Stickum beer brandies take brews one step further
[Editor's note: The Stickum brandies have sold out since the original article ran.]
A beer and a shot. It's a classic combination, one you'd assume was beyond improvement. But now you can streamline the process, thanks to the masterful brewer-distillers at Uerige in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Their lines of Stickum and Stickum Plus beer-based spirits--part of a growing genre known as "beer brandies" or bierschnaps--include several bottlings distilled from two limited-edition brown ales (Sticke and Dopplesticke, respectively). In this form, the intense, malty complexity of world-class brews develops into spirited elixirs of remarkable fruitiness and pep.
The spirits are a fascinating experiment in aging, since the type of vessel changes from batch to batch: One iteration of the Plus is a pale golden nectar laced with vanilla and plum that passed 18 months in old Rémy Martin casks. A second Plus bottling slumbered in barrels that once held Pinot Noir from the Jura, resulting in a deep cherry hue and notes of pear, chocolate and concentrated red fruit. Treat them as you would a great Cognac or añejo tequila and sip slowly.
Our only complaint: The bottles are in agonizingly short supply, with only a few places in the country (such as Amor Y Amargo in New York City) keeping the bottles behind the bar. For home bars, there is still a small allotment of the last shipment left, but once that's gone you'll have to wait until August. Look forward to a Stickum that's been retired to Château d'Yquem barrels, as well as two versions of the Stickum Plus: one aged in cognac barrels, and a mind-boggling version aged in old port casks for 30 months.