Quaff Bros. to merge with Quaff On Brewing for new barrel-aging project

In an almost-destined move, Quaff Bros. — the Cincinnati-based barrel-aged beer collaboration project — will merge with Quaff On Brewing in Indiana.

Brew Minds talked with Quaff Bros. founder/owner Danny Gold about the change on Thursday and what it means for his current projects. [For a little history, check out the first article Brew Minds wrote about Quaff Bros. here.]

RELATED: Official press release from Quaff On Brewing

“When I left The Party Source, it was on good terms and they gave me the rights to Quaff Bros.,” Gold said. “Given that Quaff On is so close in name, and that I came to work with them, it just seemed like a good fit.”

“Quaff Bros. has always stood for a couple things — it stands for collaboration and friendship, and pushing the envelope while creating the highest quality liquid we can,” — Danny Gold

The creator of storied barrel-aged collaborations such as Blue Melvin went on to say that it works from a business perspective too. Quaff On was looking to start a barrel-aging project as it opens a new, larger facility in Southern Indiana.

“We thought there was a lot of potential,” Gold said. “I’ll still be based in Cincinnati, but this will eventually cut down the 1,000 weekly miles of travel I do as we expand into Greater Cincinnati someday.”

The new facility outside Bloomington houses a brewery, barrel program, distillery, and restaurants. From a logistical standpoint, it means that Gold will be able to set a timeline on collaborations and more efficient source barrels and work with breweries besides Quaff On.

“Quaff Bros. has always stood for a couple things — it stands for collaboration and friendship, and pushing the envelope while creating the highest quality liquid we can,” Gold said. “By having a headquarters, it will allow me more time to control the timeline and production schedule. I can have my friends such as Fifty West Brewing, West Sixth Brewing, or Jackie O’s come out to my shop and we don’t have to wait on anything.”

He added, “The new facility will allow me to get the barrels as soon as the distillery is done with them and fill them with beer. Quaff Bros. originally begin as a collaboration and we have no plans to change that. If anything, it opens up more avenues.”

“This will allow us to restart Quaff Bros. with a clean slate so we can start fresh,” — Danny Gold

As for the current projects, Gold said he only has a few beers resting in barrels currently. Those projects haven’t maturated yet but information should be released once the beer is ready.

“This will allow us to restart Quaff Bros. with a clean slate so we can start fresh,” Gold said.

As for the awaited projects with the now-shuttered Blank Slate Brewing, Gold said they are deliberating what to do with those beers.

“Obviously we don’t want to have to dump the beer, but we have to figure out the smartest move for everyone. Those beers also include Against the Grain Brewing, so we have to figure out the logistics of making it work,” Gold said.

As for the merger, it will take effect almost immediately and will be “official” as of Saturday.

The first big release for the combined project will come at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers, (FoBAB,) in Chicago this year. Gold said they are submitting a barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout called “Fools Russian” — get it? Fools-Rush-In — as well as variants. He said the beers should be released to the public sometime after the contest.

The change in business structure will also mean a change online, so fans should watch Quaff Bros. Facebook page and other social media for the latest updates.

Book Review: Wood & Beer: A Brewer's Guide By Dick Cantwell & Peter Bouckaert

Barrel aging beer is all the rage these days, resulting in some of the most sought after beers in America. But it’s not quite as easy as getting a barrel and dumping beer in it. Luckily, Wood & Beer: A Brewer’s Guide By Dick Cantwell & Peter Bouckaert (buy it on Amazon) is here to walk you through everything, and I mean everything, there is to learn about barrels.

Wood & beer

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Adding Wood Flavor To Your Homebrew

Get you chuckles out of the way as I’m gonna say wood a lot in this one… heh, wood. Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s get down to business!

wood

Wood aging beer has occurred for thousands of years, from casks to massive oak vats, as long as beer has flown so has wood encased it. There are nearly as many ways to get these flavors into a beer as there are woods to choose from. Within this article, I will cover the types of wood I’ve both heard of and used, plus a few new ones.

Formats

Let us first begin with covering the ways of getting wood flavor into your beer.

more wood

Powder

I’m not going to sugar coat things here folks. Powder is a cheap, fast and dirty way to get wood flavor into your brew. I’m not saying it’s sawdust… but it’s sawdust.  If you don’t have time to let a batch sit and absorb the flavor then, by all means, go for it.

Shavings

Not quite as down and dirty as it’s powdered counterpart. They don’t offer a terribly large amount of character but in a pinch, they will do the trick. They do offer a quick infusing of character, though.

Chips

An old standard, most homebrewers have soaked these in some spirit or potent potable at one time or another. Ideal for a beginner trying to add wood character to a beer. These lack the complexity you get from cubes, spirals, or an actual barrel while still offer a nice wood note.

Cubes

Hungarian wood oak cubesThese lil’ guys are essentially staves from a barrel cut into little bite-sized pieces for easier use. They will have both toasted and untoasted sides. It’s through these that you can get the flavors of the raw wood and the toasted wood.

