St. Petersburg’s Cycle Brewing has built a strong reputation for strong ales — specifically those of the barrel-aged variety. Increased barrel-aging capacity has eliminated the days of camping outside of the brewery for its frequent bottle releases; now, many of the brewery’s special releases can be found on tap and for sale to-go by diehards and casuals alike.
There’s never been a better time to swing by the tasting room and appreciate this firsthand, as nearly 30 of the brewery’s barrel-aged beers are currently available by the bottle and around a half-dozen on draft.
Of the draft options, most come from Cycle’s recent Strike collaboration series, which paired the brewery with other breweries of note from across the U.S.: Horus Brewing and Bottle Logic from California and Side Project from Missouri, for example, as well as Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery in Athens, Ohio.
The Jackie O’s collaboration doesn’t fit the usual Cycle formula of bourbon/rye/rum barrel plus massive imperial stout plus coffee/cacao/hazelnut, etc. Instead, the beer is an otherwise unadorned stock ale, a traditional British strong ale style related to old ales and barleywines.
Classic stock ales would have been stored in casks to allow their pronounced sweetness to mellow over time; Cycle’s version has rested in bourbon barrels, imparting massive vanilla and caramel notes to the beer, already laden with heaps of rich caramel malts. It’s nearly as dense as Cycle’s stouts, but it’s a very deep ruby rather than obsidian-black.
Some beers really impress when treated with various flavoring additives (especially the superb raspberry, cocoa and vanilla treatment in the Bottle Logic collaboration — a combination that tastes remarkably like a beer version of Dr Pepper), but this modest brew can go toe-to-toe with any of them.
To that end, you’ll find the Cycle/Jackie O’s Strike collaboration on draft at 534 Central Ave. for a mere $8 a snifter or $20 for a bomber to take home. It’s worth every penny.
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