Friday, March 15, 2013

Rum Barrel Aged Quad Tasting


This "American" quad was the first of the four clean barrel-aged beers I brewed during September and October 2012. It spent three weeks in a 5 gallon (20L actually) American oak barrel that previously held Balcones Rumble ("Made from the finest local wildflower honey, mission figs, turbinado sugar and natural Texas Hill Country spring water."). The pairing of those flavors with the caramelized dark fruitiness of a strong Belgian style beer was too obvious to pass over.

Rumble Barrel-Aged Quad.Rumble Barrel Quad

Appearance – Darker than a standard quad, downright porter-esque. The D-180 candi syrup added more color than I expected, I could easily drop the .6% Carafa Special II from a rebrew. The dense tan head displays terrific retention.

Smell – Lots going on in the nose. Dark and dried fruits especially, but some brighter banana bread notes too. There are lightly boozy barrel-character supporting the aromas of the candi syrup and dark caramel malt. As it warms rum-varietal alcohol emerges and the nose takes a savory turn, ever so faint tomato paste.

Taste – The flavor leads with sweet caramel, toasted grain, raisins, and figs. Despite the color, it doesn’t taste like a Belgian interpretation of a porter or stout. The oak lends vanilla, light coconut, and damp wood to the finish. Amazing what the beer picked up in just three weeks of barrel-aging. The alcohol is still slightly hot, it’ll benefit from at least another six months in the bottle.

Mouthfeel – Solid mildly prickly carbonation buoys the slightly sticky body. Slight tannins from the oak prevent the stickiness from being cloying. Feels substantial compared to many native Belgian beers.

Drinkability & Notes – Certainly not a session beer, but the sweetness does a good job balancing the barrel character. This is one of those strong beers that is “worth” the high alcohol, there are no 5% ABV beers that taste like this. I wish I’d brewed enough of the base beer to bottle a six-pack without time spent in the barrel to compare. The match is almost too good, making it hard to determine where the various flavors originate. Thanks again to Balcones for sending the Rumble barrel to me. They’ve got a variety of beers (including this one) on the way to them as I type!

10 comments:

D-Form said...

This sounds delicious. Someone brought a RIS aged in a rum barrel for a couple months to our last club meeting and it was super tasty. It tasted like a dark chocolate raisinet.

Any recs for beer related activities in or around Bethesda? I'll be in town for a week next month.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds delicious! Sadly the Belgian yeast from this batch took over the second beer I aged in the barrel, a spiced imperial oatmeal porter.

Not a huge amount of great beer places in Bethesda. The Rock Bottom is decent, they do lots of casks. Your probably better off hopping on the Red line and coming down to Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle, or going to ChurchKey. There is a decent beer store in Chevy Chase (Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits), just south of the Maryland line too. Good luck!

Unknown said...

Does Balcones sell their barrels after use?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yes, their barrels are occasionally available from homebrew stores. Not sure the most reliable place to grab one at the moment though.

John Phelan said...

Tried looking but couldn't find it- where'd you get those barrels from again? Looks awesome, keep up the good work!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

One of the distillers is a homebrewer and fan of the blog. He offered to send me the barrels in exchange for some samples of whatever I aged in it. Farmhouse Brewing Supply has small rum, brandy, and whiskey barrels from a distillery in Wisconsin at the moment.

Reverse Apache Master said...

I believe Balcones normally only sells the barrels by the pallet. I think I have seen a homebrew shop or two selling the barrels but I see a lot clubs organizing purchases by the pallet for members.

Keenan Blum said...

A friend and I aged a Belgian Dark Strong in my Rumble Barrel. The flavor combination was simpy too obvious to resist. Took second place in the Boston Homebrew Competition in the wood aged beers catagory, despite being only a couple months old. These small barrels are a promising way for homebrewers to turn out unique beer in easy to brew quantities.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Congrats! I may toss mine into the Spirit of Free Beer competition. I usually skip it because NHC is right before, but that won't be a conflict this year...

Andrei Zmievski said...

I put a Strong Scotch Ale into my Balcones rum barrel, thinking of complimentary flavors as well, and the beer just placed 2nd I'm wood aged category at World Cup of Beer comp. Too bad that you need to re-fill it pretty much right away—I let it go to too long and the barrel dried out.

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