Whiskey Barrel Aged Scotch Ale

Whiskey Barrel Aged Scotch Ale

I really wanted to start barrel aging beer, so I bought a 10 gallon barrel from Farmhouse Brewing Supply that previously held Sorghum Whiskey from Old Sugar Distillery in Madison Wisconsin. Stouts are the most typical barrel aged beers in my opinion, so to change things up a bit, I thought I would try something different. I decided to try my hand at a Scotch Ale, which is also heavy, malty, and that would go well with the whiskey.

To develop recipes, I compiled an Excel spreadsheet to calculate a beers gravity, IBUs, and the amount of water to use. With the help of Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels (A fantastic gift from Woodtooth Brewing) I  developed the recipe below.

Scotch Ale Recipe
11 gallons; Target Gravity 1.080; IBUs 30
14.5 lbs Pale Malt
14.5 lbs Pilsner Malt
1 lbs Roast Malt
0.5 lbs Crystal 80˚L
2.7 oz. East Kent Goldings
WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast

This was a BIG beer with >30 pounds of grain. It was brewed in March with the help of my good buddy Matt. After primary fermentation it was time for the barrel, but before putting any of my beer into the barrel, I first needed to hedge my bets and prepare my barrel a little.

Preparing the Barrel for Beer

To prepare the barrel for beer, there are a few you need to check. The first thing is to inspect your barrel for cracks and leaks. The second is to open it up and smell. If it smells sour/acetic the barrel is probably bad. When I opened this barrel it smelled AMAZING like cinnamon and dark stone fruit, needless to say, the barrel was good.

Upon inspection, there was some whiskey still inside the barrel. I wanted to save as much flavor from the barrel so I drained the whiskey into a glass to save while I prepared the barrel further.

Then, I heated water to 180˚F, filled the barrel to the brim and let it sit for awhile to kill any unwanted bugs. I drained the water (the smell was also fantastic) and sealed the barrel and let it cool.

I knew the barrel would be heavy with eleven gallons of beer inside, so I placed it in it's aging spot BEFORE filling. I picked out a quiet corner in my living room away from heat vents and windows that would fluctuate the temperature. I then added the eleven gallons of fermented Scotch Ale and the whiskey that I had previously drained.

Once in place I left it alone to age. As of this post, the Scotch Ale is still aging.
I have high hopes for this beer and will be bottling it this fall.


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