Bill Eye, brewer and co-founder of Bierstadt Lagerhaus, 2875 Blake Street, may have a successful 25-year brewing career under his belt, but his latest venture is all about his newfound passion: Scotch. Anorak Whisky at Bierstadt will launch with an event on February 2; tickets are $60 and include a "loosely guided" tasting of five whiskies, one from each of the recognized whisky-producing regions of Scotland.
Eye, who's also brewed at Dry Dock and Prost, began his Scotch evolution six years ago when he started drinking more whisky (which is traditionally spelled without an "e" in Scotland, home of Scotch, and Canada) with Stephen Kirby, friend and brewer at Hogshead Brewery. Kirby, whom Eye calls his Scotch mentor and educator, began sharing his knowledge and love of the liquor. Eye began to develop an immense interest in discovering more about Scotch, which ultimately led to the birth of Anorak Whisky at Bierstadt. Since he already has the license for it, starting a whisky bar seemed like “the next fun thing to do," he says.
“Anorak is an unusual whisky bar with a strong bent towards the excessive and compulsive,” reads a Facebook post announcing the project. “We will open as a Whisky pop-up one to two days a month. But we certainly hope to make those two days glorious and educational.”
He likens Scotch exploration to a sommelier being able to identify the region, grape or even the winery when tasting wines. “I think if you did that enough with Scotch, you could do the same thing,” Eye says, which he finds fascinating.
Distilleries featured at the bar will be ones that avoid some of today’s common practices in whisky making, such as adding color and watering it down, Eye notes. The Scotch enthusiast has a lot of education to share with both novice drinkers and the Scotch-knowledgeable. For starters, he points out that it’s a common misconception that whisky is always dark. Somewhere along the line, the idea that dark whisky equaled older and better led to the increased addition of caramel color, he explains.
At the February 2 event, people can expect to compare and contrast the five whiskies, all around ten years old, and recognize the differences. A Scotch from the region of Islay, known for peated Scotch, for example, showcases a bold spirit, while Eye describes one from the Highlands as delicate, floral, fruity and light. “It’s hard to believe it’s all the same,” he says of the Scotch varieties.
The goal is for people to have a fun time and not be super serious. “The whiskies are super serious enough,” Eye says. Jackets are required for the event, and he hopes people have fun with that (and maybe even ironic with it).