An uncommon collaboration: Counterbalance Brewing and 2bar Spirits


Counterbalance Brewing in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood teamed up with one of its neighbors, 2bar Spirits, to create a barrel-aged beer. Also, 2bar Spirits created a whiskey based on one of Counterbalance Brewing’s beers. For both, it was a two-year process. The beer and the whiskey will be released this Saturday, May 6th at the brewery and the distillery, respectively.

It’s not unusual for a brewery to age its beer in whiskey barrels, but for this project 2bar Spirits actually made a whiskey using the grain bill for Counterbalance’s Kushetka Russian Imperial Stout. At the same time the whiskey was coming of age, Counterbalance Brewing barrel-aged its Kushetka Stout using the 2bar Bourbon barrels. A beer-whiskey and a whiskey-beer.

In case you didn’t know, the first step in making whiskey involves mashing grains, just as you mash grains for beer. Thereafter, distillers distill and brewers brew.


Here’s the press release from Counterbalance Brewing:

After years of aging, a new whiskey and beer collaboration to be released by 2bar Spirits & Counterbalance Brewery

A unique spirit & beer release for Pacific Northwest beverage lovers

Over two years ago, 2bar Spirits and Counterbalance Brewery partnered in creating a one of a kind whiskey. Using the mash bill of Counterbalance’s premier Kushetka Russian Imperial Stout (Kushetka Stout), 2bar made that beer onsite at its SoDo distillery and distilled it into a whiskey, which was aged for two years in 2bar Bourbon barrels.

The Counterbalance Kushetka Stout is a dark, rich beer with copious roasted malts and coffee and dark chocolate flavors, along with a fiery alcohol presence. And since all whiskey starts as a beer, 2bar Spirits decided to go big, using this wonderfully complex mash bill and working with the great team at Counterbalance to see how the whiskey would age in 2bar Bourbon barrels.

“I am so excited to share this whiskey with fans of complex, rich spirits” said Nathan Kaiser, founder of 2bar Spirits “The stout notes come across so wonderfully. I have been a huge fan of the Kushetka Russian Imperial Stout since I first tried it and I believe you won’t be disappointed when you try the whiskey”

Concurrently, two miles south in Georgetown, Counterbalance has been working on their half of the collaboration, aging Kushetka Stout in 2bar Bourbon barrels.

”Nathan quite literally showed up on our doorstep about a month after we opened the brewery,” Jeff Howell, Counterbalance co-founder laughs, “We immediately found that we shared commonalities in our palates and sensibilities. When he brought up the idea of making a whiskey based on our Kushetka Imperial Stout, Frank [Lawrence, Counterbalance co-founder and Head Brewer] and I jumped at the chance. And, true to the spirit of Counterbalance, it seemed obvious to use this opportunity to launch our barrel program by aging the beer in 2bar barrels.”

Bottles of Counterbalance Whiskey by 2bar Spirits and the 2bar Bourbon barrel aged
Counterbalance Kushetka Russian Imperial Stout will be released on Saturday, May 6th, at 2bar Spirits distillery and Counterbalance Brewing company, respectively.

Owners of both companies will be on hand to talk about the project throughout the afternoon. Quantities of both products are extremely limited and will sell out quickly.


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