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.