Afterthought Brewing | Tradition: Double Gin Barrel Aged
Listen to our Saisonathon at Home episode featuring Afterthought!
Very quietly and unassumingly, Afterthought has grown. They began with only their Blended Barrel membership program and being available only at The Beer Cellar in Glen Ellyn. They have expanded (limitedly) to other beer stores and eventually signed with Do Right Distribution. A taproom is coming soon. Things are happening.
But Afterthought hasn’t expanded their brewing of styles. No hazy or milkshake IPAs or stouts or lagers. Just saisons. They have expanded within the saison style with different malts and hops but the biggest expansion has been with barrel treatments. Sauvignon Blanc barrels. Fromer Pips Meadery barrels. But, most importantly, gin barrels.
Gin barrels generally don’t get a lot of love. They typically only shine when used in lighter style beers, like saisons (also don’t get a lot of love) and berliner weisses (love only due to over fruiting). The subtitles of the gin barrel are lost on heavier, thicker styles of beer like stouts and barleywines that are typically aged in bourbon barrels. The saison is the perfect vehicle for this spirit. How about doubling it up?
Tradition: Double Gin Barrel Aged lets us find out. This features Afterthought’s Tradition saison (Old World hops and saccharomyces strains) but with the addition of resting first in a gin barrel of unknown origin and then further aged in Midwestern gin barrels. All I can say of this combo is more gin barrel aged saisons please.
Double Gin looks beautiful. The head bubbles up nicely and then just as quickly bubbles away. The remains of the head reside on the rim of the beer. Double Gin pours an okra color that changes to a pale straw color when held up to the light. That in and of itself is lovely, but the continuous nucleation that occurs is what really makes this beer stand out. I honestly hated that I had to drink it; I just wanted to gaze at it.
Hoping the aroma matched the look, my nose dove in. Lemon and lime, gin and oak, funk and barn. All there in balance, with the lemon/lime being the easiest to detect. Unable to resist, I imbibed. The medium mouthfeel that greets you finishes with some sticky flavors at the back of our tongue.
And those sticky flavors are worth sticking around for. Lemon tartness dominates while supporting notes of juniper, gin and oak accent. Way in the back rests a hint of funky cheese and some orange. That orange brings out a bit of sweetness making you want to drink again. My wife said it even reminded her of the sweetness of a brioche bun with a hint of butter. The lemon tartness balances with everything else going on in the beer in a masterful way.
If you’re a saison lover, Chicago is slowly becoming the place to be. Saison-only breweries like Afterthought, Keeping Together, and is/was keep cranking out amazing beers, while saison-centric ones like Off Color and Whiner keep the everyone happy with their year-round offerings of Apex Predator and Le Tub. Tradition: Double Gin Barrel Aged is absolutely worth your dollar and essential if you’re a saison lover. But so is most of Afterthought’s portfolio.
To purchase beer for curbside pickup from Afterthought Brewing, click here.