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There is an energy here. A mysticism. Like any other task, brewing has a unique language. Its own dance moves. Its own silent prayers.
Though the music of the brewery is likely a common enough song between brewers (whose worlds seem to combine industry, sorcery, and science in equal parts) it's a melody that retains enough of the unfamiliar to still weave spells over me.
Steam rises from the pile of wet grain. Someone turns on a little old-school rock-n-roll. Bottles jump and shimmy in the line like overeager teenagers.
The men move leisurely around the brewhouse in boots and safety glasses, sporting mustaches in varying stages of success. Guarded against the cool temps with winter hats and warm jackets, their routines are measured in pithy remarks and bouts of hard labor.
Heat from the brew tanks collides with the cold air from the open hanger, a subtle fog hanging in the overlap.
I sit in a small gap taking photographs between the racks of reused Buffalo Trace barrels. Clinging in a sticky, crusted advertisement, the exterior of one belies its closeted richness. Inside, a 9% barleywine they've named "Beard Envy," does its work.
"This one's going to get some people in trouble," I say as one of the brewers approaches my alcove.
There's a kind of magic in these whiskey casks. Made from oak trees that first lived and breathed for as long as 70-80 years before being transformed into vessels for man's spirited concoctions, the wood endows whatever it holds with its particulars.
"Barleywines are kind of a hard sell. We tried to stay away from an overly sweet barley wine. What we typically don't like about barley wines is that syrupy sweet, overly caramel taste like a Werther's Original. This one is very balanced. Easy to drink, but kind of sneaky on the alcohol. I used a lot of Dark Munich Malt. It's kind of our secret weapon."
Mr. Anderson warns that this one may be hard to get due to the small amount made. So if a locally made barleywine from Atlanta's oldest brewery is your kind of inspiration, keep an ear to the ground for this future release or you might end up with envy of another kind.