Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Photos from Kelso Brewery Tasting

Saturday March 31st, at the specialty food and beer store Eastern District in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Kelso Brewery owners Kelly Taylor, Sonya Giacobbe, and their manager Jess spread the good word about four of their beers now available at E.D.

 Review (based on tasting):
1. IPA aged in Cab Sav. barrel : Gorgeous. Highly recommended sipping would give the Easter Bunny a hop in his step.

2. Rauchbier (smokey lager) : A fine beer if you enjoy consuming things that are smoked.

3. Industrial IPA : A terrifying poet of a beer who would steal your lunch money and use it to buy flowers for your girlfriend. Highly recommended--to be shared!

4. Pilsner: Very agreeable, pleasant light beer. Although Kelso pushes the envelope with flavor generation in its other beers, this one implies an adherence to Germany's Purity Law...

Kelso staffer Jess gave info about the beers on hand, other Kelso ventures, and brewing basics. The best beers are made by companies with a sense of adventure and humor (in addition to mastery of brewing and use of top-grade ingredients). If Kelso is not available in your neighborhood, be sure to take a subway, bus, or airplane as needed....

Kelso Brewery: Brooklyn, New York. Website
Eastern District : Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York. Website
  Stay tuned for a feature of this excellent food and beverage shop.

Secrets of Aging Beer in Barrels

I learned some secrets of aging beer in wine barrels.

Kelso Brewery's owners / operators, husband and wife Kelly Taylor and Sonya Giacobbe, gave a tasting of some of their beers at Eastern District in Greenpoint yesterday. Among the beers (now available for your growler) is an IPA that had aged in a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel. I asked master brewer Kelly about the process of bestowing flavor from barrel to brew.

Kelso Brewery's Kelly Taylor (right) and wife Sonya.

As you might know, barrels are used to age various wines and spirits. Whiskey, rye, brandy and wines are stored in wooden barrels for months or years per the recipe. When the beverage is removed, the barrel retains the flavor. (Consider the point of view that the wine was not soaking in a barrel, but the barrel soaking in wine!). Beer brewers experiment with aging their own recipes in these barrel. The beer has already fermented, and is kegged.   It is transported into the barrels via a hose (and returned to the keg also via hose. "There's a lot of hoses involved," said Kelso employee Jess).

Note: it is not yet known by this reporter whether beer can be transferred directly from the fermentation tank into barrels.

Here are my notes from Kelly, told in Q and A format:

Why did you choose to use Cab barrels.. what was the inspiration for this latest experiment?
I'd been looking for cab barrels. A supplier upstate let me know they had 4 available, so I drove up and got them.
And you chose to use them to age an IPA...
We know that our IPA has some citrus elements that blend well with a cab's fruits..
You reuse a barrel for different beers? Does the wood get affected by the beer, or lose its wine character?
Yes you can reuse a barrel. A rule of thumb is to start with a weaker brew and successively use it for stronger beers.
Strong.. as in ABV?
No, the intensity of flavor. For example, our IPA has bitteness, an assertive flavor. You wouldn't want to follow that with a lager, because it would assert itself. Lagers are weaker brews, so you would age them, or wheat beers, first. Your ales and stouts would come later.
How long do you age a beer in a barrel?
Not anywhere near as long as the wine. Usually about a month more or less. A general rule I've come up with, is to double the lengh of time for successive beers. For example, if the first beer sits for three weeks, then the successor should age six weeks.
What's the worst thing that can happen? Can a good brew be ruined?
No, it's not going to get ruined... it might have to evolve. Corrective measures can be taken. If I'm not happy with a result, I can add fresh beer, or move the batch to a different barrel.
Oh, you can have a beer in multiple barrels?
Sure. It's another level of experimentation, of creating new combinations.  For example, our Double Boch (doppelbock), "Recessionator" was aged in bourbon barrels and... (reporter forgot).  I know (regardless of what happens) it will sell.


Kelso Brewery is a well-regarded family business turning out innovative, high-quality beers. The brewery's output is in kegs and "sixtels" (one-third the size of a 'regular' keg, which is 1/2 keg) that can be found at quality beer merchants and pubs.

Drive Time is Coffee Time

Re. Deciding What to Drink...

Kelly, a Brooklyn brewer said when he has to drive, he drinks coffee.

Non-driving times =  beer.

That might be the best answer this blog has yet heard.