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Horus Aged Ales | Year Nine Spotlight

Feature Image for Spotlight piece on Horus Aged Ales' current project and expectations for Convocation 2024-2025
Eric Griffin

It has been over a year now since collaborating with Kyle Harrop and Horus Aged Ales on a spotlight of his unique and formidable barrel program. Now, Horus finds itself preparing to open year seven of the Convocation membership. We reconnected with Harrop for a brand new feature, highlighting some of his recent projects as well as digging deeper into what we can hope to expect from this sought after program in 2024.

Humble Beginnings

Kyle throwing cheers to attendees of Burlington's Funk ON The Water, 2019
Photo Courtesy of Horus Aged Ales | Funk On The Water, Burlington, VT, 2019

As a bit of background, Harrop’s Horus Aged Ales came to form back in 2015 and celebrated their nine year anniversary just over a week ago. It was his passion for homebrewing that developed into the gypsy operation he runs today. While Oceanside, California is where Kyle calls home, his constant travels haven’t allowed for the opportunity to launch any sort of taproom in SoCal. For this reason among others, his small batch projects have been notably difficult for people to get their hands on.

Enter The Convocation, a membership program started in 2018 that allowed a small group of the community to get access to Horus beers. Fast forward seven years. His faithful cadre has followed his progression as a brewery every step of the way, a testament to his tiny operation’s ability to keep hype strong even after nearly a decade. The numbers say it all when looking at the growth of his loyal club; Horus has seen an increase from 200 members in its first year in 2018, to 600 in 2023. The lottery for 2024-2025 Convocation Membership slots opens TOMORROW, May 3rd.

Harrop has teased some massive collaborations and decorated beers leading into this year, and there’s no question that this is the best year yet for his small brewery.

Convocation 2024-25

This isn’t the year to sleep on the Convocation lottery. Not only will this year’s membership feature exclusively barrel-aged beers for the first time ever, it will also include at least a dozen releases in addition to the 12 included beers on the 2024-2025 docket.

Barrel-aged collaborations with Brujos and Troon are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition, there will be four one-off, non-adjunct Willett Single Barrel Select BA stouts as well as plenty of others nearing half a decade aging in oak.

“I honestly feel like the beers are the best they’ve been and I’m only just starting to release all these crazy triple and Quad barrel-aged… with a quintuple on the way”.

As usual, Harrop was incredibly generous in sending a rare and exciting selection for us to feature on the site. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to him for allowing us to give a first-hand experience to our readers, allowing them a better idea of what to expect if they choose to pursue a Convocation membership now or in the future.

The Lineup

Blessed Purr

Review image, Blessed Purr Imperial Stout
Photo by Eric Griffin | Glassware by Horus x Pilsnerish

This massive Imperial stout was a collaboration with Gabe Fletcher at Anchorage Brewing. The recipe is a Bourbon Barrel Aged Blend of Double Oaked and Triple Oaked Imperial Stouts with Democratic Republic of Congo Vanilla Beans, Madagascar Vanilla Beans, Raw Coconut and Toasted Coconut added. Finishing ABV is a staggering 21.66%.

There is a great viscosity to the pour, with hardly any carbonation buildup as the beer cascades into the glass. Deep coloration catches crimson hues in the light, while the heavy metal font with pagoda base on the glass really sets a hell of a stage for this one.

The nose is chocolate vanilla pudding cups and coconut macaroons; pure pastry notes that with time evoke familiar notes of Oreo cookies and Godiva liquor.

The palate is a death stroke reminder of the sheer magnitude of this beast. Familiar pastry notes from the nose, but with distinctly more force, as if the desserts described above took a dunk in bourbon. Burnt caramel, charred tobacco and woody spice sprint to the forefront of the profile almost immediately after that brief handshake with pastry bliss on the front end of the palate.

There’s a good viscosity to this; not overly heavy in weight, with a soft carbonation to accompany aggressive barrel heat. The barrel treatment brings with it some dryness on the back end, as well as a touch of bitterness. All that said, I still would not ever guess this was north of 20%.


Review image, Horus's Bristlefront Quad Oaked Honey Stout
Photo by Eric Griffin | Glassware by Horus x Pilsnerish

This huge beer is a quadruple Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Honey Aged in Blanton’s Bourbon Barrels for 14 Months, then Weller Barrels for 8 Months, Willett Bourbon Barrels for 6 Months, and finally Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels for 4 Months. 15.4% ABV.

Bristlefront was a Gold Medal Winner in the Honey Beer category at the 2023 Mazer Cup International Mead Competition. Not only that, but each Sky God member for Year Seven Convocation will get two bottles included in their membership!

This massive Stout shows off intimidating viscosity immediately on the pour. Motor oil appearance, with rusty brown highlights around the rim of the glass.

