When beer geek playground Healthy Spirits began collaborating with distilleries for a line of proprietary, single-barrel bourbons, we applauded the idea. When the shop approached breweries to fill the used bourbon barrels with special brews, we slow-clapped for a full hour.
The latest release in the Healthy Spirits barrel-aged beer lineup comes from local Triple Voodoo brewing. For those who enjoy brews with a bourbon influence, but want to avoid a heavy, sludgy beer during the summer months, the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Grand Cru is a fine option (that Indian summer should be kicking in any moment, right?). Upon first pour, the beer exhibits excellent clarity and a light copper hue. The initial aroma leans heavily on the presence of honey and blue agave nectar in the beer. These elements offer a sweetness that offsets a slightly spicy aroma of coriander and a touch of banana from the yeast.
The time spent in Healthy Spirits' single barrel Buffalo Trace barrel becomes evident in the flavor. The honey sweetness gives way to soft undertones of vanilla, oak, and caramel. Having spent more than three months in barrels, the bourbon touch is rounded and well-integrated without overwhelming the other elements of the brew. Despite the 9% ABV, the beer is fairly light on the palate, but bursting with a summery sweetness. It resembles one of the city's many cocktails that utilize bourbon and honey syrup, but adds in a light malt backbone and subtle spicing. This sweet brew would pair nicely with a goat cheese crostini, or play well as a dessert pairing with a panna cotta or ricotta cheesecake.
Triple Voodoo Barrel Aged Grand Cru is only available at Healthy Spirits, while supplies last, at $16.99 for a 22oz. bottle. As an added treat, the shop still has a small amount of its last two barrel aged releases in stock. The two versions of Telegraph Brewing's Rhinoceros Barleywine were aged in proprietary single barrels of Four Roses and Evan Williams bourbon, and are only offered at Healthy Spirits at a price of $19.99 for a 25oz bottle. Visit the shop at 2299 15th St. (at Castro St.), and call ahead for availability at (415) 255-0610.