Our fifth barrel-aged stout for 2022 is My Stars Shine Darkly, and it leans heavily on an imperial wheat porter aged in casks that were used for both Bissell Farms maple syrup and Van Winkle bourbon. Not since our 2021 vintage of Plunderphonics have we released a beer so dominated by a single blending thread. But, the art of blending is ultimately about letting the right casks do the talking, and this cohort of 13 casks has a lot to offer. Notes of butterscotch budino, honeysuckle, Graham cracker, filberts, chocolate-covered malt balls, and grape Jolly Ranchers — not to mention maple — abound here. There was even a complex musty, raw grain character that is the calling card of well-aged, wheated Bourbons. In selecting additional barrels for the blend, we sought to amplify the best of the maple casks while upping the body and folding in notes of vanilla, light roast, and raisin. To accomplish this, we selected three casks of 21-month-old imperial milk stout that were especially silky and rich, as well as a single cask of young Chocolate Stout aged in an Elijah Craig barrel that provided a boost of caramel, toffee, and top note whiskey.
We continue our convention of naming our 2022 Vintage Stouts after some of our favorite turns of phrase from Shakespeare. The dramatic irony is rife in Act 2 of Twelfth Night, when Sebastian, having survived a shipwreck and grimly assessing his condition, claims “my stars shine darkly over me”. Little does he know that the play is comedy, not tragedy, and he will soon find himself reunited with his erstwhile twin sister and betrothed to a countess. In Illyria, things work out for the forlorned despite a circuitous route to the storybook ending.