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Where Spotted: Pizzeria Paradiso, 2003 P St. NW
Price: $18/11.2 oz
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Cast of Character: It’s been a while since I spoke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales, the nomadic, one-man brewing operation led by Baltimore’s Brian Strumke. For the past year, he’s been exploring and expanding the limits of “farmhouse” brewing, deftly casting wild yeasts and odd ingredients like a wizard wielding some divine fermenting wand. The latest is a series of barrel-aged beers. His signature Stateside Saison is aged for nine months in Chardonnay barrels, then blended with a batch of the same brew that took a quick nap in red wine barrels. Only five barrels were made, so you’ll pay for the privilege of trying it. But, oh, to fall under Strumke’s spell? Priceless.
Why Oak: The young version of Stateside Saison, Stillwater’s flagship brew, bursts with New Zealand hops known for their pungent, juice-box aroma. When those flavors spend the better part of a year getting cozy with Chardonnay, the result is a clean, bright beer that tastes like a walk through an orchard, with a hint of sourness and a wisp of hops shining at the edges. Fans of Anchorage Whiteout, another Chardonnay-barrel beer that I touched on last month, should hurry to grab one of these rare, stemware-worthy saisons. Like now. Before all five barrels run dry.