It was the mother of all barrel trades when our friends at WhistlePig Whiskey in Shoreham, Vermont, drove all the way out here to Paso Robles in the spring of 2021, hauling a semi-trailer full of barrels of their award-winning Rye Whiskey.
We welcomed them here at the halfway mark of their 6,000-mile round trip journey, and the swap was one–a stash of their barrels for a stash of ours. What happened next would spark one epic whiskey and three equally notable beers.
The whiskey that went into the Firestone Walker barrels would become part of WhistlePig’s RoadStock Rye, a special-edition whiskey finished during their adventure-packed RoadStock trip.
Meanwhile, the three beers we put into WhistlePig’s barrels were aged for a year and are now ready to be unveiled. Say hello to Boilermaker, Whistle Monkee, and Stickee Pig, all of which are featured in our latest Brewmaster’s Collective beer club collection.
Amazing & Unusual
“These beers are the fruits of a truly amazing and unusual collaboration,” said Vintage Barrel Program Manager Eric Ponce. “We filled the WhislePig barrels on the same day they were emptied, which is unheard of. These were the freshest, wettest barrels you could ever hope to use.”
In other words, there was still some whiskey sloshing around in these barrels after they were emptied–there hadn’t been enough time for it to evaporate or get trapped into the pores of the wood. “Within two days of being in the barrel, these beers picked up four points of alcohol, which is double the norm for spirits barrel aging,” Eric said. “That shows you how much of this pure high rye goodness these beers picked up along the way.”
As for why the WhistlePig crew made Firestone Walker their destination before heading back to Vermont? “If you’re going to finish whiskey, you want to go right to the cream of the crop here at Firestone Walker; they do the best work,” said WhistlePig Distiller Mitch Mahar.
Our barrel-swap collaboration with WhistlePig yielded three distinct creations:
After we filled a selection of the barrels with our Stickee Monkee Central Coast Quad, we aged them for a year to achieve a perfect balance of rye spice notes with hints of Belgian candi sugar. A flavor bomb for the ages!
Stickee Pig is Whistle Monkee with a twist, as we added a dollop of barrel-aged maple syrup from the WhistlePig Farm in Vermont. The result is a highly indulgent sticky beer that will keep you coming back for more.
Boilermaker comes from a separate lot of barrels that we filled with our Velvet Merkin stout to create a barrel-aged masterwork inspired by the Boilermaker cocktail. A Boilermaker is one of the simplest cocktails around: a pint of beer with a shot of whiskey. Naturally, the fresh WhistlePig barrels provided the ultimate canvas for producing this beer.
Club members will receive each of these beers in the new Farmstead Collection along with two Barrelworks beers, but that’s not all. To make it a full tasting experience, we’re also including a pork jerky and a custom cheese from Stepladder Creamery called Stickee Cow. The cheese is a small format Spanish-style cow’s milk hard cheese that was soaked in a bath of Stickee Monkee for three days after pressing and before aging. The wheels were then aged for five months in Stepladder Creamery’s caves.
“This was a really fun collaboration,” said Jack Rudolph, Stepladder Creamery owner. “We love a good challenge, and it helps that our Head Cheesemaker and Director of Operations both have a background in the beer industry. Our team had a lot of of fun getting creative with the cheese and we’re very happy with the end result. It’s creamy, delicious, and different from our other year-round offerings.”
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