For our second release in the Solitary Series, we take inspiration from some of the finest beers in the world: English barleywine, cheap malt liquor, and our own Kölsch-style beer, The Leafcutter. We strove to combine the best facets of each of the three--big malt character, more alcohol than you really need, and a beer that actually tastes good, respectively--into a golden expression of pure joy. Also known as an Imperial Kölsch. Or German-style barleywine. Ok, neither of those are real things, let's just call it Solitary Series: Summer 2017.
The recipe starts life as an amped-up version of The Leafcutter. We use a double dose of floor-malted Bohemian pilsner malt (literally spilling over the top of the mash tun) to give this beer a strong, bready malt character--and all that extra alcohol--while maintaining the nice light color of its smaller sibling. But we can't let the hops get lost in the mix; we also doubled up on the Simcoe hops so the distinctive pine and citrus character remind you we're still in the Pacific Northwest. Throw in our traditional German yeast and you have one mean looking Kölsch.
But this is where things get really interesting. We then gave this beer the "gin-barrel" treatment. Gin is typically made without ever touching a barrel, but our friends in the craft distilling business are doing all sorts of crazy things, including adding oak to their gin's maturation process. So we figured we’d get our hands on some gin-soaked oak and introduce it to our frankenkölsch. The wood itself imparts a rich caramel/vanilla/maple character, brightened by the juniper, citrus, and herbal elements of the gin. It's a unique double pairing between the malt and oak, and the hops and gin; at the same time intense and hearty, yet delicately balanced.
It's a special beer, and we've been saving it for a special occasion. September marks our first anniversary distributing our beer to the public, meaning it's now been a year that you guys have been paying us for our beer. Whether it’s been by the keg, growler, pint, or taster, we sincerely appreciate your support and would like to invite you to come celebrate this milestone with us at the Hop and Hound on September 2nd (details here) as we release Solitary Series: Summer 2017.