Beer, Beer, & Better Beer | HopCat

Beer, Beer, & Better Beer

Unicorns Pt. 2 - Epic beers not to miss at the HopCat Indianapolis Wood & Wild Fest
Eric Duvall, Beer Program Manager for HopCat Broad Ripple | October 13, 2017
Wood & Wild, Barrels

We're counting down the days, hours and minutes until the Wood & Wild Festival, taking place Oct. 22 at every HopCat location. In anticipation, we're checking in with our expert beer managers for suggestions about beers to try at each of our restaurants. Here, HopCat Broad Ripple's Eric Duvall recommends a few "unicorns" (beers so legendary they defy comprehension) that will be featured at the Broad Ripple (Indianapolis) event:

Round Town - BBA Round Town Lager

Why I'm excited about it: First barrel aged beer available from Round Town and it's their flagship. Widely consumed style so I think this is the perfect entry level beer for someone looking to explore barrel aging. I specifically came to them and asked if they'd be doing a barrel aged variant of their lager because I thought it was such a great fit.

Avery - Nuttiest Professor

Why I'm excited about it: I love stouts and I love peanut butter. Besides the obvious bourbon from barrel aging, I'm sure the chocolate and coffee malt flavor will pair amazingly with peanut butter.

Central State - A Well Forged Sword

Why I'm excited about it: Farmhouse stout with orange. Central State are the premier funky brewery in Indiana. Focusing on brett, and using it in styles you don't expect. Lots of heat due to high ABV, little bit of brett funk, and orange flavor grows on the back end to finish this beer.

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Woodn't You Like to Know? Barrel Aging & Beer
Kate Van Doren, resident beer maven | October 28, 2016
Beer Science, Barrels, Wood

kateWell into the 1900's beer was still being transported, stored, and served from wooden barrels. Brewers tried to avoid any flavors the wood may lend to the beer by soaking the barrels in boiling water or hydrochloric acid, then they would line the barrels with pitch, which is basically tree sap, to prevent leakage. Today, we turn to barrels for a different reason: flavor. The two most common wooden vessels being used today are bourbon and wine barrels, but any barrel that once held a flavorful liquid (or even new oak barrels) 

will do. 

Brewers must carefully select which barrel will match best with the beer they tuck away inside. Bourbon whisk(e)y barrels provide boozy notes from its previous occupant with notes of vanillin, toast, smoke, and spice from the charring process of the wood. Wine barrels work much the same way, providing another layer of vinous flavor to the finished beer. Certain barrels can also have loads of microflora living in the wood itself, providing funk (brettanomyces) and sour (lactobacillus). 

Which barrels are paired up with a style is really up to the brewer, but often darker beers find their mate in bourbon/whisk(e)y or red wine barrels, while lighter styles lounge away in oaky chardonnay barrels. Keep an eye out for gin, rum, tequila, and vermouth barrel-aged treats too. Barrel aged goodies are the perfect fall and winter warmer. Sorry, pumpkin beers. But, not really.

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