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Twelve String Brewing archive

Loaded to the barrels

Fans of barrel-aged beers have plenty to look forward to over the coming week, with events at Pints on Thursday, Steady Flow on Saturday and Beerocracy on Monday:

– Eight offerings from Twelve String will pour Thursday from 5 to 10 at Pints Alehouse.

For stouts, there’s the Heavenly Black Fog imperial stout from Heaven Hill bourbon barrels and Bourbon de Cocoa chocolate imperial stout from Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, plus the new anniversary Volume 6 tequila barrel imperial stout. Also look for the Red Heaven imperial stout/imperial IPA blend and an Alternate Tuning sour imperial IPA.

Rounding things out are the Volume 4 anniversary barleywine aged in Woodinville Whiskey barrels, and the Belgian-accented Ardennes the Menace dark strong (also from Woodinville barrels) and Gin Fusion Confusion gin barrel golden strong.

– Steady Flow Growler House’s Barrel Aged Cornucopia, on Saturday from 4 to 7, will feature no fewer than 16 wood-conditioned creations:

• Deschutes’ bourbon barrel-aged Black Butte XXVII anniversary imperial porter, with cocoa nibs, pomegranate molasses and apricot puree.

• Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron wood-aged imperial brown.

• Epic’s Big Bad Baptist, with coffee beans and cocoa nibs, plus the Double Barrel version with barrel-aged beans.

• Firestone Walker’s bourbon barrel-aged Velvet Merkin oatmeal stout and Pacific Gravity Weizenbock.

• Stone’s bourbon barrel W00tstout with pecans, wheat and flaked rye.

• Georgetown’s bourbon barrel-aged Chopper’s Imperial Red.

• Ballast Point Barmy imperial golden with apricots and orange blossom honey.

• Fremont’s bourbon barrel-aged Dark Star imperial oatmeal stout.

• Iron Goat’s Dry Fly bourbon barrel-aged Cap’n Kidd Scotch ale.

• Twelve String’s rum barrel-aged Imperial Coconut Porter.

• Waddell’s French oak-aged Blackberry Sour.

• Grand Teton’s whiskey barrel-aged Black Cauldron imperial stout.

• Crux Banished Wild Farmhouse sour aged in red wine barrels.

• 2 Towns Ciderhouse’s La Mure sour Lambic-style cider aged in pinot noir barrels with Oregon-grown Marion blackberries.

There also will be merchandise raffles during the event. The beers will be tapped at noon, and will continue to pour on Sunday as available.

– Finally, Beerocracy is featuring some two dozen offerings for its Barrel-Palooza on Monday. Look for the likes of :

• Deschutes' 2016 and 2017 Abyss imperial stout, plus this year's rum and tequila barrel variants.

• Deschutes’ bourbon barrel-aged Black Butte XXIX anniversary imperial porter with turbinado sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and cayenne.

• Fremont's 2016 and 2017 bourbon barrel-aged Dark Star imperial stout, plus this year's coffee and Spice Wars versions.

• This year's regular and coffee cinnamon B-Bomb winter ale from Fremont.

• Fremont's 2017 Rusty Nail bourbon barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout with licorice and cinnamon bark.

• Crux’s 2017 bourbon barrel-aged Tough Love imperial stout with blackstrap molasses and spices, plus 2016 and 2017 Better Off Red wine barrel-aged Flanders-style red.

• Firestone Walker's 2016 and 2017 Krieky Bones cherry sour and 2016 Pacific Gravity Weizenbock.

• Two Beers' Overhang bourbon imperial porter.

• Georgetown’s bourbon barrel-aged Chopper’s Imperial Red.

• Avery's Amicitia sour aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels.

Six down for Twelve String

If all goes as planned, Sunday will mark Twelve String’s last anniversary at its current location.

The Spokane Valley brewery is preparing to move to larger quarters nearby on First Avenue just west of Pines Road. But in the meantime, it has a party to throw to celebrate its sixth year of operation.

This year’s anniversary beer is an imperial stout aged for about eight months in tequila barrels. At 9.7 percent alcohol by volume, it’s a bit bigger than the brewery’s regular Double Drop D.

“These were the nicest tequila barrels I’ve ever gotten,” says Twelve String’s Terry Hackler, who has experimented with all sorts of barrel-aged beers. “The tequila flavor is really smooth.”

There again will be free sliders and sides from O’Doherty’s BBQ catering. Doors will open an hour earlier than usual, at 11 a.m., with the party continuing until 5.

“We always have people lined up to get in, and we’re going to be here anyway,” Hackler says.

