Whiskey Barrel Aged Flanders Style Red With Cherries

cherriesThe wonderful thing about brewing and aging 63 gallons of beer in a whiskey barrel is that you can save a couple of uncarbonated kegs worth of the beer and use these portions as a canvas to create further iterations down the line.  August 2015, a portion of our Westland whiskey barrel aged Flanders style red was added to wild picked blackberries (detailed here).  Additionally, this past July I crafted two more versions of this beer — another wild picked blackberry version (using over two pounds of fruit per gallon), and a cherry version which I’ll detail in this post.

We brewed the base beer on 06.12.14 (detailed here: Barrel Project #02).  On 07.07.16, I took a six gallon portion of that beer and aged it on 6 LBS of Red Cherries (store bought, fresh) for seven weeks and five days.  I kegged the beer on 08.30.16 and have been enjoying it ever since.

cherry-flanders-pelicleAs you can see in the photo on the right, after aging on the cherries was complete, the beer had a lovely pellicle dusting the surface of the beer.  “That looks gross,” you say; however, pellicles are very important in the production of funky and/or sour beers.  “What is a pellicle?” you ask.  Check out this blog post from A Ph.D. in Beer to learn all sorts of great information on the topic: What is a pellicle?

The actual brewing process and recipe can be found in the linked post above.  Below I will only detail the cherry additions, kegging date, and the tasting notes.

Whiskey Barrel Aged Flanders Style Red With Cherries

Notes

07.07.16 — Red cherries added to Flanders Style Red (6 LBS — one pound per gallon)

08.30.16 — Kegged beer and began force carbonating for approximately 2.5 volumes CO2

cherry-flandersTasting Notes — 11.12.16 (poured off tap)

Gorgeous deep burgundy color with a moderate pink-white head which dissipates quickly and laces thin.  Aromas of cherry preserves, oak and whiskey.  The cherries are certainly present, but they meld fantastically on the palate.  Juicy-ripe stone fruit note in the middle followed by a sharp lactic acidity.  Drying oak tannin with hints of vanilla, earthy fruit pit, and barrel char follow.  Finishes with a clean and strong lactic sourness, no vinegar notes detected.  Woody notes linger.

Calculated OG: 1.076
Calculated FG: 1.000
Approx. ABV: 9.99%

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Wild Blackberry Sour Ale

Blackberry Flanders 01This beer’s story began almost two years ago, brewed on 06.12.14 (detailed here: Barrel Project #02).  I took a five gallon portion of that beer and aged it longer still, on 4 LBS, 12.6 OZ of blackberries (mostly wild berries I foraged) and 12.3 OZ of raspberries (store bought, fresh) for the final two months.  Now after nearly 6 months in the bottle, this beer has just hit its stride; it is my favorite beer that I’ve made.

This beer earned me and Gregory a bronze medal in the Specialty Beer category at a local homebrew competition (the new sour categories had not yet gone into effect), and received a score of 41 (excellent) in the Mixed Fermentation category at this year’s annual AHA (American Homebrewers Association) sponsored National Homebrewer’s Competition.

The actual brewing process and recipe can be found in the linked post above.  Below I will only detail the berry additions and bottling date.  However, as usual, the tasting notes will follow those details.

Foraged BlackberriesWild Blackberry Sour Ale

Notes

08.16.15 — After a couple separate additions, a couple days apart, all fruit added to Flanders Style Red (4 LBS, 12.6 OZ blackberries, 12.3 OZ raspberries)

10.19.15 — Bottled beer with champagne yeast & corn sugar for approximately 2.5 volumes CO2

Blackberry Flanders 02Tasting Notes — 04.14.16 (Bottle Pour)

Gorgeous burgundy color with an off-white head which dissipates quickly and laces thin.  Aromas of jammy blackberry, raspberry, and cherry with background notes of wood and acidity.  The berries dominate the palate, followed by some drying oak tannin in the middle with a hint of vanilla and barrel char.  Finishes with a clean and strong lactic sourness, no vinegar notes detected.

