Join us as we find out just how some of the best local brews, drinks, and spirits are made. This week, we head to Lost Forty’s tap to check out one of their newest concoctions, the 3-Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Project known as Nighty Night.
Many imperial stout fans may remember when Lost Forty had such a drink on their tap just a few months back. The brewery is now launching a batch of the beer aged in bourbon, rye whiskey, and cabernet barrels.
The brew crew: John Beachboard, Dylan Yelenich and Omar Castrellon, thought they could have some fun with this particular project. “Between me, Omar and John,” explains Yelenich, “we’re all tasters, so we chose the barrels based on that.”
Before the barrels come into play, however, the recipe calls for a combination of roasted barley, chocolate malt, and two different crystal malts responsible for both a toffee-like caramel flavor and a roasted coffee flavor.
Don’t forget the hops and, believe it or not, this brew calls for a substantial amount which help balance out the sweetness. “We used a lot of American hops in this beer, just to give it an American hop feel – which I think turned out really nice and helps combat the sweetness of the bourbon,” says Yelenich.
When boiling the malt and hops together, the crew aimed for a pretty high gravity – a measure of how much sugar is dissolved. Ultimately, gravity helps calculate ABV, and this one is no joke at 9.8 percent. Next up, the beer went through the fermenting process and was separated into the available barrels.
If you’ve been to Lost Forty recently you may have had a chance to try one or two barrel-aged beers, like the Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Saison. What you probably don’t know is that while barrel-aging cocktails and spirits is a pretty straight forward process, so to speak, it is not so with beer.
“Every time we put beer into a barrel there’s always a gamble. We could end up dumping that barrel because beer is not a stable product like a spirit. In spirit distillation, it’s sterile and high proof, whereas this is really low proof and it’s susceptible to bacterial contamination. You have to really watch how your barrels are doing,” Yelenich explains.
That being said, the crew always tries to have fun with it. Yelenich says, “We’ll take a barrel and let it sit for four weeks out in the warehouse at ambient temperature. Then for a week we’ll sit it in the walk-in and stress that barrel out. … I feel like we get a lot more flavor extraction in a quicker time just by doing that.”
After about three months, Yelenich took to testing out various ratios of the mixtures. “I blended it in every way,” he says, “I had a matrix in my mind, and that’s how I did cocktails when we used to make them at any of the restaurants – Big Orange, Local Lime. I would say, what happens to the cocktail when we mix it this way,” he explains.
Carrying that process over to beer, the three knew they had hit gold with their final ratio. The cabernet flavor really gives this beer a punch, as Yelenich says, “It added a depth of character and was a next level for all of us.” Beachboard adds, “I think we’ll end up trying to find more cabernet barrels for different beers just because that kind of stone fruit flavor you typically don’t get … so it’s really a nice level of complexity that you don’t always see.”
With cold conditioning and canning last up, Nighty Night is on its way. Brace yourselves, folks, it’s not named ‘Nighty Night’ for nothing. That 9.8 percent ABV means this is the only drink you’ll need before you decide it’s bedtime. Catch it first on Oct. 5 as it debuts as a Fresh Cut in the Lost Forty taproom at 4 p.m.