He’s considering monthly events on Sundays, when the taproom is usually closed, with the next one likely on Jan. 28. A spring version of the annual fall BarrelFest also is in the works.

Around that time, Hackler is hoping to be moving to the new location, which will eventually include a kitchen along with the expanded taproom and brewery.

The former contractor is doing the remodel himself. With a new roof on the building, he now can work on the inside over the winter as well as the outside, as conditions allow.

“I’m making a lot of progress,” Hackler says. “We’re still hoping for late spring or so to at least have a basic taproom open. It’s all about time and money and now weather. I’m just plugging away.”

The time crunch has been eased by the midyear hiring of a head brewer, Kevin Pierce, who spent 17 years at Anacortes Brewing. His first solo creation, the Tremolo Scotch Ale, has been a big seller.

“He’s probably doing 99 percent of the brewhouse side now, which is great for me,” Hackler says.

Striking a slightly sour note

Twelve String is turning to the tart and dark side for its fifth birthday party.

For its first three anniversary beers, the Spokane Valley brewery issued imperial IPAs – regular, black and red – before branching out with a barrel-aged barleywine last year.

It’s pushing the boundaries again for this year’s celebration, Sunday from noon to 5, with an imperial porter that was kettle soured and aged for three months in Woodinville Whiskey bourbon barrels.

Before barreling, owner Terry Hackler says, “It was so light and drinkable that you never would guess it was an 8.3 percent beer, or even a porter, but it was good.”

Subsequent samplings have shown that it mellowed from the wood without picking up big bourbon notes, he says.

One of the four barrels will pour for Sunday’s party, with the others kept in reserve for future events. (Hackler did the same thing with last year’s barleywine, and plans a vertical tasting of that beer after having spent six, 12, 18 and 24 months in the barrel.)

There again will be free sliders and sides from O’Doherty’s Irish Pub & BBQ, and the Seahawks game will be on the tube.

Twelve String’s seasonal High Note black IPA is scheduled to return around the first of the year, and likely will be followed by a single-hop offering featuring the new Idaho 7 varietal later in January.

The brewery’s biggest news over the past year was the August release of five beers in 22-ounce bottles: Mango Mambo hefeweizen, Red Guitar Red, Batch 201 IPA, Electric Slide imperial IPA and Drop D Stout.

Distribution continues to grow, Hackler says, with Total Wine just coming on board. The Arpeggio Pale, G String Blonde and Jam Session IPA could be added to the lineup by summer.

But his main focus for next year is relocating the taproom and eventually the brewery into a larger location about two miles away, on Pines Road north of Sprague, a former Waste Management office building that Hackler bought two summers ago.

He’s finished gutting the space and this week started putting on a new roof, which will be finished over the winter as weather allows. Hackler hopes to have the new taproom open sometime next summer, with a kitchen to follow.

“I’ll keep working on it when have the time and the money,” the former contractor says. “When it’s done, it’s done, and we don’t owe anybody anything.”

A tale of two single-hops

A big part of the brewer’s art is blending various hops in ways that show off the best combinations of their character. But there’s also something to be said for single-hop beers that illustrate what individual varieties bring to the party.

Both Twelve String and Perry Street released single-hop pale ales this week that demonstrate the range of possibilities.

Twelve String’s seasonal Spring Reverb launched exclusively with Delta hops in 2012 and has featured Simcoe, Mosaic and Galaxy in years since. For 2016, brewer Terry Hackler has returned to Mosaic, but in a bigger way – using almost twice the amount of hops and focusing more on late additions for flavor and aroma.

As the name suggests, Mosaic was bred to produce a collage of characteristics, and the new Reverb (6 percent alcohol by volume, 50 International Bitterness Units) is a prime example.

Huge tropical and stone fruit aromas carry over into the flavor, underpinned by earthy, grassy notes that last into the lingering, lightly bitter finish. The medium-bodied, rich golden beer has just enough malt sweetness to support it all.

Hackler plans to up the ante with a cask-conditioned version, dry-hopped with more Mosaic, on March 5 as part of that day’s launch of the new Inland Northwest Ale Trail map.

Perry’s comparatively old-school Centennial single-hop is a bit more subdued, but deep and equally complex.

It’s the latest in a line of single-hop pales that stretch back to an Azacca version when the brewery opened in March 2014, followed by El Dorado, Amarillo, Citra, Equinox, Comet, Mosaic and most recently another Amarillo with a killer orange-tangerine character.

The dryish, deep amber Centennial (5.4, 40) balances citrusy lemon flavors that grow as it warms against floral and spicy-piney notes, building to a long, drying finish.

“I've always been a huge fan of Centennial and I still think it stands up to a single-hop situation better than almost any other hop,” brewer Ben Lukes says.

