Home' Hospitality Business : HB FEB 2016 Contents Hospitality BUSINESS | February 2016 | 63
BEER IN FOCUS
the wood that we use is a retired wine bar rel that has been used
for several years to age wine. There are not a lot of actual wood
flavours left in there. So then it comes down more to fer mentation
character istics. Wood allows in oxygen at a very, very slow rate.
Specific yeast and bacter ia, that enjoy having a small influx of
oxygen over time, produce fer mentation character istics such as esters,
different fruity flavours, and also acids. So something like acetic acid
for example, can’t for m without oxygen being present. Hopefully
you wouldn’t get too much acidity because then you’d be drinking
vinegar, but a little hint is nice in certain beers. It’s a very complex
matter that’s hard to explain in one sentence.”
8 Wired brewery is home to over two hundred and fifty oak wine
bar rels and another seven foeders (large vertical wooden casks used in
brewing) that range from two to four thousand litres, and they produce
a wide var iety of highly regarded bar rel-aged beers. I asked Søren if he
might give us some insight into their process, what kinds of beers their
bar rel program is producing, and the impact of the bar rel on each of
“The first bar rel-aged beer we ever made was an Imper ial Stout”,
Erikson explained. “We got those barrels from Epic Brewing Company.
When Epic started using these particular bar rels, they were brand new.
They did an IPA and a Stout and then they retired the bar rels, and we
bought them. They were pretty much still just raw [toasted] oak. So
the flavours you got out of them were those classic bourbon flavours.
Those beers were clean [no wild yeast or bacter ia present], and they still
are five years later. We did a second batch of Imper ial stout, and then a
smoked Imper ial Porter. So we’re talking three very dark, very big beers
that went into those bar rels to start with, and then those bar rels were
incor porated into our sour beer program.” He explained that all of the
other bar rels in the brewery are “sour”, or intended to be sour, and that
all but those first three bar rels were ex-wine bar rels.
The list of beers that 8 Wired has since produced using oak barrels or
vats has gone on to include their “Wild Feijoa Sour Ale”, “Batch 2.18
Oak Aged Imper ial Stout”, “Rewired Unchained” Brett Fer mented
IPA, their new “Sour Side of the Moon” Flanders Black Ale, and a soon
to be released “Le Fut” Flanders Red Ale, amongst others.
I asked Søren what styles of beer he felt were most complimented by
bar rel aging: “It can be virtually anything if you do it right. If you have
the r ight barrels, the r ight beer, and time, there is probably nothing that
wouldn’t be complimented by barrel aging in one way or another. But
definitely sour beers are very good, because of the complexity you get from
the var ious microorganisms and the porousness from the wood. But also
big beers, like Imper ial Stouts and so forth, if you can get a clean bourbon
bar rel.You probably want to be careful with hoppy beers because of the
oxidation that does happen. It’s got to be a beer that can handle some age.”
There’s no question that bar rel-aged beers are one of the industr ies
hottest trends at the moment, one that seems certainly here to stay.
While 8 Wired has made their mark as New Zealand’s largest producer
of bar rel-aged beers, other brewers around the world have emerged in
recent years boasting similar, and even larger bar rel programs of their
own. The list includes highly regarded brewer ies like Firestone Walker,
Russian River, and The Rare Bar rel just to name a few. Further more,
the bar rels used to age beer have expanded beyond just wine and
bourbon to include Rum, Tequila, and even Gin.
There is nothing quite like the first sip of a bar rel-aged beer. So
completely different to the traditional lagers and pale ales that most
are familiar with, a beer aged on oak is something bold, wild, and
complex. Pour ing a bar rel-aged beer is the libationary equivalent of
wiping the dust from a treasured old book before diving in for a good
read. It’s beer, but it’s also art, culture, and perhaps most significantly,
time. Proving, once and for all, the old adage that “good things come to
those who wait”. n
Links Archive HB DEC 2015 HB MAR 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page