Barrel Aged Beer | Marty Nachel | Skillshare

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Barrel Aged Beer

teacher avatar Marty Nachel, Beer Me

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Barrel Aged Beer Introduction

    • 2. A Brief History of Beer in Barrels

    • 3. It Started in Chicago

    • 4. In Wood vs. On Wood

    • 5. Which Wood and Why

    • 6. A New Age in Barrel Aging

    • 7. How the Magic Happens

    • 8. It Came From the Wood

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About This Class

This course helps consumers understand the difference between aging beer "in wood" vs. aging beer "on wood", as well as the many variables that go into creating the wide spectrum of beers flavored by the character of wooden barrels that previously held other beverages.

This course is taught by professional beer judge, beer educator and the author of "Beer for Dummies" and "Homebrewing for Dummies", Marty Nachel

Meet Your Teacher

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Marty Nachel

Beer Me


* Author, "Beer for Dummies", "Homebrewing for Dummies"

* Beer Education Director for Tapville Social 

* Advisory Board member and adjunct instructor, College of DuPage (IL) "Business of Craft Beer" certificate program

* Professional International Beer Judge- Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup, Festival of Barrel Aged Beers, Copa Cerveza de Americas 

* Draught Master and former trainer for the Heineken brand



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1. Barrel Aged Beer Introduction: Hello and welcome to barrel aged, dear of your instructor for this course, my name is Marty Natural. I'm the author of Beer for Dummies and Home Ruin for Dummies have been a beer instructor for over 20 years. I'm a regular beer judge at Festival of Barrel aged beer here in Chicago area. And I was one of the early adapters to I start aging beer on wood back in the late 19 eighties for the project in this course, since the real pleasure of experiencing would age beers tasting it, of course, project is simply to seek out and try. At least three different beer styles that were aged in barrels have previously held three different distance or wines, namely rum, tequila, Madeira, sherry, etcetera. Most of the beers that are currently barrel aged. They typically tend to be, uh, something on the order of an imperial stout, something usually very dark. I'm suggesting that you look a little bit outside the box and explore barley wines or old ales or quadruples or something like that, and also ah, the vast majority of beers seem to be aged in bourbon barrels. This is nothing wrong with that, but I'm simply trying to get you to try something new and different. Find a beer beer style that may have been aged in a room barrel in a gin barrel in a red or white wine barrel. Something like that's something altogether different, so you could experience the spectrum or flavors that are to be had. And if you are a home brew, of course, consider aging one of your beers in or on wood, and we will discuss those terms in Iran would in greater detail later on in this course. But for now, that brings us to the end of the introduction. Be sure and come back for part one when we talk about a brief history of beer in barrels Cheers. 2. A Brief History of Beer in Barrels: Hello and welcome back to barrel aged beer. This is part one were to take a look at a brief history of beer in barrels. It was just a century and 1/2 ago that all beer was being aged in wooden barrels. In fact, beer was fermented, aged, transported and served from wooden bats and barrel. We know that wooden barrels replaced earthenware drugs in Ampara several millennia ago. Thousands of years. We know this. We know the wooden barrels with a primary beverage container being used worldwide for hundreds of years, and we know that wooden barrels were replaced by aluminum, stainless steel and plastics just within the last century. A real difference between how things were then and how things are now is that the wooden barrels that were used to hold liquids were typically lined with pitch to seal holes and gaps in the wood. For those of you not familiar with the term pitch is a sticky resin that is derived from pain. Trees pitch also form a thin barrier between the liquid and the barrel, so the beer never came in contact with wood. Unlike as is being done today, we'll take a closer look at that in an upcoming segment, but for now, that brings us to the end of part one. Be sure and come back for Part two. It started in Chicago. Cheers. 