Wine

The Barrel Fermentation Project

Within a few months of opening our doors in March 2016 we started putting beer in oak barrels at The Virginia Beer Company.  There's nothing particularly ground-breaking about barrel-aging high gravity beers. Pretty much every brewery is doing it, and for good reason - the results can be delicious. 

In July 2016 we started the Barrel Fermentation Project.  While most barrel-aged beers are fermented in stainless steel tanks, and then fully fermented beer is racked into oak to age, this project is a little different.  Taking inspiration from old world brewing techniques, the Barrel Fermentation Project fills used wine barrels with freshly cooled wort direct from the brewhouse, completely bypassing the stainless cellar tanks. Once in the barrels the wort for Batch I was inoculated with a variety of yeasts including multiple strains of Brettanomyces, a "wild" Saccharomyces strain, and Saison yeast. 

Spontaneous fermentation, this is not, and does not pretend to be. Known cultures were pitched with intention and flavor profiles in mind. That said, there is a definite lack of control involved in this project and that makes it that much more exciting. So much of my day as a brewer is about controlling fermentation - yeast cell counts, fermentation temperature profiles, sanitation, gravity readings, QA/QC lab sampling/incubation, etc. The Barrel Fermentation Project gets rid of most of that regimentation, instead leaving the blend of yeasts to do their own individual thing as they will over time. 

On the day we pulled Barrel Fermentation I from the Hungarian Oak red wine barrels for packaging, we were simultaneously brewing another batch, Barrel Fermentation II. As soon as the barrels were empty they were refilled with fresh wort for Barrel Fermentation III. Refilling the same barrels allows the now resident yeast culture in the barrels to take over with no additional yeast being added.  We'll see what happens with this one and let the beer and the barrels tell us when it is ready!

This first release is one of my favorite beers that I've ever had a hand in producing, and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I do. I think it had just the right amount of Brettanomyces fruity funk to complement (but not overpower) the Nelson Sauvin hops and oak character. 

Barrel Fermentation II (also brewed in July 2016) has been tasting quite nice out of the barrels. It has since been kegged and bottled, with an infusion of Brett Brux directly into the bottles to add a component of bottle-conditioning to this project. The bottle-conditioning will produce even more of the trademark esters and phenols that often mark a "Brett beer" as funky with hints of tartness.

Entirely approriate to enjoy now or to cellar for a future occasion, look for the bottle releases of Barrel Fermentation II, III, and IV - all blends that have fermented for months in Williamsburg Winery French & American oak red wine barrels. No promises on when Batch V will be ready - time and wild yeast will tell.

Cheers to lack of control and more barrel fermentations!

Learn more about...

Saison Tournante - Barrel Fermentation I

Saison Tournante - Barrel Fermentation II

Saison Tournante - Barrel Fermentation III

Saison Tournante - Barrel Fermentation IV

94.9 The Point + Taste The Trail Escape

We recently had the pleasure of joining our friends from The Williamsburg Winery on 94.9 The Point in Virginia Beach to sample some of our year round beers and to discuss our new shared tasting package (see the live stream here). TWW is incredibly supportive of the wonderfully diverse food & beverage scene in Williamsburg, so they were kind enough to team up with The Virginia Beer Co. and Silver Hand Meadery for a new Taste The Trail Escape package. Thinking of spending a night in Williamsburg? You should be!

Wine? Check.

Mead? Check.

Beer? Check.

Food? Check.

Cheers? Check. Check. Check!

For more information, please visit the Wedmore Place website.

Travel Therapy in Williamsburg

Last year, Team Virginia Beer Co. was invited to visit NYC for a Visit Williamsburg event. One Williamsburg visiting another...very existential! During this visit we had the pleasure of meeting Karen Schaler, host of Travel Therapy. As they say, all good things come to those who wait - last month, Karen made the trip to our own Williamsburg in Virginia. She visited a number of spectacular locations in the area including The Williamsburg Winery, Alewerks Brewing Company, and Silver Hand Meadery. We had just started brewing a couple weeks prior, and we were fortunate enough to also host Karen during her tour! Check out the video below and make plans to visit all of these great Williamsburg area destinations this spring!

TRAVEL THERAPY with Karen Schaler Featuring Greater Williamsburg, Virginia as Hidden Gem Winter Romantic Escape for Couples. See Karen's top foodie finds, resorts, spas and craft beverages.

VBC and...Wine?

VBC and...Wine?

If you gave Team VBC a choice of one beverage to bring to a desert island it would absolutely be beer. However, from time to time we like to spread our wings and venture out into the wider world of alcoholic beverages. We do this because many of those beverages are extremely tasty, and also because they broaden our palates and give us ideas for future brewing experiments. We try to go local and/or small when choosing wine or liquor. In terms of wine, we often sample products from The Williamsburg Winery here in Williamsburg, Veritas Vineyard & Winery in Afton, VA, and Barboursville Vineyards outside of Charlottesville. When we pour a liquor it's generally a whiskey (either in a Manhattan or straight with rocks on the side) from great small distilleries like Copper Fox in Sperryville (and soon in Williamsburg!) or Corsair in Nashville, Tennessee (try the Triple Smoke if you ever see it on a menu or a store shelf).

As most beer craft beer aficionados are aware, partnerships between breweries and wineries/distilleries have produced wonderful products. Aging beer in used barrels opens up a plethora of new flavors and is something that we plan to explore once The Virginia Beer Company is up and running...