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 Tart Cherries

By Katherine Hensley

Stable Craft Brewing will launch its all-new Stall Series collection with Moonlight Rider aged on Tart Cherries.

Moonlight Rider, a barrel-aged brown ale, will be available in bottles and on tap starting at noon Saturday, Oct. 21 in the brewery’s tasting room. Moonlight Rider aged on Tart Cherries will be released, as well as Moonlight Rider aged on Hazelnut Coffee.

Barrel-aged releases are a part of the craft brewing industry that Stable Craft is effectively expanding into as part of its operations, and the brewery has already had great success with a barrel-aged release. Stable Craft had its first barrel-aged release with Julep, an ale aged in bourbon barrels, during the brewery’s Kentucky Derby Day Birthday Bash in May 2017 that was very well accepted.

Rye whiskey barrels hold Moonlight Rider in the brewery. The beer will be released on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Moonlight Rider differs from Julep as it has been aged in rye whiskey barrels made of oak from Catoctin Creek Distilling Company in Purcellville, Va. instead of in bourbon barrels. The beer will adapt both the flavors of the organic rye whiskey that was previously in the barrels, as well as the flavor of the wood, according to Issac Peglow, assistant brewer.

The brown ale was first put into the five oak barrels to age at the end of January 2017 after being brewed and fermented, therefore, they will have aged for about nine months prior to being bottled and kegged.

About a month and a half ago, tart cherries were added to three of the five barrels. The tart cherries are not added any later in order to prevent refermentation, Peglow said, which could happen if the cherries were added right before bottling.

Cherry was chosen as a flavor for Moonlight Rider by both Christopher Fann, Stable Craft’s head brewer, and Peglow. The maltiness of the brown ale and the tart flavor of the cherries sounded like a good combination, Peglow said.

But tart cherries, apparently, do not come without their own set of challenges. Peglow described cherry as an “easily masked flavor and delicate.” He went on to add that there is a sweet spot you have to hit with adding cherries to the beer.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

This is Peglow’s first time being involved in a barrel-aged release from start to finish, and he said he is getting more and more excited to see how the beer has transformed in the barrels over time. The beer will have all new notes when it comes out, and drinkers will detect a greater whiskey flavor since it is the first time these barrels have been used to age beer, he said.

Everyone will be able to taste the tart cherries, whiskey notes and oak flavors of Moonlight Rider aged on Tart Cherries on Saturday, Oct. 21. This is a release exclusive to Stable Craft Brewing’s taproom. Drafts and 22 oz bottles of Moonlight Rider will only be available at this location.

Check back into Stable Craft’s brew blog later this week to learn about the Moonlight Rider aged on Hazelnut Coffee and for photographs of the bottling process.