What happens in a barrel? Generally speaking, the beers we fill barrels with are already finished with their primary fermentations. This means that the yeast has gone about its usual business in one of our conical fermentors, and instead of being packaged in a bottle or keg, we transfer the beer into a barrel. Here it sits for months, sometimes years, and takes on a completely new profile. At Adelbert’s, we utilize different types of barrels for different beers.
We have friends at Treaty Oak Distilling Co., who have been kind enough to share their spent barrels with us. We’ve aged Philosophizer, our Saison, in Gin barrels, our Tripel in Rum barrels, and our seasonal stout, Barrel of Love in bourbon barrels. These beers sit for around six months, absorbing the flavors of the spirit, along with notes of oak.
Red wine barrels
In the barrel, “bugs,” or the bacterias Pediococcus and Lactobacillus slowly work their way into the beer, giving it tart, sour notes. A rampant type of yeast called Brettanomyces also makes its way into the beer, sometimes metabolizing even sugars from the barrel itself. As it tears through fermentables, it also produces a range of flavors, sometimes reminiscent of a barnyard, or horse-blanket. In the wine world, people do what they can to avoid these “bugs,” but we do what we can to make them feel welcome. By brewing beers with lower IBUs, we can cultivate environments for these bugs to flourish and thrive.
We have conducted a few spontaneous fermentations as well. This means we take fresh wort, and instead of pitching yeast into it, we let it sit out overnight in a barrel, then close it up for two years. Over the two years, the wild yeasts from the air and barrel slowly grow into colonies and ferment the beer. The result is a plethora of flavors, a wild beer. Where the average beer is a showcase of one or two strains of yeast, these wild beers can have far more yeasts and bacterias at play.
Barrels are an old tradition. Beers were fermented in barrels long before stainless steel fermenters were around, and they remain because they offer flavors and a
mysticism that can’t be achieved any other way. In a sense, barrels are both a thing of the past and of the future, and at Adelbert’s we’re thrilled to use them in the present.
February 20, 2014 – AUSTIN – Adelbert’s Brewery, a Belgian-style brewery based in Austin, Texas, is excited to announce the release of its newest special release. Vintage Nun, a wit aged in red wine oak barrels for two years, will begin to hit shelves in late February.
This year’s Vintage Nun is a blend of Adelbert’s Naked Nun wit, which spent two years aging in red wine oak barrels. A portion of the barrels were spontaneously fermented. The result is a tart, well balanced, refreshing ale, with notes of oak, red wine, unique barrel funk, and citrus fruit.
“I love the complexity of flavors that develops when we let our beers age in barrels,” said Scott Hovey, Adelbert’s Founder and Brewmaster. “This batch is particularly special because it is a blend of spontaneously fermented beers and some of the oldest beers we’ve brewed.”
Vintage Nun will begin distribution throughout Texas the last week of February. A few kegs will also make it to New York where the brewery is re-launching distribution in March.
The brewery recommends pairing it with salty or herbed cheeses, smoked meats, and fruit. It is best enjoyed slightly chilled; not ice cold.
About Adelbert’s Brewery:
Based in Austin, Texas, Adelbert’s Brewery is committed to brewing Belgian-style, bottle-conditioned ales for people to seek, savor, and share with others. Adelbert’s uses Bohemian old-world floor malted barley, low alpha Noble Czech hops, fresh yeast propagated at the brewery, and a multi-temperature decoction mash technique. The brewery believes quality beers require quality ingredients and a painstaking attention to detail throughout the brewing process.
Brewery visitors are frequently asking what makes a Belgian-style beer a Belgian-style beer. We think the answer is simple: it’s in the yeast.
Belgian yeasts are ale yeasts, (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), that generally leave beers dry, with lots of phenols and esters. Phenols and esters are chemical compounds that give the beer a complex bouquet of flavors, often fruity, spicy, and/or earthy. Most phenols and esters are produced during fermentation, while the yeast is metabolizing the sugars in the beer. Fermentation temperatures have a large impact on the intensity and diversity of phenols and esters, and that’s where good brewers are separated from great brewers. Belgian yeasts are dynamic, and require constant attention, like babies.
At Adelbert’s we use three yeast blends to make all of our beers:
Trappist–Tripel B, Flyin’ Monks, Dancin’ Monks, Black Rhino
Ardennes–Scratchin’ Hippo, Travelin’ Man
Wit/Saison blend–Naked Nun, Philosophizer
The Trappist yeast puts off a massive range of fruity flavors, and is pretty difficult to work with because the yeast stays in suspension longer than other strains, which clouds the beer. Because our beers are not filtered or centrifuged, we let them sit in the tanks longer than most other breweries. This allows most of the yeast to settle out at the bottom of the fermenter; however, some stays in the beer, which adds flavor, and helps with bottle conditioning.
The Wit/Saison blend brings forward notes of spices, with a mild tartness.
The Ardennes is the cleanest of the three, and probably the least recognizable because it tends to play up the flavors of the malt and hops more than it introduces flavors of its own. In the Travelin’ Man, the yeast pushes the floral side of the hops, cutting some of the bitterness without neutralizing the hop character completely. In Scratching hippo, it plays up the malt profile.
We take very good care of our yeast, and often use a strain for many generations before having to refresh with a new pitch. When a beer is finished with its primary fermentation, we pull yeast from the bottom of the conical fermenter, and put it into our propagator, where fresh wort is introduced, and the yeast colony is grown to be pitched into a fresh batch the following day.
Our beers are proof that if you take care of yeast, it will take good care of you.
January 22, 2015 – AUSTIN – Adelbert’s Brewery is excited to announce the release of Tripel Treat, a rum barrel aged tripel. Tripel Treat is the newest beer in our Vintage Series, a line of beers aged in barrels. To date, we have aged our ales in wine, whiskey, gin and now, rum barrels.
Tripel Treat is an 11.7% barrel aged beer, made by aging Adelbert’s Tripel B in Treaty Oak’s Barrel Reserve Rum barrels. This ale has an exquisite balance of warming rum notes, soft coconut and smooth oak, with a surprisingly fruity nose.
“I enjoy working with Treaty Oak’s barrels to make new and innovative combinations of barrel aged beers. In some ways, bourbon barrel aging has been overdone, so it’s nice to offer something unique to consumers,” Scott Hovey, Founder of Adelbert’s Brewery stated. “We were excited to find that the Rum barrels really made the vanilla notes pop in ways that other barrels don’t. This beer has a complexity you’ll want to explore.”
Tripel Treat will hit the market in the last week of January. Approximately 110 cases will be distributed throughout Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. In light of the limited supply, the brewery will be posting a list of accounts receiving Tripel Treat on their social media as it is delivered to each market. The brewery hopes to release future batches of Tripel Treat.
About Adelbert’s Brewery:
Based in Austin, Texas, Adelbert’s Brewery is committed to brewing Belgian-style, bottle-conditioned ales for people to seek, savor, and share with others. Adelbert’s uses Bohemian old-world floor malted barley, low alpha Noble Czech hops, fresh yeast propagated at the brewery, and a multi-temperature decoction mash technique. The brewery believes quality beers require quality ingredients and a painstaking attention to detail throughout the brewing process. Visit www.adelbertsbeer.com to learn more.
To stay up to date on brewery information, connect with them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/adelbertsbeer or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adelbertsbeer.