Barrel Project #02 — Flanders Style Red

Flanders BatchesJust about a year after it was brewed, our Westland Distillery whiskey barrel aged Flanders Style Red has been removed from the barrel and is tasting wonderful.  This project saw four brewers collaborating on the recipe and brewing approximately fifteen gallons of beer each; we then blended them all into the barrel, souring it with White Labs Flemish Ale Blend WLP665, Wyeast Roeselare Blend 3763, and select bottle dregs from our favorite unpasteurized commercial sours.  We decided to do a couple of batches with a Belgian yeast strain and I included White Labs California V WLP051 in two of my batches.

Before this beer, we did a clean stout in the barrel (see Merry Christmas, It’s Endless Stout) to knock down the whiskey flavors from the freshly dumped barrel.  It worked well as there is now a pleasant hint of whiskey on the nose and far in the background on the palate of the red, lending some subtle nuance and depth.

Gregory and I have two kegs going of the straight Flanders Style Red and plan to put the remainder of our share onto different fruits, spices, and hops.  We’ll bottle condition some of these and keg the rest and I will make a new post detailing the variants as they happen.  I also saved some of the non-barrel aged portion of this sour and blended it with a funky pale ale that I will discuss in a forthcoming post.

This beer turned out great and I am very proud of it!

Flanders BarrelBarrel Project #02 — Flanders

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 15.75
Anticipated OG: 1.076
Anticipated SRM: 16.0
Anticipated IBU: 10.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

57% – 9.00 Lbs. US Vienna
19% – 3.00 Lbs. Pilsner
06% – 1.00 Lbs. Flaked Oats
04% — 0.75 Lbs. Special B
04% — 0.75 Lbs. CaraMunich
04% — 0.75 Lbs. Aromatic
03% — 0.50 Lbs. White Wheat

Hops

0.40 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 13.0% AA) @ 30 min.

Extras

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast

White Labs WLP051 – California V Ale Yeast
White Labs WLP665 – Flemish Ale Blend
Wyeast 3763 – Roeselare Blend
Bottle Dregs

Water Profile

Seattle
0.20 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.30 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 60 min @ 154F

Notes

06.10.14 — Made a 1L starter with 1 White Labs WLP051 California V Ale vial.  Brewtoad suggests 285 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed on 06.12.14 / 06.13.14 / 06.26.14

06.12.14 — Chilled wort to 60F and pitched the California V Ale Yeast and the Flemish Ale Blend

06.15.14 — Signs of fermentation activity

06.26.14 / 06.27.14 / 07.10.14 — Transferred batches to secondary after two week primaries each

07.21.14 — Transferred everyone’s batches to the barrel

06.08.15 — Transferred beer to kegs and carboys for further experimentation

7.07.16 — Added 6 Lbs. Red Cherries to Flanders #1 (Whiskey Barrel Aged Flanders Style Red with Cherries)

07.31.16 — Added 13 Lbs. hand foraged Blackberries to Flanders #2 (Second blackberry version — see Wild Blackberry Sour Ale for the first)

08.30.16 — Kegged Cherry Flanders — FG: 1.000 / 9.99%

 08.30.16 — Added 1 gal. Cherry Flanders to #2 and kegged sometime in October ’16
 Tasting Notes (Regular Version, bottle pour)

Along with the mild whiskey character, this beer exhibits the classic fruity Flanders Red notes of black cherry and orange with some mild vanilla peaking through.  Firm lactic sourness with just the right amount of acetic acid to balance, reminiscent of balsamic vinegar.  Very slight brettanomyces funk on the nose.  Beautiful red-brown color and clarity.

Calculated OG: 1.080
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 7.9%

Calculated OG: 1.076
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 7.3%

Calculated OG: 1.072
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 6.8%

Merry Christmas, It’s Endless Stout!

Barrel 04Way back in late January of 2014 Gregory, our co-worker Matt, and I brewed an American Stout of moderate strength to be aged in a used whiskey barrel from local distillery Westland Distillery.  Each of us brewed roughly 18 gallons of beer to fill the 53 gallon barrel and each of us decided to create different versions of the brew after it was done barrel aging.  Nearly a year later, I have finally finished with my fourth and final version of the stout which is a soured version.  This post will review all four of my interpretations and I’ll post the original base recipe that spent approximately 5.5 months in the barrel.

