Fremont Brewing | The Gauntlet
It was quite possibly the best night of my life. What could have been better? I, and roughly 200 other Fremont Brewing fanatics, had been invited to the Heron Hunting Club’s annual get-together. The event, which I would argue is the best beer event in the city, had it all. We were being fed by James Beard award-winning Chef Edouardo Jordan of Salare and JuneBaby, taste-testing and purchasing some of Fremont’s most hard-to-get beers, and witnessing the metamorphosis of the brewery’s Frelard location. The space, which had been a packaging and brewing facility just a few hours beforehand, could now pass for a palace. Chandeliers dangled from the ceiling, vintage furniture and rugs awaited us in every corner, and Broadway-worthy props were found at every turn. Again – what could have been better?
Of course, it gets better. You see, we also brought home The Gauntlet. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
To catch you up to speed, Fremont Brewing takes great pride in putting on their annual Heron Hunting Club event, sparing no expense in making the night exceptional for guests. Matt Lincecum, co-founder of the brewery, explains.
“It’s overwhelming for us. The amount of work and detail, it is incredible. It takes weeks and weeks of prep with the entire brewery – but it’s worth it,” Lincecum said. “(At the Heron Hunting Club) We want everyone to feel super special. You’re being served by the best city, and being given the best beer that we make.”
And this year, the curators of the event had a special surprise for attendees. Instead of solely focusing on tastings, which the event has done in the past, guests were taken through a barrel blending course. This course, led by Fremont’s best and brightest brewers, gave beer lovers in attendance insight into what it takes to blend a beer to Fremont’s perfectionist standards. Guests of this barrel blending symposium were presented with tastings of three of Fremont’s finest and most notable brews: The B-Bomb, which was aged in Westland Peated whiskey barrels and filled in January 2016; The Rusty Nail, which was aged in Heaven Hills bourbon barrels and filled in February 2016, and the Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star, which was aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels and filled in September of 2015.
Lincecum was the one who carefully and thoughtfully led our particular blending symposium. I (and roughly fifty other beer nerds) was first instructed to taste each beer separately, jotting down notes on their profiles afterward. Once we had a sense of each beer’s aromas and flavors, blending began. We tried the B-Bomb with the Dark Star. The Dark Star with the Rusty Nail. The B-Bomb and the Rusty Nail. And for the finale, we did it all: We tried all three beers together for the first time.
Cue The Gauntlet. This beer, which is an equal mix of the three beers noted above, is an embodiment of why brewers blend. The aromas, the flavors, and the body of The Gauntlet are far greater than the sum of its parts. It perfectly captures the best qualities of its ingredients: the spicier, heavier notes of the Dark Star, the peat and smoke of the B-Bomb, and the malty, oaky sweetness of the Rusty Nail.
As we melted in our seats sipping away on this blend, our palates now prisoners to The Gauntlet’s complex perfection, Lincecum described why it worked so well. This beer captures the fun of the B-Bomb, the heat of the Dark Star, and the refinement of the Rusty Nail. Blending these beers together simply accentuates what we love about each of them, rather than hiding those things away.
After blending The Gauntlet, we (the guests of the Heron Hunting Club event), were presented with a fantastic surprise: Each of us would be able to take a bottle home for ourselves. I told you—this was quite possibly the best night of my life.
My bottle of The Gauntlet sits in my cellar as we speak as I patiently give this beer more time to age and to refine. Knowing that I’ll be able to crack this open for a special event? Well, that already has me bubbling with excitement.