Sunday, December 30, 2012

Steel Toe Lunker Release 2012

I missed the first year's release of Lunker Barleywine from Steel Toe Brewery and have been regretting it since.  A big and flavorful barleywine aged in Templeton Rye Whiskey barrels, this is an amazing beer.  Andrew did share a bottle at one of our brewclub meetings, but I wanted my own to treasure and hoard like some demented Smaug the Beer Dragon.

This year I was prepared.  Sj and I woke up too early on a Saturday, had coffee, then drove down to the St. Louis Park brewery.  This happened to be one of the coldest days we've had here in Minnesota this season, the mercury dropping to about 14 degrees F when we arrived.  Most of the people were still in cars trying to stay warm, so we followed suit.  There was one group of folks standing around tail-gating and sharing cool beers, but they must have been insane.  One lady was wearing shorts.  Shorts!  Insane I tell you!  Once we could see a line starting to form around the loading dock entrance to the brewery we donned our hats and gloves, zipped up our parkas and headed out into the bitter chill.  This was at about 9:30 AM.  Once a line starts at one of these events it seems to quickly hit critical mass and suddenly stretches into the icy horizon.  Keith joined us in line and I saw Dave back in line behind us.  Apparently Rob and Kent eventually got there but I must have been long gone by then.  Good that some of my friends were able to get some bottles.

Minnesotan beer geeks are cray-cray!

Right about where I couldn't feel my face anymore and my hands were clenched into creaky lobster claws, they opened the doors and let us into the blessed heat of the brewery.  They had it set up very slickly with someone at the door to check ID, then we were routed past the taps and given a small sample of the Lunker to try before we decided how many to buy.  Very nice feature!  Keith beat me to rating it on Untappd though.  I blame the frozen sausage fingers for my slow performance.  The beer itself was just how I remember from my taste last year:  Sweet, caramel, vanilla and a mild alcohol burn.  Very warming and perfect to get some sensation back in the frigid gullet.

After picking up our bottles we took a quick look at the in-process tasting room at the front of the building.  The bar is up and the lights are mostly installed.  Mostly some cosmetic things to do, but looking good.  I have some pictures of the before, during and will soon have after pictures to show the process.  I'll do that on another post in the future.  We did get a brief chance to talk to Jason, the owner and brewer on our way out.  It sounds like things have been pretty busy around the brewery between the build, Lunker release and the birth of a new baby for Jason!  Congrats and good luck.  And keep putting out amazing beers like this and there is no way to go but up!

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