The Unknown Brewing Co. ditches pumpkin beers for a Bright Ass Tank Top


I’d just finished speaking with The Unknown Brewing Co.’s founder Brad Shell about the brewery’s beer release this weekend when the conversation turned to everyone’s favorite summer discussion — fall beers.

“It’s going to be 95 degrees out this week,” said Shell. “It’s still summertime. We’re trying to fight the pumpkin craze if we can.”

Shell has brewed with scorpions, bacon and candy, but don’t expect to see any cinnamon or nutmeg-laced pumpkin beers from the brewery soon. It is literally spelled out in the company’s bylaws that the brewery will never brew the popular seasonal.

[Related: The Unknown Brewing’s Brad Shell wants to make Charlotte weird.]

And while Shell doesn’t begrudge those that do brew pumpkin ales — or release them in August — he is still firmly in summer mode. He’s not thinking comfy fall sweaters; he’s got his mind on a Bright Ass Tank Top.

That’s the name of the brewery’s new rum barrel-aged gose, which will be released in four-packs of cans for $10.99 at the brewery Sept. 3. Once nearly extinct, the sour and salty gose style has enjoyed a renaissance among craft brewers recently. The beer comes in at 4.1 percent ABV.

The addition of key limes in this gose calls to mind the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. Though barrel-aging was once reserved for big imperial stouts or barleywines, breweries are experimenting with aging lighter, more refreshing styles in barrels. Charleston’s Westbrook Brewing Co. aged its popular gose in tequila barrels to create Margarita Gose, and in rum barrels to create Mojito Gose.

Shell recently acquired barrels that had held Nicaraguan rum for the past 15 years. He aged the beer for three months, taking care not to “over oak it” (which is easier to do with lighter styles like a gose, as compared to the bolder styles mentioned earlier). The result is a beer in which all of these ingredients play together in perfect harmony, according to Shell.

“Everything in the beer has such delicate features to it, nothing overwhelming,” he said. “The rum is one of the subtlest things. Rum is actually a very good hiding alcohol. You could put a bunch of rum in a piña colada and never taste it.”

The four-packs of cans will be available in the taproom when the brewery opens at noon this Saturday, and they’ll start to trickle out to other accounts next week. Keep an eye out for the brewery to release several aged sours in the months to come. Just don’t expect any pumpkin beers anytime soon. It’s still summer at The Unknown Brewing Co. 


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