Beer of the Week: Healthy Spirits 15th Anniversary Ale
The city of Truckee is a place of historical significance. Tales of fortune-seeking Gold Rush settlers, Native American habitation, and the infamous Donner Party abound. These days, Truckee still represents a place of paramount importance ... for beer geeks especially. Truckee is home to Fifty Fifty Brewing, one of the country's leading purveyors of spirit barrel-aged brews. We don't know about you, but we'll take a current focus on bourbon-y beer over a past rooted in cannibalism any day.
Fifty Fifty Brewing's Todd Ashman is generally known as the father of the bourbon barrel-aged beer movement. His inky, rich creations have captured the taste buds of beer geeks for many years, since his time as a young brewer at Chicago's Flossmoor Station brewery. These days, Ashman is most known for his Eclipse series of beers. The base beer, an imperial stout brewed with honey, is aged in numerous varieties of whiskey barrels each year to create a series of beers that are excellent in their own right, and particularly interesting by comparison to each other.
Healthy Spirits is known as one of the best beer shops in the Bay Area (with locations in the Castro and the Richmond). In addition to their beer focus, the team curates a selection of bourbons that includes a number of proprietary single barrel releases. Once those barrels are emptied, they are used for collaborative projects with local brewers. This week's featured beer, released in celebration of the shop's 15th Anniversary, is such a collaboration with Fifty Fifty Brewing.
The brew is a 50/50 blend of the brewery's Donner Party Porter and a strong barleywine aged in Healthy Spirits' Four Roses bourbon barrels. 71 cases of the beer were produced, and it is available exclusively at the two Healthy Spirits locations. At 12% alcohol, this rich, complex beer can be cellared to examine its evolution over time. Expect notes of toffee, oak, and vanilla rounded out by a roasty touch. No members of the Donner Party were harmed in the making of this brew.