Distilled Beer: Turning Craft Beer into Craft Whiskey!

By Brian Lemay No comments


Those whiskey sipping nights of winter
are slowly starting to fade away and I bet many of you are starting to reach
for a beer a bit more frequently as summer approaches but what if you could
sip both in one sip? A whiskey with the soul of a beer? Stay tuned as we dive
into the deliciously hot trend of turning craft beer into craft whiskey! So all whiskey is essentially distilled beer
– but you wouldn’t want to drink the majority of the beer that
turns into your whiskey because it’s unfinished, simple beer without the
blending of malts, addition of hops, fruit, souring yeast, oak barrel aging or any
other unique innovative finishing approaches that craft brews takes to
make that delicious beer you crave. But what if you did distill finished beers?
Well, not surprisingly, complex interesting beers translate into complex
interesting whiskies that… YES, remind you of that same beer that you love! Think
about it… distillation is essentially concentration of flavor. So if you start
with something so delicious that you want to drink it before it’s distilled,
wouldn’t it just be concentrated deliciousness once distilled?! Of course it would be genius! While this isn’t new to brewing, it
is becoming a hot trend that we’re seeing more and more of with interesting
collaborations between craft brewers and craft distillers everywhere we turn. First up! We’re headed to Massachusetts, to Boston Harbor Distillery. We have a whole
feature article coming up about this distillery next week so make sure to
subscribe and join Tippler Nation so you don’t miss it! But today we’re
diving into one of their Spirit of Boston Whiskies… which are called Spirit
of Boston because they are made from local Sam Adams beers. Can’t get much
more Boston than that! Now, quick side note here. The jury is still out a bit
on if you can technically even call these whiskies with TTB laws and
regulations. So you’ll see on the bottles that I’m sharing today, both this one and
the next one, the descriptor “Spirits distilled from grain and hops.” I point that
out simply so if you see things like that on other bottles it doesn’t confuse
you and scare you away. It’s whiskey… just handcuffed by weird labeling laws
at times. Back to the whiskey! So the one I have here is Boston Harbor
Distillery. It is 84 proof and it is distilled from Sam Adams Double Black
Lager. Let’s take a sip. First, on the nose: mmm, chocolate,
oak, some deep caramel and there is like a little beer essence to it. I know, like
I don’t even know how to describe it but every one that I’ve experienced, that’s a
craft beer turned into craft whiskey, I do get a sense of beer. I don’t know if
it’s biased because I know it is or what, but I get it. And on the pallet, almost coffee maybe a
little bit like licorice notes but because I know Sam Adams beers very
well, growing up in Massachusetts, I recognize this. It’s a whiskey that has a familiar taste beneath it and it’s just delicious. The fun
thing about this is that all of the Spirit of Boston whiskies are limited
edition, simply because Boston Harbor Distillery continues to experiment with
different Sam Adams beers and some of the beers that they use are limited
release as well. When we were out there on the other Spirit of Boston whiskies
available, were, let me see if I can remember ,13th Hour but based on the 13th Hour Stout by Sam
Adams, based on the New World Tripel and the Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout. That last one is like Christmas in your mouth as a whiskey…so freaking good! Alright let’s come on back to California for the other whiskey we want to introduce you to today. This one is from Seven Stills Distillery and Brewery here in San Francisco. We recently featured Seven Stills on thecraftycask.com where you
can read all about them. What’s unique about them is that this trend is
pretty much their whole jam. So while other distilleries maybe have one
distilled beer or a small line of them, this is what Seven Stills is all about.
They not only collaborate with amazing craft breweries to make their whiskies
but they also brew their own delicious craft beer to make some of their
whiskies as well. So what I have here is their whiskey
called Russian Imperial for the Czar. It’s made from their own Russian
Imperial Stout and as they run it through the second distillation the
vapors are run through a gin basket containing hops. Seven Stills is also a
believer in smaller barrels, using only five gallon barrels for higher wood
to liquid ratio and also faster barrel ageing times. All right let’s get sipping. So, on the nose, you get a touch of
cocoa kind of intermingled with roasted coffee and caramel. Almost like a mocha
but then, wait, there’s a bit of citrus there too, maybe from the hops. It’s a really
really interesting nose. On the palate, you continue to get a deep chocolaty note
perhaps with a bit of blackberry or raspberry and you can definitely pick up that
barrel characteristic kind of woodiness as well. It’s just I don’t know any other
word to describe this other than it’s kind of like, it’s a sexy whisky. There’s
just something sultry and kind of sexy about how it sips and how it tastes. Really delicious. The fun thing about Seven Stills is they have so many
distilled beer whiskies to choose from! And collaborations from many breweries
you likely know, such as Bottle Logic, Almanac, Pacific Brewing Laboratory, Fieldwork and lots more! It’s like a beer geek’s whiskey heaven! So what do you think? Ready to get your hands on some craft beer turned into craft whiskey? It’s a trend I’m pretty excited to see more of myself.
While purists may be skeptical about this approach I’d say give them a try before
you come to any conclusions. Honestly so far the examples of this
craft beer into craft whiskey trend and we’ve tasted have been amazingly
unique and delicious. And after all, isn’t unique and delicious what this craft
revolution is all about? Until next time, drink craft and drink local. Cheers!

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