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Ask the Brewer: Situational Ethics

Saturday, December 16 marks our first official bottle release out of the Garage. Expect more of these as our barrel-aging and souring program gets rolling. For now, we think you’ll be pretty happy with Situational Ethics. Situational Ethics is our chewy, beefy imperial stout. Creative brewer Josh Johnson designed the beer, and Head brewer and barrel program director Peter Kiley helped turn it into three different variants, all three of which will release on Saturday. We sit down with Peter to learn more.

How did the idea of Situational Ethics come about?

“It was an idea of doing essentially a double mash stout, which means we fill up the mash tun twice to fill the kettle once. So it’s a big old chewy stout that we wanted to be able to deliberately show the influence of a brewer with an idea.

The thought was we all come from our parents, and our parents create our foundation. So the beer was made by the brewers and that’s the foundation of the beer. It finished around seven Plato, and clocks in at 13.5% ABV. Some time in the barrel will put it up a bit higher.”

Where did the idea of the three variants come from?

“We all know that it’s our parents that make you, but it’s your friends who you hang out with to determine who you really are going to be. So the idea was to do the stout and put it into three different scenarios. Essentially, one would be Bourbon with Batdorf & Bronson coffee, a very classic pairing. The next would be a rum barrel with coconut,  to kind of play into that rum vibe. And then the last one, which I’m personally most excited about, is the maple Bourbon barrel that we got from our friends at Bissell Maple Farms. He (Nate Bissell) empties the bourbon, puts in his maple syrup for a couple years, empties it, and then we put our beer in it. We gave that a little bit of cinnamon touch to cut through the cloying side of it.”

Bissell Maple doesn’t just give their barrels to any brewer. How did you trick them into giving you some?

“Our partnership with Bissell Maple was a couple years in the making with Nate and our friend Aaron Willett over at Speyside Cooperage.  Nate works with only a very few people so it was very flattering that he decided to work with us. We’re lucky enough to get our hands on 10 of his barrels for this first vintage of Situational Ethics. His product is awesomely superior to most bourbon barrel aged maple syrups, and he’ll actually be coming out for the release which is really exciting.”

The bottle art for Situational Ethics is quite unique. Can you tell us more about it?

“The bottle art is honestly one of my favorite things. It comes from Abby Dewitt. She’s the girlfriend of our warehouse manager John Sloan, and he put us in touch with her. Some of her first work was the label on our whiskey that we did with ASW. Now, not only is she responsible for the very large mural in the Garage, she’ll also be doing all the artwork for the beers coming out of the Garage. Her style and execution are so awesomely unique, I really believe it gives our brand a new look and an advantage out in the market because the labels alone attract me to the bottle. And coming from the world of wine we all know how well a label looks can determine how well it sells.”

You’re releasing bottles this weekend. Tell us about the VIP experience.

“We’re selling 75 tickets to the VIP event. We’ll have each beer paired with a gelato from our friends and neighbors at Honeysuckle Gelato. They’re going to make a gelato based on all the different adjuncts we’ve put in Situational Ethics. Nate will be out here with his syrup for people to try, and Batdorf and Bronson will join us with their coffee.

But really, it’s going to be an in-depth view of what the Garage is. Its genesis, its functionality, what our vision is for it down the road. To be able to talk with me and Joel (Iverson, COO, and Co-Founder) just to get a better idea of what we’re trying to do here.”

What are you trying to do at the Garage?

“The Garage is supposed to be exploratory. It’s supposed to be educational. We don’t want to hide behind the veil. We want everyone to fully understand what we are doing because through greater education and understanding, Georgia will have a more advanced craft consumer, and that’s what we really want.”

This first bottle release is a big step for the Garage, and Monday Night Brewing, right?

“It’s a really exciting time for the company as well as me and our other brewers, Josh Johnson, Rhett Caseman, Ryan Cooley, Sarah Green – they’ve all had a role in this. This is not a one-man show by any means, and without them, none of this would be possible. They’re really helping us execute on this dream.”

Situational Ethics drops on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.

Tickets are still on sale for the 3 pm VIP experience but are going fast! The Garage opens to the public at 5 pm.

More details:

Bottles will be available for purchase. Get to the Garage early if you want a chance to get your hands on these beauties.

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