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Sneak Peek: Pulpit Rock | Barrel-Aged $ticker $hock Imperial Stout

$ticker $hock Feature Image
Eric Griffin

It’s alarming at how quickly time has passed since highlighting Pulpit Rock Brewing Co.’s EIGHT Imperial Stout, one of a handful of beers released as part of its eighth anniversary celebration last August. Year nine for the small Iowa brewery has mirrored this fast pace, as it has continued to grow in popularity and also increased its barrel-aged production. On April 16, the brewery announced a save-the-date for its highly sought after $ticker $hock barrel-aged Imperial Stout. $ticker $hock hasn’t seen a new vintage since 2020, and we’ve collaborated with head brewer Justin Teff and the team in Decorah to provide PorchDrinking readers an exclusive sneak peek at the 2024 iteration ahead of its July 13 public release.

Pulpit Rock

Founded in 2015 by Peter Espinosa, Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. garners its inspiration from Espinosa’s mother’s family, who hails from the Preikestolen (“Pulpit Rock”) area of Norway. His goal was to locally align the brewery’s name (Decorah has its own Pulpit Rock) while also honoring his family. In eight (almost nine!) short years, the brewery has had countless industry successes. The innovation of head brewers Bob Slack and Justin Teff, continues to set an American beer scene standard.

$ticker $hock

2017 was the first year that the brewery released $ticker $hock. Meant to be a continuation of its 2016 release “For the Joy of Almonds”—a Milk Stout aged with toasted coconut, almonds and cocoa nibs—$ticker $hock was dubbed the “big boy version” of this early favorite. Later that year, Pulpit Rock followed with a barrel-aged version, which rested in Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon barrels for a little less than a year before its release. People raved about the beer, particularly the first barrel-aged iteration. The highly anticipated follow-up didn’t release until June 2020, with that vintage aging for 15 months in bourbon barrels then spiked with toasted coconut, roasted almonds and a touch of cacao.

Now, after another very long hiatus, barrel-aged $ticker $hock is back! The new release is a blend of 35- and 38-month barrel-aged imperial stouts that were then rested on copious amounts of toasted coconut and almonds. In a significant change from previous years, the brewery conducted a lottery through the Oznr app for access to the 2024 vintage. Sign-ups opened on June 19 and closed June 30. Winners were selected July 3, with each limited to a single bottle. Lottery winners have from July 13 to July 21 to claim their allocation in person (no proxies).

For the public release of barrel-aged $ticker $hock 2024 on July 13, a small amount will be available on draft at the brewery.

The Review

Review of $ticker $hock 2024 from Pulpit Rock Brewing
Photo by Eric Griffin

Head brewer Justin Teff again agreed to send PorchDrinking a bottle ahead of the official release to review for our readers! Still unwaxed and unlabeled, it is truly a sneak peek experience that we’re thankful to Pulpit Rock for allowing the PorchDrinking team to share.

As expected on the pour from any Pulpit Rock stout: motor oil viscosity. There is a noticeable carbonation build up, with deep brown coloration on the head that lingers momentarily before slowly settling back into the beer.

The nose exudes notes of coconut macaroons—vibrant, toasty and so distinct. Undertones of marzipan dipped in dark chocolate complement the coconut component. While undeniably pastry bliss, with some time and patience the drinker recognizes subtle complexities of scorched oak and vanilla brought forth by the extensive barrel treatment.

The palate hits immediately with Almond Joy candy. That said, there’s a quick transition from rich and sweet to immediately more complex. The coconut follows with a touch of oily and toasty characteristics. The almond adds a punch of drying bitterness. As the barrel meanders into prominence on the back end of the palate, the drinker is greeted with notes of vanilla and char.

The mouthfeel is thick and viscous, but retains a noticeable albeit low carbonation that helps prevent an overlying “heaviness” to the experience. There’s full mouth-coating on a long finish, accompanied by a touch of residual bitterness and astringency.

In Conclusion

At this point, Pulpit Rock has proven to be one of the best at incorporating different varieties of nuts seamlessly with various adjuncts. The 2024 barrel-aged $ticker $hock was no different. The coconut isn’t overbearing, and almond is very underrated at being a fantastic complement to the toasty, oily, bitter characteristics that coconut brings to the table. Additionally, we’ve seen Pulpit Rock BA stouts go either side of the spectrum—pure pastry vs. barrel & adjunct balance—and with this iteration of $ticker $hock they really nailed the barrel integration here. Always a fun release for the team in Decorah, and such a pleasure to tease this one ahead of the official release next week.

$hock & Awe

The landscape of craft beer has certainly changed. Four years ago it was nearly impossible to track down a bottle of barrel-aged $ticker $hock outside of Decorah (unless you had a code), so it’s great to see a more publicized release of the 2024 vintage. Expanding the reach of Pulpit Rock’s massive, expertly created beers has helped raise the bar for the industry, and allowed a much larger audience to experience the best of the best.

While the lottery for bottles on Oznr has since closed, this new vintage of $ticker $hock is far from impossible to track down. While a trip to Iowa may be a bit of a stretch, hit some of the community threads or local beer groups online. Make some friends or trade some local goodies. We can promise you that it’s worthy of your efforts. Cheers!

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