20 Nov Four Fathers Brewing Earns A Medal At Festival of Barrel Aged Beers
Congratulations to Four Fathers Brewing in Valparaiso for their bronze medal win in the Specialty Strong Porter/Stout category at the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (FOBAB) in Chicago last weekend (Nov.17). I want to tell you more about this beer, but first things first – you can get Double Barrel Wheelhouse on tap at Four Fathers on Saturday, Nov. 24th at noon. Most craft breweries are very small businesses, so it’s nice that this award winning beer will be available on the Small Business Saturday following Black Friday.
Jason and Beth Lacny opened Four Fathers in 2014 with the idea of making unique but approachable beers. The “four fathers” in the name is a double tribute, both to the founders of our country and to the four main ingredients in beer: barley, water, hops, and yeast. But perhaps now they will have to add a fifth father – bourbon barrels. Their Double Barrel Wheelhouse coffee stout has made barrel aging a welcome addition at Four Fathers.
The 16th edition of FOBAB included beers from over 200 breweries, the likes of which included Casey Brewing and Blending, Prairie Artisan Ales, Odd Side Ales, and TRVE Brewing. Yet it was tiny Four Father from north west Indiana that walked away with a medal from one of the 12 categories. That medal was no small feat – and here’s the proof. The two beers that bested it were The Rusty Nail from Fremont Brewing and Fundamental Observation from Bottle Logic.
Bottle Logic’s Fundamental Observation took both gold in the specialty strong porter/stout group and Best in Show for the entire FOBAB competition. It was previously named the top new beer in the country in 2015 and The Daily Meal named it the 13th best beer in the world for 2018. All this from a brewery that has won dozens of national and international awards.
Meanwhile, The Rusty Nail took second place in the same category as Double Barrel Wheelhouse and previously was named the top beer in Washington by RateBeer and a top 16 beer in the country by Craft Beer & Brewing. That’s what it took keep a gold medal out of Four Fathers’ hands. No other category at FOBAB this year displayed that kind of pedigree, except maybe the brett wild beer group.
Has this convinced you that a trip to Four Fathers on Saturday is warranted? Well then, how about this – there were only about 3bbl of Double Barrel Wheelhouse produced – total. It was brewed early in 2018 and spent months in a Journeyman Distillery Not A King barrels, and then finished for another few months in Journeyman Last Feather barrels. – those Last feather barrels make some great beer.
The Wheelhouse base beer is an imperial stout made with plenty of crystal and dark roasted malts and a touch of flaked oats for an even bigger mouthfeel. Then the beer is supplemented with Dagger Mountain Coffee before being kegged off or finished in barrels. Jason told me, “Wheelhouse was not originally constructed to be barrel-aged, however the first time this recipe touched Journeyman barrels, something magical happened. Also, that addition of Dagger Mountain coffee completed the trinity and made this beer what it is today.”
If you can’t get some of the bottles of Wheelhouse or the barrel aged versions, including the Double Barrel on tap this weekend, remember that it’s produced every year, and Jason and Beth most certainly plan on doing the Double Barrel again next year…..but one issue is still outstanding. How did it get the name Wheelhouse? It was one of their first barrel aged beers (after Viking Funeral), so it wasn’t exactly a style that was in their “wheelhouse,” and Indiana is basically landlocked, so does this refer to boats?
Jason related how it came about. “Funny story…the television show “Deadliest Catch” was a favorite of mine back when I was home brewing. I would watch the show and think to myself, ‘if I was the captain of a crab fishing boat on the Bering Sea sitting in the wheelhouse of the ship, what would be my go to beer’? Of course I would never drink and drive the boat. This would have to beer to enjoy while someone else took over. Well, an imperial stout with a ton of coffee just made sense. High viscosity, decadent, and warming, with enough coffee to wake the dead. I wrote the recipe after that and the rest is history.”
Now you know the story, and I hope I’ve explained well enough why you need to go out and find this beer, whether it be the base beer, the barrel aged version, any of its variants, or the now famous Double Barrel. Make the trip to Valpo and try out Four Fathers – they’ve had the beers all along, but now they have the hardware.