A Cavallo Story

By Katherine Hensley

Stable Craft Brewing will release Cavallo, a barrel-aged American Imperial Stout, at noon Saturday, Dec. 9 exclusively in the brewery’s tasting room. This is a historic moment for Stable Craft Brewing as Cavallo is the first barrel-aged stout produced by the farm brewery.

Cavallo was aged for one year in rye whiskey barrels made of oak and sourced from Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. in Purcellville, Va. Christopher Fann, Stable Craft’s head brewer, first created the recipe and brewed a pilot batch on the brewery’s SABCO system in September 2016, which was about the same time Stable Craft’s relationship with Catoctin Creek began to develop.

Craig Nargi, Stable Craft’s owner, decided to source barrels for barrel aging beer from Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. because of their quality product and as a way to continue the brewery’s reputation of supporting other small Virginia businesses. When we discovered Catoctin Creek rye whiskey, we were blown away with the perfect, smooth and approachable rye, Nargi said.

Christopher Fann, Stable Craft’s head brewer, transferred Cavallo from the barrels into the brite tank for conditioning on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

After the pilot batch was brewed and the barrels were sourced, Fann tweaked the recipe to fit the flavor profile of the barrels. Cavallo went into the Catoctin Creek oak barrels in November 2016. It was the first beer to go into the first 16 barrels the brewery purchased from the distillery, and it will be the last to come out of those original 16 barrels.  

A sixtel of the barrel-aged stout was released on May 6, 2017 during Stable Craft Brewing’s anniversary party under the name, “Valley Reserve.”

“We released a small quantity during our one-year anniversary celebration and sold out of one keg in 25 minutes,” Nargi said. “It was previously named ‘Valley Reserve,’ but we felt, with that kind of following, it deserved a name that envelopes our brand and instills uniqueness.”

The word, “cavallo,” means horse in Italian, therefore, the name fits well with the farm brewery’s equestrian roots.

Whiskey, vanilla and a little bit of oak from the barrels is how Issac Peglow, Stable Craft’s assistant brewer, described Cavallo’s flavor profile. “It’s Fann-tastic,” Peglow added with a chuckle.

Cavallo doesn’t possess the same burn from the alcohol as other barrel-aged beers because of the length of time it was in the barrels, Fann said.

Cavallo went into the barrels at a 9.4% ABV and, after aging, has finished at a 12.5% ABV. The stout will be exclusively available in the Stable Craft Brewing tasting room on tap and in 750 mL bottles. Two variants of the beer will be available, Bold American Imperial Stout and Chocolate Raspberry Imperial Stout.

This is not the first barrel-aged beer released by Stable Craft Brewing, and it certainly won’t be the last.

“The barrel aging program at Stable Craft Brewing is about to become an entirely new offering for 2018,” Nargi said. “A new warehouse space will provide enough room for 150 plus oak barrels and, directly above the warehouse, a new exclusive tasting room is being built with majestic views spanning from both sides of the Shenandoah Valley.”

Issac Peglow, Stable Craft’s assistant brewer, uses a bottling wand to fill Cavallo bottles on Friday, Dec. 1.

Five hundred bottles of the Bold American Imperial Stout variant of Cavallo will be available for purchase.

Stephen Clay, Stable Craft’s cellar technician, manually puts crowns, or caps. on the 750 mL bottles of Cavallo on Friday, Dec. 1.

Stall Series Release: Moonlight Rider Aged on Coffee and Hazelnuts

By Katherine Hensley

Stable Craft Brewing will be launching Moonlight Rider aged on Coffee and Hazelnuts this Saturday, as well as the Moonlight Rider aged on Tart Cherries. Both ales are part of the brewery’s Stall Series.

As noted in the previous blog post about Moonlight Rider aged on Tart Cherries, both of the flavors of the barrel-aged brown ale will be available in 22 oz bottles and on tap starting at noon Saturday, Oct. 21 exclusively in Stable Craft Brewing’s tasting room.

The process of making Moonlight Rider aged on Coffee and Hazelnuts is mostly the same as for the tart cherry version of the beer. The coffee and hazelnut version of the brown ale was also aged in rye whiskey barrels from Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. in Purcellville, Va. for about nine months.

The making of the two versions of the ale began to differ around the beginning of September when cherries were added to three of the five barrels of Moonlight Rider. The two barrels that were reserved for the coffee and hazelnut version of the ale remained unchanged until Oct. 18.

On Oct. 18, Chris Fann, Stable Craft’s head brewer, moved the two barrels of Moonlight Rider that have remained unchanged for the past nine months into the brite tank where the beer was carbonated overnight.

The next day, Fann and Issac Peglow, assistant brewer, put coffee beans and hazelnut extract in a muslin bag in the pilot brewing system. The now carbonated Moonlight Rider ran through the pilot brewing system for a half hour where it was exposed to the coffee beans and hazelnut extract. This is where the beer picked up the flavor of the coffee beans that were supplied by Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery in Staunton and the flavor of the hazelnut extract.

Chris Fann, head brewer, fills a bottle with Moonlight Rider by hand.


After Fann fills the bottle, he hands it off to Issac Peglow, assistant brewer.


The final step for Moonlight Rider aged on Coffee and Hazelnuts was hand-bottling and kegging the beer. There will be about 150 bottles of Moonlight Rider aged on Coffee and Hazelnuts and about 350 bottles of Midnight Rider aged on Tart Cherries available for purchase.

The inspiration to create a coffee-flavored brown ale came from Fann. “I pretty much live off coffee,” Fann said. He also said, since he is a coffee lover, he has always been interested in creating a coffee-flavored brown ale, and this was his first opportunity to do so.

Hopefully, there will be more opportunities in the future to collaborate with the Staunton Coffee Co., where Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery sourced the coffee beans, in the future, Fann said.

Come out to Stable Craft Brewing Saturday, Oct. 21 beginning at noon to enjoy these first two releases of the Stall Series while they are available.

Peglow manually puts a crown, or cap, on the bottle after Fann hands it off to him.


Once a bottle is filled and capped, it has to dry before a label is placed on it.