“This and Amarillo will be the hops we rely on the rest of the year to pack the flavor, and we'll use Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra and Chinook to smack them with big aroma.”   

Both breweries open at noon today for the annual Washington Beer Open House, with Twelve String pouring sours aged in cognac, tequila and rum barrels and Perry Street offering tours at 2 and 4 p.m.       

Rolling them out

Twelve String’s second annual BarrelFest returns on Sunday, bigger and better than before.

From noon to 5 p.m., the Spokane Valley brewery will pour 17 beers aged in a variety of wine, whiskey, rum, tequila and cognac barrels.

“We expect it’s going to be even busier,” says Twelve String’s Terry Hackler, recalling last year’s jam-packed event. “It’s going to be crazy.”

There’s quite the collection of offerings to draw drinkers of all tastes. Some are old-timers dating back to Hackler’s early experiments, like two-year-old tequila barrel Imperial Mango Mambo and syrah barrel Blackberry Stout, and a whiskey barrel sour Electric Slide Imperial IPA that’s been aging for three years.

Some are more recent wrinkles, including two more sours – a pale ale aged in French cognac barrels with agave and sweet orange, and another with grapefruit – and a pair of imperial porters from Jamaican rum barrels, one with coconut and the other with pumpkin.

Also look for the likes of:

– Electric Slide out of Dry Fly wheat whiskey barrels, both six-month and two-year-old vintages.

– Don’t Fret Porter in two different whiskey barrels, Dry Fly wheat and Woodinville.

– Drop D Stout aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, and Double Drop D out of Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.

– Last year’s 12 Strings of Winter seasonal from Dry Fly triticale whiskey barrels.

– Volume 3 anniversary Imperial Red IPA in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels.

– The recent Belgian Dark Strong specialty aged in Woodinville whiskey barrels.

– Plus there’s a surprise “WTF” for the more adventurous to try out.

Like last year, all will be served out of plastic cups in 5-ounce pours for $3 each. And you’ll again order them by number off a printed menu.

“The names of these beers are too long to try to order them that way,” Hackler explains.

He has close to 50 barrels on hand these days, about twice last year’s total. More are coming all the time – how often they can be reused for adequate flavor depends on the age of each barrel, and what was in it – including additional Woodford Reserve barrels, which are among Hackler’s favorites.

“The beers that have come out of those have been fantastic,” he says.

He also has eight Cruzan rum barrels on the way. “From the sounds of it, they’re the nicest rum barrels I’ve come across so far,” says Hackler, who’s toying with the idea of a mojito-flavored beer in those with lime and mint.

In the meantime, another new creation is on the way for Twelve String’s fourth anniversary party Dec. 13: a big barleywine that’s been aging in Woodinville Whiskey barrels for six months.

“It’s really mellow,” Hackler says. “It’s going to blow you away.”
 

7 Sips With … Terry Hackler, Twelve String

This is one in an occasional series of 7 Sips interviews, where we sit down for a pint and seven questions with someone active in the local craft beer community. Today we catch up with Terry Hackler, a longtime guitarist and homebrewer who opened Twelve String Brewing in the Spokane Valley in December 2011.

 

Q: It seems like there’s never a dull moment at Twelve String. What’s on the front burner these days that you can tell us about?

A: We’re growing like crazy. For 2015, our production will easily be more than double than in 2014. This year we’ll be at 1,300 or 1,400 barrels, which is about our capacity. Whenever we have an empty tank, we brew into it. We’re brewing four days a week, sometimes we brew five days a week, depending on the fermenter schedule.

We’re continuing to search for a (larger) new location. We have a couple of things that we’re looking at very seriously, that I can’t really expand on at this point, that have really good potential. One location in particular that we’re really, really serious about, we’ll know the outcome of that in about two weeks or so. We’ll be in the Valley, hopefully we’ll be within a mile or two of where we are now. We think that will keep our core customers coming, and hopefully gain a lot.

We’re expanding the barrel-aging in big ways. We’ve got somewhere around 48 or 50 barrels full right now. And we have more barrels coming – we’re developing relationships with lots of barrel brokers around, so we have a source for Cruzan rum barrels now, direct from Jamaica. And from another source, I think we’re going to get some gin barrels. We’ve got whiskey barrels, two different kinds of bourbon barrels, rum barrels, tequila barrels, cognac barrels, wine barrels. So that’s turning into a bigger and bigger thing.

And we’re working on bottling. We added another fermenter, which was supposed to pick up some of the slack and allow us to brew enough beer for bottling, but wholesale keg sales have been so huge lately that now we’re not quite sure where we’re going to get the beer to bottle. What we’ll more than likely do initially is do some smaller runs, and have it available for sale in the taproom and maybe a very few select places around town.