3. It Started in Chicago: hello and welcome back to barrel aged beer. We're now in part two. I call this It started in Chicago. We know that modern barrel aging dates back to about the mid 19 nineties. Most fingers point to Greg Hall, the brewmaster at Goose Island Brewing Company in Chicago. This is when he decided to, uh, he created a 1000 batch of beer that's Chicago's Goose Island Group, and he wanted to do something special. He started with the An Imperial Stout, and he decided that after a conversation with a distiller from Kentucky that he would use some bourbon barrels to age this beer in. And according to modern history, that's where this all began. This is all very well detailed in the book called Barrel Aged Out and Selling Out You, author of the book is Josh Knoll, and he is a beer columnist for the Chicago Tribune. So he had pretty much headache, uh, front row seat or all of what was going on in the beer world here in Chicago, and he documented it very well. Within his book, however, Greg Hall was not alone in his experimentation with beer in barrels. It was also a brewer by the name of Todd Ashman. He worked at a brewery called Class More Station, which is in one of Chicago Southern suburbs. Uh, you might recognize Todd's name from a different brewery. He has. I've been going from the Chicago area for at least a decade or more. Now he is currently brewing Eclipse Imperial Stout, a very highly regarded beer. It is barrel aged, that 50 50 brewing company in Trucking, California. Now it's interesting because tied himself will tell you that when he was still a glass more station, that he was working closely with some local home brewers and, in fact, that those sorts of stories are being told throughout Chicago. They were at the time. We know for a fact that Chicago area home bring clubs were also experimenting with wood aging back in the early 19 nineties. And I know this to be effect because I was not only one of those homebrewers you see there , there's the Chicago Beer Society, the brewers of South suburbia and the homebrewers pride of the South Side. Those are three, uh, main and long existing homebrew clubs in the Chicago area. I was a member of both describe a beer society and brewers of saw suburbia back in the late eighties and early nineties, and I myself was doing some experimentation with, uh, fermenting beer in and on wood. My own personal, uh, inspiration was this beer called Valentine's India Pale Ale. Back in the late eighties, this was probably the only beer in the American market that was actually being aged in wooden barrels, however, the difference being that these were raw oaken barrels. These were not barrels that had previously previously housed any other distillate or wine. So the beer had a a straightforward oak character, but it didn't have any other beverage character in the beer. But this is the beer that got me started down the road of experimentation with beer in and on wood. So that's a brief look into how it all started here in the Chicago area. That brings us to the end of part two. Be sure to come back for Part three when we discuss in greater detail what we mean when we talk about inward in wood versus onward, cheers 4. In Wood vs. On Wood: welcome back to barrel aged beer. We're now in Part three, where we discuss in wood versus on. Would you heard me say this a couple of times Now? It's actually pretty simple. Inwood means that the beer is being fermented and or age within a wooden barrel. Straightforward stuff on would, however, means that pieces of wood are added to a beer filled vessel during fermentation. For aging, it could be wood chips, cubes, spirals, and they could be obtained in a range of toast levels. So let's take a closer look at what all that means. A flavoring would, which is overwhelmingly of the opah. Rieti is sold in different forms. They can be very rough chips that could be very smooth and uniform cubes, or they could be spiraled. The spirals aren't inch and 1/2 to 2 inch diameter spindles that are typically 1 to 4 feet in length. They are purposely cut in spirals to maintain maximum contact with beer. When I talk about toast levels, that refers to how richly toasted would is. Brewers can order light, medium or heavy toast, depending on the flavors he wants to imbue in his beard. Now I feel that is very important, that in this segment of this course that I address this issue. If you are. If you've been in the United States, ready like the time and you watch TV or you cnni Budweiser commercials, you no doubt heard that Anheuser Busch talks about the Budweiser beer being beechwood aged . It's very clearly written on the the cans on the labels. What this means is that small rough planks of Beachwood are added to the aging vessel quote , which enhances fermentation, creating a crisper, more sparkling carbonation by my party smoothness to the characteristic taste of Budweiser . End quote. I took that directly from the baby website. It should be noted that this method does not leave any residual flavor would flavor or character in the beer. In other words, Anheuser Busch, even though they're using Beachwood for the aging process, it has absolutely nothing to do with the flavor of the Bureau of Labor aroma or overall character of the beer. It's simply creates a crisper, more sparkling carbonation in the beard, and that's it. Likewise, I feel it's also important that consumers know that when you read I didn't advertise, you were on a label that something is a barrel aged beer. It may not actually be aged in wood. There are probably a number of breweries out there. There are two showed here on screen that are known to not necessarily aged their beer in would all the time. In the case of Innocent gun, they are very clear on the website that they boast. Put the beer in the barrel and the barrel in the beer, and if you go to their website, you'll see what that means. Essentially, they are imbuing these beers with barrel aging character without actually aging the beer in the barrels, at least not in the traditional sense. So be aware that these types of beers do this. They are out there, and they are vying