Let’s get the obvious, and uncomfortable part out in the open from the get-go. The last time Taft’s released a bottle of their barrel aged beer, it had some… let’s say “issues” that came to light quickly after it was left at room temperature on store shelves. (You can read all about that here). What that story (and the ones that you’ll hear from most of your beer geek friends) is that before the beer was bad, it was really good. Don’t forget that their original bottle release from their first anniversary called ‘Old Wooden Tooth’ was spectacular. I still have yet to see a better package anywhere in Cincinnati, from the wooden label and flag to the wooden crate that it came packaged in. But the brewery has been a little quiet on the barrel aged front since their issues with The Independent, completely relaunching their barrel series from the ground up.
That’s why I’m so excited about this, their third anniversary, it’s marking the relaunch of their barrel aged (and bottle) series. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
The New Barrel Series
You need to know that this is a series, in that you’re going to see a new release once per quarter for the “foreseeable future” from Tafts. The timing of it all is impeccable, with 2017 seeing some major changes for the brewery (they opened up their new production facility, in case you have forgotten somehow, and launched distribution too). It made sense to the folks at Taft’s to use 2018 to take a step back, and get back to their roots – restarting their barrel series with a new look and in the words of managing partner David Kassling “some really, really good beers”.
So… how do you kick off the SxB series? I’m glad you asked – let’s talk about that!
Before you tell you about the release details of this one, let’s talk about what it is.
The first SxB is a Bourbon Barrel Aged, Belgian Strong Ale with Pomegranate and Cranberry. It’s a big one, clocking in at 11.7% ABV, and they packaged it up in 500ml bottles, with some really great artwork.
The name? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. They’re purposely keeping this one as a bit of a mystery, only saying that it could allude to William Howard Taft’s past, along with his other founding fathers, or it could have more to with their current processes from which they are creating this series. Who the heck knows… what we do know? What it tastes like.
Jared, Taft’s Head Brewer, says this about the beer’s character:
It begins with a mingling of vanilla and bourbon. Notes of oak then prep the palate for a wave of juicy fruit that blends seamlessly with Belgian yeast character. Pomegranate and cranberry express in the slightly tart finish.
About The Release
The good news, is that you’ll get your shot to snag bottles of this starting at 8 am on Monday, 4/2 in Nellie’s taproom underneath Taft’s Ale House.
The bad news? This is pretty limited. There are only 450 of these that are being released, and the brewery is 100% expecting a line for it.