Drink This Now: Rosebud Bourbon Session Ale, by Aeronaut Brewing Company
One of the things Alec Riveros loves about Aeronaut Brewing Company is that their beers are often on the lighter-tasting, drinkable side of the spectrum, even if they’re not always low in alcohol (see: “imperial session IPA,” T.R.I.P). When you’re the director of operations at Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar, Painted Burro, and more, like Riveros is, you want your guests to hang out for a while, without being weighed down by beer.
But at the Alpine Restaurant Group’s ode to Americana, they also love their bourbon. Since it opened, Rosebud has brought in one exclusive, single-barrel bourbon every year—first from Four Roses, then Buffalo Trace in 2016 and 2017. And to further hone in on two cornerstones of the bar program, the diner-turned-Southern-inflected neighborhood gem taps barrel-aged releases from Founders, the Bruery, Firestone Walker, and others.
So, after last year’s Buffalo Trace barrel was delivered—bottled for the bar’s use—Riveros drove the empty oak barrel just about a mile and a half to Aeronaut. The brewers took him up on his idea to use it to create a unique, limited-release house beer for the Alpine Group, filling it with a sessionable, English-style brown ale.
After 100 days in the Buffalo Trace barrel, and a subtle addition of a Heaven Hill Whiskey barrel-aged beer blended in, Rosebud (the beer) was tapped at Rosebud (the bar) last night. Cans are rolling out at its sibling restaurants and at the Aeronaut taproom today.
The bourbon session brown ale, as Aeronaut co-founder Ben Holmes describes it, absolutely shows what Riveros has come to love about Aeronaut. Clocking in at just 4.7 percent ABV, “This is kind of the perfect barrel-aged beer,” Riveros says. “You’re getting the complexity, the weight, the depth of flavor, without necessarily something that’s super heavy.” It’s not cloying, or even very sweet at all, as many barrel-aged stouts, in particular, can be. “The bourbon [flavor] is really in the finish, and the maltiness is in the mid-palate,” Riveros says.
It’s also a great companion to chef John Delpha’s Thai sticky ribs, fried chicken thighs, and even Moroccan-style stew. “We wanted the beer to be food-friendly,” he says.
The collaboration was natural for the two companies, which have been working together since both debuted in 2014. Holmes recalls the opening team at Rosebud was the first restaurant staff to ever visit and tour the brewery for professional development. The Aeronaut team joined Rosebud in the classroom when both got alcohol service-certified during that first summer, he adds. Alpine Group restaurants were among Aeronaut’s first draft accounts.
“The first barrels we acquired and filled [for initial barrel-aged experiments] was inspired by the crew from Rosebud; they brought a Southern bourbon character into this place,” Holmes says. This is the first of what the two companies hope becomes a series of barrel-aging collaborations.
Aeronaut filled three kegs of Rosebud (the beer): One for Rosebud (the restaurant) to tap this week, one to cellar until the Battle of the Barrels, coming up in March; and one for the opening draft list at Burro Bar, the Alpine Group’s latest, slated to open this month in Brookline. Twelve-ounce draft pours are $8.
The collaboration also produced about 300, 16-ounce cans (thanks to Iron Heart Canning, of course), which will be distributed among Painted Burro, Posto, and Osteria Posto in Waltham and priced at $10 each. Aeronaut kept about four cases at the brewery, which will be available for $16 per four-pack beginning tonight at 5 p.m., and will likely go pretty quickly.
Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar, 381 Summer St., Davis Square, Somerville, 617-629-9500,rosebudkitchen.com.
Aeronaut Brewing Company, 14 Tyler St., Somerville, 617-987-4236, aeronautbrewing.com.