Whiskey Collection2023-07-02T17:39:43-07:00

Charbay: Home of the Original Hopped Whiskey

Whiskey is far from new, but we’ve been distilling it our unique way since 1999. We might be 13 Generations old, but we’re definitely not old fashioned. Quite the opposite. Marko pioneered the hopped whiskey category in the US when he cracked the code of distilling from bottle-ready beer in an alambic pot still. Let’s just say distilling whiskey from fully brewed, carbonated beer had its challenges, but worth every one of them. 

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Marko started brewing beer when he was in high school. Through his father he learned that basically beer was the base of whiskey, minus the hops. When he got older he wanted to know what whiskey would taste like if it were distilled from beer he liked to drink – Charbay Whiskey Release I was born in 1999, distilled from bottle-ready pilsner beer. Later, Marko wanted to distill whiskey from his favorite beer, Racer 5 IPA from Bear Republic.

He talked to the Norgrove family (Bear Republic is family owned and operated, as is Charbay) about the concept and a new friendship was immediately sparked. Charbay R5 is the brainchild of Marko after four years of extensive research with the Bear Republic team. Marko Karakasevic on purchasing bottle-ready beer to distill into whiskey, “I buy the biggest can I can – it comes with a driver and 18 wheels!”

Questions We’re Often Asked

Why we use bottle-ready beer to make our Whiskey2022-10-25T15:50:23-07:00

All whiskeys start out as beer, but it’s not the delicious kind we all enjoy. It’s an un-hopped, fermented liquid called distiller’s beer that tastes nothing like your favorite IPA. It made Marko wonder what would happen if we started with delicious, hopped beer (ready to be bottled and enjoyed) instead. 

As Marko says, “When we distill in the pot still, it’s twenty to one reduction, so if you start out with something delicious, you’re going to concentrate delicious.”

A simple sounding idea, but rarely practiced for many reasons including high cost, extra time and effort required, and the challenge to distill with a carbonated beer. But as master distillers and pioneers, the opportunity to take whiskey making up a notch was a challenge we couldn’t pass up. 

So in 1999, we started turning pilsner beer into whiskey. Known as the Pilsner Series, we released five batches in different waves, the last being Release V, with over 20 years of aging. It was the first, and perhaps most recognized, whiskey to be distilled from a bottle-ready IPA in the US. Our next whiskey adventure was distilling highly-regarded Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, called Charbay Whiskey R5. 

We’ve been perfecting the art of making top shelf whiskey starting with delicious bottle-ready beer ever since. Many have followed our pioneering ways but we are the original….

What is a sipping whiskey?2022-11-13T16:34:20-08:00

Nothing quite beats drinking a straight whiskey, in a perfectly balanced glass, especially at the end of a long day. All of our whiskeys are made to be sipped. Dilute them with ice or water, to your liking, but we craft them to be enjoyed straight. This is the sign of top shelf whiskey – flavorful, smooth, well-balanced, softly aromatic with a fresh nose and palate. Yes there is an intensity but a sipping whiskey shouldn’t ‘burn’.

We’re artisans of flavor, crafting a style you’ll find distinctive and memorable. Our process is super slow. We take the time and that makes the difference. With an alambic pot still, custom-made to our specifications, we create our whiskeys piece by piece. First we build the body, then fill that body with flavor.

Once the flavor from the still is right we barrel age all of our whiskeys, using new and used French oak. It could be anywhere from 29 months, as we do for R5 or 8 years for the Stout Whiskey in our Doubled & Twisted. We like to focus on the flavor of the whiskey much more than the flavor of the barrel. Nothing is released until we are confident it has reached its potential.

What does hopped whiskey taste like?2022-11-13T16:30:59-08:00

Imagine a complex, smooth, aged whiskey with notes of caramel, vanilla and oak. Now layer on citrus, herbal and earthy aromatics and you have an idea of what a whiskey distilled from fully-brewed, bottle ready beer tastes like. Delicious, right?

As artisans of flavor, our family’s philosophy has always been that you need to start with delicious to end with delicious. This is why we distill with an Alambic pot still, in the traditional way of the many generations before us. An Alambic pot still is designed to concentrate the flavors. It’s a twenty to one reduction, meaning 20 liters at the beginning becomes 1 liter of finished product at the end of distillation. Hardly efficient from a business perspective, but it’s how we achieve our goal of crafting extremely flavorful products our customers appreciate.

And it’s why we distill with fully brewed, bottle-ready beer, rather than brewer’s beer. With our Alambic pot still we’re able to enhance the delicious hop and malted barley flavors already inherent in the starting product. All you need to do is choose the type of beer you want to sip, concentrated and distilled into a smooth, aged whiskey.

Our R5 Whiskey is distilled Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA.

Stout Whiskey, is Bear Republic’s Big Bear Black Stout.

And for Doubled & Twisted, it’s a triple blend of aged Straight Malt whiskey, Stout whiskey and Pilsner whiskey.

No matter which you choose, know you’ll be enjoying a full-bodied whiskey with forward flavors of hops and two row malted barley.

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