“Talk about a labor of love,” said Rogue President Brett Joyce. “Trying to figure out how to make our own barrels by hand, then making a beer aged in these barrels matured with our own whiskey is the kind of stuff we love to do. It’s not very efficient or economical as a brewery to also distill and cooper, but we couldn’t resist the challenge to see what we could do to bring together our beers, spirits and barrels.”
The Barrel to Bottle journey has been a long one, but it has been worth the wait.
How Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout Is Crafted From Barrel
Rogue acquired vintage French WW II era coopering equipment before knowing where to put it and who was going to make the barrels. Longtime employee Nate Lindquist volunteered to be Rogue’s first cooper and spent a year as an apprentice learning the ancient art form of barrel making.
Using Oregon White Oak, Nate assembles, raises, toasts, chars, hoops, heads, hoops again, cauterizes, sands and brands each barrel, one at a time all by hand. At full capacity, he makes one barrel a day.
The barrels are soaked first with Dead Guy Whiskey, which is distilled from Dead Guy Ale. During a year of aging, the Dead Guy Whiskey imparts its flavor into the oak, getting the barrels ready for the next step in the journey.
Eight different types of grains, including oats and Rogue Farms barley are brewed with Rogue Farms hops, brown sugar, sweet dark cherries, vanilla and chocolate to create a bold character that is perfect for aging. The Rolling Thunder barrels that once held Dead Guy Whiskey are filled with Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout and aged in the rich, salty air of Yaquina Bay on the Oregon Coast. After six months in the barrels, the beer is ready for the final step.
To complete the journey of barrel to bottle, the imperial stout is poured into 1-liter bottles to be bottle conditioned for another few weeks before being released. Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout can be enjoyed immediately or can be cellared for years to come.