By Bill Covaleski
Snow made an early appearance this year when our first wintry storm of the season hit us this past Saturday. Clearing downed tree limbs at home the day after the storm, my freezing fingers yearned for a warming winter brew. As I endured the elements, I began to wish I could simply hibernate through the winter and wake up when it is warm again.
Of course, life won’t allow me to sleep through the season and worse yet, a Victory beer will be doing the hibernating on my behalf: Old Horizontal Barleywine.
Just as the moon catches its Z’s on the Old Ho label, our beloved barleywine will be sleeping its way through 2012.
As we explained earlier in the year, Victory is experiencing incredible growth and impressive demand for our products. While this surge is mostly good news, it has forced us to make some tough decisions. In order to keep up with the demand for our core brands like HopDevil, Prima Pils, Golden Monkey and Headwaters Pale Ale, we have to take a pass on brewing our dear Old Horizontal.
If you’ve been lucky enough to taste the luxurious brew, you know that it is rich with hop aroma and dense with sweet malt character. These flavors come from the ridiculous amount of hops and malt we use when brewing Old Horizontal. “Luxurious” is an appropriate term for this brew, as it is pricey in both ingredients and time. In order to get the candied fruit flavors we know and love, Old Horizontal requires an incredibly time-consuming brewing process. With most of our beers, we can use the second-runnings of sugar-rich wort (the pre-fermentation liquid from the brew) in the recipe. That is not the case with Old Horizontal, so we have to brew twice as much in order to make half the yield of a “regular” Victory beer. With our brewhouse running at peak capacity, we literally can’t afford the time for our precious Old Horizontal. For this reason, we’re saying “Goodnight Moon” as the brew takes an extra long nap this year.
Skipping Old Horizontal this year is as sad for me as it is for many of you. Even though I am the one making this decision, I still lament the choice. In fact, I’m ruining my own collection – I’ve hoarded a bottle or two of each vintage beginning in 1996, and now the chain will be broken. Yet another reason I’d like to cuddle up with Old Horizontal during its winter hibernation.
But there is some good news to keep me (and you) from too many depressed Old Ho woes. We’ve got a few kegs of vintage Old Horizontal still hanging out in our warehouse. Over the course of the year, Old Ho will wake up and make an appearance on draft here at the brewpub. Keep an eye on our draft list, like our Facebook page or join our mobile mailing list to be sure you know when it will be available.