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The Official Blog of Cape May Brewing Company
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So, to honor this lost soul, we’ve made her into a beer.

Brothel Madam haunts CMBC

Our Barrel Aged Series has done rather well lately. The Keel and The Scupper both scored in the mid-90s at BeerConnoisseur.com, and fans have been raving about The Skeg and The Topsail.

The concept for the Barrel Aged Series has never been a one-and-done kind of idea — that would make it a pretty lame “series”! Head Brewer Brian Hink with the help of Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm designed the first four that we brought out last year.

The theme of last year’s series was nautically-based. This time around, we’ve taken a bit of a different tack.

Per square foot, Cape May is probably the most haunted place on the planet. We have no data backing up that assertion, of course, but things can get a little creepy at times around town. There’ve been at least five books written about the ghosts of Cape May, MAC runs at least seven ghost tours, and Syfy’s Ghost Hunters did an episode here, Over 300 years of history combined with gorgeous Victorian architecture practically necessitates ghosts.

That’s why, this time around, the Barrel Aged Series has taken on a distinctly spooky theme.

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The Topsail Sets Sail

We’ve been at this awhile, now, this barrel-aging thing. You’d almost think we’ve got it down to a science.

However, the cool thing about barrel-aging is that it’s not a science. It’s a lot of guesswork. A lot of trial-and-error. We have a general idea of what’s going to happen when we put a new beer inside of a used barrel, but we can’t be sure. Each barrel is different. Each brew is different. Everything’s always going to react differently. Time has an effect. The weather has an effect.

It’s always a gamble.

Luckily, Head Brewer Brian Hink has learned a thing or two on this crazy journey, and The Topsail may very well be his crowning achievement.

This time around, we reused the barrels that housed our first foray into barrel-aging, The Keel. That brew was such a huge success, we were hoping for a little bit of that success to soak into The Topsail.

When we emptied those barrels last January, the condition the barrels were in was “nearly perfect,” according to Brian. “I knew we needed to refill the barrels as soon as possible.”

The microbes in those barrels evolved generationally, so subsequent batches in the barrels end up developing more expressive characteristics in less time, simply because of the way the bugs evolve.

When it comes to reusing barrels, their first use removes the vast majority of the original flavor of whatever was previously in them, so The Keel used up quite a bit of the initial red wine flavor that was there, but they really weren’t all that different.

“Wineries use barrels over and over again,” Brian says, “oftentimes up to ten years before they just aren’t giving the wine any more characteristics and have just become a neutral holding vessel.”

When we get wine barrels, they’re rarely freshly-used and “dripping with the essence of wine,” as Brian says. That’s the exact opposite of spirit barrels like we used in Boughs of Barley — the bourbon barrels we used in that brew were relatively new, as they typically only use bourbon barrels once before they sell them to us.

“So, if we just tossed some beer into a wine barrel and let it sit for a few months to get wine flavor,” Brian says, “we’d surely be disappointed at the end result.”

As you probably know, wine is a lot more stable than beer: it’s relatively inert with little to no CO2 stirring things up in the barrels. Because of that, there’s not a lot of pressure forcing the liquid into the wood of the barrels.

“With sour beer production, there’s a long and gentle secondary fermentation,” Brian says, “pushing the liquid further and further between the staves where we’ll be able to extract some of the wine character. The Keel had a little more activity in the barrel so the beer seeped a little further into the wood, leaving very little behind for The Topsail to gather.”

Despite that, Brian thinks that The Topsail has “significantly more wine-like flavor then the Keel has, but that has much more to do with the biotransformation between the Brett and the estery and phenolic base beer.”

Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm agrees. Even though a lot of that flavor is gone, “The Topsail does have a nice level of oak flavors, and we bottle-conditioned it with a touch of champagne yeast, so there are some vinous notes from that, as well.”

For the base of The Topsail, we took a simple Belgian beer with an expressive yeast strain, very dry and very approachable. After the initial fermentation, there was very little sugar left in this brew for the Brettanomyces to ferment.

