Last year we were asked to brew a special beer commemorating Belmont Station’s 15th Anniversary. Belmont Station has played a very important role in the growth of craft beer in the Northwest. Fifteen years ago there were not many places where one could purchase import and craft beers, and many might say that Belmont Station began the trend.
I remember first visiting Belmont Station ten years ago when it was located next to The Horse Brass. The place was small but lined wall to wall with beer selections. At 23 years old, and growing into my craft beer shoes, I remember being joyfully overwhelmed at their selection: beer from all over the world and styles I had never heard of. Truly a young beer lover’s dream shop. It sure as hell never crossed my mind that my own beer would someday is on the shelf of such an amazing establishment, let alone special ale to mark their anniversary.
Normally, designing a beer tends to come from various inspirations, with little pressure. I was honestly a bit nervous for this project. I wanted the beer to be unique and bring together the feel of Belmont Station, a place where imported beer sits alongside local craft beers.
Belmont Station’s owner and I share a love for the Van Winkle line of bourbons. Immediately, I knew I wanted to work with 15 yr old Van Winkle barrels. Of course that bourbon, and thus the barrels, are only available in very limited amounts and I figured procuring a dozen would be a long shot. The next day I reached out to my contact (yes, it is a secret) in Kentucky, and as luck would have it the 15yr was scheduled to be dumped that week.
For the base beer we worked on a recipe inspired by the theory of a strong Scotch style ale. The beer was brewed with Marris Otter, c-120, roast, and a touch of cherry wood & peated malts, golding hops and Scottish ale yeast. After 10 days of cool fermentation we racked the beer into the fresh Van Winkle barrels for maturation.
At three months the beer was sampled. The bourbon was gentle with thick malt notes, fruits, light wood, and smoke. More time was needed.
After a few more months we again sampled the beer. The bourbon was more pronounced but also more mature with caramel, jammy fruits, and a backdrop of gentle smoke. The beer was good, really good, but I didn’t feel it was worthy of the project. We needed to contribute a gift from our cellar. We began to play around with blending proportions of bourbon barreled Oud Bruins from our wild program. The blends changed the structure of the beer dramatically. Acids meld well with the thick malt and aged wood gave a more mature finish. Fruits notes became accentuated adding layers of complexity. It was decided that our final blend would include 11% 24 month Oud Bruin and 11% 9 month.
The blend was cellared an additional two months and has transformed the beer into a completely new experience. Tart acids balance the big malt and jammy fruits with moderate cherry notes and a whisper of smoke. The bourbon barrel added notes of refined whiskey, caramel, and wood. A unique ale that we are proud to offer as Belmont Station’s 15th Anniversary beer.
84 Cases, 750ml bottle conditioned, corked and caged.
5bbls on draught
Friday June 15th @ Belmont Station
On tap at Noon
Bottles on sale at 1pm, 2 bottle limit/person
5-8pm Block 15 Brewers will be on site to talk beer! Also pouring Pappy’s Dark, Super Nebula, and a very special 15th Anniversary Cask with cherries & cocoa nibs.
@ Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery
On tap Monday June 18th
Bottles available Tuesday June 19th, limit 2/person.
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