for your money as much as any other half boor making barely here. So that brings us to the end of part three. Be sure to come back or park, or which would and why. Cheers 5. Which Wood and Why: welcome back to barrel aged would were now in part for which would and why we're gonna take a look at why oak is the primary type of wood, the species of wood used for barrel making. While it's been long established, oak is a species of preference for barrel making. There are many reasons number one oak is very durable, and that's important when you're gonna be using wooden barrels for perhaps years and years . Focus certainly not as porous as many other wood species, although it is porous to a certain degree and will investigate that in enough having segment as well. We know for sure that Okun views beer and wine and whisky with pleasant and desirable flavors. And oak is abundant in Europe and North America, where just so happens that most of the world's best wines, whiskies and beers happen to be made. American white Oak is considered more robust than European wayto, which, unless you're a bourbon maker, is not necessarily a good thing. This is because White Oak will, in part much more tannin and, uh, the okey character than European white oak, which is a little bit softer on the palate on the other hand, French Limousin oak, is considered top of the line. By most winemakers. However, oak is nothing on Lee would species used lately brewers from around the world, especially those in the Southern Hemisphere. They have been doing some experimentation with other woods. One such would, which has come on rather recently, is called Marana. It's a fragrant, spicy, wood found Golden Horse of Latin America. This indigenous would produces a mix of warm and savory notes. Another one is Palo Santo, this spicy and pungent Paraguayan Holywood with notes of caramel and vanilla. It's used in South America, winemaking, many centuries, and most recently there's another would from Africa. It's called a joke. Wood has subtle flavors described as being spicy and really reminiscent of waffle cone. So interesting concept, that's, Ah, brewers are not being limited to oak, but they're now doing some experimentation with other woods. And I imagine that even though I have three others listed here, there will be many more in the future. Stay tuned. That brings us to the end of part. Or be sure and come back for part by when we talk about a new age in barrel aging Cheers 6. A New Age in Barrel Aging: Welcome back to barrel aged beer. We're now in part five. We're gonna take a look at a new age in barrel aging. So what the new Age is all about? Even though beer has been aged and stored and served from barrels for many, many, many years going back centuries, what's changed is that now brewers are reusing barrels. It were previously used to house a different beverage, whether it was wine or something. Distill. Then you can see here on the bottom of this slide your time of bourbon, Scotch, rum, gin, tequila read award wine, fortified wine, distilled wine, anything that was any liquid that was housed in a barrel. That barrel can now be used by a brewer to infuse his or her beers with something new and interesting. But before a brewer approaches the concept of putting something into a barrel, it is in their best interest to consider these different variables. Number one. What kind of barrel will be used? Do they already have the barrel at the brewery? Did it house wine did hold run or cognac or whiskey? Or can they go out and search for one specific to their needs? Then they have to think about what will the base beer style being when they brew? This beard is going into the barrel they have to consider. Will the characteristics of that style match well with the characteristics of whatever beverage was previously in the barrel? So would it be a porter, a stout, something darker? Would it be a barleywine something even later? And more? Paley, Um, and I Finally, when the beer is considered done, will it be served straight? Or will it be blended when we say straight? That means, let's say, a brewer has one single barrel of in particular beer that was aged out for weeks or months . Whatever the case may be, and they serve it basically, as is the idea. Blended, of course, would be taking two straight barrels and mixing them together to create an all new flavor or characteristic. So the brewer typically knows in advance whether they are whether or not they want this beer to be served straight or to be blended. And the vast majority of instances these beers are blended, and this is one way that brewers can protect themselves and their investment. Take a look at that lending is a very important technique used by brewers. When they're making barrel age beers, they could suffer in the rough edges of some beers while brightening the flavors of others , depending on how young or how old the beer is or what is too acidic. One is not aged out enough. They can use different beers from different barrels mixed together in different proportions to create the final product, as they envisioned when they first brood. The beers blending is an extremely important method or technique used by brewers these days , and I want to give you an example of this. I'm showing this graphic. This was a place met used at the 30th anniversary, tasting back in, uh, 2000 