I’m not sure if it is the teaching, the brewing, or just “grown up” instinct, but I’ve become accustomed to hearing loud noises and running directly toward the sound. This reaction has proved to be tremendously valuable . Last week I saved my clothes from a growler that felt like becoming a bottle bomb in my closet. While today, I was lucky enough to be in front of my computer when my recently inoculated (Roeselare Blend from Wyeast) and filled cask started going off like a second grade science project. This makes sense, but I’m surprised at the force that the beer was coming out with. If you have ever taped a keg of beer, without realizing that the tap was not connected to the disconnect, that’s the pressure I’m talking about. Cask volcano will now be the artwork for this beer! I fixed the problem by using some duct tape to barely hold the cork in place (I don’t have an airlock that will fit) emptying out some of the beer and putting the whole cask in a styrofoam cooler. BTW, friends that order Omaha Steaks are great to know if you’re a homebrewer.
One of the most fantastic rewards of having casks to play with is the ability to make sour beers. A cask is the perfect vessel to keep micro organism cultures happy. There is always a little oxygen sneaking into casks and our friends Lactobacillus and Peddiococcus love that. In many ways, preventing them from developing in casks can be an exercise in futility, but I am taking steps in three casks (Scotch Casks, Blaton’s Bourbon cask, and Evan Williams bourbon cask) which will be a future post. One of my casks, the rye cask, has been giving off some winey characteristics in the beers aging and I felt like it was about time to push this one over the edge.
A while back, I made a beer based off of a Westvelren 12 Quad. I have 5 gallons currently lagering for eternity… planning on waiting until December (12 months old) to pull it out at taste it. I also had 1.5 extra gallons of the base quad that was fermented separately from the other 5 gallons using Chardonnay yeast. Both beers clock in around 11.5 % ABV. I wasn’t planning on souring this beer, but i am finished looking at this beer sitting, I MADE IT TO EXPERIMENT DAMMIT!
The next part of this cask souring experience comes from an endeavor that was way to long in the making. The Homemade wine, Pony Vino, that my room-mate Tom and I made about a year ago was finally bottled a few weeks ago. The wine is okay, kinda like a sweet red, but drinkable.
Unfortunately, when we bottled the wine, my math was stupid and I ran out of wine bottles with about a gallon left over…
Then my worlds came together in a fantastic moment of clarity. The wine went right into the Quad, followed with a good 3 ounces of Fantome De Noel
a splendid beer that was a gift my friend Degal gifted me.
The fermentor bubbled for two weeks before I got around to playing with the casks, so I’m counting on micro’s munching away in there. I’m planning on pitching a commercial bought micro blend within the week to throw into the cask as well.
So far, things are pretty crazy on this beer, but was I done? no way! Every summer, there is this totally awesome fig tree that grows in my neighbor’s backyard, and no one EVER picks the figs. This last summer I felt like it was a duty of mine to do something more with those lovely fruits than simply feed the birds, so I picked about a pound and froze them. I had planned to put them into the Quad when it was done fermenting, but I left in the freezer until now. I also had 2 packages of Blackberries frozen, so I just put them all together into this project.
I defrosted the fruit, cooked them for about 15 min, mushing them up the whole time, and then blended them in my blender. Once they cooled, I tossed the puree into the cask after the beer.
I think I have been reading the madfermentationist way to much lately, but I’m very excited about where this beer will go. Updates to come!
Here is an update on the beer that is sitting in my casks since 11/28/2011:
1. Scotch Cask: The nose has a roasty hint and a tart essence. The scotch/oak is really drying out the flavor profile. This is very delicate and dark. Can’t wait to bottle this, but I might leave it in cask awhile longer
2. Evan Williams Cask: a roundier sweeter scent than the scotch cask. Vanilla oak and no roastiness in the nose. The taste is a real surprise. The bourbon flavors moves this beer in a great direction. A thight tannin finish… whoa. ready to bottle!
1. Blanton’s Cask: this smells like a belgian dark sour beer, but still with a sweet backbone. The flavor is a nice smooth balanced beer. this is good, not very oaky or bourbony, just an easy beer, with a complicated flavor. a little wine finish.
2. Rye Cask: an oaky raisin nose. A bright citrus flavor, with a weird grapefruit essence. This could get a little more sour, and turn into a fantastic rodenbach type belgian. This could mean some additional micro organisms…. uhm…..
RYE CASK FOREIGN EXPORT STOUT 8% ABV on tap
APPEARANCE: Dark black with brown undertones. High level of carbonation that made a long lasting head with a very thick creamy off brown color
NOSE: Very forward dark chocolate nose, with the oaky cask scent underneath the chocolate. Real subtle marshmallow aspect
TASTE: Very malty with huge chocolate up front followed by an even bigger oak in the mid palate. The end is long, a little cloying, but very creamy and delicious. The oak lingers too long, but there is real subtle peanut butter flavor.
OVERALL: This beer could definitely use some age, but a very good beer. The oak adds a great complexity, but overpowers some of the rye aspects.