Friday, April 15, 2016

New beers, bombers on tap for year two at Bitter Sisters

The year-round lineup at Bitter Sisters will soon include Family Trip, a Belgian-style tripel (Bitter Sisters Brewing Co.)

During a visit to Bitter Sisters on the occasion of its first anniversary last weekend, I took some time to talk to owner Matt Ehinger about what fans of the Addison brewery can look forward to as it embarks on its second year in business. Looking back on its first 12 months as a point of reference, it would seem that Ehinger has followed his original plan for the company to the letter. Of course, that's based on what he shared with me when we met prior to Bitter Sisters' grand opening last year. In addition to developing a portfolio of year-round brews, Ehinger has introduced the brewery's first seasonal and specialty beers, and has also begun work to establish a small-scale barrel program.

As for year two, Ehinger says there's more to come in all of the aforementioned areas. In terms of year-round brews, Family Trip is poised join an everyday lineup that currently consists of Busy Body Blonde Lager, Cat Fight IPA, Hissy Fit Märzen Lager and Knock Out Irish Red. Family Trip first came out last August under the name Bitter Sisters Belgian Tripel, but now that it's being bumped to year-round status, it'll be only one of two full-time North Texas tripels.

On the topic of specialty brews, Ehinger is working on three new beers to fill out that segment of the brewery's offerings. A steam beer is currently slated for the summer, to be followed by an imperial märzen and a double IPA in the fall. Ehinger says the timing of each could change, though, depending on when he settles on a recipe and how quickly each beer receives label approval.

Left: A version of Knock Out Irish Red aged in barrels from Russell's Reserve (Brian Brown).
Right: Labels are approved for the pending release of Barrel Aged Knock Out in 22-ounce bombers (Bitter Sisters Brewing Co.)

What may generate the most excitement, though, has to do with what's going on relative to Bitter Sisters' barrel program. The brewery currently has Nicaraguan rum barrels in house, as well as a stock of bourbon barrels from the likes of Russell's Reserve, Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve. Thus far, Ehinger has used the rum barrels to age Family Trip, while Knock Out has spent time in both rum and bourbon barrels. A barrel-aged Family Trip and a couple of varieties of Knock Out were tapped at the anniversary party last weekend, with the batch of Knock Out aged in Russell's Reserve barrels being particularly good. In that case, the barrels imparted notes of toffee, vanilla, and maybe even a hint of coconut, which proved to be a great compliment to the rich, malty nature of the underlying Irish red.

Regarding the availability of each of the above-mentioned barrel-aged beers, batches of Family Trip and Knock Out aged in rum casks are set to be taproom exclusives. On the bourbon barrel side of things, though, one variation will end up being the first bottled beer to emerge from Bitter Sisters, as the brewery has already gotten label approval ahead of what will be a very limited release of Barrel Aged Knock Out in 22-ounce bombers.

Beyond that, one other thing Ehinger has penciled in for the future is a move to packaged products for retail sale. That probably won't happen until 2017, but when it does the intent is to go with the canning option when it comes to Bitter Sisters' standard brews, with bombers continuing to be an option for specialty releases on into the future.

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