First, we’ll start with the regular old whiskey barrel aged American Stout: we all agreed on a base beer recipe and tweaked it slightly with each subsequent brewing based on our results.  Disappointed with efficiency on some of the batches, our final batch incorporated some DME in order to boost the gravity of the overall brew.  The end result was a beer between 6% – 6.5% ABV that was a little overwhelmed by the boozy notes and the wood tannins that the remaining whiskey and barrel imparted.

Feeling that this framework would be able to take on some other flavors which might wed well with the barrel characteristics, I decided on my next two renditions simultaneously.

My second version saw strong cold-brewed lavender coffee, and Madagascar vanilla beans added to the base beer.  The lavender coffee was purchased from Pelindaba Lavender on Friday Harbor and was added at bottling, whereas the vanilla beans were found at Metropolitan Market and were used as a week long “dry-hop” prior to packaging.  This version turned out the best in my opinion and has been dubbed The Friday Harbourbon Barrel Aged Stout.

The third adaptation I made saw pie cherries, organic cacao nibs, and Madagascar vanilla beans added to the base beer.  I pasteurized the cherries the same way I did for The Cherry Ghost and the beer sat on all of these ingredients for two extra weeks before bottling.  The cherries are the most prevalent flavor component and they add a slight tartness to the beer without turning it into a true sour ale.

The fourth and final version is a soured version that I just bottled on December 17th 2014.  This rendition was kind of an afterthought as we had about 5 gallons of stout left over from our last barrel top-off batch.  It was just sitting in a carboy when Gregory, Matt, Derek (another friend and co-worker), & I decided to brew a Flanders Red Ale to age next in the whiskey barrel.  After the first of those batches was complete, I added the yeast cake from the Flanders Red Ale which utilized Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Blend and let it undergo a long secondary fermentation in which I also added the bottle dregs from Girardin Gueuze 1882, and the yeast cake from an English Mild that Gregory and I fermented with Wyeast 1318 London Ale III & White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii.  The resulting beer has a moderate tartness and a pleasant funkiness; I’ll elaborate more once it has carbonated and can be properly tasted.

Here is the recipe for my last edition of the base beer:

Roesalare StoutWestland Distillery Whiskey Barrel Aged American Stout

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.76
Anticipated OG: 1.069
Anticipated SRM: 43.0
Anticipated IBU: 31.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain

74% – 10.31 Lbs. Marris Otter Pale (UK)
05% – 0.75 Lbs. Flaked Rye
05% – 0.75 Lbs. Golden Naked Oats (UK)
04% – 0.60 Lbs. Midnight Wheat
03% – 0.45 Lbs. Crystal 70L
02% – 0.30 Lbs. Black Patent
02% – 0.30 Lbs. Chocolate Rye
02% – 0.30 Lbs. Chocolate Wheat

Hops

0.50 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 15.0% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 0z. Perle (Pellet, 7.8% AA) @ 15 min.

Extras

1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast

Ferementis Safale US-05

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion  – 60 min @ 156F

Notes

Brewed 02.17.14

02.17.14 – Chilled wort to 65F before pitching rehydrated yeast.

02.19.14 –  Vigorous fermentation, temperature holding steady @ 60-65F.

03.03.14 – Transferred to whiskey barrel for conditioning.

07.21.14 – Transferred stout out of barrel and began different renditions.

Tasting Notes

Regular version: Lots of whiskey flavor on the front end that tends to mask the base beer; finishes dry with some noticeable wood tannins from the barrel.  This beer has mellowed over time with the whiskey flavor blending better with the base beer; still lots of barrel character but hints of bittersweet chocolate and cola have asserted themselves.

Lavender Coffee Vanilla Bean version: Although lavender coffee was used, the lavender notes are subtle while the roast from the coffee is bold.  It has aged well and the flavors meld into the whiskey character nicely.  Very subtle hints of vanilla on the drying finish.  Drinks better now (7 months later) than it did when first bottled.

Cherry Chocolate Vanilla Bean version: This one tends to come off as more sweet than the other versions.  Its viscous and mouth-coating with the cherries lending a slight tang to the finish.  The chocolate flavors from the cacao nibs are subdued; its slightly nutty.  Vanilla could be more apparent.

