Until this year, whenever I hear Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on the radio, I officially declare it the holiday season. This year, I may have found something else to signify that the holiday season is here: the nail pull pour of Santa’s Stash from Compass Rose!
Compass Rose is a small brewery in Raleigh, North Carolina that resides in a nondescript industrial area. It’s one of the myriad of small breweries around the country who have set up shop in an industrial area that you would never find unless you were specifically looking for it. Compass Rose is your quintessential small brewery/taproom that relies on word of mouth for business. They don’t distribute their beers; their distribution consists of crowlers from the brewery. Their taproom is family (and dog) friendly: a big open, airy space that has big screen TVs all around the perimeter, an area for darts, and enough space for indoor cornhole play! There is an outdoor patio perfect for cool fall evenings (they have a few fire pits on the patio) and they have a busy calendar of events – trivia nights, axe throwing (!), scavenger hunts – as well as a full calendar of food trucks to satisfy the hungry patrons.
There is a small, but intensely dedicated team of people who all wear whatever hat is necessary to get the job done. It’s like an ensemble cast in a play. There is a talented brewmaster, in this case Justin McConkey. There is a person who oversees the Taproom, played by Bryan Grace. There are other roles for Event Planning and Marketing. Everyone wears whatever hat that is required to get the job done and to make the customers happy.
That’s where I come in. I was at Compass Rose because Mrs. Stoutwhisperer and I held a baby shower for our oldest daughter. She (and her husband) are expecting twins and what better place to have a baby shower than a brewery! Actually it was her idea! Once we finalized the details for the shower, I reached out to Justin to see how Santa’s Stash was coming along. I knew it was sleeping in bourbon barrels so I asked if I could get a taste right from the barrel – a nail pull pour in brewer’s vernacular. No guarantees, Justin said, but we’ll see come the day of the baby shower. for context, the 2018 vintage of Santa’s Stash is a Stout infused with pure liquid cacao from Cholaca in Boulder, Colorado, freshly pureed cherries from JRP Orchards in Cana, Virginia, and resting in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels! From the description provided by Justin, “expect deeply complex layers of roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate, & cherry jam with a smooth and viscous mouthfeel”! Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
Fast forward to Baby Shower day. We’re in the taproom setting up the decorations and snacks for the event and I see Justin in the brewery area (there are huge windows separating the taproom from the brewery). I immediately stop helping setting up and wander uninvited into the brewery area. I introduce myself to Justin and we start talking Stouts. He offers me a pour of Santa’s Stash and I immediately accept. Getting a pour of a Stout directly from a barrel is such a unique opportunity, I really felt as if Justin was sharing something special with me. A nail pull pour is the Stout at it’s most basic – no carbonation and at room temperature. Santa’s Stash was amazing! Bourbon notes – YES! Chocolate notes – YES! Cherry notes – YES! Justin dialed this one in perfectly!
Today, December 1 is the official taproom release of Santa’s Stash. I wasn’t able to make it to the taproom today to taste the final product, but I know it will be a winner! I’ll be there soon to get a snifter (and hopefully a crowler to go!). I know Santa will be proud to have his name associated with this Stout! I expect Compass Rose will leave a snifter glass of Santa’s Stash out for him when he makes his stop at Compass Rose. That certainly will guarantee that they will be on Santa’s nice list!
Many thanks to Justin and the good people at Compass Rose! If you are in Raleigh, please stop by their taproom/brewery, enjoy one of their brews on tap (it’s OK if it’s not a Stout!) and tell them the Stoutwhisperer sent you!