Sometimes you think you’ve tried everything under the sun (well, moon-lit haunted manor) and then a series like this appears from the shadows. Barrel-aged releases are frequent in Australia but, for dark beers, often bourbon and whisky are the former inhabitants of choice. The same can't be said for Chartreuse, the green liqueur from France that appears to include just about every herb you’ve ever heard about and then a hundred more.
However, that spirit has been given a starring role in the Barrel Exchange Program, a collaboration between Bright Brewery and Carwyn Cellars that was born pre-COVID (which maybe helps explain the spooky nature of the beer cans). The collaborators believe it to be the first time a beer’s been aged in Charteuse in Australia and it also has a stablemate with a distinct boozy mix.
Both beers in the series use the same oatmeal imperial stout as the base and Chartreuse Barrel Aged Imperial Stout has taken that starting point and run off in an entirely unique direction. The aroma is so varied in its herbality (OK, I might be stretching the English language a bit here) that I wondered if there would be some Bret-like funk in the flavour but, instead, it's rich and textural like chocolate fudge. Apparently, there are 130 herbs, plants and flowers in Chartreuse so, if I was able to pick them all out, it feels like I wouldn’t be writing about beer and instead be the most important member of staff at a perfume company who’s only allowed to live in a hermetically sealed room and eat only white bread. But I did manage to find aniseed, clove and kaffir lime leaves, which cut through the dark beer's rich base while simultaneously adding a sweetness akin to the old-fashioned lollies your grandma gave you as a kid and you hated (but would love now).
Second in the series is Rum & Banana Brandy Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. It might sound like too much but it’s the one that’s impressively well integrated: banana lollies and burnt caramel blend together as if they've been reduced before being poured over chocolate cake. If that's not enough, the barrel seems to add a touch of coconut and vanilla too.
If you'd like to be among the first to try the beers, head along to their launch at Carwyn Cellars on October 21.
Published October 20, 2023 2023-10-20 00:00:00