2015 in a Barrel pt 1

barrels

There is something romantic and magical about barrel-aged beers.   Many people are familiar with the use of barrels in viticulture and distilling, but there seems to be some misunderstanding about the use of barrels in brewing.   There are two main reasons that brewers use barrels in the brewing process: fermentation and aging.

Aging is the most familiar use of barrels for most people.  The concept is pretty simple and essentially just adds an extra step to the brewing process.   When using a barrel for aging brewers begin a beer as normal:

  1. Mill malted barley and other grains,
  2. Steep grains in hot water (referred to as mashing)
  3. Draining sugar rich water(wort) into the kettle
  4. Boiling Wort in kettle
  5. Adding hops during the 60-90 minute boil at varying amounts and times for bitterness and flavor/aroma
  6. Cooling the boiling wort to fermentation temperature(~65 degrees)
  7. Moving cooled wort to a fermentation vessel and introducing yeast
  8. Yeast consumes sugar and creates CO2 and alcohol

At this point the beer is essentially done.  It has carbonation, it has alcohol, the yeast is going into a dormant state and is going to hang out at the bottom of the fermentation vessel.  There are a few more steps beyond this to polish up the beer, but for our intents and purposes, the process is over and we have beer.

When using a barrel for aging finished beer, let’s say its a big rich, roasty stout -the finished beer is then transferred into a barrel, let’s say a wet bourbon barrel.  The stout is going to sit in the bourbon barrel from 1-3 months in most cases.  There are 2 important things that are going on the beer during this time.  The Stout is going to soak up the flavors of the bourbon left behind in the porous surface of the barrel as well as characteristics of the wood itself.  The beer is also going to mellow out while in the barrel.  High gravity beers can often be too harsh and sharp on the nose and palate when young.  The sharp notes will round out with time and the malt flavors of roast and chocolate will begin to shine.

There are also something important things that brewers are hoping don’t happen: namely bacterial infection or an unintentional secondary fermentation by a wild/aggressive yeast strain.  Bacteria and Wild Yeast can create an entire range of flavors outside of the desired scope of barrels used for aging.

At the end of the aging period the beer will be taste tested.  If multiple barrels were used then each barrel will be tasted individually noting any off-flavors or signs of infection/compromise.  Depending on the depth of barrel flavor desired, brewers may then brew a new batch to “blend back”  into the selected barrels.  The beer is then packaged/kegged and enjoyed by the lucky few who can knab a taste.

This process is the most dominant use of barrels in the current marketplace and for good reason too, it makes damn good beer.  As you can see the barrel aging process adds a lot of work, risk and time to the beer making process.

There is another side of barrels in brewing though, it’s a little more mysterious and a little more funky.  We will get into the funky stuff in the next edition.  Until then come by and try the Kentucky Streetwalker from Naughty brewing.  It is a Imperial Porter aged in bourbon barrels for a year.  Super tasty and on tap now, while it lasts!

 

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American Craft Beer Week

I love this week, it will always have a special place in my heart for all the fond memories it has created over the years. The Brewers Association puts on ACBW to showcase the talent of American Craft Brewers. To be a member of the Brewers Association a brewery must be small(under 6 million bbls a year), Independently owned, and traditional(no flavored malt beverages). While not a requirement, one of the greatest things about American Craft beer is the stories, everybody loves a good story. Brewers often work through legislation, capital issues, mechanical issues and acts of god to bring beer to you. The story for us at the pub is no exception but we can save the telling for a campfire or cold winters eve.

What I am going to tell you about is the seven days of badass ‘Merican Craft Beer we have planned for you.

Monday

Amypalooza launch (at 1130am). You read that right. It’s back for the attack and bigger than ever before. For all the spicy, dry, banana and clove delight packed into this easy drinking Belgian Tripel you would never know it is 9.4% . This is also Amy Jones brewing debut!
AmyPalooza is our Belgian Tripel brewed by Amy! It will be 4.50 for NINE ounces or 22 for 64oz growler(to go only)
We will also have a Prarie Noir Four Pack to go only. This will include Noir, Coffee Noir, Vanilla Noir and Wine Noir for 48 dollars. Wonly have a dozen. Not sold individually, to go only. The noir series is a barrel aged oatmeal stout with a few variations, all of them delicious.

Tuesday

As usual we will have our Geeks Who Drink Trivia Night but this week will have some beer themed bonus questions. Deschutes will be in house and we will be tapping Black Butte XXV. Read that right. Yerp. BBXX on draft. We will also have 3 dollar Chainbreaker, Black Butte Porter and Twilight. Trivia at 8pm BBXXV at 7pm. Come early, stay late, show us how smart you are.

Wednesday

We will be launching our new house beer, a traditional Bock style. Still no name but it should be hilarious. We will start serving at 1130am. This is our first LAGER. Lagers are fermented at lower temperatures and take longer to mature. It is about 7 percent, very lightly hopped, moderately sweet with notes of caramel, toffee and chocolate. Don’t miss out on this bad boy!

Thursday

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Usually we do glass night on Thursdays. This week we are doing it a little different. This Thursday is Growler night. Our Zio Carlo Stainless/insulated growlers will be $22($11 dollar discount) and our glass will be $5(half off) What a deal! For those of you not in the know, growlers are vessels for taking draft beer out of the pub with you. You buy the growler, fill it, drink it and bring it back and repeat.
Growlers are great when you are on the go or looking to party with your bros on a pontoon boat.

Friday

Prairie Wine Noir Tapping 6pm. $8 for 9 ounces of heaven. I don’t usually play favorites, but of the Noir series this is my boy. No growlers please.

Saturday

Founders KBS in bottles for on premise consumptions starting at 1130am. $14

Sunday

$3 Martinhouse Daybreak during brunch 1030-230. If you have never had our brunch, come on out! We will post this weeks menu later this week!

We love brewing and sharing our craft. Austin and Carlo have put in some hours in the brewhouse and I dare say that the latest two beers are the best yet. Lets party and celebrate #acbw!

Gonzbot