Wild Heaven and Bulleit Frontier Whiskey collaborate on new barrel-aged beers
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By Sara Amis, contributor
Avondale Estates, GA — Wild Heaven Beer has launched the first of two new beers which are collaborations with Bulleit Frontier Whiskey. Georgia Crown distributes both brands and helped foster the plan to use Bulleit’s whiskey barrels to age Wild Heaven beers.
95 Shilling Imperial Scotch Ale is aged in Bulleit’s 95 Rye Whiskey barrels.
“The rye being more peppery, being a little bit brighter spirit, I wanted something that would be more dark fruit and molasses,” said brewmaster Eric Johnson. “So the idea of a wee heavy Scotch ale, that would have all of those raisin, plum dark notes pairing with the bright spiciness, was what I thought would be a wonderful marriage between the two.”
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The second beer is coming out in December, an Imperial Stout called 437 Miles South, aged in Bulleit’s bourbon barrels.
“Bourbon is such a big flavor,” said Johnson. “We made the imperial stout for that barrel that’s very chocolatey, coffee, toasty, roasty…I think the beers that go into barrels need to be big. Otherwise, it just winds up tasting like fizzy watered-down bourbon, which is boring.”
Johnson says the name of 95 Shilling is both a reference to Bulleit’s 95 Rye and a bit of a beer nerd in-joke, in that traditionally the strength of a beer in Scotland was reflected in the price. I tried some and the taste did in fact start off spicy without being excessively sharp, then mellowed into a mapley, complex, almost buttery taste. I look forward to the stout, but 95 Shilling easily makes it onto my list of beers to revisit and could become a favorite.
Both partners in this whiskey barrel collaboration sound optimistic, but both are also conscious of the fact that bartenders are more dependent on people going out than the companies themselves.
“People drink in good times and bad,” said Kait Whitestack, Bulleit’s “Cultural Ambassador” for the Southeast. “I do think people miss this camaraderie, this community.” Both companies are looking for ways to adapt to the continuing pandemic and keep everyone afloat.
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Bulleit has a program called the Frontier Fund that employs bartenders to do ad spots and offer tips for home bartending.
“At the end of the day, we are a brand built by bartenders, and we haven’t forgotten that,” said Whitestack.
Nick Purdy, president of Wild Heaven, was lavish with his praise of the bartenders present and says he’s running the heaters full blast at their Avondale Estates location with the doors open to the patio so they can stay open even when the weather turns cold.
The fact that Atlanta’s weather is at least intermittently mild year-round is an advantage.
“Every day the weather is decent, it’s thousands of dollars,” said Purdy. “That’s saving jobs. We can’t have as many people inside as we did, but we have to keep people safe. We have to, we have to.”
“Georgia has a lot of great craft breweries, but this has been an incredible experience and I hope that we can do more with Wild Heaven,” said Whitestack. 95 Shilling will be available next week at both Wild Heaven locations and on shelves across Atlanta.
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