The popularity of barrel-aged beers has lead to exciting new collaborations between distillers and brewers, the latest is a single malt whiskey and barrel-aged Imperial Stout from Copperworks Distilling and 3 Magnets Brewing. Both beer and whiskey are available now, but hard to find outside of their respective locations, each are well worth seeking out.
Copperworks Tompkins from Three Magnets is part of our daily barrel-aged beer advent calendar that highlights a different beer each day leading up to Christmas, view the rest here.
Copperworks Distilling is one of the nation’s most acclaimed whiskey makers, named “Distillery of the Year” by the American Distilling Institute in 2018. The Seattle-based distillery is famed for their craft beer-inspired Single Malt Whiskey and they have now embarked on a series of small batch collaborations with brewers. 3 Magnets Brewing filled their Imperial Oatmeal Stout into freshly emptied barrels of Copperworks Single Malt Whiskey and then returned those barrels to the distillery who filled them back up with Single Malt Whiskey.
The collaboration has yielded two wonderful expressions of malt; 3 Magnets Brewing’s Copperworks Tompkins barrel-aged Imperial Stout, and the Copperworks 024 American Single Malt Whiskey, Three Magnets Tompkins Imperial Stout Cask. 3 Magnets beer is now available in 16oz cans in Washington with a very small amount headed to Oregon. The Stout Cask Whiskey is destined to become a collectors item with only 480 bottles for sale at Copperworks distillery tasting room. The whiskey will be available, by the glass only, at 3 Magnets Brewing while it lasts. It’s also available for order to select states via Copperworks webstore here.
Copperworks 024 Single Malt Whiskey Imperial Stout Cask
The 3 Magnets Imperial Stout has left a noticeable impact on the 024 Copperworks Stout Cask Whiskey says head distiller Jason Parker.
“The chocolate and roasted flavors of the stout came through in the nose, flavor, and finish of the whiskey,” says Parker. He cites notes of citrus peel, coco, chocolate truffle, coffee nudge, lychee, tiramisu and iced tea aromas. Perhaps most interestingly, Copperworks does not filter their spirits, and that leaves a noticeable visual enticement that’s unusual for liquor.
“When you look at this whiskey, you’ll see it’s a bit hazy,” says Parker. “The haze comes from the beer that was previously in the barrel. That delicious beer remnant on the barrel staves has given the whiskey a bit of a haze and because we don’t filter our whiskey, we’ve retained all the flavor.”
Copperworks Distillery opened in 2013 with a hand hammered still from Scotland that traveled up the Panama Canal to their location on Seattle’s south waterfront. The first thing the small craft distillery made was their American Single Malt Whiskey, but because it takes years or cask aging their whiskey was not released until three years later.
Craft beer has been an integral influence on Copperworks since the very beginning. Copperworks co-owner and head distiller Jason Parker was the first brewer at Seattle’s oldest brewery Pike Brewing Co. Parker later hired brewer Dick Cantwell who would go on to found Elysian Brewing.
Parker developed two different 100% malt whiskey wash recipes called “Pale Malt” and “5-Malt” that are made at Fremont Brewing, Pike Brewing or Elysian Brewing. Each wash is made with a straightforward malt mash with a short 30-45 minute boil without any hops that yields about 62 barrels of wort with an original gravity of 1.074. After the sweet wort leaves the kettle they chill it to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and transport it back to the distillery and into one of their three 60 bbl fermenters.
In an effort to retain the malt character and craft brewing influence onto the whiskey, Copperworks uses a brewers yeast from Elysian rather than a distillers yeast. The difference is the former will leave the beer with less alcohol but better flavor. The whiskey wash fermentation goes for 7-9 days at 70 degrees F and ends at a terminal gravity of around 1.009 SG. It’s then conditioned for another 2 weeks at 32 degrees F. After fermentation and conditioning is complete, the unhopped beer begins distillation ahead of another 3 years aging in oak barrels.
024 is Copperworks first in a small batch whiskey collaboration series with Washington brewers. Later down the line they will expand these partnerships by distilling existing commercial beers into whiskeys. This will have them playing with beers of different base ingredients and yeasts.
3 Magnets Brewing Major Tompkins becomes Copperworks Tompkins
Major Tompkins is 3 Magnets Imperial Oatmeal Stout named after a historic steamer ship. The 151 ton iron hulled Major Tompkins steamer was part of the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet that ran mail, freight and passengers between Olympia and Seattle at the turn of the century.
To get Major Tompkins the beer up to a burly viscosity and strength of 12.1% ABV the brewers have to do a double-mash and a long 5 hour boil. And with Copperworks Distillery being a short drive away in Seattle, they were able to fill the freshly emptied barrels of whiskey with Major Tompkins within 24 hours. The resulting beer has a dense whiskey character that gives it long-term cellaring possibilities. You can find a smooth, vanilla, chocolate and dark fruit infused caramel in this beer with boozy whiskey warmth. Notes of charred oak, dark roast coffee and stone cut oatmeal pervade.
Copperworks Tompkins is the 4th in an ongoing series of variants on Major Tompkins Imperial Stout. The past three variants were Oyster Tompkins with Hama Hama Oysters, Syrah Tompkins with Alexandria Nicole Cellars, and Coffee Tompkins with Olympia Coffee Roasting Company.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.