How to brew 'over the barrel' style beer at home
In 1992 Goose Island launched their first bottle of Bourbon Country! This is a landmark 'over the barrel' Empire Shitao. No one has ever poured Empire Shitao into the eight-year-old bourbon whisky barrel, and get such a heavy, complex aroma and flavor. It seems to open a new door to craft beer. The rich flavor of coffee, cocoa, caramel, vanilla, coconut, oak barrel and bourbon whisky spirits enables winemakers in the new world to see the endless creative space of craft beer. As a result, 'over the barrel' has become a high-level game in craft beer and has become the trend of craft beer. Beer, like wine and spirits, has always played an important role in its historical development. In the absence of stainless steel, whether it is saccharification or fermentation, barrels are indispensable. However, with the advancement of beer to industrial production, wooden barrels, an expensive, time-consuming and laborious container, have gradually been replaced by stainless steel equipment. However, the emergence of the 'over-barrel' style has revived the use of wooden barrels in beer brewing. The secret of oak barrels can use bourbon whisky barrels to brew 'over-the-barrel' style beer, which is an unreachable goal for many brewers, not to mention how difficult it is to get a newly vacated bourbon whisky barrel, the capacity of 225L barrel alone greatly exceeds the brewing capacity of many homebrew lovers. What's more, before filling, the inner wall of the barrel should be checked, tested and disinfected, and a series of preparatory work should be carried out. The oak barrels used for aging bourbon whisky are also very particular about the selection of materials. Usually, the winery will choose the oak barrels made of white oak in the United States to achieve the dryness of the board by baking, at the same time give oak barrels a heavier vanilla and coconut aroma (Compared to French oak barrels). Of course, some oak barrels are made of natural air drying method, which can achieve proper dryness and remove bitter phenolic resin through natural air drying for 18 months to 3 years. The unbaked oak barrel has the original 'wood' aroma, while the vanilla aroma will be very subtle. What type of beer is most suitable for 'over the barrel '? Generally speaking, strong beers such as Imperial Shitao and barley wine are more suitable for 'passing through barrels', because higher specific gravity, stronger and more complex aroma can well balance the flavor brought by oak barrels, make the aroma more complex and layered, instead of being completely covered by the 'barrel flavor. Of course, there are also barrels of good wine in beer such as Saison and IPA, but it is a more difficult and subtle operation to achieve the balance of aroma and flavor. Although the use of bourbon barrels is the best choice, the use of oak blocks is an easier and more economical method for home brewer lovers. Whether using oak barrels or oak blocks (Film) Everyone needs to understand a concept: 'excessive aging '. That is to say, the wine is soaked in the oak environment for a long time, resulting in a heavy oak taste, which brings a very strong 'barrel taste' and suppresses the taste of beer. There are two options to effectively avoid 'over-aging': Option 1: Add 1-2 ounces of oak chips. Regularly taste beer (Every week) , And according to your evaluation results, choose the appropriate termination 'over the barrel' time. Option 2: Take 1 gallon of beer and 'cross the barrel' separately, and load 2-4 ounces of oak chips. Make this 1 gallon beer have a strong oak barrel flavor. Then, through evaluation, the mixing ratio of 'over barrel' and 'over barrel' beer is determined, and the mixing is carried out. How to prepare oak blocks with bourbon flavor (Film) Of course, 'over the barrel' is not the same as using bourbon whisky barrels. You may encounter oak barrels filled with various base wines, such as red wine, white wine, Bourbon whisky, tequila, brandy. 'Over the barrel' style beer not only shows the flavor brought by oak barrels, but also the flavor of base wine. If you carefully observe the comparison of alcohol content before and after the 'over barrel' beer over barrel, you will find that the alcohol content has changed. For example, if you pass the whisky barrel, the alcohol content will rise. This does not mean that the beer is fermented twice in the bourbon barrel. Instead, the base wine left on the barrel wall is mixed with beer, resulting in an increase in alcohol content. If you want to add the flavor of the base wine, just soak the oak chips in bourbon whisky or other base wine for a week or more. The oak chips are then taken out and placed in a fermentation tank. If the effect is not obvious, you can use base wine blending to determine the mixing ratio of base wine and beer through evaluation. To determine the blending ratio, the best way is to take out a small glass of beer and add a small amount of bourbon whisky or other base wine for evaluation. Then, you can zoom in equally and mix and blend. Remember to be careful, don't mix too much base wine, no one can save you! Evaluation plays a very important role in the brewing process of 'over-the-barrel' beer, and the control of scale and time depends entirely on the experience of winemakers. Therefore, a powerful winemaker is first and foremost a qualified wine taster. 'Crossing the barrel' is an art rather than a science, so in order to obtain the best effect, more depends on the judgment of the winemaker.