Q: What have been your favorite combinations of beers and barrels so far?

A: My favorites are the dark beers we’ve aged in whiskey barrels and bourbon barrels. I like that combination the best, although way back when we aged our Spring Reverb (pale) in a four times used Dry Fly barrel, and that one was delicious. The tequila barrel-aged stuff is weird, you either love it or you hate it. The tequila Mango Mambo, at the Washington Brewers Festival coming up, we’ll go through four or five half-barrels of that by the five-ounce pour – it’s ridiculous. People line up 200 feet for that beer. It’s good, it’s not necessarily my favorite one, but it’s fun. … That (festival) will be the debut of the rum barrel-aged imperial coconut porter.  I’m really happy with where that’s gone.

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More beer on the menu

Another local eatery is getting in on the beer dinner game.

The Backyard Public House is launching a series of brewer’s dinners the first Monday of each month, starting next week with a four-course repast paired with Twelve String beers.

“We want to do as much local as possible, along with breweries around the Pacific Northwest,” says manager Megan Warner. “We’re kind of testing the waters with this one.”

So far, they’re passing the test just fine. Only four of the 30 seats were still available as of this morning.

Chef Eric Biondi is preparing a menu that includes:

– Pork terrine with chicken liver pate and a vegetable/frisee salad, paired with Twelve String’s Archtop Amber.

– Fresh pasta with beer-braised pork and seasonal vegetables, with the Spring Reverb pale.

– Seared scallops with carrot puree and fried mushrooms, accompanied by C#7#5 IPA.

– And for dessert, a float made with coffee ice cream and Drop D Stout.

Tickets are $50, which includes tax and tip. For reservations, call (509) 822-7338.

The Backyard will be closed to the general public for the event, to avoid overstressing the small kitchen and to keep things intimate, Warner says.

Expanding his hop universe

More new offerings are set for release Thursday in North Idaho.

 

Trickster’s is debuting its Hops on Parade double IPA (7.7 percent alcohol by volume, 77 International Bitterness Units), brewed with Simcoe, Citra and El Dorado for a fruity hop character balanced by a big caramel malt body. 

 

The Coeur d’Alene brewery’s first bottled beer – Professor M’s Funkhouse, a sour stout – also will be available in bombers, and on tap for the day only along with a peach-infused version of Hipster Juice pale.   

 

And in Sandpoint, MickDuff’s is issuing a black IPA as the last in its Experimentation in Darkness series, starting at 6 p.m. at the Beer Hall.

 

Terry Hackler is playing with his hops again.

The Twelve String owner/brewer on Tuesday released a pair of familiar styles with a new approach to their hopping.

Spring Reverb (6.5 percent alcohol by volume, 45 International Bitterness Units), always a single-hop seasonal, this year uses an Australian variety, Galaxy (pictured above), that lends a pronounced passionfruit aroma and lemony citrus notes.  

It also turned out stronger than expected – a full percentage point above last year’s release. Hackler plans to dial that down in the next batch, and smooth out the bitterness.  

Joining it is a new India pale ale, dubbed Batch 201 (7.4, 81) – it happens to be the 201st batch Twelve String has brewed – that Hackler describes as a big departure from his standard IPAs.

Brewed with Amarillo and Citra, along with his more typical Columbus and Simcoe, it has a huge fruity, floral aroma – Amarillo’s trademark orange comes through strong – with earthy, piney hop accents adding to the depth of flavor. Almost all the hops were late additions at the end of the boil, for flavor and aroma without much bitterness.

Hackler also changed up the malt bill, using a slightly darker, richer base malt along with some caramel and specialty malts. The big but smooth, juicy body is a bit reminiscent of Deschutes’ Fresh Squeezed.

He says he’ll brew at least one more batch, given its popularity: “All we were pouring last night was that one.”

Setter drops Field Point: It’s hard to say whether Field Point Brown is the best beer English Setter has made, but it certainly has one of the more clever names.

As owner/brewer Jeff Bendio explains, that’s what dog trainers call it when one of their charges leaves an, um, deposit during an outing.

That image aside, Field Point (5.6, 35), also unleashed on Tuesday, is quite a pleasant experience. It’s on the dry side for a brown with a roasty middle and an earthy finish (Bendio says he was going for “dirt under a tree in a pine forest”). Caramel flavors and hints of chocolate come out as the beer warms and opens up.

