Did you get your three bottles of The Keel? No. Well… too bad. It’s gone! We sold out last week, and there will never be a brew quite like The Keel.
It’s okay, though. Our Barrel Aged Reserve Series wouldn’t be much of a series if it were only one beer. That’s like having only one movie in a trilogy. That’s not a thing.
So, move over The Keel. It’s time for The Skeg.
First: skeg is totally a word. It is. We swear. It may sound like Chuck Wray trying to say “keg” after a few too many IPAs, but it’s not. It’s the section of a boat’s keel that protects the propeller and supports the rudder. Are you noticing a theme with these names? (If you’re not, there is one. They’re all parts of a boat. We’re in Cape May, a town known for a huge maritime influence and a particular connection to the sea. We’ve even got a Coast Guard station. We like boats.)
The names may be similar, but the brews are completely different. Where The Keel was a Flander’s Red/Oude Bruin style, The Skeg started as a batch of Coastal Evacuation which we aged in red wine barrels for a shorter period of time than The Keel. After the aging process, we put it back into a fermenter and dry-hopped it, so it’s almost like a barrel-aged sour IPA.
The result is more woodsy notes and a less vinous character with a pale golden straw color, firm bitterness, exotic and funky Brett-influenced esters, and an incredible nose of mango and tropical fruits thanks to the abundance of Amarillo dry hops. The tartness of the sour plays off the estery character and rounds off with a gentle hoppiness, highlighting how much variation there is to be had in the barrel aging process, and making The Skeg a beast all its own.
As you may know, this series may as well have been called “Head Brewer Brian Hink’s Babies.” The gestational period has been a little longer than that of an elephant, but Brian’s beard is rather trunk-like.
So what does he think of The Skeg? “This beer is an enigma wrapped in a bottle — really, it has something for everyone.” Die-hard hop heads will love it. Belgian and farmhouse drinkers will love it. Sour aficionados will adore it. And “beer geeks who make me look like a novice” will love it. “I can really see the uninitiated appreciating the complexity The Skeg brings to the table.”
Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm really likes how light and crisp this beer is: “the hoppiness really plays well with the dryness. The woodsy character really comes through on the finish, just to remind you that this beer had a long way to go to get where it is now.”
If you enjoyed Brian’s first-born, The Keel, you’ll love Baby II: Electric Boogaloo.
The Keel was so well-received that we’re entering it into the Great American Beer Festival competition this October in Denver. Among a host of other glowing reviews, “Moscow” from The Sour Hour praised The Keel on a recent episode of one of the Brewing Network’s most popular podcasts.
Brian feels enormously justified in the years-long process he “kept jamming down Chris and Ryan’s throats.”
“When I first started working at CMBC,” he tells us, “our most adventurous beer was our Centennial IPA, which has since evolved into Coastal Evacuation and Devil’s Reach. Two incredible beers and two of our most popular, but hardly groundbreaking in today’s beer landscape. That was what we had to do at the time though, the craft beer landscape wasn’t exactly flourishing in South Jersey back then — but as we’ve grown more adventurous, our consumer’s palettes have continued to develop and grow with us. The fact that we can release a beer of The Keel’s complexity — hands down our most adventurous beer yet, not only receiving high praise, but also selling extremely well and is now becoming sought after — that excites me more than anything and makes me so excited to see where our loyal fan base follows us to next.”
“We set the bar pretty high for ourselves with The Keel,” Jimmy says. “But that’s one of the things I love about this industry — especially with sour and wild beers — we are always being pushed and pushing ourselves to do better and come out with more amazing beers!”
Brian agrees. “The success of The Keel has encouraged us to push harder and explore deeper into the world of sour beers.”
“If I had to put it one way,” Jimmy says, waxing poetic, “The Keel was like Revolver by The Beatles, and now we are coming out with our own Pet Sounds-esque response; all of this has us now working on our Sgt. Peppers to blow everyone away.” (If pressed, Jimmy will tell you that he thinks that Pet Sounds is the best of those three albums. We tend to agree.)
Like Jimmy’s estimation of Pet Sounds, The Skeg will likely prove to be one of the best of the Barrel Aged Reserve Series. Be sure to pick up your three bottles at The Brewtique when it’s released 11am, September 3rd.