Posts Tagged ‘barrel aged’

bottling barrel aged wild beers

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

14

wow, has it really been a year since my last post? these past twelve months have flown by as the phantom carriage has grown and expanded.  we took on a head brewer, an assistant brewer, a bar manager, and a graphic designer, and our employee count is now in the double digits.  since we have a great team in place, I feel comfortable jumping back into blogging and plan on monthly updates that focus on different wild beer production implementation aspects.

  • specifically, I hope to highlight instances where our team was able to apply a DIY homebrewing approach to the professional arena to achieve one or more benefits (e.g., improved quality, money savings, etc.).
  • for example, one of our team’s recent goals has been the bottling of our beers.  however, off-the-shelf bottling solutions easily run thousands of dollars, and appear to use a trough system that seems to expose beer to oxygen during the bottling process.
  • luckily, commercial brewers utilize a forum similar to homebrewtalkprobrewer.com.  while researching bottling implementations I came across a post describing a home built rig capable of counter pressure bottle filling (which minimizes oxygen exposure) which cost a fraction of the pre-fab systems.  the next week BL and I put our rig together with a morebeer order, a sawzall, a drill, and some elbow grease (morebeer sells a similar rig for a pretty steep markup here).
  • after some successful practice runs, we got the team together and ran more than a thousand bottles of non-barrel aged beer through the system.  once we had our setup dialed I started tinkering with our barrel aged offerings, which require a little more care to bottle condition.
  • more specifically, the high gravity and significant age of our barrel aged wild beers necessitate the addition of yeast during bottling to ensure adequate carbonation.  I have done this successfully many times in the past at home, and slightly tweaked my implementation to give even our double-digit ABV beers the best chance of carbing up in the bottle.
  • before bottling day I whipped up a large yeast starter and calculated my priming sugar amounts to achieve my target volume.  since we currently only bottle one oak barrel worth of beer at a time, I primed a half barrel sanke keg with the sugar solution, filled the keg halfway with beer, added a portion of my yeast starter, and topped off the keg with beer.  once the keg was full, we hooked it up to our bottling line, bottled and capped, and refilled once the keg was empty (the keg was only refilled two more times).  keg filling can even be performed in parallel with bottling to save time, although once you start getting into higher volumes it becomes more prudent to bottle straight off of a brite tank.
  • building our own bottling line has really simplified the bottling process while maximizing the quality of the beer in the bottle.  I only wish I had one of these suckers when I was bottling at home, especially since a two-head system will only run you a couple hundred bucks!

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deschutes the dissident

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

up close pour of the dissident

last weekend I managed to crack open a bottle of deschutesthe dissident.

  • the dissident is a great example of an oud bruin, aka an east flanders brown ale.
  • east flanders brown ales are traditionally more malty and bitter than their west flanders red ale counterparts, and are fermented in stainless steel tanks using a mixed culture of yeast and bacteria (here, presumably brettanomyces) that gives them their sourness. thanks wild brews!
  • in the case of this beer, evidently some of it was aged in pinot noir and cabernet barrels, and washington cherries were added to secondary.
  • when this beer came out it was seriously hyped, both online and in local stores.  it lived up to it though by being a relatively sessionable brown with just the right amount of sourness.
  • I believe deschutes called this beer “the dissident” since it was their first brett beer and they isolated it from their main brewing equipment during aging and bottling.  their label is one of the best and most unique I have seen on a commercial beer.
  • this beer was on the shelves everywhere for a couple of months, but supplies went fast and pretty soon there was none to be found.  long after I had given up hope of cracking another bottle of this guy, AP, CB, TB and I rolled up to santa rosa for their beer fest.  while up there, we stopped by their friendly neighborhood beer store.  while we were kicking around the store looking for brews, I noticed that one of the cases of red chair on display looked a little different from the rest.  I looked a little closer and had an indiana jones moment – it was an unopened case of the dissident!

dissident artwork

dissident pour

dissident bottle

magnolia pub and brewery, fresh hops galore

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

hand pumps at magnolia

yesterday CB alerted me that there were some special beers on draft at magnolia, so last night we rolled over to check it out.

  • turns out there were quite a few special beers available – I counted 5 in addition to their regular rotation.
  • the first one I had to try was a pint of their “wet-hop-dry-hopped” prescription pale.  it was described in their mail update as follows: “We tried to see how many pounds of wet hops (Chinook) we could fit into a firkin and then topped it up with Prescription. There might be more hops than beer in it.” this was my favorite of the night by far – it had a great hop aroma and flavor that thoroughly enveloped the beer but was not harsh or overwhelming.
  • CB and I also tasted both varieties of their high time harvest ale – #1 was brewed with 120 pounds of fresh centennial hops, and #2 was brewed with 120 pounds of fresh chinook hops.  both were great, but completely different – CB preferred the centennial, while I enjoyed the chinook.  fresh/wet hop beers are some of my favorites, and magnolia definitely went the extra mile with the style this year.
  • we also tried the other one that was aged for 8 months in a buffalo trace bourbon barrel – once it warmed up a little the aroma on it was awesome, and the barrel gave the beer a ton of complexity.  it was my second favorite of the night.
  • I also had a taste of rosebud, an anniversary beer that “is built loosely around our beloved Maris Otter malt but then goes out on a long, strange trip through a Belgian fermentation, the addition of dried rosebuds, and the juice of 100 pounds of syrah grapes from Amador County.”  the rose-petal aroma was definitely interesting, as was the rest of the beer, but I’m not sure I would order it up again.
  • the place was full but not crowded, and everyone there (both staff and patrons) was very friendly and in a good mood.  the service was awesome as well. to top it off, most pints were only $3 through their tuesday special.  it reminded me of my trip up to portland earlier this year, where this kind of environment was commonplace.  it was definitely my best trip to magnolia – I have to start going over there on tuesdays more often!

wet hopped prescription pale and barrel aged the other one

taps at magnolia

prescription pale, high times, the other one