When I received this email from Adelbert’s announcing their new barrel-aged series:
“Adelbert’s Brewery is pleased to announce the first release of a new special series it will be creating with barrels from Treaty Oak Distilling Co.- Contemplating Waterloo, the inaugural beer for the series, is a distinct barrel aged beer that was made by aging Adelbert’s Philosophizer, a spicy and citrusy saison, in Waterloo Antique Gin barrels from Treaty Oak Distilling Co. The result is a complex array of lavender, juniper and oak from the barrel balanced with the Philosophizer to create a smooth, warming ale.“
Well, I jumped right out of my chair and did my most enthusiastic happy dance. Adelbert’s is a favorite brewery of Ben’s and mine. We’ve been cellaring their beers since they were distributing with the old labels. I mean, an entire brewery with a soul-shaking commitment to Belgian-style ales? Just magic. A magical place full of all the things I want for my birthday…
But I digress; I immediately jumped on the opportunity to learn more about these guys, to share their newest beer experience with all of you, and in the beer nerd recesses of my mind imagined us, maybe just maybe, becoming super duper beer friends for always.
I threw everything I had out there, in hopes of Adelbert’s being receptive to (and forgiving of) my overt enthusiasm, and they responded in the most genuinely friendly and amazing way possible. Sarah, general manager for Adelbert’s, sent back wonderfully detailed answers to our questions, not to mention, a selection of beers for us to review, including a sneak preview of Contemplating Waterloo.
This beer is in my kitchen!!
MY WHOLE YEAR JUST GOT MADE.
Now, as I have no doubt that you’re ready for me to move on to the beer-fan questions that are undoubtedly forming in the recesses of your minds…
For anyone new to the label, can you tell us a bit more about how Adelbert’s came to be?
A passionate homebrewer for many years, [Scott Hovey] found his calling when sampling aged Belgian beers at his first Craft Brewer’s Conference (CBC). In 2010, after retiring from the semi-conductor industry where he worked for over 25 years, he completed the Master Brewers Association of the Americas’ Malting and Brewing Science Course while developing the business plan for Adelbert’s Brewery. The brewery name and brand was inspired by his brother, George Adelbert Hovey, whom the brewery is named after. In addition, all of our year-round ales are named after Del’s wild and crazy life stories!
Treaty Oak Barrels at Adelbert’s Brewery in Austin, TX
When did Adelbert’s first meet Barnes from Treaty Oak distillery?
Scott met Daniel [Barnes] and the Treaty Oak crew on day one. They were based in the same building as us until recently. It was a quick friendship because Chris Lamb, their lead distiller, was interested in learning more about fermentation and Scott was interested in learning about barrels. Last September, we began brewing whiskey wash for them. We found it to be a challenge to do a different type of fermentation, and push Scott and Taylor’s brewing skills.
Will you guys be increasing (or have you already) the brewing capacity to make room for these new barrel-aged beers?
We are in the process of increasing our capacity, but not specifically for the barrel aged beers. We are increasing to better meet the needs of our markets and support growth plans that we have. Since the Vintage Series (barrel aged line) is based on our year round beers, the increased capacity will help them as well.
What was the inspiration for this new series?
Scott was inspired by Goose Island’s barrel program from [the beginning]. He calls their Bourbon County aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels “liquid gold in a glass!” He and Ramona (co-founder and Scott’s wife) fell in love with the romance and flavors of barrel aging. We all look forward to the day when our tasting room is surrounded in wall-to-wall barrels.
Is barrel aging going to be a primary focus for the foreseeable future?
Yes and no. We will always keep our primary focus on our year-round Belgian-style ales, and make sure we are meeting the demand for those. However, we love to try new things – no reason why we can’t keep things interesting, and keep our fans happy. We’ve had a lot of success so far with our previous Vintage Series beers, which were aged in wine barrels. As we do our warehouse expansion over the next several months, we plan to also expand the barrel program.
How many beers are planned for this series? Will the series center around barrel-aging? Or is Adelbert’s planning to incorporate one-off beers as well?