and 14. It was a party that I was fortunate enough to attend. And this was basically a vertical tasting of all the barrel aged products that Samuel Adams of the Boston Beer Company had created. Starting in 1994 with the triple box, you can see in the lower left hand corner, it was a 94 triple Bock 99 millennium 2002 utopias. Mm. I, which was, uh, more recent addition of Millennium and then in 03 was the really the original Utopias. He went through a five or 79 11. It was always made every other year until we got 2012. This was a special anniversary batch of utopias, and then they followed up with the typical, uh, biannual 2013 utopias. Now I'm showing you this because I'm moving on to the next slide. We're taking a close up look at the 2012 anniversary batch in the 2013 Utopias, which at the time of the party were the two newest members of Utopias family. And I want to call your attention to the fact that they used different barrels and a lot of blending here. If you take a look at both the 2012 2013 under aging barrels, you see that both of them were aged in Buffalo. Trace bourbon barrels now changes up a little bit. When you go look at the finishing barrels for buttons, beers. Let's take a look at the 2013. The finishing barrels were a vintage in a room report, so there you see two different barrels that were eventually blended to make a 2013 13 utopias switching back to the 2012 anniversary batch, you could see the finishing barrels included a tawny port, a vintage room report from Portugal as well as a rum barrel from Nicaragua. So there you could see three more barrels being added to this mixture of blending of barrel aged product. And this gives you an idea of how much can be done when a brewer really sets out to create something new and different and exciting. And so you have a very good example of that heart in the works here. So that brings us to the end of part five. You sure to come back for part six? We're gonna be talking about how the magic happens. Cheers. 7. How the Magic Happens: Welcome back to barrel aged beer. We're now in parts six, and this is how the magic happens. Barrel aging beer is considered more of an art than a science, and I think most brewers would agree with that statement. Brewers can't always set a packaging date on the calendar ahead of time. Most often it's the beer that decides what it's ready. Barrel aged in wood age beers need to be tasted periodically to assess their plate flavor progression. This process could take months or even years. The larger breweries who creates produced a lot of barrel age beers Through appeared. They actually have people on staff who do nothing but taste and assess the beers on a daily and a weekly and monthly basis to make sure that they're progressing as they are expected and as intended. So this is a graphic that I was able to obtain from Goose Island Brewing Company. I'm going to break this down into segments and talk about each one individually. Let's start with extraction. These are neighbors imparted by the barrel wherever the barrels are being housed. Eventually, typically, I should say the temperature is not controlled on a regular basis. thes. These barrel storage areas are not always heated and cooled to the extent that a living space would be. So the barrels are going to experience some very warm temperatures that sometimes it's a very cool temperatures. Sometimes what happens is that when it gets warm up, the barrel will experience some expansion. When that happens, when the wood in the barrel expands, its always actually going to rather sponge in or soak up some of the liquid that's in the barrel. Likewise, or, conversely, I should say like barrel contraction happens in cold temperatures. When the temperatures go down, the barrel would contracts, and it essentially kind of spits the beer of the liquid back into the barrel, and this can happen on a daily basis. This could happen on a seasonal basis. It all depends on how much change in temperature there is from hot to cold and back again. They were going to take a quick look at the anatomy of a bourbon barrel stave. This is just one cross section of the entire barrel. What they're showing us here is that there are four different layers to that barrel state on the 1st 1 you see, that's the Charlier, the innermost portion of the state and the whole barrel, for that matter. It has been charged in the case of a bourbon barrel and that Charlier contributes smoke, chocolate and roasted coffee flavors to the beer. The next layer beyond that is probably the thickest of the entire states, a terror state that's considered the absorption layer. Flavors of tobacco, leather and tree bark come from that layer. The next layer is probably what a thinner within this, Dave, you see, it's kind of dark ribbon running through the center of the wood that would be considered the bourbon layer. Coconut, caramel, vanilla and cherry flavors are imparted by this layer in the wood, and lastly, is the exterior part of the state of the barrel. That's the raw would layer. This contributes earthy and woody flavors to the beer. I thought it was interesting to go ahead and show this actual picture. This is a barrel stave that I obtained also from Goose Island Brewing Company, and this show is pretty much exactly what we just saw in that graphic of a cross section of the state you see in the