Tampa’s Six Ten Brewing keeps a lower profile than some of its neighbors, but to Town ’N Country residents, its tasting room is an invaluable local stop, with a dependable stable of quality core beers, quirky seasonals and the occasional special release that makes repeat visits consistently worthwhile.
One of the tasting room’s big sellers, TPA double IPA, has recently hit the taps in barrel-aged form, having spent a bit over six months resting in bourbon barrels. The resulting beer, 12 Oaks, is absolutely fantastic, and it’s a real treat to sample side by side with its base beer, to really hone in on the bourbon barrel’s contributions.
Imperial stouts, porters and barleywines are the typical candidates for barrel-aging, primarily because they rely little on the volatile flavor and aroma compounds that IPAs are associated with. With time in the barrel, hops fade and wither, and the resulting beer can sometimes be a mess.
12 Oaks, however, retains much of the hop character of TPA, the latter beer featuring a hop profile that’s firmly in the earthy/piney/spicy category of hops that stand up to aging much better than the more modern citrus/tropical fruit varieties.
That base bitterness is a must, as the barrelled beer is decadently sweet, featuring huge caramel malt flavors layered with vanilla and spice. With your eyes closed, a double IPA wouldn’t be your first thought as a base beer. Maybe a light American-style barleywine? A few sips in, you might not care what the beer started as.
12 Oaks is worth a trip to Six Ten, but if you need an extra push, the brewery is hosting its six-year anniversary party on Saturday, Feb. 15th, which will feature 10 taps of special releases, as well as bottles of S’ais La Vie, a saison aged in chardonnay barrels brewed in collaboration with Bern’s Steakhouse. — Justin Grant
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