Aging Beer in Barrel: Your Questions Answered

The wall of barrels as you enter our cellar-taproom generates a number of questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions and what it takes to blend our saison at Barrel Heart.

๐˜ผ๐™ง๐™š ๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™—๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™š๐™ก๐™จ ๐™›๐™ช๐™ก๐™ก?
Yes, no barrel ever sits empty for longer than a day. When a beer is drawn from a barrel into a blend, a fresh beer is ready in tank to refill the barrel, keep our culture happy, and the barrels fully swelled.

๐™’๐™๐™–๐™ฉโ€™๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™–๐™ž๐™ก ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™—๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™š๐™ก ๐™๐™š๐™–๐™™ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง?
Thatโ€™s a โ€œVinnie nailโ€ โ€“ named after legendary brewerย Vinnie Cilurzo, who is he co-founder of Russian River Brewing Company. Vinnie pioneered the method of taking samples through a small hole in the barrel head to prevent beer from oxidizing when pulled from the top using a wine thief tool, like distillers and winemakers use.

๐˜ฟ๐™ค๐™š๐™จ ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฎ ๐™—๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™š๐™ก ๐™๐™ค๐™ก๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™จ๐™–๐™ข๐™š ๐™—๐™š๐™š๐™ง?
We have lots of different beers in our barrel collection. This gives us blending options when we need a certain something to make the blend shine. We might be looking to increase the funk, decrease the acidity, or add some lemony floral or soft vanilla-oak notes for the fruit to rest upon. The more diversity we have among our barrels, the more we are able to blend the beer we imagined.

๐™ƒ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™™๐™ค๐™š๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™—๐™š๐™š๐™ง ๐™–๐™œ๐™š ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™—๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™š๐™ก๐™จ?
Our youngest beers have been ready in eight months and our oldest have taken up to 25 months to reach maturity. Each beer takes its own meandering path to completion. Our job is to make sure the barrels are properly maintained with the correct humidity and temperature to allow the beer to age elegantly. To do so, we taste an ounce from each barrel every few weeks to plan when the beer will achieve its prime flavour.

๐™’๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š ๐™™๐™ค ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™—๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™š๐™ก๐™จ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ข๐™š ๐™›๐™ง๐™ค๐™ข?
We source our barrels from winemakers in the Niagara region whose wines we know and love. Although our beers are not wine-forward, we spend a great deal of time considering each barrel that we use. We seek casks that show excellent cellar character โ€“ earthier barrels that give base notes to support the crisp malt and fruit aromas in our saison.