“Many of the flavors achieved during the barrel aging are achieved by the Brett metabolizing and converting the yeast esters present from the original fermentation with the Belgian yeast strain into new esters,” Jimmy tells us. “This process is known as biotransformation, making for a brand new beer with a completely new flavor profile.”

The base brew for The Topsail has a simple grain bill, and Brian wanted to see what the microflora would do with a brew with a simple grain bill and a phenolic and estery yeast profile.

“I was really curious to see these bugs playing off of that,” he says.

And this microflora blend is more-or-less what was left in the barrels after The Keel came out of them — we didn’t pitch any new microbes in there when we racked the base beer into the barrels.

“Since the beers were so different going in, I knew the end result would be completely different from The Keel,” Brian says. “There is some carryover in flavors between the two beers, but really the beers are completely different.”

In fact, we’re not entirely sure exactly which microflora were still in the barrels.

“With the mutations and evolutions,” Brian says, “we wouldn’t be able to identify each and every one at this point. If we plated the beers and grew up the individual colonies, we would be able to see what exactly we have going on, but that would just take out the artistry and artisanal nature of this line of beers.”

And a lot of the fun and mystery, too.

Our Barrel Aged series has run through a wide range of styles of sour and wild ales. With The Topsail, we’ve essentially come back to our roots, rediscovering what works and bringing it all together for one nearly-perfect brew.

“I feel like The Keel and The Skeg and The Scupper are like a band’s first album,” Brian says. “A handful of good-to-great songs, but not always a cohesive body of work. By the time the band starts work on the second album they’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t, learned a thing or two from touring, and in general have a handle on how to be a better band.”

At this point, we’ve had a year of the Barrel Aged Series. A year of noodling around on the guitar, finding sweet bass licks, and sizzling new drum fills. Now, the guitar solos are tighter, the drums precise, and the lyrics profound.

“In my opinion, The Topsail paints a fuller picture,” Brian says. “That’s not to say I’m not proud of the beers to come before — quite the contrary, I’m extremely proud of the first couple releases and continue to enjoy and love them to this day — but with The Topsail I think we just released our first chart-topping, number-one hit.

“I could not be more happy with how this turned out,” he says, “and I’m so stoked for it to see the light of day this weekend.”

So are we, Brian.

The Topsail sets sail from The Brewtique at noon on Saturday.

Checking in with The Skeg

Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm and Head Brewer Brian Hink have been dying to check in with our releases in the Barrel Aged Series, and now that The Skeg has just about hit its six-month mark, we decided to let the guys out of the box and have a field day.

“Oooh… that Brett is really starting to speak volumes, now,” Jimmy says.

“It’s definitely more woodsy. I definitely get more of the barrel character, now,” Brian says.

Jimmy thinks that “the flavor is even more pronounced than the aroma. It’s really, really complex.”

Brian says, “You want to go back more to it. It draws you in and treats your palate.”

“It’s aged incredibly well,” Brian says.

“It’s really, really nice,” Jimmy agrees.

Check the video to hear more, and let us know what you think about your cellar-aged brew in the comments.

The Topsail Gets Bottled

The latest in our Barrel Aged Series is just coming off the bottling line and into the Brewtique! The Topsail — a sour Blonde ale with rustic, earthy notes and a firm lactic acid presence — has been aging for nine months in the same barrels that carried The Keel. And now, it’s fresh off the line and into your cellar.

And check out that bottle! Graphic Designer Courtney Rosenberg really out-did herself with this one. The muted reds, blues, and tans come together on this gorgeous 750ml canvas, with the red wax really catching the eye.

“I took the colors directly from a picture of the sunset over Delaware Bay, just a few miles from the brewery,” she tells us. “This bottle is my favorite of the series.”

With plenty of Easter Eggs hidden throughout the design, this bottle is sure to keep you interested much longer than the brew will stay around. And when you’ve got all four bottles from the Bottle Aged Series lined up next to each other, you’ll think you’re sitting back on a summer evening, watching the dolphins breach in the Bay.

