Well, traffic sucked. Took 2 hours from North Jersey.
But I am here and on my second beer already.
To the left is the tap board for tonight's Kelso takeover.
I run into Sam (Kelso brewer) at the tap counter. My first introduction to Sam was when he spoke at the first Brooklyn Brewsers Homebrew Club meeting I attended last summer. If I recall correctly, Sam had a hand or two in the brewing the Rye Aged Rauch so he is like a god to me at this point.
In a tweet I was told to say hi to Kelly. Sam leads me out to the patio on this beautiful pre-summer night. Suddenly, beer in hand out on a patio and the drive stress fades from my consciousness. Sometimes all it takes is a cool sunny evening and a good craft beer to set the world right again.
I introduce myself as the guy coming from North Jersey for the Rye Aged Rauch. It clicks with Kelly. I am told Sonya handles the Twitter stuff and she was adamant about making sure the Rye Aged Rauch was going to be on tap. I run into Jess again...the first ever to serve me the transcendent Rye Aged Rauch. Jesse (Kelso Brew Agent) and Kelly (Kelso Co-founder) get into a side conversation about the brewery's growth...trying to recall how many coworkers they work with at Kelso. They agree on 10.
Psst! I figured it out this morning. I met Kelly and there is this elusive Sonya somewhere. Kelly is married to Sonya. The brewery name is Kelso. Bingo! It's a husband/wife brew team. You probably already knew that but I had fun trying to piece it together.
The Beers and the Barrels
As Kelly tells it, he ran up the street from the old Capt. Lawrence Brewery location to pay a quick visit to Prospero Winery. Later that day he showed up at Kelso Brewery with four Cabernet barrels and instructed the brew staff to put something in them. There was a bit of a discussion and it was decided that the IPA would get barrel aged. That's what's in the glass to the left...with Kelly doing some impromptu marketing in the shot.
According to Jess, Kelly is quite the idea man and dabbler in many areas of the brewery. That's an essential trait for a craft brewer.
Kelly shared a bit with me about the challenges of barrel aging...the cost without much ROI...finding a place to store the barrels... remembering where the barrels were stored and how long have they been there...etc...
I don't feel that bad for him because I get to enjoy a line of tasty barrel-aged brews! Kelso, please keep rolling in the barrels.
PS, it's not at all blue in real life. I love the randomness of the Hipstamatic camera app and always try to use whatever pic I get. I shake and take.
Trust me. Even if the beer had a blue tint I think you would find it yummy.
Heading home with a growler of Rye Aged Rauchbier and the Double Barrel Imperial Stout.
Thanks to Bierkraft for hosting the Kelso tap takeover. The store has come a long way since I used to "disappear" from family gatherings at my sister-in-law's condo around the corner. Back then it just had the coolers and shelving, but with the most awesome beer selection I can remember from back in the late 90's. They now have added space next door with some dining tables and even a good-sized patio out back. They still have the incredible cheese selection but have added sandwiches that the Kelso people say are great. The joint had a steady flow of people buying beer and grub and then heading out to the patio.
So, grab some buds (not the macro kind), bring an empty growler (or buy one there) and an empty stomach, and head over to Bierkraft for a relaxing and delicious afternoon on the patio.
Almost forgot to mention, Bierkraft uses a counter pressure system for growler fills so there are limits to the growler types (screw cap only) and sizes they can fill. But any you take home will last quite awhile in storage. Hey, they are good looking growlers...just buy one of theirs.
Kelso To Go....fo' sho'
I'll just say Kelso has an incredible wood / barrel aging program going on and it is consistently good across the 3 or 4 barrel-aged brews I have had so far.
They also have a Brett IPA that seems to be getting a fair amount of local craft beer fan press and word of mouth promotion. A guy approached Kelso tonight and practically begged they go commercial with it. According to the Brett IPA fan, his wife is not a sour fan but she loves the Brett IPA. Perhaps one for the small batch, mini-bottling line coming in the future?
I will be watching Kelso a lot more closely now and I think I will take them up on the offer to tour the brewery. I just gotta see those barrels in action.
Kelso's motto is "Beer Helps." It sure does and I think I'll help myself to more barrel-aged Kelso beer.