Fulton Barrel Aged Mixed PackMay 25, 2018
When most breweries release a variety pack, they stock it with an assortment of year-round and seasonal beers, with perhaps a one-off that can only be found in said variety pack (much to the chagrin of passionate fans of that single beer).
Such variety packs, which are becoming increasingly popular among brewers, allow a brewery to show off its range, to introduce drinkers to brands they might not have otherwise tried. It makes sense that a brewer might use them as an introduction to their portfolio.
Fulton Beer in Minneapolis, however, took a less conventional approach when the brewery recently unveiled its first variety pack. Instead of stuffing a 12- or 15-pack with core beers, they opted to release a four-pack of barrel-aged offerings. The pack of 12-ounce cans includes an imperial red ale, a porter and two iterations of the brewery’s imperial stout — four very different beers united by time spent in wood.
We started with Libertine, the imperial red ale aged in bourbon barrels. We’re seeing more red ales lately, from traditional offerings like Boulevard’s Irish Ale to hoppier attempts like Founders Brewing Co.’s Dankwood, an imperial red IPA aged in bourbon barrels. Though the ABV is higher than a traditional red ale at 9%, the flavor profile resembles those red ales of old. Its appearance is more brown than red, and the aroma is all bourbon. On the palate, things get more complex, with fig, tobacco, Tootsie Roll and pecan. It’s thick and viscous, and though the bourbon is very much present it never comes across as harsh.
The Proper Porter, also aged in bourbon barrels, poured with golden edges. The whiskey character here is big as well. It’s not until after you’ve taken a sip and let it sit do more complex flavors reveal themselves: namely light roast coffee and milk chocolate. Some might find the bourbon overmuch; the effect is of a shot of whiskey with a porter chaser. It might be the least complex of the pack, but with a lower ABV and a velvety body, it’s the easiest drinking of the group.
The two remaining beers both begin life as Worthy Adversary, the brewery’s imperial stout. One was aged in cognac barrels, while the other was aged in Port and Madeira barrels. In an effort to distinguish the differences imparted from these barrels, these two were sampled alongside each other.
The stout aged in cognac had a more pronounced bitterness than the other. Behind that, it was all fudge, cocoa and dark chocolate. The version aged in Port and Madeira barrels, oddly enough, called to mind Libertine more than its sibling. It felt thicker in the mouth, with notes of caramelized sugar, molasses, dark fruit and oak. The Port is more noticeable than the Madeira, though the latter adds some complexity and keeps things from veering too sweet. All four offerings are worth your time if you can track down one of these four-packs, but this one proved the most complex and distinctive. It’s a Worthy Adversary, indeed.
Fulton’s first mixed pack was very limited, according to director of marketing Tucker Gerrick, and as such it might be difficult to find it out in the brewery’s distribution area. But fear not, as Gerrick notes that the brewery is “definitely considering doing some fun things with cans in the future.”Daniel Hartis is the editor of All About Beer Magazine.