The last 5-10 years have seen a surge in popularity for barrel-aging beers. Breweries take some of their standard recipes and let the beer rest in barrels that previously aged wine or spirits for months or even years at a time. The resulting brew takes on the flavors of the barrel and typically becomes a more mellow and complex drink. Arkansas breweries have put out some wonderful barrel-aged beers over the years, but none have attempted what Lost Forty Brewing is doing this month. Every Monday in February, Lost Forty will put out two new barrel-aged beers at the taproom. It’s a remarkable event considering brewers don’t ever truly know how long each beer will take to age once it gets in the barrel.
“It was a very surprising and convenient occurrence,” said Grant Chandler, Lost Forty’s quality control manager. “I think of February as being a romantic month, but it’s also a very cold, winter month. So barrel-aged beers, between the romanticism and the fact they’re usually pretty hearty beers, they fit the month of February well.”
The Lost Forty team realized the beers would all be ready at roughly the same time and decided to celebrate in a big way. Each Freshcut Monday in February will see two new brews released, starting with this past Monday. Here’s the lineup:
- Feb. 5: Bourbon barrel-aged Double Love Honey doppelbock and bourbon barrel-aged Forest Queen with Izard Chocolate
- Feb. 12: Rye and bourbon barrel-aged bock
- Feb. 19: Bourbon barrel-aged one-year barleywine and one-year funky barleywine (Wild Barrels Project #7)
- Feb. 26: Rye and bourbon barrel-aged Forest King imperial stout
If you missed the first event, don’t worry. There’s still plenty of doppelbock and Forest Queen available in the taproom. Chandler said the Forest Queen surprised him how well it turned out.
“Forest Queen is not really a big beer,” said Chandler. “Typically the kind of beer you barrel-age tends to be higher in ABV. Forest Queen is pretty mild in that regard, but it came out very full and very flavorful. Bourbon and chocolate, it’s a classic combination, and those two went together really well.”
Lost Forty used either a bourbon barrel or a rye barrel for each of the brews, and while both will add oak and vanilla characteristics, they impact the beer in their own unique way. Bourbon tends to be more robust and well rounded; it still packs a punch, but it’s a more full flavor. Rye tends to be sharper and somewhat spicy, giving a flavorful pop to the brew. Chandler said the work and length of time that went into each brew paid off in the end.
“These beers take a while, they take a lot of patience and time and care,” said Chandler. “To release them all at one time when we could stretch them out for months at a time, for us, we just wanted to go all out and make it a really special month for our customers. So enjoy the beers, but more so, I very much appreciate all the care that went into a really concentrated month of celebratory Freshcuts.
If you did get a chance to attend the kickoff event Monday, going to the next three events will get you a free Lost Forty beer glass. Even if you didn’t, these beers are special and unique enough that you should plan to stop by and try them. Lost Forty’s Freshcut Monday events all start at 4 p.m. Some of these brews are only available by the glass, while others will have larger quantities to take home. Make sure you check Lost Forty’s Facebook page for the details on each Freshcut Monday, and enjoy some excellent barrel-aged brews every week in February.