Before we dive into the flavor profile, style of beer, etc., I think it’s important we take you through where this beer came from. A timeline of where beer originated, before it was beer, is necessary to truly understand and appreciate the dark wonder that is “Shut Up.” So, without further ado, lets take you back to Shut Up’s roots.
The year was 2006. June 6th to be exact. It’s a hot day at the distillery in Versailles, Kentucky. The head distiller was transferring some freshly distilled bourbon into oak barrels to rest for the next 7 years. Now the site of this distillery isn’t just another place in Kentucky where delicious bourbon is produced. It happens to be the oldest in the state, rich with history and stained with some of the finest bourbon in the country. But, I digress. Little did these barrels, or the distillers themselves, know that these barrels were destined for greatness. They put the bungs in and transferred the barrels into the cellar to age.
On another steamy summer day in 2013, much like that of 2006, a great copper colored liquid emerged from its resting place. The bourbon was removed from the barrels and packaged. As previously arranged, the barrels were purchased and picked up by a new purveyor of alcohol, a winery. This winery, located in Delaplane, VA, was intrigued by the flavors of this celebrated bourbon. So much so that it decided to age their chambourcin port-style wine inside the very vessel this bourbon called home for the last 7 years. The port was made of the of the chambourcin grape, which produces a slightly sweet flavor with essences of plums and black cherries. That sounds delicious by itself, but the winery didn’t stop there. The port-style wine is then littered with fresh cocoa nibs in order to impart a dark chocolate decadence to the wine. Both the port and the nibs are added to the barrel to meld with the sweet Bourbon that once resided there.
In May of 2014, the wine maker dipped his wine thief into the barrels to discover that his creation was now complete. This is when the barrels’ journey takes an interesting turn. Phil and Chris Ray, who were lucky enough to call just at the right moment, leave the Center of the Universe brewery and head up to the Northern Virginia winery to retrieve just the rare barrels they were looking for their imperial stout. The 1.5-hour trip each way is rewarded with the acquisition of the historic barrels and the anticipation of creating something amazing.
That same day, back at the brewery, head brewer Mike Killelea took the final measurements from Brite Tank 1 and realized that it was time to prepare the imperial stout for its journey into the “wonder” barrels. Upon arrival at the brewery, Chris and Phil were giddy with excitement from their journey and couldn’t wait to introduce the base beer to it’s new home. Over the next few hours, barrel-by-barrel, the stout was moved in. Once completed, it was time to sit, wait, and imagine what the first sip of this brew would entail, and mean, for the universe.
Fast forward to August 5th, 2014. The day has come. The beer has enjoyed about 4 months of rest inside its barrel home. The essence of premium bourbon and port-style wine is successfully infused and blended with the flavor of the imperial stout. The brewery team gathers around the first barrel to be moved back in the tank. The bung is removed and the room is filled with a floral ecstasy of dark chocolate, raspberry, and toffee. Mike dips the wine thief into the barrel and pulls out a midnight black sample of Shut Up. The clouds break and a beam of light shines in from the heavens into the brew room. (Ok, that didn’t really happen, but it should have.) The team takes a sip. Everyone shuts up. It’s perfect.
Shut up finished at 10.2%, but you wouldn’t know it with its smooth finish. Dark chocolate, raspberry, cocoa, and espresso engulf the pallet. The hops are present at 65IBU’s, but blend perfectly with the surrounding flavors. The beer travels through a flavor roller coaster as it warms creating a unique experience with each sip. Enjoy this beer with friends, or in the solidarity of your home to shut up the stresses and troubles of the outside world. Enjoy Shut Up on its own, or pair it with a well-marbled steak and some blue cheeses.