White wine, red wine, and bourbon barrels recently found a home in Oaklyn, New Jersey. The newly acquired oak barrels are the next phase of beers you can expect at Tonewood Brewing. The wood barrels will be used to age limited release beers.
“It’s exciting to have these barrels lining the walls of our tasting room,” said assistant brewer Taylor Facchinei. “It’s like having another ingredient to work with, and it lets us utilize another level of creativity in our recipe formulation.”
The arrival of these vessels marks the beginning of the use of wood at the brewery for both aging and inoculation of wild yeast strains. The beers that will go into these barrels will be designed for an aging process to take on characteristics of the wood as well as to benefit from the flavors of the wine and bourbon previously contained within.
The uncharred wine barrels will produce mellow flavors that can range from vanilla and sweet tea, to clove, tobacco, and anise. Over time, flavors will develop in the beer from its introduction to the wood and the residual wine that remains within its staves.
Additionally, the beer will be inoculated with a cocktail of Brettanomyces yeast strains. “Brett” strains thrive in aerobic conditions, and because the barrels allow a slow absorption of oxygen, Brett will have ideal conditions to break down residual sugars left behind from the primary fermentation. The conversion of these sugars lead to additionally complex phenolics, esters, and flavors in the final beer.
Warming alcohol up front, gives way to smooth and rich flavors from charred oak aging. Vanilla and caramel flavors mingle with spices from both the wood and matured bourbon. Beers that go into bourbon barrels generally age for a shorter period of time, due to the assertive notes that are extracted from these wooden vessels.
The beers produced in Tonewood’s barrel program will be monitored for several months as flavors are given time to develop. They will be made available in limited release as they reach the height of their flavor profiles.