Remember last summer, when Lakewood Brewing Co. hosted its first birthday party at Goodfriend? The front parking lot was packed and most cars were flagged into satellite lots. The patio was packed and inside the dining room, drinkers tipped back glasses elbow to elbow. Lakewood Brewer Wim Bens brought nearly every beer he'd produced in his first year of business, but his barrel-aged beers were getting significant attention.
There was good reason for the devotion. Aging beer in barrels (often ones that previously held wine, whiskey or other spirits) lets the brew mellow out a bit. Contact with the wood imparts new depths of flavor, and slow evaporation results in a slightly stronger alcohol content. The results are a complex glass of beer that can kick you in the liver. And the wallet.
While the technique is as old as beer brewing itself (beer was originally stored in barrels), barrel-aging as a craft is seeing a resurgence among the local breweries that have bubbled up in recent years. This Sunday, Goodfriend, the East Dallas burger joint, will host a second event featuring barrel-aged beers, this time offering suds resulting from a collaborative effort between Goodfriend and Lakewood. Goodfriend co-owner Matt Tobin had friends in the tequila business. Why not try the same process with tequila barrels?
"Everyone was all about it from the start," Tobin says, when asked whether the tequila and beer flavor combo was a hard sell to his partners. He pointed to other breweries that had produced great beers doing the same, including Oskar Blues, a Colorado Brewery that had aged a pilsner in tequila barrels and then sold it at a hefty premium. "It was the second most expensive beer I've ever purchased," he said of a keg he purchased last year. The most expensive title goes to a barrel aged Old Rasputin. Tobin says despite the extra cost, the beers were both a hit.
With any luck, the beers he's been working on with Lakewood could be a hit as well. The partners aged four barrels in total: two with Lakewood Lager, a drinkable Vienna style beer, and two with Dame du Lac, a boozy and floral farmhouse ale. To make things even more interesting, one of the Lager barrels was amended with ancho chilies toward the end of the aging process, while one of the Dame du Lac barrels received an addition of prickly pear. That means the group will pour four distinct beers this weekend.
So get ready for a party. This Sunday at noon, all four kegs will be tapped at Goodfriend, where they'll be available till they're gone. Expect several bands, the smell of searing burgers wafting through the air and a whole bunch of beer nerds. And considering the ABV of some of these brews will approach 10 percent, expect many of them to be tipsy.