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Mature flavors: Rare cellar series tap takeover celebrates aged beers

Seldom do you hear of places in Albuquerque doing a cellar series takeover, but Sister is changing that today.

The Downtown bar’s Cellar Series Showcase Tap Takeover will feature Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Great Divide Barrel Aged Hibernation, Straffe Hendrik Heritage Quad, Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Cascade Manhattan NW, Prairie Paradise, and North Coast Old Stock Cellar Reserve, which is only one of four kegs in the state.

“It’s something pretty special for the beer enthusiasts of Albuquerque to enjoy, because on the industry side we’re fortunate to taste really special things like that on a more frequent basis than the general consumer is, so this is a real special event for the consumer,” said Katixa M. Mercier, sales representative for Favorite Brands, which distributes Straffe Hendrik, Cascade, Prairie and North Coast in New Mexico.

Generally speaking, certain beers can be aged like wine. Like wine, beer can gain complexity with age.

“You have a lot of the carbohydrates and sugars that occur in the beers that are either from the grains or if there is a particular fruit that they added to a beer,” Mercier said. “… Those sugars begin to break down and gain in complexity. Something that should have started off tasting like bright cherry will kind of gain a raisiny quality. … Bright fruits versus dried fruits are one very common distinction between beers that are and aren’t cellared, so those are the kinds of notes to look for, sort of grape versus raisin. You’ll find bright fruits like plum are now naturally prune, because as a plum would age it kind of breaks down those sugars the same way it would be happening in a beer. Depending on the grain content, it can go from a very toffee flavor and become a very rich toasted sort of caramel flavor, so those are the kinds of notes that you can expect with beer that ages.”

Cascade Manhattan NW will appeal to the classic cocktail drinker and wine drinker, with notes of maraschino cherry and orange, as well as a touch of bitter almonds to temper the sourness.

“You’re really to expect a Manhattan cocktail in the embodiment of a sour beer that is bourbon barrel-aged,” Mercier said. “It’s really different. I find with Cascade, that brewery, particularly, really appeals to the wine drinker and the craft cocktail person who enjoys sort of the Prohibition-era cocktails. (They) will love this because it really hits all the notes in a Manhattan, and then the wine drinker because sours tend to err toward the wine drinker simply because they do entertain certain yeasts. They have a complexity and depth that is very similar to wine, and it’s very engaging.”

Those in search of something rich will find it in Prairie Paradise.

“This is an imperial stout with the introduction of coconut into it,” Mercier said. “Think paradise, think tropic islands, this is their take on kind of a funny irony of having a stout beer with coconut and calling it Paradise, you always think tropical, you always think something so different. … (It is) really, really rich, reminiscent of coconut truffles like the chocolates in the sense that you’re working with really rich malts and then the kind of notes of coconut and vanilla that are so akin with dessert. I’m not saying the beer is sweet, but it’s really, really decadent. It’s super-rich. It’s wild.”