If you’re a craft beer lover who lives in North Texas, you may remember a time not so long ago when there were only a couple of breweries in the area – neither of which existed in the city of Dallas. To say things have changed in the years since would be an understatement, but the most recent renaissance arguably got its start in November of 2011. That’s also when the Deep Ellum Brewing Co. opened its doors in the Dallas neighborhood of the same name, announcing to the world its intent to achieve “total beer domination.”
Fast forward a bit from those first formative months to when it came time for DEBC’s first ever barrel-aged release. That happened in July 2012 with a beer called Wealth and Taste. Built on a base that’s classified as a Belgian-style golden strong ale, past and present incarnations of the beer have been aged in barrels that have spent seven to eight years housing chardonnay in California’s Napa Valley.
On that last point, Wealth and Taste has gone through a couple of iterations, not only in terms of the malt and hops used, but also with respect to its added flavors. The original was brewed with grapefruit, rose hips and chamomile, while a later version dropped those first two ingredients in favor of lavender. This year, the beer has been streamlined even more with the only additive being the Muscat grape juice that’s been a part of Wealth and Taste’s make-up since day one.
Whether or not you notice any recipe changes may depend on how recently you’ve had a past vintage, but I would argue that even if you have you probably won’t miss what’s missing, since there’s still a lot going on in this beer. Wealth and Taste is a hazy amber brew whose sugary aroma features the expected grapes, hints of oak and a yeasty undertone, all of which mingles with a wave of grain and bits of biscuity malt. The use of Nelson Sauvin hops, whose flavor profile is often described as being akin to white wine grapes, no doubt helps to enhance the essence of both the juice adder and residuals contributed by the barrels, but while a grape flavor is certainly prevalent, the beer doesn’t come across as being necessarily wine-like to my taste.
As for how it drinks, Wealth amd Taste probably leans towards having a more of a medium body, though the carbonation helps to lighten the overall impression. There’s a lingering sweetness to the beer throughout, but it doesn’t have any hint of a drying astringency that is sometimes present in other beers infused with white wine grapes. In terms of strength, there’s plenty to go around given the 10.5 percent ABV, but you’d never know it outside of a very subtle warmth that creeps into the aftertaste.