Eagle eyed visitors to our taproom over the past few months may have noticed a few awesome looking wooden barrels stacked up next to our brewhouse. You probably wondered what they were for, and some of you even rightly guess what for: barrel aging beers!
For those unfamiliar with the process of beers in wooden barrels, here’s a quick history lesson. The practise of putting beer in a barrel is as long as brewing beer itself. It’s how beer was traditionally stored, transported and dispensed from until quite recently in beers’ illustrious life.
But once materials like stainless steel took over from its wooden predecessor, the use of wooden barrels have largely been used as a method of imparting their unique flavours into beers. And it’s that flavour enhancement that we’re looking to explore in some of our beers.
How do the barrels impart their glorious flavours in the beer? They breath! Well, not literally, but they expand as they warm up during the day and contract again as they cool in the evening.
This process of expanding and contracting pulls the beer into the wood during the day and pushes it back out as it cools. This allows for the beer to go into the wood and soak up all that woody goodness.
But it’s not just the wood that we’re looking to get flavour from. What type of spirit that was stored in the barrel previously is also hugely important in this important flavour transformation.
If a barrel had whiskey in it before we put our beer in it, then that whiskey flavour is still very much in the wood of the barrel. So when we put our beer in it, that whiskey flavour also goes into the beer. And this is the really interesting aspect for us that we’re excited to explore a lot in the future.
This same process can be applied to all manner of barrels: Whiskey, Bourbon, Sherry, Fresh Oak, etc. The options are only limited by our imagination!