It is still big beer season, and Red Door Brewing is jumping on board with a second go-around of its Mail Order Russian Imperial Stout on draft and in bottles this Saturday.
Head brewer Matt Meier and operations manager Ali Cattin invited me to stop by Monday and try an advance pour of this beautiful beast. Matt said that each of the four Red Door locations — Candelaria, Downtown, Clovis, Roswell — will received a half-barrel to put on tap, and all but Downtown will have bottles for sale (licensing still does not permit package sales there).
“Every taproom will get one half-barrel,” Matt said. “When that half-barrel is gone, that’s it. We’ve also kegged off a sixth-barrel to send off to the Stout Invitational (on February 15 at Bathtub Row Brewing in Los Alamos), that will be our submission.”
Mail Order is a 9-percent ABV stout aged on oak spirals. In addition to the 2020 bottles, Matt said they will have 2019 bottles for sale as well. The new bottles will run $15 each, while the aged will be $25.
“What we’ve noticed about this beer from last year is it comes out really harsh in the beginning, then it ages and mellows out really well,” Matt said. “Last year, when we decided to make this beer and kind of start it as our yearly release stout, we held back cases from last year’s batch. This year, only here at Candelaria, we’re going to release last year’s bottles, up to four cases, until we run out or the week ends, whichever comes first.
“Then, the plan is for next year is to hold back some from this year, and whatever is left over, we’ll do again, for another week. The less people that buy them, whatever, we’re just going to keep holding it. At some point, you’ll be able to buy five years worth of vertical.”
Ali said that pours of the Mail Order will be in 10-ounce glasses for $5.50. She also created a new piece of logo merchandise that will also be for sale Saturday.
“Last year we did T-shirts, this year we’re doing a hoodie,” Ali said. “It’s a maroon pullover. I only did 100 of them. I put it on Instagram (Sunday) night and I woke up to three (direct) messages saying ‘tell me more about the hoodie.’ ”
“We’ve got 100 of them to split between the four taprooms,” Matt added. “Honestly, I love it. Trying to build awareness of this brand and this stout. Make it rare, make it a limited edition thing.”
Each bottle will be wax capped and individually numbered on the label.
“Last year, we did 528 bottles total,” Matt said. “This year, I don’t have a final count until I go through every bottle, make sure there are no low fills. I can tell you it’s under 525. There’s going to be less volume this year, and that’s because we kegged more. We still did the same sized batch, but because we added more taprooms and are sending some to the Stout Invitational, there will be less in bottles.”
Mail Order was a March release last year, mainly due to the fact Matt was on paternity leave, but it will be a January release going forward. Another change this year is that the beer in the bottles and on tap will be exactly the same.
“Last year, the ones we put on draft weren’t aged on the spirals, because Matt thought he might need to blend,” Ali said. “In the end he didn’t blend, so everything in bottles was on the spirals, and everything on draft wasn’t. It definitely changes (the flavor). It’s exciting this year is everything we’re pouring in the taprooms is what goes in the bottles.”
My own personal take is that this batch tastes quite good, and I still have a bottle left from last year, so a comparison tasting will have to take place soon.
The more big stouts, the merrier the Crew shall be this time of year. Thanks to Ali and Matt for the tasting and quick interview. See you both on Saturday.