Today marked the kick off of the 2015 Illuminati Reserve society at 3 Stars Brewing in DC. Mike McGarvey and Dave Coleman have been putting out great beers since founding 3 Stars in 2012. Located in the North East quadrant near Takoma in DC, I don't make it out there too often. In 2014 they offered a membership to their Illuminati club promising five special release beers through the year. They certainly delivered on that, as of posting this I have only opened two of the five, and they have been some of the best beers I've tasted out of their brewery.
The 2014 memebership helped 3 Stars buy their bottling line, which in turn basically made the members the guinea pigs for new bottles. Aside from the special Illuminati releases, 3 Stars released their Pandemic Porter and Peppercorn Saison in large format bottles in the DC area. I was surprised to find at today's event that they now have five different varieties bottled.
The 2015 membership expanded from the original 200 members to 400 members, and is funding the expansion of their tasting room. The new tasting room will be build inside the warehouse, that is the brewery, and sounds like it will be a little more accommodating than the generic picnic tables uninsulated by anything currently.
They had pulled a lot of barrels for tasting and blending. I am particularly interested in the Green Hat barrel aged beers they have, which I believe were filled with their Ghost white IPA.
If I remember correctly (and if wrong I will correct this) they are running a 10 barrel brew house and have a number of 20 barrel fermentation tanks. They seem to know what to do with their barrels and how to blend their beers as proved by last years illuminati releases. I still think they have the best chocolate beer ever (Ebony and Ivory) though it was unfortunately not available tonight. They also announced tonight that they are starting a sour beer program this year. Other than announcing it, there was not very much information otherwise. I look forward to what they come out with, as they tend to have some of the most flavorful beers, usually big in body and ABV, in the DC metro area.
I was a little disappointed to see nothing new on the menu tonight. Fairly standard tap line up, I had their Southern Belle, From Russia With Love, and their Peppercorn Saison. Southern Belle is an imperial brown ale with toasted pecans. It has a nice sweetness to it with a dry finish from the toasted nuts, I'd give it a 3/5. From Russia with Love is an imperial Russian stout and I think the only beer on the menu I had not previously had. It's a big 8.5% stout, boozy with a roasted finish another 3/5. I finished my time there with a peppercorn saison since it had been so long since last having it. I feel like they have toned down the peppercorn influence and made it a much better balanced beer. A lot of spice that compliments the saison yeast character, 3.5/5 overall.
While their standard beers pack a solid punch of flavor, their barrel aged series from the Illuminati keep me excited for what they come up with next. Mike was saying they recently expanded the brewing staff, with four new hires, so it isn't just Dave and Mike coming up with beers. "Nothing is too crazy to at least try a batch" is what Mike said about talking about the creativity they had brought in and is very much inline with how I feel about brewing.
3 Stars also has a homebrew shop, definitely worth the trip for supplies and or a pint.