Funkwerks | Barrel-Aged Tropic King
A few years back, Funkwerks Tropic King was somewhat of an undercover gem in the brewery-rich city of Fort Collins, Colorado. The Imperial Saison was locally made, had amazing depth, and had a reputation for being affordable while still dangerously high in ABV. Recently, though, as Funkwerks expanded their distribution far beyond Fort Collins, and Tropic King can now be found in ten states, the locals lost some of their bragging rights—until now. Funkwerks is no stranger to experimentation, and their latest unique offering is Barrel-Aged Tropic King, which is a local-only release.
I sat down with Chris, one of the quality control brewers of Funkwerks, to learn more about the inspiration for this iteration. “This beer is a two-and-a-half year story,” he told me. That’s when the brew first began, and when he and the team filled 24 neutral oak barrels, they had high hopes for the outcome but stayed cautiously optimistic. “Barrel aging is always a risk,” Chris explained, even though they’d had excellent outcomes in the past with one-offs like Peachy King, a barrel-aged peach version of Tropic King. Knowing that their base was such a solid hit, Funkwerks was emboldened to experiment—and it paid off. The outcome, named simply Barrel-Aged Tropic King, is described as a barrel-aged sour Imperial Saison, though Chris admits that the “sour” part was a happy accident. They had no intention of creating a sour when they began, but we all know that barrels can be unpredictable—and once they tasted the beer there was no denying the mouth-puckering impact and hint of whiskey that this beer leaves behind.
It’s more than just a sour, though—ripe apricot, dark fruit, and booze-soaked cherries come through on the nose. A strong flavor of amaretto hits you up front and the barrel is not overwhelming; this is a surprisingly simple beer which is likely aided by the neutral barrels it was aged in. Like its non-barrel-aged parent, Barrel-Aged Tropic King’s ABV is high, but well-masked by the bubbly dry sweetness of the Saison character. If you’re looking for something to pair it with (which you should, because it’s 9.9% ABV), creamy cheeses like Brie would be a fantastic complement.
This beer is available at Funkwerks Brewery taproom, and Chris guesses that it’ll last through August (but given how enthusiastic the local fans can be, he insisted that I do not quote him on that availability). I did get an insider tip, though: if you’re not local and can’t get your hands on any Barrel-Aged Tropic King, cellar your regular Tropic King for a few months and you’ll get shades of this more complex version. If you are local, though, just come see for yourself—it’ll give you some more bragging rights, but more importantly, you’ll get to drink a damn fine beer.
Feature image courtesy of Funkwerks