The distillers at Louisville, Kentucky’s Copper & Kings were lucky enough to nab barrels that previously aged 3 Floyds Dark Lord; Sierra Nevada Smoked Imperial Porter; Oskar Blues G’Knight imperial red ale; Deviant Dale’s IPA; and Against the Grain Mac Fanny Baw rauchbier. They filled those barrels with their 130-proof pot-distilled American brandy, then let the liquid rest for a full year. The brandy is bottled at 111 proof to ensure that drinkers can actually taste the influence of the beer barrel rather than just alcohol (though, we’d still recommend diluting yours with a touch of water if you’re a brandy newbie). The beer-influenced bottles, called the Cr&ftwerk line, hit shelves this week with a suggested price of $50 per 750 mL bottle (not those tiny sample bottles you see above).
So, do these brandies actually showcase the beers’ flavors? We dutifully sampled all four, in the name of research for you, dear reader. Our findings: Yes, the specific beer barrels definitely influence the final product, though it’s helpful to taste them side by side to best appreciate their unique characteristics. Of course, if you don’t have $200 in your brandy fund, you wouldn’t go wrong picking up any bottle of the bunch. Here are our notes to guide you:
Oskar Blues G’Knight & Deviant Dale’s: Gin and IPA drinkers might recognize some of the floral and orange peel aromas that the IPA barrels impart to this brandy. The sip is smooth and botanical, filtering the brandy through an orange blossom lens and ending with a sweet, citrusy swallow.
Against The Grain Mac Fanny Baw: The bourbon barrel-aged rauchbier (smoked beer) influence adds a distinctive earthy smoke and some caramel to this brandy’s nose, making it a natural choice for Scotch whisky aficionados. Smokiness builds during the sip, but after the swallow, a whirlpool of grape, butterscotch and charred wood.
Sierra Nevada Imperial Smoked Porter: This was aromatically our favorite brandy of the bunch. The smoked porter barrel lends chocolate scents, some almond, vanilla and even a touch of maple sweetness to the nose. Flavor-wise, this is a bourbon drinker’s brandy, with lots of sweetness and maple/vanilla barrel character that last into a lingering, spicy swallow.
3 Floyds Dark Lord: The scents of a cabin—freshly split wood, campfire, earth, a forest—waft off this pour; the cohesive sip melds neutral oak flavor, some unsweetened raisin and gentian bitterness. On the swallow, a light peppercorn and alcohol spice tingles the back of the throat. It’s a woody sip, best for those who enjoy fresh oak character.