I’m excited to be included in a beer brewing adventure that will unfold over about the next year or so. My beer brewing buddies have been “rolling” this idea around for a while now.
Let me back track a bit. If you are a bourbon (a type of whiskey) distiller, you have a set of government guidelines you must follow to call your spirit bourbon. All bourbon must be aged in a virgin, White Oak, charred barrel, according to Jackie Steele of Reel Barrels, LLC. This requirement means that you can only use the barrel once. It turns out that used barrels can be used to age other spirits. You can also put aging home brewed beer in one of these barrels!
Greg Tappmeyer, one of my new home brewing friends, made the connection with Reel Barrels to procure a bourbon barrel. . Bret McGowne (featured in one of my recent stories here) is doing research on how to best proceed aging our home brew in a barrel. We’ll be using Stan Krempges’ house as “brewing central” and official keeper of the barrel while it does its thing!
The four of us and others will each be contributing our batch of beer in order to fill up the 53 gallon barrel.
Why do this? Because the beer will begin to pick up the same woody characteristics from the charred walls of the barrel. It will also be infused with some of the actual bourbon! It’s a challenge for home brewers because of the quantity of beer and because of the unique quality of a barrel. When bourbon was first aged in the barrel, distillers might only get 7-10 gallons out of the original 53! The so-called “angels share” evaporates away. The same will be true of our beer.
We’re going for an imperial stout as our first beer. Bret estimates we will get three, maybe four, batches out of this barrel before it loses its charm.