Following hot on the heels of our first barrel-fermented beer from The Monolith is the release of Buffalo Meadows, our first barrel-aged beer from our Market brewery. Buffalo Meadows is going to be released on February 2nd at the Bottle Room at the Ritchie Market, and it will be available shortly afterward in stores, restaurants, and bars around Edmonton. If you need to refresh yourself on the difference between barrel-aged and barrel-ferment beers, check out that blog post here.

Buffalo Meadows is a dark lager that was brewed at the Market brewery. To achieve the high gravity (and higher resulting alcohol) we wanted for this beer we added Alberta blossom honey and then underwent a standard lager fermentation in stainless steel followed by an extended cold conditioning. We added bee pollen for an additional unique dimension to this beer.

Our destination for this beer was always going to be Bourbon barrels, so we were really excited when we had the chance to get some super-fresh Buffalo Trace barrels. Fortunately we brewed our base dark lager with honey and bee pollen well before we started looking for barrels and we were done conditioning by the time they arrived. We were even more excited when we smelled the barrels and realized that these were truly fresh-emptied; there was less than a week between the Bourbon being removed and us filling the barrels with our beer. One absolute rule of thumb in working with barrels is that the fresher the barrel, the better the result you’ll have.

During the nine months Buffalo Meadows spent in Buffalo Trace barrels it picked up significant alcohol and Bourbon character from the wood but it also mellowed and developed a delightful saline character often found in bottles that have already undergone aging to complement the dark fruit notes in the beer. This unique character will only improve with time, and we estimate Buffalo Meadows will age well for at least five years in the bottle. The beer finished at 11.3% ABV, and in spite of the high ABV it isn’t excessively warm or boozy on when consumed. We’re really happy with this beer as a first barrel-aged beer and look forward to sharing it with all of you.