The Topsail sails into the Brewtique and into select bottle shops beginning February 18th. Be sure to grab a bottle.

In the meantime, whet your whistle with the video below.

Checking in with The Keel

So, you got your three bottles of The Keel back in June, and you’ve been dutifully sitting on two of them for aging, right? Your cellar thanks you! You’ve shown a remarkable amount of self-control, and you should be congratulated.

If you think it’s difficult for you to sit on such a stellar brew, imagine how the guys in the brewery feel. We’ve squirreled away a few bottles of each of these releases, and will be checking in with them periodically to see how they’re faring. These bottle-conditioned beers will continue to evolve as they age — up to two years — and Jimmy and Brian have been dying to break open a new bottle and check in with its development.

The guys seem to think that the Brett has really come through as it aged. The sour notes have subsided a bit and the rusticity of the Brett has had some time to come through.

“It’s definitely way more balanced,” Brian says.

“It’s gonna keep getting more rustic,” Jimmy says. “The sourness isn’t really dying down, it’s just becoming more of a part of the Brettanomyces flavors.”

Do you agree with their assessments? Let us know in the comments.

The Brew Crew on The Scupper

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On the most gorgeous October day within memory, we grabbed some of the staff at CMBC to find out what they liked about The Scupper.

“It was delicious. It’s got a nice balance between the Brett and the tartness. Nice, well-rounded…. It’s got a nice Brett character to it. It’s got a nice Saison, a little tart, a little funky. It’s just really frickin’ good.” — Brewer, Mark Graves

“It’s good. It’s unique, man. There’s nothing really down here like that, local-wise, and I feel like we’re kind of the first of many starting that out: that whole oaked, barrel-aged process is pretty cool. So it’s neat to see it come out every so often, and The Keel and The Scupper are definitely two really good beers. I’m looking forward to the other ones we’ve got coming out.” — Sales Manager, Bill McCaughey

“It has that nice Brett undertone, but it has a nice fruity flavor to it from the Saison. You get that undertone of fruit flavors.” — Head Chef, JP Thomas

“I thought it was tasty. Good flavor. I like the Saison as the base.” — Sales Manager Chuck Wray

“I thought it was delicious. It had a lot of the wine characteristics from the barrel and it was real easy to drink. Not too much Brett, but just enough.” — Brewer, Andrew Ewing

“I thought the purple on the glass was really pretty.” — Sales and Distribution Coordinator Justin Vitti

Curious? Come down to the tasting room on Saturday at noon and grab yourself a bottle to see for yourself.

Brian on The Scupper

Head Brewer Brian Hink has been pushing CMBC for the Barrel Aged Series more-or-less since he started working here. In this new video, he tells us what to expect from The Scupper. “I’m super happy how it came out.”

A Stormy Design

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With a beautiful brew, you need a beautiful package. The bottles for the first two releases in the Barrel Aged Series — The Keel and The Skeg — were glorious works of art.

CMBC Graphic Designer Courtney Rosenberg delivered yet again with The Scupper.

“This one is my favorite,” she tells us. “The purples really pop on the amber bottle and the fishing boat reminds me of home.”

And “home” is where Courtney has found her inspiration for these bottles. She’s spent most of her life in Cape May, just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay.

Some of Courtney’s favorite activities in the area contributed to the design: “Enjoy some Salts on the Schooner at the Lobster House, take in a Fall sunset on the Delaware Bay, go for a sunset cruise on a friend’s boat, have an orange crush upstairs at Harry’s overlooking the ocean.

“The colors and the images on these bottles are all taken from these experiences.”

Like the brews themselves, the bottles offer variations on a theme. “The symbols change from bottle to bottle, but the waves, the font, and the style of the artwork are distinct and characteristic to this unique series.”

