Back in the days of yore, brewery anniversary parties were often a very big deal, with special events, multiple beer releases, and more. The pandemic muted all of that in 2020 and 2021, but now things are ramping up again, with Steel Bender Brewyard out in front with a five-day celebration to mark its fifth anniversary.
During the Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day on Tuesday, I was able to pull aside co-owner/marketing director Shelby Chant to get some more details on five days worth of special beer releases, food specials, on live music that begins this Sunday.
“We’re very grateful, very excited, very lucky, because a lot weren’t able to, and on some significant anniversaries,” she said. “We weren’t entirely sure we would be able to. The last couple years it’s been what’s going to happen next. We’re very excited.”
The pandemic restrictions scuttled the third anniversary party right before it began in 2020.
“It’s a little weird right now,” Chant said. “It’s still very tangible what was happening exactly two years ago right now. Looking at old communications and old project plans for our anniversary two years ago, it’s a little unnerving.”
Thankfully, the coast is clear. Steel Bender has one special beer release per day for a total of five for this anniversary, though do not expect anything similar for future anniversaries.
“We’re going crazy with the beers,” Chant said. “I think I’ll be held to a promise, but this is the last time we’ll match up the number of beer releases to the number of years. As Adam (Auden) is sitting here looking at me and saying we’re not doing this again, and that one (Bob Haggerty) in there would agree.”
While it might be a bit over the top to release this many new brews so close together, keeping things centered on the beer was always the plan.
“We wanted to make it about the beer; that’s why we’re here,” Chant said. “While still being a little bit understaffed in the kitchen, still just really getting our feet back underneath us, we wanted to keep things simple, and just celebratory. That’s celebrating the beer, celebrating music finally being back. Celebrating some food specials, and celebrating just being in the space again with people and having that spirit and energy back in here with the community.”
The new beers are “a crazy variety,” Chant said. The first beer will come out on the birthday of Haggerty, the director of brewing operations.
“So day one, we’re kicking it off with the Big DIPA,” Chant said of the draft-only beer that will keep the hopheads happy.
Monday will feature the next entry in the Double Dynamite series. While the regular Dynamite beers are certainly popular, the Double Raspberry Dynamite was a huge hit.
“I think the Double series just lets us experiment a little more around the rotating fruit,” Auden said. “We get a little crazy.”
So which fruit gets the Double treatment this time around?
“So it’s Double Key Lime,” Chant said. “If you like key lime pie, you will love this beer. That is really all that needs to be said.”
“It has a vigorous tartness, for sure,” Auden added.
“We will have four packs of that, and it will be on draft,” Chant said. “And, Willie Ray will have some key lime cheesecake for us.”
There is at least one Crew member who figures to be at the front of the line for all of that. Please do not throw too many elbows, Erin.
“Anniversary day is on Tuesday the 15th,” Chant said. “That one is Bigger Boat Barleywine. As in we’re going to need a bigger boat. That (Jaws-themed poster) hangs up in here because we needed a bigger boat, finally. Bigger Boat Barleywine is fantastic. We decided to hold some back, right, Adam?”
“Yeah, this is one that’s going to age well,” he replied. “It’s drinking really nicely right now. Barleywine does great being cellared. We can go back and release more down the road.”
Bigger Boat will be on draft and there will be 375mL bottles for sale. I got a sneak peek of the label and it is amazing and hilarious.
Le Chat Lunatique will provide the music on Tuesday. Chant said they were the first band whose performance had to be canceled in 2020, so it made all the sense in the world to bring them back this time around.
“Wednesday is Amelia Belgian Quad aged in a Maker’s Mark barrel that we got from M’tucci’s,” Chant said, noting that it went into the barrel on February 11, 2021. “It’s absolutely stunning. So we will have that on draft only.”
Auden confirmed that some of the beer will be held back for future events, with Chant adding that the plan right now is for it to be available when M’tucci’s opens its new Nob Hill location, Bar Roma, in the former Kellys Brew Pub.
And, speaking of M’tucci’s, there will also be a special charcuterie plate available that was curated by the kitchen staffs of both places. There will be a very limited number of 20, so get there early Wednesday. The charcuterie will include Calabrese salami, weisswurst sausage, and more.
“Next day is St. Patrick’s Day, so Blue Bullet (Stout) will be back,” Chant said. “Brianna (Benton) is making a Blue Bullet Stout Stew and soda bread. She’s an incredible baker. Gershom Brothers will be here that night. I think they play our anniversary night every year.”
Throughout all five days, Steel Bender will also be celebrating with Raiders of the Lost Cellar, where a limited number of aged specialty beers will be available for purchase.
“We always hold back a few cases of beers from our barrel program and let them continue to condition,” Chant wrote in a follow-up email. “We were really excited to re-introduce these at our three-year anniversary celebration, but then, well, you know. So they’ve conditioned even longer. These beauties will be available for a limited time, only during the five days of anniversary celebrations, and then they’ll go back into the cellar for another year. Most are barrel-aged beers (and then subsequent conditioning in the bottle). A few are not aged in barrels, only BCed, and some bottled heritage ciders are returning, as well. We’ll obviously keep adding to the cellar as we continue to produce these beers.”
The full list will be posted on all Steel Bender social media pages soon, but we have confirmed that it will potentially include Edith (a saison collab with La Cumbre), Ingenio (barrel-aged witbier), Viejo Agrio (mixed-culture sour), Bullet’s Reserve (barrel-aged stout), and Impromptu Cider.
Five days of epic beers, plus food, plus music … man, we really missed these sorts of big anniversary celebrations.
“That’s the lineup,” Chant said. “It’s about the food, it’s about the music, it’s about the beer. It’s just getting all the love back in the taproom now that we can.”
We love to see it. A big thanks to Shelby and Adam, plus everyone else that was there on Tuesday. We will have a lot more about the Pink Boots beer when it comes closer to the release date. In the meantime, we will all have to pick and choose which days to hit up Steel Bender. It’s not like we can be there all five days, right? Or, can we?
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