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The Next Barrel Aging Project

Well, the next James River Homebrewers barrel project is well under way. Several weeks ago a handful of us that got together at Original Gravity during the Big Brew a few weeks ago to brew a robust porter. The porter was to go into the bourbon barrel won by JRHBer Alan Sepkowski (Shiny Head Brewer) at the COTU wort share competition. Not everyone was able to brew during the Big Brew so they made time to brew on their own. We each fermented our batch individually with great care and quality control knowing the entire barrel could be ruined if just one of the batches got contaminated.

After several weeks of bubbling away it was finally ready to go into the barrel. Our hard charging president Anna and her husband Ed had been conditioning the barrel for some time to rehydrate the staves and get it ready to accept the young porter. This entailed soaking the barrel in water and covering it with wet towels (this step is not necessarily needed with barrels that were freshly poured and reused).

Once the barrel was ready and the beer had finished fermenting we all gathered at the Shore’s lovely home (also known as Solstice Brewing) to drink and tell lies. Oh…and to transfer the beer into the barrel. Once all the beer arrived one final step was taken to prepare the barrel. We added a significant amount of bourbon back into the barrel. This accomplished two things. 1. It help sanitize any remaining undesirables and 2. It helped to recharge the bourbon character of the barrel. Again, this step is not needed if the barrel was freshly poured.

All batches were then taste tested just prior to going into the barrel just to ensure that there wasn’t any major discrepancies of noticeable flaws that could taint the final product. Each batch was then carefully racked into the barrel and then the barrel was sealed up tight.
Now it sits….. And sits….
After a couple months passes, we’ll start to sample it from time to time to assess the progress. Once complete, we’ll regroup at the Shore’s and divvy up the booty. I can almost taste that toasty, malty goodness with a hint oakiness and bourbon. Wait…where was I??

Stay tuned


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