However, the bottle for The Scupper has a bit of a stormier feel: the sun from previous designs has been replaced by the moon and the clouds are moving in. “The ocean isn’t always pretty,” she tells us. “The sunsets aren’t always pretty.”

Brewtique Manager Emily Bowman loves the new design, as well. “Purple’s my favorite color,” she tells us. She also loved the fact that the design tied into the prominence of the fishing boat. “I love all the nautical themes in it: the lobster and the shell and the compass. The whole design just flows perfectly and its originality really compliments the beer inside.”

What do you think? You’ll have to come down and pick up your bottles when they’re released from The Brewtique on Saturday, October 22nd at noon.

Set sail with The Scupper!

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The third release in our Barrel Aged series is almost here.

If you were fortunate enough to try The Keel before it disappeared, and if you’ve been cellaring your bottle of The Skeg because The Keel blew your mind, then it’s time to open The Scupper.

And if you haven’t jumped on board with the Barrel Aged Series, what are you waiting for?

You may be wondering what a scupper is. (Even if you’re not, let’s pretend that you are.) Is it one who scups? That which scups? How does one scup?

No, it’s none of those things. A scupper is basically a hole in the side of a ship meant to carry water overboard. It’s wet out there on the high seas, and water on the deck can be a problem. You need to have some way of releasing it, and the scupper provides that.

So, are you going to want to dump this one over the side? Not. At. All. The Scupper’s waaaayyyy too good for that.

img_9870With most of our brews, we use one of two yeast strains: either our house ale strain — very clean and neutral, or our Belgian strain — a little more “yeasty” and expressive. We obviously don’t limit ourselves to only these, but the latter is what was used in Misty Dawn, the base of The Scupper.

The concept behind the Barrel Aged Series is to play with different yeast and bacteria to give us wildly different beers, with the lactic acid and sour notes at the forefront. These brews use a much more complex palette of microflora: up to ten different strains of Brettanomyces, some crazy Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, with a touch of Acetobacter in there, as well.

This latest installment of the Barrel Aged Series builds on what we built before with The Keel and The Skeg. With The Keel, we kinda just threw in everything we could find — judiciously and well-researched, of course — and the ultimate effect was, by all accounts, freakin’ awesome. (Yeah, 94 on Beer Connoisseur!)

With The Skeg, the idea was to see what would happen when Brettanomyces could get funky with a really hoppy base. The beer going in was all about the hops (no treble), so the end result focused on Brett metabolizing and evolving the hop character.

However, with The Scupper, we focused on an already-complex base — Misty Dawn will keep your palette entertained for awhile on its own. When we added four strains of Brett in there, it “just completely chewed up and spit out something otherworldly in flavor,” says Head Brewer Brian Hink.

Follow this logic: “If Brett were a world class DJ,” says Brian, “this remix could become more popular than the original song, like in ‘Stronger’ when Kanye sampled Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger’ it just took something that was already great and just took it to a whole new level of greatness. That’s what the Scupper is all about.”

Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm agrees. “What we have here with The Scupper is a beer with a very different flavor profile than our previous Barrel Aged Series releases, and also one that will mature and age to a much greater extent than the other releases would, as well.”

img_9886After spending four months in those beautiful French Oak red wine barrels — the same ones that carried The Keel — we bottle conditioned this brew for another three months.

Brian gives us this analogy: “Remember back in college when you’d work for months on a term paper and you would just never be happy with it, and then for another one you would stay up the entire night right before it was due and somehow you managed to pull out your best work at the 11th hour?”

(Of course not, Brian! All of our work was always completed in a timely fashion so that we might be asleep by 9:30 pm.)

“Bottle conditioning this beer for four months under pressure was like pulling that all nighter and doing your best work.”

