As we finish up another year of beer, it’s time to look ahead to what we’ll be pouring, sipping and loving in 2018. I’ve reached out to a few of our town’s best brewers to see what we can expect from them in the next Year of Beer.
4 Hands Brewing Company, to me, defines the innovative spirit that is present in the brewing world. Always looking for new ideas, always creating, always looking for ways to do things differently. In fact, after speaking to Kevin Lemp, I’m convinced that no other brewery is moving in a direction quite like 4 Hands.
What Can We Expect in 2018
You read that correctly. In an effort to extend their brand line, 4 Hands looked for ways to create new brands and product that would not compete with their core, which thankfully is beer. The direction they chose was distilling. In March, we will see the debut of a new brand, 1220, which will be a new brand of botanical-based distilled spirits. The first product from this new brand will be a year-round gin called Obscure.
“I grew up in this industry through Gallo wines, ” said Lemp. They created brands that didn’t compete with each other. They had everything from Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers to your $8.00 price point wine to your $300.00 price point wine. Then they got into vodka, gin and so on.”
4 Hands is a brewery which has created for itself a unique ethos. Lemp and his team didn’t want to lean on the breweries success for this new venture, so look for little or no ‘tie-in’ between the brands. This will be done on purpose. “We want 1220 to have its own path, its own journey,” said Lemp.
1220 will also feature a Spring and Summer seasonal gin, which will be more of a farmers market distill. A full year winter option, which will barrel-aged aged gin, with the barrels possibly made of juniper wood. And lastly, near the end of the year, an Amaro, which is an Italian herbal liqueur. It usually has a bitter-sweet flavor, sometimes syrupy, and has an alcohol content between 16% and 40%.
“Gin has a lot of parallels to beer,” said Lemp. “We use a lot of different ingredients making our beer. We like to accentuate hops with different zests, flavors. We like to barrel age our beer. We like to manipulate the beer to make it our own. And we felt that gin, in the distilled spirits world was a really nice compliment.”
What Can We Expect in 2018
Yes, 4 Hands is still brewing and in 2018 the mission is to dig deeper. Last year the brewery produced 24,000 barrels and now they want to grow that to 27K or 28K barrels, without expanding into new markets. That means more for St. Louis. Let me repeat. More beer. For. St. Louis. Dig it?
Look for a major addition to the 4 Hands year-round menu. Cash Mony, the popular imperial IPA, will move from its current .22oz seasonal bottle to a 12 oz, 4 pack in cans, year round. Look for this new version Cash Mony to debut in January.
Something else Lemp is excited about is a new labeler, which will allow them to do some new labeled cans. “So we’re going to do more test batch brewery-only releases. The first of these releases will be called 1st Impressions, a Belgian White Ale brewed with Lactose, Madagascar vanilla bean, and raspberry. It will arrive sometime in February. They hope to release a new test batch beer every other month.
“These will be very highly experimental beers that we want to do in the small batch to see if they work. We’ll get customer feedback and see if we can then translate into a larger batch.
New Releases in 2018
As I type, 4 Hands is preparing for their most sought after release, Madagascar.
The big day will be January 28 and will include, for the first time, two variants of the popular barrel aged beer. Along with the traditional Madagascar, look for Madagascar Uganda, and Madagascar Port Double Barrel. Uganda is a coffee variant. The Double Barrel spent nine months in Knob Creek bourbon Barrels and finished in Portuguese Port Barrels. “There will also be Single Barrel Gift sets with a Knob Creek Single Barrel Bottle hand selected by 4 Hands along with a bottle of Madagascar that was aged in that was aged in that same Knob Creek Barrel,” said Lemp
This is not a ticketed event. Sales begin when they open at noon and go until we sell out. Allocation will be based on attendance.
Madagascar | 22oz bottle | 9.3% ABV | $23
This Imperial Milk Stout was aged in bourbon barrels with whole vanilla beans. Madagascar pours a dark black with notes of bourbon, chocolate, and vanilla.
Madagascar Uganda | 22oz bottle | 9.3% ABV | $26
Our friends at Goshen Coffee Company were able to provide us with a unique micro-lot of Ugandan coffee to add to our Madagascar Imperial Milk Stout. Grown on the northern slopes of Mount Elgon and processed at the Sipi Falls mill, this coffee has strong notes of strawberry, raspberry, and plum. Madagascar Uganda has layers of Vanilla and Bourbon that blend perfectly with the complex flavors of this small-batch coffee.
Madagascar Port Double Barrel | 22oz bottle | 9.5% ABV | $26
Madagascar Port Double Barrel is a new take on our Madagascar Imperial Milk Stout. After resting in Bourbon barrels, this Madagascar was transferred into freshly-dumped Portuguese Ruby Port barrels and aged with Madagascar vanilla beans. Strong notes of vanilla dominate the aroma, backed up with a complex blend of port wine, oak, Bourbon, and chocolate.
Before it turns springtime, we need to make one last-ditch effort to celebrate the beers of winter. In March, look for the debut of a new festival, Slipping Into Darkness, which will feature 25 4 Hands stouts and food created by St. Louis’ own Kevin Nashin of Peacemaker. The menu will feature a New Orleans style menu, and the event will be ticketed. More information this event will be published when it’s released.