Stag Series #9, now with caves
Schell’s brewery has released their long-awaited new addition to the Stag Series, a Cave-Aged, Barrel-Aged lager. The name is so cumbersome that it requires a comma. It has been nearly a year and a half since the last Stag beer, a blonde dopplebock called August’s Bock.
When is the last time you saw a lager aged in barrels? Sure, there are a few out there. I’m partial to Indeed’s Mexican Cousin, which is their orange blossom honey lager aged in tequila barrels. But when is the last time you enjoyed a beer aged in caves built in the 1860’s?
The Martis have been kicking ass and taking names lately, with the refurbishment of cypress foeders and expansion of their sour program into a new facility. So although it is totally different from the Noble Star sours, it should come as no surprise that this beer, also aged on wood – whiskey barrels in this case – does not disappoint.
Not only does it live up to the predecessors in the series which have been entirely successful, it has pushed the boundaries of what a robust lager can accomplish.
Caves were once the standard of beer refrigeration, and in fact, the site that the brewery was built on was chosen in part because of its proximity to water (ice) in addition to the porous bedrock. The caves, Jace Marti explained throughout a small tour during Bockfest in February, are not all accessible. Some of them were destroyed, filled in with concrete after the advent of mechanical cooling and possibly during prohibition. I think. It was hard to hear him inside that cave.
For whatever reason, I didn’t feel particularly drawn to this new addition. I bought one bottle so that I could tell all of you about it, expecting to sort of move on. I don’t know what I was really thinking.
This beer is absolutely tremendous. I drank it all without taking a legitimate picture. I couldn’t help myself.
Notes of vanilla, strong German malt, and toffee are immediately present in the aroma. No evidence of whiskey until getting a few sips in – the boozy note really builds nicely. I enjoyed a heavy molasses component, reminiscent of a dopplebock but almost transcending lager status. The crisp, clean finish hints at the fact that this isn’t an ale, though. Very little hopping comes through, but there is evidently enough to temper what would otherwise be very sweet.
Cave-Aged, Barrel-Aged Lager is another huge success from Schell’s at an amazing value that will become part of my favorites line-up.