Our next cyber bottle release is Monday, September 24 and we will have 5 beers for sale on our website. We will be releasing 3 variants of Torito, our Wild Baltic Porter; Artistic Bugs, our Strong Golden ale; and El Cuate, our Imperial Wild ale aged in Tequila barrels.
I really enjoy making strong and dark wild ales, and feel that they can have an unparalleled level of complexity. Torito was brewed back in June of 2017 and is a mostly traditional Baltic Porter recipe. We fermented this beer cold with our favorite German Lager yeast and lagered in stainless steel. After cold conditioning, Torito was transferred to barrels and inoculated with our mixed culture of wild yeast and bacteria.
Most of our beers at Odd Breed are fermented with just our house mixed culture from the very start. Fermenting with a lager yeast first before adding our mixed culture creates a smoother, more delicate yeast profile with less acidity. I have also found that fermenting with a lager yeast first creates a more fruity and berry-like Brettanomyces character, which I think is very nice in a dark, wine-like beer.
The Rye Whiskey barrel version of Torito exhibits characteristic sweet bourbon notes of vanilla and chocolate but with a slight underlying spicy character from rye. The rye whiskey notes are prominent but do not overshadow the base beer.
Dark malts, rye whiskey barrels, and tart cherries just go together. To make our Cherry Torito we added a bunch of organic Montmorency cherries directly into rye whiskey barrels, and allowed the beer to age for nearly a year. For darker and stronger beers I usually like to add organic dried fruit rather than fresh fruit. Dried fruit contributes no water, so rather than diluting the beer and lowering the alcohol content the way fresh fruit would, fermenting dried fruit increases the alcohol content. Dried fruit also contains a more intense, concentrated flavor and these tart cherries present a slightly raisiny flavor when dried that is absent when they are fresh.
The Scotch barrel version of Torito highlights earthy, leathery, tobacco-like flavors that meld very nicely with the base beer. The barrel flavor is strong yet complex and nuanced enough to make the beer approachable and very drinkable despite the high ABV. Early on Dan and I were not in love with the flavor contributed by this barrel and even considered dumping the beer and getting rid of the barrel. Fortunately the beer was just going through a weird phase, and several months later this is now my favorite version of Torito.
Artistic Bugs isn’t really a beer that someone can aim to brew, it’s more so a statistical anomaly that should be relished when the opportunity presents itself. This is a beer that is unblended and packaged from a single 500L puncheon. Many of our beers are blends of two or more beers with different recipes. We blend to increase complexity and to dial in our preferred level of acidity. Blending multiple barrels of multiple base beers usually creates a product with the most interesting yeast character and the best complexity. Rarely is there a single barrel that presents all the desired flavors with the preferred level of intensity and balance. When we tasted this puncheon of our Golden Strong Ale we knew we hit the microbiological flavor jackpot. This beer exemplifies what we look for in our mixed culture: stone fruit and tropical fruit esters with a clean and citrusy lactic acidity. The elevated alcohol content means this beer will age very gracefully.
El Cuate is our Imperial Wild Ale aged in French Oak Tequila barrels. I’m not usually a fan of Tequila Barrel aged beers because I find them too sweet. Most Tequila barrels were previously used to hold Bourbon, which means they are typically heavy char American Oak barrels. Four years ago I saw a barrel broker with access to very rare French Oak Tequila barrels, and I was upset that I didn’t have any more room for barrels at the brewpub where I was working. I hadn’t seen any other French Oak Tequila barrels available until last year when I found a few medium toast barrels that were previously used to hold Sauvignon Blanc wine. These barrels are incredibly citrusy and fruity, and have strong tannins that are absent from typical Tequila barrels. We decided to age a strong, pale, sour beer in these barrels, and we added organic blue agave nectar to referment in the barrels.
By Matt Manthe
September 12, 2018