We recently went to a really cool event at the Astor Center. Charbay, a distillery in California, distills beer into whiskey, currently Bear Republic‘s Racer 5 IPA and Big Bear Black Stout. This was a natural appeal for me since I love both Bear Republic and whiskey. It was hosted by Marko Karakasevic, Charbay’s master distiller. We were each given six glasses. Two were of the actual beers, then two each of the whiskies, in two different stages: clear and barrel-aged. These were all very tasty, but also very high in alcohol. The R5 (Racer 5), we all found, was much better barrel-aged. The tastes from the wood seemed to work well with the character of the IPA. The big surprise was that the clear, un-aged S (Stout) was really delicious, much more so than its barrel-aged sibling. I guess the barrel aging just doesn’t work as well with the characteristics of a stout. The two R5s and the barrel-aged S are commercially available, but unfortunately the clear S is not; what we were fortunate to drink was from Marko’s own reserve. Hopefully one day he’ll release it. Last thing we got to try is a tequila that Charbay is making down in Mexico.
All in all a really fun and educational event. I look forward to seeing what Marko and Charbay come out with in the future, a future so bright I’ve got to wear shades. Or maybe that’s my hangover.