very inter portion there is the charred, uh, side of the state that's that was the one that was burn in making of the barrel. Then you see behind that you see this segment of the absorption there behind that. You'll see that thin ribbon, that dark ribbons running throughout the center of the wood that would be the bourbon layer and then behind. That, of course, is devolved would there? So it's interesting to see that this very, very closely matches the graphic in the previous slide. So when we see all this expansion and contraction on this is presumably over longer periods of times of weeks, months and possibly even years. In the case with some beers, we also experienced something else that the liquid level within the barrel is going to go down. The volume of the liquid that evaporates during agent is called the angel share value of liquid that is absorbed directly into the wood is considered the devil's cut, and together these may take away 20 to 25% of the total volume of liquid. That the brewer started out was, so they see considerable losses when they're doing long term barrel aging. When that happens, we're left with a void in the barrel that could lead to oxidation. Brewers need to take into consideration the level of oxidation that occurs while the beer is aging as veer ages in wooden barrels, the stages of the barrel absorb a portion of the beer, and that's the devil's cut we were talking about. And a further amount may evaporate over time, which could leave a void. And that was the angel shredded we talked about. Some brewers may choose to top up their barrels with more beard in order to fill the void, while others may simply fill the void with CO two. Carbon dioxide gas is heavier than air, so we will create a blanket effect on top of beer. Other brewers may choose to allow the beer to age and develop naturally and not do anything about the void in the barrel at all process of allowing minute amounts of air to seep through. The wood is a very slow and controlled oxidation, which leads to a depth of flavor that can be gained any other way. So you see that oxidation in the case of barrel aging can be a friend to the finish product , but it does need to be periodically monitored. So that brings us to the end of part six. Be sure and come back for part seven. We're gonna talk about things that come from the wood. Cheers. 8. It Came From the Wood: welcome back to barrel age beers. We are now in part seven. It came from the wood before moving on the segment. I feel it's important to make these statements. Not all barrel age beers or sour and not all sour beers are barrel aged. I say this simply because I've encountered a number of people who make incorrect assumptions about the relationship between barrel age beers and sour beers. So again, not all beer barrel age beers, air sour and not all sour beers a barrel age moving on as part of a given taking barrel. Aging brewers need to be aware that wild use and bacterias may be present in the wood of the barrels they used but are not necessarily presence. Bacteria and other microbes that take up residence in barrel would will have a notable effect on the finished product. While Houston bacteria can result in unanticipated flavors in the finished beer, some desirable, some not so much. So here we're gonna take a look at some of the microbes that exist in Vera would on the left were started with Britain. Oh, my sees. This is a yeast. It's wild yeast, but it is a use. Nonetheless, this particular use can be found in wild beers, Cezannes and other farmhouse style ales. Hold Bruin lambic and flam lenders. Reds hail from Belgium. In the middle, we see lack of Vasilis. This is a bacterium. It produces lactic acid and other flavor compounds. It is the primary acidified ire of beers such as Goes It and Berliner Vice, and it is found in the company of other bacteria in Flanders, Red and Flanders Brown beers. On the right hand side, we see PDO Caucus. This is also a bacterium. However, this is much more aggressive than Lactobacillus um, it provides lactic acid as well as di ass. It'll, which is going to give very somewhat buttery characteristics, will be aware of that. This Ah, this particular Peter carcasses found in Islamic Gu za happier sour beers because it's more hot tolerance, as well as Flanders red and Flanders brown beers. Lastly, we come to this bad boy. Aceto Backer is responsible for producing vinegar by oxidizing ethanol to acetic acid. Many beer souring organisms find oxygen or the production of alcohol during fermentation to be detrimental to their viability. In other words, certain micro organisms organisms do not like oxygen or alcohol in their presence. However, Aceto Backer actually requires oxygen in order to convert alcohol to an acetic acid. If you find a beers particularly vinegary, in all likelihood, it contains some moment of Aceto backer. And there are certain fears, such as Logic and Gustav in Flanders Red that do contained a cedar backers, along with lack of Vasilis and P, a ka kiss and perhaps even pretended mice. So there you see a round up of all the different microbes that can be found in barrel would and are helpful in producing sour beers from the wood I brings us to the end of Part seven as well as the end of the course. I hope you enjoyed it. You sure go out there and enjoy alive wonderful barrel age beers. Cheers.