Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gigantic Brewing Company - Pipewrench Gin Barrel Aged IPA

Roll out the barrel...
Sometimes, desperation results in perfection. What the hell am I talking about? Hmmmm, where do I start...

It's widely believed that beer was "invented" when really hungry ancient people ate stored grain that had gotten wet, sprouted and subsequently fermented. Those folks were pretty sure that their grain was spoiled, but they were so desperately hungry, they grubbed on it anyway. Much to their happy surprise, there was alcohol in that mush. Boom! Hard times turned into a Mesopotamian par-TAY!

A current state of desperation in the craft beer world has been caused by a shortage of bourbon barrels. Damn! Everybody is barrel aging EVERYTHING! This has lead brewers to experiment with other booze barrels for beer aging purposes. I had a conversation with a very well-respected Oregon brewer about this issue recently. He advised that previously he would have never considered using gin barrels, but due primarily to the unavailability and high cost of bourbon barrels, he was trying gin and obtaining some "interesting" results. He also lamented that even gin and tequila barrels are harder to come by and now command a higher price.

I really haven't come across very many widely available gin barrel aged beers. However, today, I was pleased to find a bomber of Gigantic Brewing Company's Pipewrench Gin Barrel Aged IPA in the cold case of my local New Seasons. Cool! $9.99 for the 22 ouncer. The label declared the ABV at 8%, and also advised that the beer was aged for three months in Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels. Yum! Ransom Old Tom is my FAVORITE locally made gin! Let's see how this brew turned out, shall we?

The beer poured into my glass a hazy, orange amber color. A minimal, white head rose up to about a 1/4 of an inch high and dissipated quickly. A thin cap of lacing was left behind.

Aroma was lightly boozy, mildly citrus-y. A hint of pine. Very herbal. Smelled like a gin and tonic with an interesting earthy undertone.

Taste followed the nose. Light booze. Citrus. Pine. Subtle punctuation mark of juniper berries and other herbaceous gin botanicals. Sweet caramel malt balanced nicely against the hops and gin flavors. Nice!

Medium mouthfeel. Appropriate carbonation. Somewhat of a quick drop off the palate on the finish, but with a very clean, gin botanical taste left behind at the end.

Overall, this is a completely different, awesomely unique brew. A gin barrel aged IPA? Sounds so weird and with a high potential for suckiness, but this is a very tasty, tasty beer! I like it! I'm giving Pipewrench a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. Try it!

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