Theres magic in that barrel.
There's magic in that barrel. Lester Black

Barrel aging beer is crazy. The vast majority of modern beer is made over the course of about a month in stainless steel containers. When a brewer makes a barrel-aged beer they put their hard work in non-sterile wood containers, full of germs and microbes that could spoil the beer at any moment, and then let that beer sit for months if not years.

This time-intensive process offers no guarantees to brewers; there is always the possibility that a brewer could waste a year barrel aging a beer only to have it spoil and be forced to poor it out. Yet deft brewers are somehow able to navigate this process and create stunning beers. Barrel-aged beers have become a sizeable share of the American beer scene and some, if not most, of the most sought after American beer has spent time in a barrel.

How are brewers able to coax these wonderful beers out of wooden barrels? What magic is at play? That’s the question we’ll be asking at BARREL WIZARDS, the third event in The Stranger’s Zymurgy beer series. I’ll be moderating a panel discussion with the brewers and owners of Holy Mountain Brewing, Fremont Brewing, and Reuben's Brews. Reuben’s is hosting the event this Tuesday at their new BrewTap space in Ballard.

Tickets for Barrel Wizards sold out in seven minutes when we put them on sale last month but guess what, we’ve got some more tickets for sale! You can purchase your ticket at this link (while tickets last—really, buy them right now if you're interested).

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Tickets include a curated tasting of barrel-aged beers so you can drink exactly what the brewers will be talking about. Holy Mountain is bringing The Gray Tower, a barrel-aged saison that is a mix of different mixed-culture beers. Holy Mountain rarely releases Gray Tower and I’ve never had a chance to try it, but based on its description it sounds like a bucolic bicycle ride through a Belgian countryside. Fremont Brewing is bringing The Rusty Nail, an oatmeal stout that has been aged for 15 months in 12-year-old bourbon barrels. It has notes of cocoa, dark fruit, and vanilla that are wrapped up in a luxuriously smooth package.

Our host brewery, Reuben’s, will be pouring Aeir, a one-year-old, barrel-aged spontaneous ale. Spontaneous ales are made with only native yeast, a process that brings even more risk and reward to the barrel-aging process.

If that hasn’t convinced you to come to our beer party I’m not sure what will. See y’all Tuesday!