Every year since 2007, FiftyFifty Brewing Co. in Truckee, Calif. has released what has become its most famous beer, known as Eclipse. The base beer is a 10 percent ABV imperial stout named Totality that is brewed between March and April in 300 gallon batches once a year. In May, the beer is then placed into a variety of different barrels for a minimum of 180 days, with each variant leading to a different—sometimes vastly different—final product.
Eclipse, Eclipse, Eclipse. That's all anyone ever seems to say when FiftyFifty Brewing Company is mentioned. Sure its delicious, well awarded, damn expensive and some versions sell out before the beer is even in bottles. Variants abound trigger that deep seeded sense in our generation to collect them all. A kaleidoscope of colored wax topped bottles, sealing contents too precious for their own good, charm the eyes in a genius display of marketing.
Like many fans of craft beer when I hear the phrase "fifty fifty," only one thing comes to mind. Eclipse and the beautiful rainbow of variants released each year. Fifty Fifty Brewing Company in Truckee, Ca has become famous for its barrel aged stout that is released once a year. But guess what beer fans—Fifty Fifty actually makes other beers as well!
In 2007, the Eclipse line from FiftyFifty Brewing Co. began humbly enough, an imperial stout aged in Old Fitzgerald barrels before being bottled and sold with little fanfare. Only seven years later, there are a multitude of different variants, each aged in different barrels and each with its own specific profile.
In this day and age, if a brewery produces an imperial stout it's a virtual given that it will release a barrel-aged version of that beer at some point in the future. Some breweries choose barrels from a favored vintner or distiller and apply a single barrel treatment to their beer roughly once a year. Others vary their suppliers, effectively creating a new beer for consumers whether it be an annual release or part of a running line of limited edition brews. In the case of the FiftyFifty Brewing Co., they've made a yearly event out of aging their popular Imperial Eclipse Stout in multiple barrels for a simultaneous release in 22-ounce bottles.