Are You Afraid of the Dark? is the third wood-aged stout that we have blended and released this year. We have a longtime fondness for aging beers in apple brandy barrels, and it had been too long since we’d highlighted these lovely casks in a beer. The time seemed ripe, and when we sat down to the blending table this time we looked to two different sets of brandy casks in our cellar as potential starting points . One was a milk stout, luscious but young, and after tasting the casks we realized that this beer needed more time to mellow out in the cellar. Even 1 cask would overpower the blend.
Lucky for us, we had a two-year old barleywine in a set of Clear Creek apple brandy barrels that we had never used in a blend. We tracked down the casks, and the beer inside was a revelation. Caramelly and bright with distinctive notes of orchard fruit, the mustiness of a cider press, and a refined, zippy booziness. We had hit the jackpot and found our centerpiece for this blend.
To bring things squarely into stout territory, we rounded up a mix of lighter bodied chocolate stouts that had aged in some top tier rye whiskey and Bourbon barrels. These brought light cocoa and more caramel into the mix along with some mild nuttiness and char. To finish things off we looked to some rich, aged beers that amped up the body and sweetness while also contributing subtle notes of chocolate chips, Oloroso sherry, and smoke.