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Collaborating for a Cause | Fox Farm Copestone

Feature Image for Fox Farm's Copestone Barleywine Installation
Eric Griffin

Happy New Year! When we began this series last year, we had no idea what to expect. No one was quite prepared for the sheer magnitude of support Alex Kidd and his family would receive after his cancer diagnosis, but it’s been incredible to watch unfold. This series powers ahead into the new year, beginning with Fox Farm Brewery in Salem, Connecticut.

The Fox Farm Cause

Fox Farm, a small farmstead brewery, opened its doors in the summer of 2017. Husband-and-wife team Zack and Laura Adams rooted Fox Farm in the idea of avoiding industry trends and instead focusing on the types of beer that their team had a passion for brewing and enjoyed drinking. Their varied portfolio of European-style lagers, American ales and Farmhouse/Spontaneous ales—using locally sourced ingredients—shows the depth of their experimentation as well as their respect for tradition.

Over the last six years, Fox Farm’s team has also recognized the importance of collaboration and togetherness within the community, and one person in particular that always empowered these same ideals was Alex Kidd, aka Don’t Drink Beer. The team at Fox Farm had been fans of Alex’s even in the years before brewing professionally, with his generosity, humor, and insights making him a constantly refreshing voice in craft beer. Being one of the largest advocates of the Barleywine style in the industry, Fox Farm’s team decided to support to the Kidd family during the brewery’s November release of Copestone Barleywine.

Copestone

Label Image for Copestone Barleywine
Label Courtesy of Fox Farm Brewery

2023 marked the sixth batch released of Copestone, the brewery’s Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels and tawny port casks. Released each year since Fox Farm opened, Copestone is one of the brewery’s fall and winter favorites. For the newest batch, the process started two years ago, with double mashes in the mornings that boiled well into the night. The rich, sturdy malt base is supported largely by multiple additions of Mauritian Dark Muscovado sugar, while further complexity is added through those port and bourbon barrel characters. Copestone is dialed in now more than ever, noticeably evolving and becoming more refined with each batch.

Fox Farm announced Copestone 2023 on Nov. 14, alongside a lineup of other exciting releases. However, in addition to the brewery’s regularly scheduled programming, it announced an unexpected cellar sale. Digging up nearly every vintage bottle of Copestone available, the team offered them on its website with 100% of the sales going to Alex Kidd and his family. Bottles sold out at an alarming speed, and Fox Farm raised $2,564 to support Alex’s ongoing fight. As noted in its announcement of the sale, it’s difficult to sum up Alex’s contributions to the beer community in a single post, or in any format. This contribution served as a way to give back to him for all he’s done to help evolve the industry.

Zack and the team were generous enough to send not only their newest batch of Copestone for review, but they also sent a bottle of their 2020 vintage to allow the opportunity for comparative review to truly gauge this beer’s development over time.

The Reviews

Review imagery of Copestone tasting
Photo by Eric Griffin

Batch three (2020)

Poured chilled, a delicate, wispy beige effervescence gracefully hovers over a profoundly bronze coloration.

The initial aromatics reveal a bouquet of dark, musky fruits, subtle notes of cola, and a hint of spiced citrus, all underscored slightly by discernible traces of oxidation. With time and temperature, smoky, umami undertones intertwine with a balancing sweetness of chocolate cherries. Simultaneously a charred oak component steadily gains intensity.

The palate commences with a luxurious wave of sweetness that swiftly evolves with more bitterness and estery complexities. Dry, charred oak imparts its influence, with lingering notes of burnt toffee skillfully guided by a malty backbone that adeptly upholds the barrel-forward complexity. For us it is very clearly port-forward, however the bourbon barrel is very present and a seamless complement.

While the mouthfeel came on a touch thin, it nevertheless envelops the palate. The carbonation is just present enough and is the perfect contribution to the overall experience. The finish unfolds with a warming, yet elegantly boozy finish, leaving a lasting impression.

Batch six (2023)

In the glass, the newest Copestone vintage pours with a deep brown hue, crowned by a swiftly receding beige head.

In the nose, dark stewed fruits take center stage, with notes of fig, smoky undertones, and a beautiful contrast of dark chocolate-covered blueberries. The firewood character remains subdued, allowing the richness to retain the forefront of the profile.

The first sip is pure decadence—rich and sweet, devoid of the bitterness and prevalent esters of batch three. Homemade caramel, mulled cider, and dark chocolate create a complex medley. The finale introduces just a touch of bitterness, accompanied by pronounced tannins and the nuanced embrace of blistered oak.

The mouthfeel, weightier than its predecessor, also boasts a slightly higher carbonation. While the Barleywine warms the palate, it does so with finesse, lacking the overt boozy intensity of batch three. A delicate touch of drying tannin lingers on a protracted, fruit-forward finish.

With the newest batch of Copestone, the port-forward nose seamlessly transitions into a bourbon-forward palate, showcasing excellent complexity and a remarkable balance. The interplay of flavors and textures is fantastic, where each element contributes to an overarching symphony of taste and refinement. While we undoubtedly enjoyed both experiences, it is clear how dialed in Zack and his team are with this beer after tasting this most recent vintage. That said, it was a truly memorable experience being able to pick out the nuances and unique complexities, as both batches have so much to offer.

Supporting the Kidds

As this portion of the article is being typed, Alex Kidd is in surgery. We ask you to please send well wishes and support and keep him in your thoughts as he endures this next step in a hopeful recovery.

As always, we have shared a link to the Kidd family GoFundMe. Additionally, keep a close eye on the site in the coming months as we have some very exciting installments to the series in the works. On deck for Collaborating for a Cause we will take a closer look at Schramm’s Mead and its dedicated release for Alex. All of these highlighted efforts have been incredible to watch unfold over the course of the last eight months, and we look forward to seeing the craft beer community continue to provide aid in Alex’s fight for his life.


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