After All This Time
2020’s second club beer is a project the production team at The Rare Barrel has been mulling over for quite some time. In early 2017, we produced a collaboration beer for SF Beer Week with our friends at Cellarmaker Brewing Co. in San Francisco, CA. A blend of mixed fermentation fruited sour beer with hoppy pale ale, the beer was meant to be consumed fresh, hoping to emphasize its bright fruit character and dank hop expression. Interested in how the project would develop, a keg of the collaboration was left to age at ambient temperatures. Over time, the beer began to take on some unexpectedly pleasant characteristics. With a more pronounced brett character than we’d seen in any of our beer and a milder acidity balanced by a touch of bitterness, this single keg became a staff favorite.
The experience piqued our collective interests in barrel aging IPA. We’ve always dabbled with various yeast strains for primary fermentation, but rarely did we brew specific beer styles and then sour them. Though completely counterintuitive to general brewing practices, we were curious about the effects of time on an IPA aged in oak barrels. Especially after being inoculated with a mixed culture. So we started doing it.
After All This Time is a mixed fermentation IPA with Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo, Idaho 7, and Mosaic hops. The blend is comprised of three main components: a 22-month old mixed fermentation IPA with Amarillo and Simcoe, a 14-month old IPA dry-hopped with Mosaic and Idaho 7 inoculated with our house acid culture, and a 12-month-old IPA dry-hopped with Mosaic and Citra inoculated with our house brett culture. The 22-month-old barrels were a mixed fermentation primary hopped exclusively in the whirlpool and then once more prior to being sent to barrels. The 14 and 12-month-old components were fermented with two different hazy IPA strains and were both excessively dry-hopped during primary fermentation. After reaching stability, these beers were sent to oak and inoculated with two different mixed cultures we maintain at the brewery.
After sending these beers into barrels, we regularly checked in on them to log any noteworthy characteristics. Fortunately, the project went just as well as we were hoping. Instead of any aggressively oxidative off-flavors, we found vibrant fruit aromas, enhanced brett expression, and mild acidity. And the longer the beer aged, the more pronounced each characteristic became. With a pungent stone-fruit and pineapple-like aroma, a pronounced brett funk, light bitterness, and mild acidity, After All This Time is one of the most complex beers we’ve ever produced.
Though this isn’t loaded with exotic fruit nor saturated with adjuncts, it is a beer that we as a team are very proud of. This beer is a true culmination of our interest and experimentation with mixed fermentation. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.