Monday, March 28, 2016
Brandy, Beer and Ampersands: Copper & Kings Cr&ftwerk Brandy
Copper & Kings the Kentucky brandy producers has a new series of brandies aged in craft beer barrels. Each brandy in the Kr&ftwerk series is made from the same sourced brandies used as the base of Copper & Kings other brandies and is finished for a year in a different craft beer cask. They are all 55.5% abv and go for $50.
Copper & Kings Cr&ftwerk finished in 3 Floyds Dark Lord Imperial Stout casks
True to form, the nose has both beer and brandy notes. There's a hoppy/grainy note along with a subtle sweetness. The palate is pretty weird. It's very sweet with beer notes, much more beer than brandy. It ends with a brief bitterness, then a beer-like finish. A few drops of water brings out out almost Scotch-like malty notes. I'm not a huge fan of this one, the beer and brandy notes seem to clash rather than working together.
Copper & Kings Cr&ftwerk finished in Sierra Nevada Smoked Imperial Porter casks
The nose on this one is malty, like a Scotch, so much so that nosing blind, I would almost definitely guess that it was a Scotch. The palate starts with big, sweet brandy notes, then oak, then a general sweetness. The finish is sweet and matly. I wouldn't recommend water in this one as it mutes the flavors too much. This one has much less direct beer influence than the 3 Floyds, but I think it comes together better overall.
Copper & Kings Cr&ftwerk finished in Oskar Blues Imperial IPA casks
This bottle is composed of brandies finished in Oskar Blues G'Knight and Deviant Dale's IPAs. The nose on this one is lovely, crisp and hoppy. The palate is very beer forward with a Charbay-like hoppiness (reminiscent of Charbay's Racer 5 IPA), then it picks up some sweet brandy notes that nicely complement the beer flavors. The finish is beer and honey with some nice hops on the nose. This one is a winner with lots of complex notes that come together well.
Copper & Kings Cr&ftwerk finished in Against the Grain Smoked Scottish Ale casks
The Copper & Kings Against the Grain is finished in Against the Grain's Mac Fannny Baw. So, just to be clear, this is a brandy aged in casks from a beer that is supposed to taste like a peated Scotch. Got it?
This one begins with a very nice nose with beer and some sweet, brandy notes, probably the first real fruit I've gotten on any of these. The palate has nice sweet brandy notes with just a touch of beer, and the finish is mostly beer. This one is nice and balanced. I don't get much in the way of smoky, peat type notes, but I like it a lot.
The big winner for me was definitely the Oskar Blues. It was the perfect synthesis of beer and brandy, and was reminiscent of some of Charbay's hopped whiskeys. The Against the Grain was my second favorite; it was the most brandy-like of the three and probably the most drinkable. These are two I would absolutely spend money on. The Sierra Nevada was good but not as interesting as the other two, and I didn't care for the 3 Floyds which was all over the map, flavor wise.
Kudos to Copper & Kings for trying something unique here. Using the same brandy base in four different beer casks created four very different spirits. I don't know if this is a first, but I'm not aware of any other beer finished brandies. The spirit they created isn't anything like a typical brandy; it has more in common with hopped whiskey and would probably appeal more to beer fans than brandy fans.
Thanks to Copper & Kings for providing samples of their brandies.