When Triple C first introduced their Up All Night Porter, we knew they had created an instant classic. Then when they introduced the Up All Night to a Maker’s Mark Bourbon Barrel, we knew they’d found a match made in heaven. Scott Kimball, the Head Brewer and Part Owner, has read every book there is about Barrel Aging. And that number is ZERO! Not a book exists on how to Barrel Age your beer. There are numerous books about home brewing beer, hops, yeast strains, barley, etc., but when it comes to Barrel aging… NOTHING!
First of all, why did barrel aging become a thing? In order to understand this we must investigate Bourbon. What is Bourbon and what is Whiskey? Many people know there is a difference between the two but do not understand the significance. All Bourbons are Whiskeys. What makes a Whiskey a Bourbon is that you must use 51 percent corn in your mash AND you can only use new, charred oak barrels for the aging process. New is the key. Other whiskeys can use their barrels over and over. Bourbon distilleries can never use their barrels again and call it Bourbon, thus we had an abundance of used barrels with no purpose…UNTIL craft breweries stepped in and started filling them with delicious beer.
Scott may not have found any books about barrel aging to read, but he could probably write one. Triple C has found a niche in Charlotte’s young but blossoming craft beer scene. Their next barrel-aged offering is the Imperial Smoked Amber, also impressive, and we hear they have a new stash of several-dozen more barrels that they plan to use to complement the flavors of their finely crafted beers. Scott seems to have found the right balance of adding those flavors of bourbon and oak to the beer, without the beer being overpowered.
A few weeks ago, (well, over a month, actually, we’re a little behind on the blog posts) we did something that some people might consider odd. We walked into a brewery with a cooler full of beer. Specifically, some big boys in the bourbon barrel-aged beer world, including Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, North Carolina favorite Olde Hickory Event Horizon, and a bottle of Triple C Bourbon Barrel Aged Up All Night that we had been holding onto for several months. We also had a Westbrook Udderly Stout, which is not barrel-aged.
So the question we asked was, does Triple C Bourbon Barrel Aged Up All Night belong at the same table with these whales of the beer world? I can answer that question with an emphatic HELL YES!!! Will I go as far as to say that Triple C’s first Barrel aged beer is BETTER than KBS? No. But does it belong at the same table? Yes! This is the best Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer I have had in the last two years that I did not have to wait in line for, draw a number for, or have a limit placed on how many I could buy.
We can not wait to see what Triple C has in store with the new barrels they have acquired. These guys are making some amazing beers and we are glad to be able to enjoy them here in the Queen city. Thank you Scott, Chris, and the crew for some AMAZING beers!