Fans of Boulevard Brewing Co.’s best-selling Unfiltered Wheat will soon be able to enjoy the beer as a whiskey. The brewery collaborated with Des Moines-based Foundry Distilling Co. to use Unfiltered Wheat in a recipe for the 89-proof Midnight Ritual, an American malt whiskey. Midnight Ritual will be released in September with limited quantities available in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.
Midnight Ritual is the first release in Foundry’s Brewer/Distiller Alliance. Distillery founder Scott Bush launched the series of innovative partnerships to transform well-known craft beers into limited-edition whiskeys.
The origin of Midnight Ritual began several years ago with delivery of Unfiltered Wheat beer wort via tanker from Kansas City to the distillery. Foundry distilled the wort, the sugary liquid extracted from the mashing process of brewing prior to fermentation, in a column still. Next, Foundry aged the spirit for over two years in new 30-gallon charred oak barrels.
As a barrel-aged whiskey, Midnight Ritual exhibits notes of caramel, banana bread and allspice. Bush didn’t have a flavor profile in mind when he used Unfiltered Wheat to produce whiskey. “Our hypothesis was that a clean fermentation from a great beer would make a unique and wonderful whiskey,” he said in a statement. “I think it was proven true. We think Midnight Ritual is a world-class whiskey and cannot wait for folks to enjoy it.”
Foundry used 30-gallon barrels from the Barrel Mill in Avon, Minnesota, to age Midnight Ritual. “We think this size and #3 char is ideal for whiskey,” Bush said. “We aged this brand for 24 months and got great color and flavor from the barrels yet protected the wonderful character of the Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat wash.’
As the whiskey aged, Foundry initially tasted the spirit every quarter and eventually tasted it every week or two. “The goal is to get good notes from the barrel and have the product mature just to the point of the barrel notes matching the grain notes,” Bush said. “A nice part of the collaboration was to get input from the Boulevard team. They are a great group of people and certainly know good booze when they try it.”
The relationship between Boulevard and Foundry spans more than a decade. When Boulevard first started barrel-aging beers, the brewery secured Templeton Rye whiskey barrels from Foundry.
“Through that partnership we got to know Scott Bush, and became good friends,” Boulevard president Jeff Krum said. “When Scott launched Foundry Distilling Company and hatched the idea for the Brewer–Distiller Alliance, we were the first brewery he approached. He brought the idea of partnering on a co-branded whiskey made from beer wort, and naturally we thought it sounded like a fine idea.”
Using Unfiltered Wheat to make whiskey worked well for the partnership. “We were excited to use Unfiltered Wheat as it is our best known and most popular beer,” Krum said. “We had a hunch it would make a nice whiskey. Turns out, we were right!”
Boulevard Brewing Co., boulevard.com
Foundry Distilling Co., foundrydistillingcompany.com