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Typical Saturday at The Lost Abbey

It’s a Saturday in January which means there’s snow on the ground in most of the country, NFL playoffs on the TV and a bunch of people enjoying our tasting room at Port Brewing. In case you haven’t visited us in a while you may not know that Saturdays have turned into quite the place to be. Bus load after bus load of beer thirsty zymurgists(well, not all of them) have descended on our building yet again. It’s pretty cool. And they all seem to enjoy the changes we made to the tasting room to accommodate more patrons.

Across the bar from me, there’s a table of 8 discussing the merits of Bourbon Barrel Aged Santa’s Little Helper from this past Christmas in July. They’re wondering out loud (or loud enough that I can hear them), whether the next batch scheduled for July 24th of this year (announcement forthcoming) will be better. Off the record (and no I haven’t tasted it yet) I think it will be. Given how stupid good the current batch of Santa’s Little Helper on tap tastes, I can only imagine how naughty but nice that party is going to be.

This past week,Sage and I had lunch at Churchill’s to discuss the beer calendar and release schedule for the first half of 2010. It’s not my job to steal his thunder but I thought I would lay out what is in the works. Check back to the website for the exact schedule and bottle limits in the not so distant future. As many of you already know, next Saturday we’re releasing the latest installment of Brandy Angel’s Share. This will be the 2009 Vintage as there is another release slated for later this year.

The 2009 Vintage marks the transition to our new 375 ml bottle shape that was produced for us, Russian River and North Coast Brewing. It’s very cool and I for one am excited as it means for the first time we’ll be able to send more of this sized bottled beer out into the market. The first bottling run went very well as 800 cases were produced. Labels arrive on Monday and it heads out to market at the end of this week.

In February, we’re targeting the 2010 release of Red Poppy Ale. This years batch promises to be as great if not better than the one we released in 2009. As we get more familiar with this beer, we can make subtle changes in the blend allowing the different barrel flavors to shine through. On release day, we’re also going to preview a draft keg of Framboise de Amarosa. This is a barrel aged raspberry beer that has been aging in our distribution warehouse since last summer. In July, we had farm fresh raspberries delivered to our brewery and they went directly into all manners of barrels. And because it didn’t have enough Raspberry character, we added more fruit to the barrels in November.

Since we seem to be focusing on fruit beers, we should mention that sometime in the spring, we plan on releasing a batch of Veritas 005 (In Veritas Vino). I’m sure that some of you are probably in possession of bottles of Veritas 004 and Veritas 006. But what about batch 005 you’re wondering. Well, in the spirit of the Veritas series and experimentation, we only produced 6 cases of the original batch of Veritas 005 (featuring native Southern California Grapes as the fruit). That batch was a success so last fall, we sourced some Cabernet Franc grapes from Temecula in hopes of making Veritas 005 a reality on a larger scale. We can’t say when it will be ready or when it will be released but we know it will jump into the bottle in the next month or two.

Lastly we have a batch of Amazing Grace that has been slumbering away in French Oak barrels for almost a year now. Many of you might have missed the original batch of Amazing Grace as we didn’t produce a ton of it in 2007 for the initial release. Seemingly, we have 6-8 oak barrels worth of beer that we’ll get ready for sale at some point this spring so stay tuned.

A little housekeeping before I go as well. First, Santa heard my cries and decided to bring me a new hood and wire unit for our bottling line. This means that in March, we expect to be ready to increase the output of our Lost Abbey bottles. It’s been a long time coming. Currently the guys have to bust ass to make 18 bottles of beer an hour. The new unit will do 50 per minute. And they say I’m a slave driver…

They also finished our new cold box over the holiday break and next week I hear my new hot box will even be ready. This is a good thing. We’re getting ready to package Serpent’s Stout and it will be nice to be able to get that beer up to temp quickly. And given how much Serpent’s we made this year, it will be nice to see bottles everywhere. We’re also holding back a significant volume for Bourbon Barrel Aging. Look for this to be released later this year.

We’re opening the doors next Saturday for our first release since July of last year. It will be the first time that some of our patrons see the new tasting room. It also marks the 6th batch of Angel’s Share to be released since we opened. Sometimes, the more things change the more they stay the same. Given how much Angel’s Share I’ve been drinking lately, I thought I would share, this one reminds me of batch #1 and for that I am thankful.

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