May 25, it is a Saturday afternoon at the newly renovated Whisky and Alement, formerly known as Chez Regine, with the staff busy preparing glasses and snacks for the Whiskey and Beer pairing about to start. I've arrived a little early with Linus Schaxmann setting up his laptop for the presentation, we're still waiting for everyone else to show up.
Meanwhile I have a look around the new bar and it really looks fantastic with all the tasting glasses set perfectly on their pre-allocated spots reserved for about 30 people.
I have no idea what the snacks consist of but they are starting to smell awfully delicious with the smell of Woodford Reserve wafting in the air as it's being poured in the glasses. Almost everyone has come in now and the presentation is about to begin.
We are introduced by Linus Schaxmann from Brown Forman to Allan Duvall and Tom Price from the Brooklyn Brewery. After a few introductory words we get right into pairing some new-make Woodford Reserve with Brooklyn Sorachi Ace. Room soon fills up with chatter as we get started and compare our notes and thoughts.
It is actually quite exciting, as I've never done a whiskey and beer pairing (so called boilermaker) before but it makes sense, considering they both use the same basic ingredients, doesn’t it? Linus tells us that Brooklyn Brewery also use the same barrels as Woodford does in their production for a beer that we will be trying later on. The top and the bottom of the barrel are also charred in order to get more flavour into the whiskey and beer.
The second pairing is with Brooklyn Local 1 and Woodford Reserve Distillers Select. Interestingly the Brooklyn Local 1 is re-fermented in the bottle, a process not so common anymore.
Looking at the bottles I notice they are in fact old Champagne bottles, which gives all the more reason to ferment the beer a second time in the bottle like Champagne is, so called 'méthode traditionelle.'
Moving onwards we're now drinking Brooklyn Local 2, seems only appropriate to move up in numbers. Our whiskey of choice is an intriguing addition to the Woodford Reserve Master's Collection; Aged Cask Rye aged in a once used Bourbon cask. The colour of this whiskey is quite light, it is spicy, fresh and somewhat grassy and you can definitely taste the rye here.
This pairing session is getting more interesting by the minute and the atmosphere is getting quite warm and cheery with people conversing and laughing. Having a few drinks has been known to be a good social enhancer in the right setting; this certainly is it.
Our hosts are going around the room engaging in the same conversation and just as we're finishing off our drinks they continue the presentation promising the best is yet to come. I've always fancied a good tipple of Bourbon and I've never really been a big beer fan but they really blew my socks off with the next beer; Black Chocolate Stout paired with Rye aged in new American oak barrels. This whiskey has warmer flavours and has more sweetness and depth in the palate than the previous rye; It is very interesting to examine the difference between the same spirit aged in different casks!
The Chocolate Stout, I tell you, tastes almost exactly like the traditional Finnish Easter dish called Mämmi and without going too much into detail what that is, you're just going to have to trust me when I say the beer is simply awesome.
Extremely rich and chocolatey this beer is a perfect compliment for the winter season, even though most Australians have no idea about the real winter, it's almost like a mild Autumn in the South of the continent but I digress!
The last beer we had is a bit of a rarity, in fact the Brooklyn website does not even list it so I consider myself lucky to have been able to even try it. Much like the Brooklyn Beer, the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection is also a very limited edition.
The Black Ops cask aged stout is aged for three or four months in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels, bottled flat and re-fermented in its Champagne bottle, as above, to create the carbonation.
The result is a remarkably smooth and rich beer, very similar to the Black Chocolate Stout but smoother and more balanced and complex.
A wonderful end to a fantastic pairing with the Woodford Reserve whiskeys.
Woodford Reserve Personal Selection