 

Pouring into 2015

Area brewers are gradually getting back into gear with the holidays in the rear-view. Among today’s developments:

- River City just tapped the latest in its Experimental Series of pilot recipes, this time a single-hop Palisade Pilsner (6 percent alcohol by volume, 40 International Bitterness Units).  

Palisade hops, known for fruity, floral notes along with an herbal, grassy character, also were used along with Citra in the first three experimental releases, a series of IPAs. These are quarter-barrel batches, or about 8 gallons, so be warned – they don’t last long.

- After two months of operation, Downdraft Brewing is expanding its business hours starting this week.

The Post Falls brewery now will be pouring Tuesdays and Wednesdays, along with Thursdays, from 4 to 9 p.m. And it will be open an hour later on Fridays, from 4 to 10 p.m., and Saturdays, from 1 to 10 p.m.

- Twelve String has put together its latest barrel-aged creation (as pictured above): Harmony Honey Wheat in a tequila barrel along with grapefruit and lactobacillus, a bacteria used to produce sour beers.

The summery-sounding concoction should be ready by May or June, by which time all this fog and slush will just be a distant memory.  

Roll out the party

It’s no secret that Twelve String's Terry Hackler is hooked on barrels.

Since doing his first barrel-aged beer early last year – a blackberry stout in a Cab Franc barrel – Hackler has acquired close to 30 of them, wine and whiskey, tequila and cognac, most recently rum.

Now he’ll be highlighting at least a dozen large-cask creations – including some never before released – in the first BarrelFest, Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Spokane Valley brewery.

“We’ve talked about it for a long time, but we’ve been so busy, it’s been hard to put something like this together,” Hackler says.

Look for the likes of:

– Whiskey barrel Electric Slide imperial IPA, in both regular and sour versions.

– A soured Double Barrel Don’t Fret porter that was aged in both wine and whiskey barrels.

– A pomegranate-infused porter from a merlot barrel.

– Two versions of a new imperial porter, done separately in whiskey and cabernet sauvignon barrels. (Stay tuned for a coconut rendition of that one in rum barrels down the road.)

– Four takes on the Drop D Stout, from whiskey, syrah, port and tequila barrels.

– The always-popular tequila barrel Imperial Mango Mambo hefeweizen.

– The last of the whiskey barrel Volume 1 Anniversary imperial IPA.

All will be served in 6-ounce samplers, individually or in flights of three (and you might want to bring a growler, just in case). The Thai Lunch Box food truck also will be on hand.

And if you can’t make it Sunday, Hackler hopes to have two or three barrel-aged beers on tap at all times from now on.   

Valley winter songs

The sun may be shining, but winter has arrived in the Spokane Valley – well, beer-wise, anyway.

Both Hopped Up and Twelve String introduced their winter seasonals this week. And while both are variations on the classic “winter warmer” style, there are distinct differences.

Hopped Up’s Destroy My Sweater (8.5 percent alcohol by volume, 49 International Bitterness Units) is essentially the same beer that debuted last winter, based on one of brewer/owner Steve Ewan’s old homebrew recipes.

The name, from a line in Weezer's “Undone – The Sweater Song,” is a nod to the, um, colorful Christmas sweaters that soon will be dotting the landscape. (Hopped Up celebrated the tradition with an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest last December.)

Despite the brewery’s name, Hopped Up does some of its best work with maltier beers, and Destroy My Sweater is a good example. Made with caramel, Munich, aromatic and special roast malts, it’s a bit sweet upfront before the darker, deeper, toastier malt character takes over.

The distinctively floral finishing touch comes from spruce tips, specifically old-growth blue spruce tips from Steve and Sue Ewan’s Valley property, a former Christmas tree farm. You might be familiar with those from the lighter-bodied Alaskan Winter Ale, where they contribute to a cloying sweetness; here, they integrate much better into the heartier beer.

At Twelve String, brewer/owner/guitarist Terry Hackler is always riffing, and this year’s 12 Strings of Winter (8.1, 81) is no exception.

It’s a significantly revamped version of last year’s release, starting with the ABV, almost a full percentage point higher. There’s a light sweetness from honey malt, raisiny notes from extra special malt, some richness from Caramunich 60 and a mild roastiness from Midnight Wheat.

But the big difference is in the hopping. While the IBU number only increased slightly, there’s a more pronounced, citrusy hop character from a combination of Nugget, Centennial, Ahtanum and Amarillo (with the latter also used for dry-hopping).

Hackler also added a touch of vanilla, like last year, but skipped the cinnamon this time around. “Last year, I liked it, but it wasn’t what I was going for,” he said.

It does have one thing in common with Destroy My Sweater – both are deceptively easy-drinking for their strength. So don’t say you weren’t warned.