We wanted to let The Scupper sit for another few months to let the Brett work its brettful magic on the sugars and esters, but instead of putting it in a fermenter or barrel, we put it in a pressurized bottle. The extra CO2 puts a little more stress on the Brett, causing it to work a little more brettful magic. The result is more funky flavors, with “barnyard” and “horsey” flavors coming to the forefront and in higher quantities. As the sugars begin to run out, the Brett starts to metabolize the esters produced during the brew’s original fermentation as Misty Dawn. So, as the Bretty flavors are added, the other esters start to fade in a beautifully choreographed dance, leaving behind a brew unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

Asking Brian what he likes about any of the beers in the Barrel Aged series is sort of like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. He likes “everything!” about this one. “The complexity, the funk, the vinous notes and slight woodsy character thanks to the barrels it rested in for three months, how it’s bone dry — it has a lower gravity than water, so there’s just nothing left — and yet it has a juiciness to it that leaves you longing for another sip, and even the approachability of it. I think this is the best-looking of the three brews so far, too, but that obviously wouldn’t mean anything to me if the beer didn’t come out right, but for this one it definitely makes it shine that much brighter.”

Jimmy is a big fan of the funky, wild beers. “The terms “barnyard” and “horsey” may not seem too appealing — and in most IPAs or Pilsners they certainly aren’t — but when these flavors are used correctly they can be very tasty, especially when accompanied with woodsy notes from barrel aging, a touch of sour from Lactobacillus, and some vinous flavors. The Scupper is definitely funky, but right now it’s a just the right level of funk that any drinker new to the wild beer scene can latch onto it without being put off by the unique flavor profile.”

img_9876Like all the brews in the Barrel Aged Series, The Scupper is meant to be cellared for as long as you can take not drinking it. (But don’t let it go beyond two years. Please. If you do, we don’t vouch for it… but we’d love to know how it drank.)

Jimmy’s definitely stashing a few bottles in his cellar. “In a year or two it’ll be at that level of funk that makes me smile from ear to ear.  At the moment it’s more leathery with a hint of tobacco. The woodsiness and the slight vinous notes from the red wine barrel are right there, but the horse and deeper funk notes are in the background, tempting the beer nerd in me, and these will further develop over time.”

Brian agrees. “In another few months of proper cellaring — a stable temperature between 55 and 65 degrees and out of direct sunlight — this beer will just keep getting better and better.”

Do you need more than that?

The Scupper releases at noon, Saturday, October 22nd from The Brewtique. Same deal: $20 a pop, limit of three bottles per visit. See you there!

The Guys on The Skeg

Brian tests The Skeg
Brian tests The Skeg

After a few false starts on a rather busy week, we we able to get together over the phone with Ryan, Hank, and Lead Brewer Brian Hink to talk about the Barrel-Aged Series and it’s latest release, The Skeg.

How was The Keel received?

Ryan: Oh, it was incredible, right? It was great. I mean, we got a 94 on Beer Connoisseur, everybody loved it, I thought it tastes great, it was complex, and we give [Head Brewer Brian Hink] full reign in allowing him to do whatever it is he wants to do and explore. So it’s really in the R&D phase for us, to be able to have this mixed fermentation, barrel aging. And to come right out of the gate with a really strong beer is all we could ask for.

Do you think The Skeg is going to live up to the success of The Keel?

Hank: We don’t know.

Ryan: Yeah, we don’t know. We haven’t done a tremendous amount of research but we’re going with our gut. And one point I want to bring up about our R&D stuff is that we invest a lot of money into making that happen and a lot of time into making it happen. We could, otherwise, take that money and use it to increase capacity and make our beer more efficient. But we choose to invest in exploring different ideas and concepts. And that’s what this is.

Quantity-wise, did we make more of The Skeg? Is it as limited as The Keel?

Hank: It’s just as limited.

How does The Skeg differ from The Keel?

Hank: It’s very different. Me and Ryan both tasted it, and I wouldn’t even put it on the same spectrum as The Keel. It’s a whole different flavor profile.

In what way?

Hank: It’s pure Brettanomyces. All the flavor that I get. It’s purely the funk. Without the sharp sourness that The Keel has.

