Barrel aging has become pretty popular amongst craft brewers. Aging the beer in these various types of barrels for several months will create a new depth to these beers by adding lots of rich flavor (ex. vanilla, caramel, coconut and floral tones, rich oak flavor, and hints of the liquor that was previously aged in them). Before starting our own barrel aging program, we decided to visit Westbrook Brewing Co. in Charleston, SC. They have had lots of success with their beers and expanded their facility to accommodate a barrel aging room. They gave us lots of great advice and pointers! Right now we only have 16 barrels but we are hoping to expand our barrel program to 100 barrels by the end of 2016! A lot of people have oak wine barrels for sale so this shouldn’t be too difficult.
We received our first shipment of barrels on 11/30/15 – and we began filling the barrels on 12/1/15. The first batch we filled was the Plea Bargain Pecan Brown Ale into (1) Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrel and (1) Cruzan Rum Barrel. The next beer we filled was the The Executioner Imperial Pumpkin Stout into (2) Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels and (1) Cruzan Rum. Then, we filled the last (2) Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels and (1) Cruzan Rum Barrel with the Spiced Bailiff Belgian Quad. We are pretty excited that we also received (4) Jack Daniels Barrels which we filled with the Malice Maple Bacon Stout. We will age these beers for at least 12 months, taste testing every 3-6 months until we feel the beers have aged to perfection!
Sour Ales have also been trending in the craft beer world. It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But once you find a sour beer you enjoy, you become hooked! There are 2 distinct styles: Wild Ales and Sour Ales. To get some tips, we visited Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium in Asheville, NC. This brewery is dedicated to just “funky” sour ales and they filled us up with tons of info. With all this sour knowledge , we received a shipment of (2) white wine barrels and (2) red wine barrels and started filling them up. We filled (2) white wine barrels with Sequestered Saison. One barrel we added tart red cherries and wild yeast. The other, we added peaches and a Belgian Lambic yeast blend. With the red wine barrels, we filled them with our Sequestered Blueberry Saison. One barrel we added blueberries and wild yeast and the other, we added blackberries and a Belgian Lambic yeast blend.
The use of wild yeast does not necessarily make the beer “sour.” It adds a more earthly, slight tart, funky flavor to the beer. A popular sour style of beer would be the Belgian Lambic. It’s a blend of Belgian yeast with souring bacteria. With the addition of fruit, these beers will have some sweetness, but notable tartness that sour ale junkies crave. We will taste test every 3 months until the desired flavor is achieved. We are so looking forward to sharing these unique brews with you!