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Sampling a Surprise Mystery Beer at Tool Shed

Yesterday I met up with the guys from Common Crown at their new brewery (more on that visit soon). After finishing up with them, I decided to make an unplanned and unannounced visit to Tool Shed, which is literally around the block from Common Crown.

Much to my delight co-owner Graham Sherman was there and they had just minutes before tapped a keg of a new tap room exclusive. Surprise!

To make things even more interesting the beer was kept a mystery to Graham until just before it was tapped. His brewers concocted a batch of beer right under his nose without telling him. When Graham inquired as to the contents of Fermenter #2, which was adorned simply with a question mark, they brushed him off with vague answers.

Clearly Mr. Sherman is not much of a control freak…

Anyway the beer turned out to be a Belgian Golden Strong Ale which they are calling What is in Fermenter 2?, although Graham was musing calling it WTF FV2? I had a glass of it (it would have been rude to say no, wouldn’t it?). It pours a deep orange with a bit of haze and topped with a loose but impressive white head. The aroma offers up light stone fruit, pilsner-like malt sweetness and a noted spicy, earthy yeast character.

The sip is surprisingly gentle and soft. It starts with a grainy malt accented by touches of honey and apricot. The middle dries out a bit and offers up some earthy tones. A light white pepper spiciness takes over the finish, leaving a lingering earthy spice. The finish is also moderately sweet to balance off the yeast spiciness.

But the single most notable feature of the beer is how well it hides the alcohol. It clocks in at 9% but you would never know it from just the sip. In the long tradition of Belgian-style ales, the punch in this beer sneaks up on you. No alcoholic heat, no boozy aroma, just a gentle warming glow that emerges after drinking a glass.

Sherman says that Lisa, the head brewer, brewed it up in part to keep their Belgian yeast strain alive, but also liked the idea of producing a beer that her bosses had no clue about. For his part, being the good sport he is, Sherman is contemplating making this an annual tradition, allowing the brewers once a year to produce a tap room-only creation kept under wraps from the bosses until it is released.

Sherman may not be the most observant of bosses around the brewhouse, but he clearly knows a good idea when he sees it.

2 comments to Sampling a Surprise Mystery Beer at Tool Shed

  • Dan

    HOT DAMN! I know where I’m going in three hours to get a growler today (since they open at 1pm today) 😀 Thanks for sharing this.. that sounds.. EPIC!

  • Lisa you crafty sly fox hiding a strange brew and not letting the boss know. Excellent and keep on doing what you guys do no questions asked. Great product great people and great local support. Thanks

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