In sixteen years, Speakeasy Ales and Lagers has become a fixture in the Bay Area's beer scene. The company's logo, a pair of glaring eyes, brings us back to times of underground Prohibition-era pubs replete with sliding peepholes for scrutinizing potential guests. Today, those ubiquitous eyes peer out from countless neon signs, tap handles, and patchwork punk rock jackets throughout San Francisco and beyond. Drinking Speakeasy beer is akin to being in a city-wide cult, and pretty much everybody enjoys the Kool-Aid.
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That being said, there seems to have been something missing in recent years. The labels began to look old and tired, and Friday evening gatherings were the only time that patrons could engage with the notably fun and boisterous crew at the brewery. While the team continued to create delicious specialty brews, most of them didn't make it onto shelves, instead living for a few fleeting days on a small number of taps.
We can't help but feel like 2013 is the beginning of a new chapter in the Speakeasy saga. The labels have been completely overhauled and dramatically improved. The brewery opened a gorgeous taproom with far more extensive hours and offerings. And, more and more seasonal and one-off beers are making their way into bottles. Case in point, our beer of the week: Barrel-Aged Scarface Imperial Stout.
The regular Scarface brew is no slouch. The 9.5% abv brew boasts a full body, deep flavors of dark chocolate and a pleasing alcohol warmth. This barrel-aged version offers much of the same, but the year-plus in bourbon whiskey barrels makes the beer even more lush and complex. The heavy roast notes are complimented by an oaky, sweet vanilla component. Flavors of black licorice and molasses are teased out and take on a new character against the bourbon backdrop. The alcohol burn is still there, making for a nice nightcap sipper that blurs the lines between beer and spirits.
Barrel-Aged Scarface is showing up on shelves at better beer stores throughout the city. The bottle notes that "in the quietest hours of a darkened city, the underground empire thrives. Scarface Imperial Stout is the perfect accomplice to a nefarious plot." As long as this renegade underground syndicate continues to put beer on the shelves, we'll be sure to keep our mouths shut when the Feds come knocking.