It’s an age-old tale in the craft beer community: A homebrewer makes the beer they want to drink, “beer people” find out that the homebrew is so outstanding that it’s deserving of more, and seemingly overnight, a new brewery is born.
Enter Jason Stein’s Timber Ales, from New York City. For years, he’s been regularly traveling to his parents’ home in Long Island to brew. Then he lugs the kegs and bottles of beer back to his apartment in the Upper West Side. It’s a lot of labor for his labor of love. The beers he makes are ambitious to say the least. He’s a big fan of big malt and creates fantastically balanced barrel-aged stouts and barleywines, but also dabbles in lagers and IPAs.
I got a chance to hang out with Stein at his apartment to try a couple of his creations. One was a bourbon barrel-aged stout called Chasing Darkness (Bourbon and Coconut). It’s a beautifully balanced stout—big on coconut and bourbon, and not too sweet but just sweet enough, with a luscious mouth feel that coats the palate. The other was a bourbon-barrel aged barleywine called Maris Goes West, which is a collaboration with Kyle Harrop of Horus Aged Ales, from California, and another incredible homebrewer David Martin of MindFul Ales, from Jersey City.
I actually had Maris Goes West about a year prior at a charity beer event for cancer research, called Melesa’s Wings, and that taste led me on a quest to try more of Stein’s creations. If you know me, you know that I’m a huge fan of barrel-aged barleywines. This style is not one you see around so often, and I love to try them whenever I can. And let me tell you, the three brewers nailed it big time. It’s like liquid bourbon candy in a glass, with a viscous mouthfeel and big notes of coconut from the barrel.
Your mouth is watering, isn’t it? Well, you won’t have to wait long to try this beer for yourself. Stein, Harrop, and Martin just brewed the second batch of Maris on a commercial system at Twelve Percent Beer Project in Connecticut. For this new batch, some of the base barleywine will be available fresh, without any barrel-aging, early in 2020. But some of the beer was reserved to age in Willet rye and cognac barrels. These barrel-aged variants will be available sometime in the near future.
I’m very excited that Stein will now have the opportunity to share the beer he loves with more people. And you really don’t want to miss out on trying his creations, of which, I’m sure there are many delicious ones to come.