Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey has asked the Colorado brewers who buy its sought-after barrels for the purposes of aging certain beers to stop using its name on their labels, and the distillery, which was bought out by New Jersey's Proximo Spirits late last year, will no longer sell any of its barrels to out-of-state beer makers. It's a decision that ends a six-year partnership between the distillery and some of Colorado's most respected brewers, including Great Divide, Oskar Blues, Avery, Dry Dock, Upslope and Breckenridge, which entered three beers into the Great American Beer Festival competition this year that were all aged in Stranahan's barrels.
The news is particularly relevant this month as two local breweries will release bottled beers that were aged in Stranahan's barrels. Great Divide's Barrel Aged Old Ruffian Barley Wine will carry the Stranahan's name on its label, however, while Dry Dock's Bligh's Barleywine Ale will simply read "aged in whiskey barrels."
Great Divide will keep the name because it bought the barrels more than a year ago, says brewery founder Brian Dunn, adding that he had been aging his beers in Stranahan's barrels since 2005. Great Divide is also using the Stranahan's name on its Barrel Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, released in late September, and on its Barrel Aged Hibernation Ale, which will hit shelves in December or January 2012. After that, however, Great Divide will no longer use the Stranahan's name, although it will continue to buy barrels from the distillery, as well as other whiskey makers.
Dry Dock chose not to use the name at all -- at Proximo's request. And Dry Dock owner Kevin DeLange says he no longer has access to Stranahan's barrels, which is frustrating since he believes they make some of the best whiskey when it comes to aging beer.
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Proximo's vice president of marketing, Elwyn Gladstone, says the company has another plan for its barrels, which it will reveal soon. As for the out-of-state sales, he says, "We were concerned that people from outside of Denver were using them to capitalize on our provenance and terroir."
Some of the non-Colorado brewers that have used Stranahan's barrels include award-winning and highly-regarded companies like Cigar City Brewing in Florida, Nebraska Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewing and Full Sail, both of Oregon, and Flying Dog.