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What is a Barrel-Aged Sour?

At Great Notion, we love barrel aging beers - not only stouts, but also our sours.

Oak barrels have been used for centuries to store beer before stainless steel was readily available. In modern brewing, barrels are not just a storage container, but an environment for beer to party with wild yeasts and certain bacteria that make these beers so special. These vessels are a perfect environment for aging sour beers with lots of character. With time and contact with Oak, beer can pick up flavors imparted from the previous wine or spirit, or flavors of vanilla, coconut, A lot of this character comes from a yeast known as Brettanomyces.
Brettanomyces, or “Brett”, is a natural wild yeast that resides in Oak. The name of this popular strain of yeast literally means “British Funk'', and is known for aromatics of a funky barnyard, pineapple, or even a wet-horse blanket (yum, bring on the funk!!).

We are constantly brewing sour beer and stouts to fill barrels for future projects. Each barrel can age from 1-3 years, depending on what we want from that unique barrel. When we blend barrels for something like Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we select multiple barrels (no two are alike) to create the flavor profile. Depending on what we are trying to make, or what the beer is telling us to make, we may or may not add fruit or other ingredients for other flavors.

Most of the aromas and flavors in beers like this need lots of time to develop, the right yeast and bacteria strains, good barrels, and talented blenders.  Next time one of our barrel aged sours is released don’t forget to grab a glass or take home a bottle.

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