Grand Teton Brewing attends dozens of beer festivals every year, from small local fundraising events to Denver’s GABF, the biggest of them all. The festival I most anticipated this year was the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers (FoBAB) on November 17th in Chicago. I was not disappointed.
We’ve been experimenting with wood-aging our beers for a few years now, and have enjoyed some success, winning praise for beers like Bourbon Barrel Double Vision and Who’s Brett? as well as medals for our two previous FoBAB competition entries. 2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of Grand Teton Brewing, and to celebrate we’re working on several special barrel-aged beers for release to our best retail partners throughout the year. I looked forward to learning from some of the best in the country about the art of aging beer on wood.
The highlight of the day was my morning at the judges’ table along with several brewers
much more experienced than I with barrel work. We tasted a score of wood-aged strong porters and stouts, ranging in quality from very good to phenomenal. It was a great education for me. Lesson number one: time matters. Barrel-aging cannot be hurried. All of our favorite beers shared complexity that could only have been gained from long months in wood.
As we prepare for our anniversary celebrations, we were quite pleased to win a silver medal in the Classic Style Category for our Barrel-Aged Grand Saison, last year’s summer Cellar Reserve conditioned for a year in French oak Syrah barrels. Keep your eyes open for this and other barrel aged beers on tap at a great beer bar near you next year.