2010 Angel’s Share Grand Cru
When we opened our doors back in May of 2006 we knew barrel aged beers and blending of barrels was going to be a big part of our long term strategy. We built a dedicated barrel room for aging our beers and invoked the expression “In Illa Nos Fides” above the threshold for the room.
A modest 100 bourbon, brandy and wine barrels were procured as we set out to build one of the largest barrel programs in this country. During the four years, our barrels have been the source of enormous success and experimental failures as well.
It’s one of the hallmarks of using wood for brewing purposes. There is a certain lack of control within the process. It certainly appeals to us which is why today our barrel program has expanded (with a new warehouse) to over 600 barrels full of beer.
Stepping into the corridors of our barrels is a trip down memory lane. The original 8 barrels which I used back in Solana Beach in the late 90’s and much of the 2000’s to age and bugger up beers are still with us today. They may not make the same epic batches that they used to kick out but Nostalgia is a powerful tool and I love that they are still a part of our makeup. Every so often, we find barrels that have been misplaced literally in a Lost and Found sort of way. Other times, we have barrels that we squirrel away for “what if” type discoveries.
This process of stashing barrels started back in November of 2006 when it came time to release our first batch of Brandy Barrel Aged Angel’s Share. The original barreling produced 11 oak barrels of beer. When we went to package the beer, I decided that we should keep one of the 11 behind to see what extended aging would do for the evolutionary aspects of the beer. And for the past four years, Brandy Barrel # 184 has been in our warehouse since we originally loaded it in March of 2006! During this time, we would sample small portions of the beer to see what longer contact times with the wood might produce. It’s been a fun experiment.
Yesterday, we emptied barrel #184 and married it with 5 other barrels of Angel’s Share producing batch #1 of Angel’s Share Grand Cru. This promises to be one of the best batches of beer we have ever blended here at The Lost Abbey. Besides the original barrel which spent nearly four years in the oak, we also have an original barrel from the 2007 Bourbon Angel’s Share (never released in bottle form). To this, we also have added three barrels from our newest 2009 Brandy Angel’s Share release. One of these barrels (#292) even featured the addition of Cabernet Franc Grapes last fall adding a very nice layer of sweetness as the grapes did not ferment in the barrel. The 6th and final barrel in the blend is barrel #375 from our impending Bourbon Barrel 2010 Release scheduled for March of this year. It was brought to the blend to give it some fire and ice if you will. The new, raw spirited Bourbon character, produced the fire with the Vanilla and caramel notes bringing the “ice” and smoothness to the blend.
This has the potential to go down as one of the smoothest batches of Angel’s Share we have bottled. It’s an epic blend of about 250-300 gallons of some of our best barrels. Those of you who renewed as Patron Sinners will see this in your first shipment of beer. All told we’re expecting between 150-200 cases if this beer to jump into the bottle tomorrow. It will head across the street and into our new hot box. If all goes well, it will go on sale on February 13th along with 2010 Red Poppy batch we’re bottling on Monday… see you then?
ps- We didn’t start numbering the individual barrels until 2008. This may help explain why one of our original 100 barrels is labeled as barrel #184 and the 2007 Bourbon Angel’s Share is from barrel #117.