As the bottling and release of our first beer gets closer, we’re taking the opportunity to taste the beer inside the barrels to see how the aging process is coming along.
Each barrel is carefully opened, and a sterilized glass whiskey thief is slipped in to retrieve a sample.
We’re looking for a few things: to see how the fruit and oak have melded with the beer, as well as checking on the condition—have any off flavors developed? Any signs of infection? What kind of characteristics has each barrel lended the brew? To our delight, all of the barrel samples were clean as a whistle with a wide range of flavor profiles. To give us additional control over the final beer, different barrels received different amounts and varieties of berries, and a couple barrels received none at all. This will give us a wider range of choices to choose from when it comes to blending, making sure we get the balance of the final product just right.
The differences between the barrels was startling. Different barrels with fruit yielded big variations in color and flavor. Some had a delicate berry aroma, while others had a mineral kick.
The fruit-free barrels yielded the most variation. Each barrel had a significantly different flavor profile, ranging from saw-dusty American oak (it’s trademark flavor) to coriander, to one which was so fruity you’d swear it had berries added to it.
Our final judgement is that the barrels are just about ready to go, and should be in ideal condition by the time our ABC license finally arrives. The only remaining question is what the exact blend of the final beer will be. Bringing these unique variations together in just the right ratio is the next step. We’re looking forward to it.