For our annual family summer vacation (with my better half’s immediate family coming along for the ride), we embarked on a trip to Hawaii. Due to the distance and flight logistics, my better half had suggested that we break up the return trip with a few days in San Francisco. Never one to turn down a few extra days of R&R, I jumped at the chance. With Benita & The Urchins in tow, we traipsed around San Francisco’s waterfront and various other tourist spots until I found myself walking up Lombard Street (AKA the crookedest street in the world). After the forced march to the top and the walk down to Ghirardelli’s (thus achieving 233% of my daily goal. Take that fitness tracker!), I felt that I deserved a little bonus in the form of a nighttime beverage. Walking down the street from the hotel, I found a corner grocery that had a respectable bottle offering. From this grouping, I made sure that I selected a bottle that I had never seen before. My pick was a pretty bottle (oh, how I love pretty packaging!) of Tusk & Grain Barrel Aged Blend No. 01 from the Saint Archer Brewing Company.
Saint Archer Brewing is a San Diego based brewer that began production in 2013 and produces a regular lineup of 7 beers as well as their Tusk & Grain barrel aged series of 6 more beers. Saint Archer Brewing was the first craft brewery acquired by MillerCoors (in 2015). Now, a part of MillerCoors’ Tenth & Blake subsidiary, Saint Archer Brewing remains committed to creating high quality craft beer. To that end, they produced the Barrel Aged Blend No. 01 which is a mixture of barley wine, imperial porter and imperial stout that has been matured in bourbon barrels.
For our inaugural barrel release, we present to you an expressive union between hand crafted beer and American oak. We carefully designed three beers, an Imperial Porter, Imperial Stout and Barelywine, to mature in some of Kentucky’s finest bourbon barrels, and the result is beautiful. Overwhelmingly rich. Staggeringly decadent. This beer challenges complexity by bringing toffee, chocolate, dark fruit and oak to your palate, all while maintain the essence of what defines a great barrel aged beer. Whether you enjoy fresh, or age for years to come, we offer you this representation of all that is Tusk & Grain.
Now, let’s get on with the review…
- Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with slowly dissipating tan foam.
- ABV: 12.5%
- Aroma: Dark roasted coffee with backnotes of grapes, raisins and figs.
- Taste: Medium mouthfeel, creamy but a little less than the aroma suggests. Sweet (here comes the chocolate) but not overly so with a boozy mid-palate. The coffee notes make an appearance in the slightly bitter finish.
Without my cheaters, I was afraid I had done myself a disservice when I saw that barley wine was a major component of this beer. I’m not much of a barley wine fan and usually find them to simply be too boozy. The Tusk & Grain No. 01 was quite a pleasant surprise! It was just the right blend of two of my favorite styles and a barley wine with the barrel aging really rounding out the flavors and balance. Well done!