For its three-year anniversary in October, Mastry’s Brewing Co. released a trio of special beers that have thus far flown mostly under the radar, at least in limited bottle release. That’s good new for you, as it means you can still get your hands on these excellent releases.
All three of the beers are mixed-culture barrel-aged affairs, including a wine barrel-aged blonde ale, a rum barrel-aged saison and a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine. While all of these limited releases are well worth your time and money, the third, Year 3 bourbon barrel-aged barleywine, is an absolute knockout.
In keeping with the mixed-culture theme, Year 3 is partially fermented with brettanomyces lambicus yeast, a strain typically associated with Belgian lambics, from which its name is derived. Known for its cherry pie flavors and a deep, musty funk, brettanomyces lambicus seems an odd fit for a barleywine, a fairly straightforward style that rarely sees the use of wild yeast in its fermentation profile.
Any potential weirdness is resolved with the first sip, which is absolutely bursting with dense caramel, vanilla, toffee and sweet-cherry notes. At 11 percent alcohol by volume, this is a hefty beer, but any lingering booziness has been tempered effectively by time in the barrel, where the beer has smoothed out incredibly.
This is a very complex beer that stands as a testament to the high quality of Mastry’s relatively new barrel-aging program. Who knew you could find such unique and finely-crafted brews right on the beach?
Visit Mastry’s tasting room and try Year 3 for yourself: you’ll find it available both on tap and in 500ml bottles to take home for $15 apiece. Grab one to go and save it for the holidays — this beer is a shoo-in for the dinner table.
— Justin Grant
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