This series specifically will center around barrel aging with Treaty Oaks barrels. Contemplating Waterloo and Tripel Treat are the first two planned. Later this year, we plan to use Treaty Oak’s whiskey barrels for Barrel of Love, a bourbon barrel chocolate stout, we released last year for Valentine’s Day.
We do occasionally do special releases, such as our upcoming Sundowner (a Biere Brut), but won’t lump those under our barrel program unless we put it in a barrel.
One day Scott would like to work with barrels from Europe, maybe a port barrel. We’ll just have to see what the future holds.
[Editor's Note: The second installment in the series, Tripel Treat, is Adelbert’s Tripel B aged in Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum barrels, as mentioned in Adelbert's press release, posted Aug. 15th on Beer Drinkers Facebook page]
Now that we know about Contemplating Waterloo and Tripel Treat, what other beers could we expect to see out of this series?
We are planning to age our Barrel of Love…for the 2015 [Valentine's Day] release. As far as other beers, we still don’t know yet. At any given time we are producing at least seven beers, but usually closer to nine when you factor in special releases. So we are cranking out 2 to 3 times as many as other breweries of similar age and size. Due to that, sometimes we have to wait until inspiration strikes for something new.
We’re intrigued by the choice of gin/rum barrels versus bourbon barrels….
Scott is a big fan of Treaty Oak’s Waterloo gin because it is more lavender forward and thought it would be fun to play with. Everyone had done bourbon barrels! He picked Philosophizer for its spiced profile which he thought would complement the gin flavors. And who doesn’t like rum!
Will we be introduced via press release to a taste profile on the Tripel Treat as well?
You bet ya! The two are so different and similar at the same time.
What flavors do they expect the rum barrels to impart on Tripel B?
Well, if we told you now what fun would the press release later be? Let’s just say the warming notes from the rum blended with the Tripel B to create a surprising flavor profile.
Could this lead to a break from their usual Belgian focus into pumpkins, or stouts?
Well, we have produced a stout before – Barrel of Love, the bourbon barrel chocolate stout, I mentioned above. However, we do have plans to play with that one a little before next year, and give it a little more Belgian flare.
We aren’t pumpkin people. Every year we are asked whether we will be doing one. Obviously, we haven’t. Typically, we like to make the beers we like to drink and no one at the brewery loves pumpkin beers currently.We prefer to play with new and different ideas. Between now and the end of the year we will be releasing three special releases – Contemplating Waterloo, Tripel Treat and Sundowner. We don’t have time for things we don’t love, and pumpkin isn’t one of them.
We are also launching several sub-brands within the brewery. Naughty Brewing was our first, and more are in the development stages. These lines are created, and developed, by our staff that are looking to create the beers that interest them, but may not fall into the Belgian realm. We want all of our employees to have the opportunity to be inspired and share their passion with the world.
How often can we expect a new release from this series?
There are several factors that impact that – availability of barrels from Treaty Oak, time in the barrels, and any other special releases. I think we will see how well Contemplating Waterloo and Tripel Treat are received by the public, and go from there.
Will the release of each beer in the series be around 100 cases total?
It is all determined by the availability of barrels. Contemplating Waterloo was made with small 15 gallon barrels. In the future, we are hoping to get 56 gallon barrels from Treaty Oak.
When can we expect the list of receiving vendors to post to Adelbert’s website?
As soon as the beer is loaded in the truck and on its way to each market, we will be posting on Facebook (with announcement to look at Facebook on Twitter). Each market will get its own release day starting in a little over a week.
AND DFW’S DELIVERY DATE IS THIS MONDAY – AUGUST 25!! So watch Adelbert’s Facebook and Twitter feed for that list of vendors, because they’re only shipping 110 cases to cover Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
Don’t forget, Beer Drinkers will be getting into that bottle of Contemplating Waterloo this Friday, and will have our review out to you Saturday; so subscribe to receive email updates of all our postings, or go like Beer Drinkers on Facebook to find it in your feed!!
Jamie Webster is the editor-in-chief of BeerDrinkers.com and the culinary adventurer responsible for our beer pairing articles.