When it comes to barrel-aged beer, Town Hall Brewery doesn’t mess around.
The Minneapolis brewpub was among the first in the country to take home a medal from the Great American Beer Festival for a barrel-aged beer—they won gold in 2001 for their Czar Jack Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, which pre-dated the “Wood-and-Barrel-Aged-Beer” categories the GABF has today and had to be entered in the “Experimental Beer” category.
Town Hall brewers also make annual road trips to Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail to select the freshest barrels directly from distillers.
During a media preview on Tuesday, Brewmaster Mike Hoops said Town Hall has signed paperwork for an off-site, temperature-controlled facility that will allow them to expand their barrel-aging program for future years. Currently, Town Hall has very limited space in their cellar for barrels, and brewers have to get creative when filling and emptying them. They also have to move empty barrels around by hand—backbreaking work they’ll no longer need to worry about in their new facility, which will have plenty of room to use a forklift for the job.
This year, as in years past, Town Hall will release 12 different barrel-aged beers in a single week. Of the 12 releases, six are new or variations of past, established recipes.
The marquee releases this year are four beers in the Trois Vie Series, or “Barrels with Three Lives,” on February 15 at 5pm. These beers were aged in French oak barrels that were first used to age California pinot noir, traveled next to Kentucky to age bourbon, and then finally arrived at Town Hall to age:
- Trois Vie No.1 : Belgian Style Tripel
- Trois Vie No. 2: Belgian Style Quadrupel
- Trois Vie No. 3: Barleywine
- Trois Vie No. 4: Imperial Stout
Missing from the list of this year’s releases is the fan-favorite Czar Jack. Town Hall Brewmaster Mike Hoops said in a Facebook post, “This year’s selection doesn’t include Czar Jack. We respect our customers too much to ask them to accept anything but the best. This year’s Czar Jack didn’t meet our expectations. It will be back next year, in all it’s glory!”
Town Hall will be making a limited amount of the beers available for people to take home in 750ml growlers. They’ll be pre-selling tickets for the growlers on Feb. 14 beginning at 10am. People who buy tickets can then return on the day their beer is being released to claim their growler.
The full release schedule for the week is as follows:
Monday, February 15, 5pm
Trois Vie Series (as outlined above).
Tuesday, February 16, 5pm
Foolish Angel Belgian-Style Quadrupel, which was aged in both Blanton’s and Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, and Cuvee of Consequence Belgian-Style Strong Saison, which was aged in California chardonnay barrels, then finished with a touch of bitter orange peel.
Wednesday, February 17, 5pm
Manhattan Reserve Belgian-Style Grand Cru, which was brewed with red tart cherries and aged in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels, and E.T. Wee Scottish-Style Wee Heavy, which was aged in Elmer T. Lee Bourbon barrels.
Thursday, February 18, 5pm
Project 3106 Belgian-Style Bruin, which was aged with Belgian chocolate and kumquats in Four Roses Bourbon barrels, and Buffalo Bock German-Style Weizenbock, which was aged in Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels.
Friday, February 19, 5pm
Maple Brownstone American-Style Double Brown, which was brewed with Town Hall Brewmaster Mike Hoops’ own maple syrup and aged in Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey barrels.
Saturday, February 20, 11am
Twisted Trace Barleywine, which was aged in Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels.
In a first for the brewpub, Town Hall will also host a “Barrel Dinner,” Thursday, February 18, which sold out quickly after they announced it on their Facebook page back in mid-January. The multi-course meal will be paired with bourbon and Town Hall’s barrel-aged beers and presented by Hoops, Town Hall’s chef Matt Lepisto, and whiskey expert Sam Bremer.
See Town Hall’s Barrel-Aged Week Facebook event for more info.