Monday, September 13, 2010
If you had eight freshly-emptied whiskey barrels, what would you do? This is the situation we found ourselves in after we packaged the Ry(e)an Ale. Sawing them in half and turning them into planters was definitely not an option, so we had to think of a new Short Batch beer. We didn’t want to do another barrel-aged version of an imperial stout but it was difficult to stop thinking of how tasty the combination of roasted malt, caramel malts, bourbon and oak is. The obvious choice was to make a Belgian-style stout.
Belgian-style stouts aren’t very different than regular imperial stouts. The most obvious difference is the choice to use a Belgian yeast strain. Our house American ale yeast leaves a pretty neutral flavor profile but Belgian strains are known for adding very particular flavor profiles from clovey, to fruity to spicy.
To accommodate the spicy flavor our Belgian strain contributes, we needed to adjust the flavor profile of the beer by dropping out some of the roasted malt character. This enables the caramel character to come forward and blend nicely with the bourbon and oak character.
The challenge was to figure out the volume of beer. Short batches are always a small portion of the full volume of our brew system. If we were just going to fill the barrels, then we’d need exactly 424 gallons of beer, which is only about 13.5 brewer’s barrels of volume and there’s no way we could make that small of a batch on our 50-barrel system. This means we get to release two versions of this beer, a barrel-aged version and a non barrel-aged version.
The non-barrel-aged version was kegged on 11 June 2010. The barrel-aged version is still aging at press time.
Malts: 2-Row, Carawheat, Munich, C-120, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Brown Malt
Hops: Magnum, Glacier
Other Ingredients: D2 Belgian Candi Syrup
Starting Extract 19° Plato
Finishing Extract 4.2° Plato