Wine & Beer 101 chat beer collaborations for 10-year anniversary

Rufus Hoffman, left, collaborates with Asheville’s Wicked Weed for a collaboration beer.

Rufus Hoffman, left, collaborates with Asheville’s Wicked Weed for a collaboration beer.

By Dathan Kazsuk

Anniversaries are always a noble celebration of how accomplished a business has grown. From the one-year, ‘Yes, we made it,’ celebration to the five-year, ‘We finally know what we’re doing’ ceremony. 

Later this year, one of our favorite bottle shops, Wine & Beer 101-Wake Forest, will celebrate a decade of servicing the patrons of Wake Forest with admirable customer service and knowledge.

Over the past 9 years, we’ve become friends with many of the owners and employees, as well as met so many new friends from inebriated Friday nights. One afternoon we were chatting with beer manager Rufus Hoffman over a glass of wine, and he discussed some of the upcoming craft beer collaborations that’s coming soon.

You just brewed with Wicked Weed for a collaboration beer for your 10-year anniversary. Tell us a bit about that?

We spent a couple days up in Asheville. We just kind of hung out and had a team exercise. Got some drinks. Stayed out way too late. 

We woke up the next morning and started brewing at 7:30 a.m. We did a barrel-aged American Barleywine. And the barrels, the liquid that was in them previously, was their Old-Fashioned. We aimed for a 13 percent Barleywine. And we nailed it.

Which 101ers made the trek to Asheville to brew this beer?

It was me and Joe (O’Keefe) and Matt, who works there at a small capacity now, but helped me build the beer program there. We also brought Kent, a good friend of the store, that's been with us for other collaborations in the past.

Did you get to brew with Walt or Luke that day?

We brewed with Jeremy Claeys. He was their first hire in their production facility. We’ve done enough of these to be welcomed in various ways and sometimes it can feel like we’re in the chef’s kitchen – but Jeremy was the exact opposite. He was nice and understanding. He walked us through the process and made us feel very welcomed.

So what was the process?

We looked at the Barleywine recipe they put together for us. Typically they don’t brew a lot of Barleywines, so they were excited to do it. They were thinking it would be a 90-minute boil, but it ended up being a 2.5 hour boil. So, our brew day ran a little long. But Jeremy stayed very patient with us the entire time.

Your anniversary is in September, so that gives this beer a lot of time to rest in the barrel.

We wanted this beer to spend ample amount of time in the barrel – Barrleywines can be a little harsh and they’re not for everyone. But we think with this barrel treatment and the extended rest in the barrel we’ll have a product that people will be willing to try once.

In the past you’ve done collaborations with Haw River and Double Barley which have been bottled. Will this Barleywine be bottled as well?

Wicked Weed focuses a lot on their brand, so they told us they would prefer to do everything on draft. So I’ll be doing draft only, but by then I might have a crowler machine, so we might be canning it in limited supplies.

You and I have shared several Barleywines in the past, and are both fans of this high-gravity beer. So I take it this was your idea. Was it easy to get others on board with this strong-style beer?

We have done many collabs, and you know the easy thing to have done would have been like, ‘Let’s brew an New England IPA.’ But you know a lot of our collabs in the past have been bigger-style beers. There are so many people doing IPAs. And we serve so many good IPAs. I think the reason why everyone came onboard is because I wanted to do something different. But when it was brought up in a team meeting, they knew that I’ve been barking up the tree of doing a Barleywine for a long time. And I think, honestly, they just thought, ‘OK, let’s just let Rufus have this one.’

So you mentioned possible collaborations for this anniversary. Who are some other local breweries you guys have reached out to?

We’ve talked to Trophy. We have all but Trophy confirmed – but with them we might do an IPA. Typically, when you have a big anniversary, people expect the hard to find stuff – and yes, we’re going to have that. But on the other side of that, I want to have stuff that’s drinkable. So I want to do an East Coast-style – you know, which was in style, but no one brews them anyone. And those are the nice IPAs to drink. So we’ll be brewing something along those lines with Trophy.

Is that all?

No. I got a couple more feelers out. I want to do one more. Maybe reaching out to some close friends … but we will have three collaboration beers in September.

We can’t wait to see what this third collaboration will be. But we know a Barleywine on the menu and an IPA from Trophy … you can’t go wrong. But we still have 5 more months to wait, so we hope the anticipation eats at you as much as it does me. I know I will be there on whatever day the celebration ends up being to celebrate with some good friends.