The nose has a fruit-forward backbone, amplified by honey richness. Notes of Raisinet candy, charred oak and plum create a complex bouquet of aromatics. There’s a pure expression of barrel integration here on the nose that sets the perfect stage for what’s to follow on the palate.

There’s something so beautiful about the marriage of honey and oak treatment. While the rich, floral notes of honey ring true immediately on the front part of the palate, it’s that integration of barrel character that truly sets the experience apart. Toasted marshmallows, caramel and boozy raisins headline a masterclass in exactly what extended oak treatment can do to a beer, elevating the experience with minimal adjuncts to allow patience to exhibit its benefit.

It’s viscous, but not overly syrupy. The ratio of plato to carbonation is perfect. There’s a clear warmth from the ethanol, but the smoothness of the experience is undeniable. No residual bitterness whatsoever.

BWXXV (Color Version)

Review image, Horus's Color version of BWXXV
Photo by Eric Griffin | Glassware by Horus x Pilsnerish

This beer was one of two iterations brewed and released in honor of Bottleworks’ 25th anniversary. The beer is a Triple Barrel Aged CrystAle* Aged in Blanton’s Bourbon Barrels for 18 Months, then Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrels for 12 Months and finished in Weller Bourbon Barrels for 6 Months. It was then blended with an English Barleywine Aged in Eagle Rare Bourbon Barrels for 14 Months, then E.H. Taylor Bourbon Barrels for 14 Months and finished in Stagg Jr. Bourbon Barrels for 11 Months. 12.2% ABV.

*The CrystAle style was created by Kyle Harrop, a beer brewed with 100% Crystal malt. Described as a cross between an English-style Barleywine and a Wee Heavy, the base has a notably aggressive malt bill while retaining its indicative Crystal sweetness. We also showcased Built Different back in January, another great example of a Horus CrystAle.

The color artwork variation of BWXXV pours a deep, dark brown color. There’s small amounts of agitated carbonation, but it’s quick to fizzle out and settle flat in the glass.

The nose brings loads of fruit and caramel. Undertones of earthiness, butterscotch and raisin fuse into a complex, layered sensory experience to lead into the palate.

Initially, the flavors mirror many of the same qualities we get on the nose. That is to say, boozy raisins, spiced, earthy oak and hints of vanilla round out the initial punch that fades into the mid-palate. On the finish, we get a touch of caramelized cherry, golden raisins and Rolos.

There’s a soft, smooth mouthfeel. Carbonation is low, and even without a full mouth-coating experience there’s great length to the finish. Subtle warmth and subdued richness round out each sip.

Heelluh Heelluh Heelluh

Review image, Horus's Heelluh Quad Oaked Imperial Stout
Photo by Eric Griffin | Glassware by Horus x Pilsnerish

The second of two quadruple barrel-aged beers in this review segment, Heelluh x3 is an imperial stout that began its journey in Henry McKenna bourbon for 18 months. It was then transferred to Old Elk bourbon for 14 months, Russell’s Reserve bourbon for 8 months and then Bernheim barrel proof bourbon for 6 months. Democratic Republic of the Congo vanilla beans and Ugandan vanilla beans were then added to finish.16.2% ABV.

While there’s noticeable viscosity to the pour, the expectation for a high gravity monster of a stout was never really a thought with the amount of time this beer spent in oak.

The nose is lush with notes of dark chocolate and vanilla, keeping Charleston Chews at the forefront of the brain. There’s the slightest touch of raisin and butterscotch undertones once we really get into it. After five minutes in the glass there’s even a floral note to the aromatics that add a uniquely complex layer.

The front-end of the palate begins the experience where the nose leaves off; burnt butterscotch, dark chocolate and vanilla. As the beer quickly hits the mid-palate, we greet all that integrated barrel character. Notes of whiskey-soaked staves and salted caramel brittle, complimented softly with flavors of smoked maple syrup and baking cocoa.

The mouthfeel is soft and smooth, with a low but present carbonation. While there’s a bit of warmth on the finish, this is exceptionally smooth for the ABV. Trailing into the next sip is a touch of bitterness and some residual esters.

Open Season

With the Convocation renewal period over, and the public lottery opening up tomorrow, all eyes should be on Horus. Slots for the exclusive bottle membership will be determined via Oznr, and they will be announced on both Horus’s and Untappd‘s Instagram once the window officially opens.

There’s a unique beauty to experimenting with extended barrel aging and exploring their nuances. Kyle Harrop and Horus, familiar with this realm, are more dialed in than ever. Not only that, but this small Oceanside brewery is one of an increasingly dwindling population in the industry that the lovable beer nerds of this community still go out of their way to seek out. The craft beer climate is a fragile one, and remaining relevant year after year is becoming a noticeably difficult task. We owe a huge thanks for allowing PorchDrinking to set the stage for another big year of The Convocation and its members, as well as give just a sneak peek into what’s to come. We’ll call it the eye of Horus.

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