First beer made using our newly-put-together HERMS system, the first major update we've made to our brewing equipment since starting in late 2013. For this one, we're doing a strong English style ale aged for (probably) 6 weeks in our Damnation Alley bourbon barrel.
3/15/15: Brew day for this one. Things are going somewhat strangely (lots of spilling water and some wort loss, but overall we've corrected everything well all things considered) given our lack of experience with the new system, and we don't have our PID controller to electronically control the temperatures, so we have been having to manually track temperatures and fire the burners on the stove at discretionary times to keep things going smoothly. The recirculation part is working very well so far. -AP
3-21-15: switched from blow-off assembly to airlock. Has been sitting at 70 degrees for one week, krausen has already died down. I don't think it's a stall -- just not a very aggressive ferm. Took a whiff of the carboy and everything smelled good; solid nose of english hops and maris otter (no shit, eh?). Looking forward to racking this into barrel next weekend. -PG
3/27/15: Just transferred to bourbon barrel. Hydrometer reading was a bit higher on FG than we wanted (only reached about 72% attenuation, finishing at 1.025 instead of the expected 1.022). Not really gonna complain because it still comes out almost 9.5%. The sample before conditioning and aging tasted really good, but pretty mild. Very genuine "British" style strong ale flavor; subtle caramel/toffee with some slight fruity esters; rather dry though it leads off sweet. No heat from the rather high alcohol either, which was nice. Extended barrel-aging (six weeks at minimum for this one) should make this one awesome. -AP
5/10/15: Just took this from barrel to bottles last night. Conditioning with a slurry of the same a yeast used for primary (WLP007). Tasted really good from the small sample we pulled from the barrel; slightly fruity, very woody and bourbon forward with a long, dry yet full-bodied finish. Excited to see how it conditions in several weeks.
5/29/15: Tasting from a bottle that was opened 5/27 and re-sealed with about half of the beer remaining. It's been in bottles about 3 weeks at this point and it actually has, according to Pat, already carbonated pretty decently. The several ounces I pulled were slightly oxidized because the bottle had been re-sealed, however. Scent is hefty English toffee, light stone fruit (cherry/plum in particular) and bourbon. The spirit character is nicely noticeable, likely due to the six weeks of aging the beer underwent in our Damnation Alley barrel. Flavor is pretty incredible actually; I'm getting a lot of tannic notes from the barrel, slight tart cherry, bourbon, caramel and the aforementioned toffee all in a really complex yet approachable package. Very excited with how this one continues to develop. It's pretty perfect right now; almost exactly what I feel like we wanted to get out of it. Very cool. -AP