Hill Farmstead Brewery operated by Shaun Hill in Greensboro, Vermont is one of the most highly praised breweries in the craft beer circle. Their beers, from juicy Pale Ales to tart oaky Saisons, are clamored for by beer geeks across the U.S.A and internationally. One of their more elusive beers, Ann (a wine barrel aged honey Saison), was recently released for only the second time in bottles since they’ve been in operation.
Oxbow Brewing Company out of Newcastle, Maine is a relatively new brewery to me. I’ve heard about them through various conversations and online forum postings, but only had the opportunity to try a few of their beers within the past month. I acquired a bottle of their Stillbow Oxtisanal, a collaboration with Oxbow and Stillwater Artisanal Ales. This is billed as a Saison/Farmhouse Ale aged in blueberry wine barrels for 20 months.
I have been on a barrel-aged beer kick recently so I grabbed a bottle of Cold Spring Brewing Company’s John Henry West Indies Pale Ale, an American Strong Ale aged on rum spirals. Okay, so this one isn’t technically barrel-aged, but there is wood. These also come in at a great value – hopefully the contents justify that statement.
Its return has been three years in the making, a Belgian-style Tripel aged in oak wine barrels and virgin oak barrels inoculated with two barrels of Splinter Gold (2010) and infused with Brettanomyces. Phew. Troegs says this “is a highly-carbonated, bone-dry wild ale boasting a rich Bret ‘funk’ married with lush vanilla, toasted coconut, and oaky tannins.” This is the only Splinter beer I’ve yet to try, I’m hoping it’s as good as they say it is.
During a recent trip to Maryland, I grabbed a bottle of Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Siren Noire – an Imperial Stout brewed with chocolate and aged in bourbon barrels (of course). I hadn’t seen this one in the Philadelphia area yet, so the choice was easy. At 9.5% ABV, I’m expecting rich chocolatey notes with some bourbon and oak undertones.