Brian: It’s just a completely different beer. It’s still a weird beer — you can definitely say that about all the beers that come out of that program. They’re definitely different. The beers are very, very different. They’re unified in that sense of it, where they are an adventurous beer. You really gotta go in with the mindset that you’re going to expect something very, very different out of it. It’s not gonna be something that you’ve had before. So, those are some of the similarities, but the similarities kind of end there: the approach you’ve got to take to it.

With The Skeg, we wanted to focus more on the Brettanomyces playing off the hops. So, with that, we took a double IPA with a really simple grain bill that’s all about the hops to begin with, we aged that in the wine barrels for three months. Got a little bit of wine character, got a little bit of the oxygen ingress into the barrels, a little bit of that does come through. So you get a little bit of oxygenation and the Brett does play off of that — the term is “microoxygenation” — just a little bit of oxygen ingress over time. That keeps feeding the Brett. And the Brett just kinda ran wild with it. The Brett really plays off the hops. And the grain bill is so simple that it really doesn’t get in the way. And we didn’t want to make this one nearly as tart as The Keel, it’s definitely toned down on the acidity level. It’s there, it’s definitely more acetic than a normal beer would be, but it’s not a puckering, you-bite-into-a-lemon style sour beer. The tartness is definitely more subdued, more background, more complementary — it’s like adding a pinch of salt to a good steak. That’s what the acidity does to this beer. Whereas the focus, the main course of this beer is definitely the Brett playing off those hops. Four different strains of Brettanomyces in the barrel with the beer for a couple months.

Hank: What strain do you think is the predominant strain?

Brian: There are four different strains, all from commercial laboratories. Two of them are the same, just from different laboratories.

Hank: Which makes them different.

Brian: Which makes them very different, absolutely. Mostly, Brett lambicus and there’s two different strains of Brett bruxellensis, and there was a Brett claussenii. So there’s those four different Bretts playing off each other, and it really influenced the overall flavor profile of this beer.

The Brett lambicus, for example, is what we winded up using for the Turtle Gut and that’s a big influence in a lot of these barrel-aged beers. And that one just brings a whole other level of rustic, funk, all those fun descriptors.

Hank: Scott, have you ever heard the descriptor “wet horse blanket”?

(Laughing) No, I haven’t.

Hank: Tell the consumer that if they want to know what a wet horse blanket smells and tastes like, they should buy The Skeg.

(Laughing)

Hank: I would describe it as musty, very earthy…

Brian: Very earthy, yeah.

Hank: Pungent. Wet hay… You hear “barnyard” a lot. When you hear “wet horse blanket,” who the hell knows what that means. Who knows what a wet horse blanket smells like?

I think we can all imagine.

Hank: Yeah, exactly.

Brian: Leather. And there’s also some bad funk. If you don’t treat the beer properly in the barrel, you’re gonna get some “smoky band-aid” or burnt rubber. Those are things we don’t want. Those are phenolic compounds that happen to Brettanomyces. And we don’t want that. Probably one out of every ten barrels becomes a dumper because of too much ingress of oxygen and too much heat fluctuation. It gets too hot a lot of times.

That was a really long tangent.

(Laughing) It happens.

Hank: It’s awesome. And I think Brian would definitely say that it’ll live up to the success of The Keel.

Our fearless leaders
Our fearless leaders

So how long did we barrel-age The Skeg?

Brian: The Skeg, as I said, spent three months in the red wine barrel. And the only reason it was only three months was that we were hoping to release these beers a little sooner. We wanted to get it right. There was no timestamp. You know, “These beers have to come out NOW.” We wanted to get everything right from the packaging, to the name, to the description. How we package these beers. You know in January, when we wanted to start with all this, we probably would have had more inconsistencies with it. That’s something that [Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm] definitely brought to the table was after filling it, the process that he took to it, where we age it, how we age it, he definitely had a lot of influence on that. And I said it’s good that we waited. 

So after we barrel-aged it, we dry-hopped it after that, correct?