Sour version (non-barrel aged): This turned out rather well for the afterthought experiment that it was.  There’s lots of body and sweetness to this one which could be from the top off batch containing all of the DME we used (which would mean it wasn’t converted properly) which I rather like since it becomes fairly sour on the finish.  It has notes of tropical fruit and some restrained funk on the finish.

Calculated OG: 1.060
Calculated FG: 1.015
Approx. ABV: 5.9%

Kaberne Fran Sour Pale Ale

Cab Franc SourIn late September Gregory and I started talking about doing a new sour ale.  Based on the success of his Chenin Blanc grape sour pale and with the annual Mountain Homebrew & Wine Supply grape crush on the horizon, we started discussing brewing a sour to showcase a red wine grape.  Lately I have been gravitating toward the firm tannins and notes of leather, tobacco, pepper and earth found in many French and American Cabernet Francs (if you stumble upon a bottle of Watermill’s 2010 Cab Franc snatch it up, it’s impeccable).  It may come as a surprise to those who know me well (since I’m usually imbibing a beer of some style), but I am also a fan of great wine and worked intensively around Italian wine for three years shortly after I moved to Seattle.  So with little deliberation, we put in our order for 25 Lbs. of eastern Washington Cabernet Franc grapes.

We split the grapes in half and used 12-13 Lbs. in the creation of this sour and we used the remaining grapes in our Kaberne Fran Rye Saison.  This beer is almost two months into an approximately year long process, so check back as I will be updating this post periodically and documenting the progress.  Below is our recipe and process:

Cab Franc GrapesKaberne Fran Sour Pale Ale

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.75
Anticipated OG: 1.069
Anticipated SRM: 4.0
Anticipated IBU: 14.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

80% – 11.0 Lbs. Belgian 2-Row Pilsner
07% – 1.0 Lbs. U.S. Vienna
05% – .75 Lbs. U.S. Munich – Dark 20L
07% – 1.0 Lbs. U.S. Wheat

Hops

0.35 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 13.0% AA) @ 90 min.

Extras

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
12.50 Lbs. Cabernet Franc grapes

Yeast

Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Ale Blend (starter)
Yeast cake from homebrew Framboise (Roeselare + The Lost Abbey Red Poppy bottle dregs)
The Ale Apothecary Rum Barrel & White Peach La Tache bottle dregs

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 60 min @ 155F

Notes

09.29.14 – Made a stir-plate 2L starter with 1 Wyeast 3763 smack pack.  Brewtoad suggests 260 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed 10.01.14 with Gregory

10.01.14 – Chilled wort to 65F before pitching yeast starter.

10.03.14 –  Steady fermentation and holding steady at 63-65F.

10.18.14 — Transferred to secondary fermentor and added yeast cake from Gregory’s Framboise.

11.19.14 — After 32 days in secondary on the grapes, we transferred to a tertiary fermentor and added the bottle dregs from The Ale Apothecary’s Rum Barrel & White Peach La Tache.

04.??.15 — At some point in April 2015 we pulled a sample and noticed some diacetyl notes present so we pitched the brett slurry from a funky pale ale we brewed with The Yeast Bay’s Funktown Pale blend with the hopes that the brett would clean up the beer.

02.11.16 — Sampled from carboy and happy to note that the brett devoured the diacetyl.  Very sour and big acidity.  Grape juice and cherry notes.  Took final gravity reading, transferred to bottling bucket, added champagne yeast and corn sugar for 2.2 volumes of CO2 and bottled the entire batch.

Tasting Notes — 02.18.17 (bottle pour)

Lovely burnished red-orange color and well clarified.  Perfect spritz of carbonation with a white head that dissipates quickly.  Great horse blanket-funk brettanomyces esters dominate the nose with hints of straw, red fruit, and tobacco in the background.  No diacetyl detected.  Deep red grape juice and cherry notes on the front of the palate with a hint of alcohol.  Delicious, assertive black pepper flavor from the Cab Franc grapes in the middle with a round, velvety acidity and gripping tannins bringing this beer to a drying, leathery finish.  Moderate brettanomyces funk melds with notes of oranges and firm lactic acid tartness akin to citric acid which lingers and dries out with delicate notes of booze.  Very red wine-like!

Calculated OG: 1.074
Calculated FG: 1.006
Approx. ABV: 8.9%