time, I never seem to get tired of barrel aged stouts.
Barrel aged beers are often higher in alcohol, especially the darker beers that go into wood. Imperials and others that have big malt backbones stand up to the tannins and other flavors better, allowing for more barrel gaining without losing the characteristics and flavors of the beer. Technically, aging in a used bourbon or other spirit barrel doesn’t raise the ABV much on it’s own, but f the barrel was very wet (had spirits still in it) when the beer was added, then the ABV could increase.
Therefore, a brewer is often turning up several factors of a beer that goes into, and comes out of, a barrel – malt, ABV, hops, flavor profiles, etc. But a barrel or increased ABV doesn’t have to be involved to turn up the volume on a beer. You can take a beer style and recipe, adopt it to be an “imperial” version, and then crank it up even further with flavors and smoked malts or other pluses. And a bigger beer isn’t necessarily a big deal – people make imperial IPAs all the time, but some styles do lend themselves to becoming very special and rare when doubled or otherwise beefed up. That’s when you have “turned up” a beer.
One Indiana brewery that has taken this idea to heart is Chilly Water Brewing in the Fletcher Place neighborhood of Indianapolis. Skip DuVall and Dan Krzywicki opened Chilly Water in 2014 as a brewery with a strong connection to music. The name comes from the Widespread Panic song Chilly Water, and their tag line, “Ain’t Beer Grand” comes from the song Ain’t Life Grand from the same band. So naturally, if they were going to do a series of big beers, they would called it the Turn It Up series.
Since they came up with the idea for the series in 2015, just a year after opening, they have released two of these beers each year, on Black Friday and April Fools’ Day, but now the beers are even more rare, with just one release coming each fall. That means that we’re due for a wax dipped bottle release a couple of weeks from now. Chilly Water has now let us know what beer that will be. It’s and imperial double oat stout with coffee, vanilla, cocoa nibs, lactose, maple syrup, and brown sugar called Sticky Fingers Imperial Breakfast Stout, aged in barrels from Hotel Tango Distillery for a full year. (see the event page here)
It’s nice to see local ingredients being used for these beers. The barrels come from directly across the street after holding locally distilled Hotel Tango whiskey for two years. The coffee used is from Strange Brew in Greenwood. Turning up the volume of this batch of Sticky Fingers is even more special when local ingredients are involved. As for turned up in ABV, this whiskey barrel beer goes off at 8.2%.
Sticky Fingers (named for a Rolling Stones album) was a 2015 release in this series, but that beer was not barrel aged, so even for the Turn It Up series this beer has been turned up. Previous beers in the series include Krampus Belgian Dark Strong aged in oak casks, Long Black Veil Strong Scotch Ale, Barley O’Riley Barleywine, Dark Sarcasm Russian Imperial Stout, and Friend of the Devil Doppelbock.
This Whiskey Barrel Aged batch of Sticky Fingers Imperial Breakfast Stout will be on tap and in bottles at both Chilly Water locations on November 29th, and even better, another, non-barrel aged batch of Sticky Fingers will be on tap as well so that we can compare them. BBA Sticky Fingers is a beer that previously won a silver medal at the US Open Beer Championship, so this seventh beer in the series is good reason to do most of your shopping at Chilly Water this Black Friday.
Buy a few bottles so you can enjoy some over the holidays and let some age. One of the best things about the beers of this series is how well they mature over time, blending and developing flavors. This beer will get even better with 2-3 years age on it. There are usually fewer than 200 bottles of Turn It Up series beers made available, so get there early for these attractive bottles. There… Christmas shopping for your beer friends is already taken care of.