Jul 27, 2016

Heritage Brewing Brandy Barrel Aged Freedom Isn’t Free

While there is no official review for it on the Barley Blog, I’ve gone through quite a few cases of Heritage Brewing’s Freedom Isn’t Free IPA since it launched in cans. It’s a beer that goes down well and is refreshing, so when the company announced they were putting some of it in barrels a while back, my interest was certainly piqued.

About seven months ago, I had the opportunity to sample from a few barrels on a visit with the guys. I was lucky enough to taste sneak peeks from a few different concoctions the brewery had in the works. Interestingly enough, the sample of their IPA pulled from a brandy barrel was my least favorite of the evening. It showed potential, but just didn’t show as well as some of the others we sampled.

Now that the beer has officially spent twelve months in Catoctin Creek Distillery, has been bottled and wax-sealed, that potential has developed into a full-blown incredible beer. The boozy and woody influences from resting that long in barrels are evident immediately upon opening the bottle. That brandy character is strong, but not so strong as to overwhelm the tastebuds, allowing you to enjoy the citrusy notes, light grass and soft pine that mingle gently.

I’m not going to lie — this beer surprised me. While that initial tasting months ago showed promise, I wasn’t personally thrilled as I’m not a fan of brandy on its own. That additional time in the barrel after that visit did this beer good. It’s incredibly smooth with just the right amount of boozy influence and an excellent array of flavors that show through more as the beer warms in the glass. Well done guys!