Any time a Charlotte brewery announces a new barrel-aged libation, my interest is piqued. Last year, when Triple C Brewing released a pair of barrel-aged imperial honey wheat ales, one aged on tart cherries and another on peaches, I was doubly-intrigued.
Tomorrow at noon, Triple C is upping the stakes even further, simultaneously dropping four bottled variants of the same base beer (plus a fifth draft-only offering).
Meet the varied 2016 line-up for “Kind of a Big Deal”: blood orange, ginger & boysenberry, and strawberry, plus a “wild” variant of blueberries and brettanomyces. A rum-barrelled mango version rounds out the assembly on tap.
The base beer slumbered in Heaven Hill barrels until head brewer Scott Kimball deemed them ready, with aging times ranging from 4 to 7 months. (“Anything much longer than that leads to excessive oxidation,” he explains.) Then, the barrels were blended before the beer was again divided and subsequently fruited. The lion’s share of the 30-barrel batch is dedicated to the blood orange, ginger/boysenberry, and strawberry variants, with 80-90 cases of these varieties available.
Separately, two bourbon barrels were inoculated with an additional yeast strain, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, and aged on blueberries. The result of this mingling is “Kind of a Wild Deal,” yielding but 25 cases but providing an impressively varied flavor profile versus its traditionally-fermented cousins.
Allotment for these wax-dipped beauties will be 4 bottles per person for the main “Big Deal” varietals, dropping to two bottles per person for the “Wild Deal.” Each bottle regardless of variety runs $14 apiece.
It’s not every day that you see an imperial honey wheat ale crawl out of barrels; typically such offerings trend towards stouts and barleywines. “I’ll drink a stout in the summertime, but most people won’t,” explained Kimball. “We love aging beers in barrels and the unique characters a lighter beer can get from a barrel. Our goal is to have something barrel aged on tap year round and KOBD is our best representation for a summer barrel-aged brew.”
Last year’s dual cherry & peach versions of “Kind of a Big Deal” were well received, but Triple C wasn’t willing to simply settle for repeating past success. Kimball didn’t shy away from a challenge, arriving at “a mix of tried and true fruits like Strawberry and Blueberry and some experimentation with boysenberry and mango.”
When Triple C Brewing celebrates their 4th anniversary in a few short weeks, they’re set to tap their take on a New England IPA, “Not Just N.E. IPA.” So far this year, they’ve already brewed more beer than they did in the entirety of 2014.
Triple C’s most recent bottled offerings might not be leather-bound or smell of rich mahogany, but they’re very much still “Kind of a Big Deal” and shouldn’t be missed by any self-respecting beer lover.
Triple C Brewing releases “Kind of a Big Deal” bottles in their taproom (2900 Griffith Street) at noon on Saturday. Per-bottle cost is $14. Per-person allotment for blood orange, ginger/boysenberry, and strawberry variants are 4 bottles; per-person allotment for “Wild Deal” is 2 bottles.