Brian: Yes, once we got it back into stainless. And getting it back into stainless was important because that’s going to halt any further ingress of oxygen. The Brett’s still gonna play around in there, but it’s a more stable environment than in barrels, so it spent a few months in stainless tanks waiting to be packaged. And we held off on dry-hopping it until about two weeks prior to packaging it. That way, if you drink it fresh, it’s gonna drink like a slightly funky IPA. You gonna know you’re drinking something different, because the hops are very present.

Hank: A very funky IPA.

Brian: A very funky IPA, yeah. But the hops are still very prevalent and as it does age out, it’s still gonna be there, but it’s not gonna be the same. The Brett’s gonna continue to metabolize the hop compounds, and it’s gonna convert them — something called “biotransformation” — and that’ll continue to evolve the flavor and the aroma in the finished product. So you’re gonna lose some of that aroma over time, so we did hold off until just before packaging when adding the dry hops to it.

I understand The Skeg has champagne yeast in it?

Brian: Um, yes and no. We use champagne yeast to bottle condition it. It’s a very neutral flavor compound, and that’s just to help carbonate the beer in a very quick manner and to not stress out the Brett. So we just used that to carbonate the beer in a non-stressful environment for the Brett. So there is champagne yeast in the package, but it’s not anything that’s noteworthy.

Hank: It’s not gonna develop flavor or anything.

Brian: Yeah.

Hank: It’s just there to carbonate in a controlled manner.

Fair. So now we discussed how different the two beers are — The Keel and The Skeg. Is that the hope for this series, that they’ll all be completely different?

Brian: Um, yes and no. We want each one to stand on its own. We don’t want, you know, “Oh, this is The Keel. This is A Variant on The Keel. This is Another Keel.” That’s fun, and there’s definitely a time and a place. But right now, we’re new to it. And we wanted to have fun, run wild with it, really let our imaginations really get crazy. The first three releases — The Keel, The Skeg, and eventually The Scupper — are all completely unique on their own, but they do have some similarities tying them all together.

In time, yeah, we’ll probably see some consistency. Maybe we’ll do The Keel once a year, maybe. But for now, it’s like, “Let’s have fun with it and really get creative.” See where we can go with it.

Hank: And, Scott, even if we wanted to make The Keel again, it wouldn’t be the same Keel. It’s always gonna be a little bit different. Even if we followed the same exact process as the first time. With this program, there are things that are out of your control. You know, the barrels can change over time, the weather, maybe the different times of year. There’s so many different variables, and just the concentrations of different bacteria and yeast that we’re using, that even an identical Keel would fail. If we did The Keel again, it would be The Keel of 2017 or The Keel 2018.

Brian: And if we went that route, you know if we’re calling it “The Keel” and keeping the same name, we would attempt to replicate it as much as possible. There will be many similarities, many hold overs, but it would definitely be year-to-year [very different].

Hank: So the engineer in me hates the variables in uncontrolled fermentations like that, and the brewer in Brian loves it.

So how did The Skeg turn out?

Brian: I think it came out great. It has something for everyone in there. I think Ryan’s the biggest hophead I know, and I think he enjoyed it.

Ryan: I loved it. It’s an earthy-funkiness and citrus-hop bitterness with a complexity that makes you go “oh…whoa, did you get that? There’s a lot going on here.”

Brian: If you’re a fan of sour beers, of experimental beers. If you just like a Belgian beer or saisons or a Belgian Strong, it’s definitely going to appeal to you. It really has something for everyone.

Hank: Even the novice. Someone who’s never touched a wild beer or a sour beer or some weird fermented beer, but they’ve heard the word “funky” or “earthy” and they’ve wondered what that meant, this beer is gonna be able to give that to them. It’s got that funky and earthy flavor and aroma that they’re gonna be able to connect the descriptors that they’ve heard with an actual flavor and aroma.

The Skeg releases from the Brewtique at 11am, Saturday, September 3rd. Limit three bottles per person.

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