Spirals

A newer tool, at least in my brewing arsenal. Spirals make adding wood to beer super easy; there’s no weighing, you just plunk in one spiral per three gallons for a good character. The extraction is also pretty quick at six weeks compared to months from other options.

Sticks

No, I’m not telling you to go and grab a tree branch and throw it in your fermenter. Sticks look like little planks of wood that you can throw into your fermenter and let the magic take place. I’m not sure my opinion of these as they just seem to allow the flavor to get into the beer quickly. Some manufacturers say that they cannot over flavor the beer. I have yet to test sticks, but I am doubtful.

An Actual MFin’ Barrel

The OG of getting wood into your beer is getting your beer into wood! I’ve
done most of the previously mentioned methods as well as the actual barrel, and I must saRivertown Wood Barrelsy that the barrel is a huge pain in the ass, and the flavors therein can be imitated pretty easily. While it does look cool and feel awesome to have one. You aren’t any less of a brewer if you’re not stacking barrels 3 high.

Types of Wood

There are many trees on this planet, some tasty, some not, and some that will kill you. So I urge you to please do your research so you don’t get murdered by Mother Nature. Though, you probably deserve it. I know I do.

Offensive wood

American Oak

A staple in American bourbon production, American Oak shows up all over the place in homebrew stores. From vintner to brewer it finds its home in many a carboy. From light to heavy toast its flavors mutate quite nicely. With lighter toastings, American Oak manifests notes of vanilla, cream soda, and coconut. Whereas darker toasts will provide caramel, leather, and light tobacco notes.

Hungarian Oak

A lesser known option but still delicious none the less. Hungarian Oak provides subtle notes of vanilla, roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and black pepper.

French Oak

One of my personal favorites when making wine or doing sour ales. French oak is a genuine delight imparting flavors of cinnamon, allspice, custard, Crème Brule, milk chocolate, and roasted coffee. It also gives a nice amount of aromatics plus sweetness on the mouth feel.

Spanish Cedar

Another lesser used wood, Spanish Cedar is actually a type of Mahogany. I love using this stuff in beer that tends to be sweeter in its finish as the cedar dries out the beer pretty well. Spanish Cedar imparts flavors of grapefruit, sandalwood, white pepper, and hints of clove… as well as cedar.

Special Mentions

Cherry, Hard Maple, Hickory, Red Oak, Sassafras, Soft Maple, White Ash, and Yellow Birch. I’ve not played with these, but I just found a place, Black Swan Barrels, that carries “honeycombs” made out of them as an alternative to barrel aging.

Using Wood

Amount and Time

I don’t think I’ve found any perfect amount for adding wood to a beer/wine; I find each type takes to different beers in different ways. I usually follow the old cooking motto: you can always add more, but you can’t take any out. With most wood, though, it will fall out in time, but I must say its character gets into things much faster than it gets out.

When to Wood

The best brewers don’t make a beer to add wood too; they add it to a beer that calls for it. Use your judgment when it comes to deciding to add wood to something. Don’t just do it because the recipe says to. At times, simplicity is your strongest ally.

I hope I’ve managed to cover any questions you may have about the addition of wood to your brewing. If you have any additional questions or would like to submit a topic for me to cover in one of these articles, contact me at Johnathon.a.campbell@gmail.com and as always keep the beer flowing and your knowledge growing.

Beer Review: Deschutes The Abyss

This is the one you’ve been waiting for. Ever since rumors first surfaced of Deschutes bringing their beer to Ohio folks who knew of Deschutes had two words on their lips, The Abyss.

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Simply put The Abyss is Deschutes take on bourbon barrel imperial stouts. Less simply I present Deschutes blurb on their beer:

A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate.

As for the great “drink it now or let it age” debate, we stand clearly on the fence. Distinct and delicious on release, the flavors meld and fuse into an entirely different pleasure after a year or more in the cellar.

Let’s get on to what I think…

Continue reading “Beer Review: Deschutes The Abyss”

Know You Local Brewery: Quaff Bros

I stopped by The Party Source for a conversation with Quaff Bros co-founder Danny Gold and Quaff collaborators Scott LaFollette, head brewer at Blank Slate Brewing Company, and Jason Brewer, from Listermann’s/Triple Digit, about wandering breweries. That discussion evolved into a full history of Quaff Bros which you can learn about below.

Quaff Bros

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Beer Release Review: Triple Digit Cranium

Cincinnati’s own Triple Digit Brewing Company is releasing a new beer. Known for their triple digit original gravity beers all clocking in upwards of 10% they are adding to that lineup with Cranium. A bourbon barrel aged imperial oatmeal stout with coffee and vanilla. Suffice to say this beer has a lot going on and a lot going for it! I stopped by Dutch’s Bar, Bottle Shop, and Larder tonight for the draft release party. If you weren’t able to make it then hit up Listermann’s Brewery this Friday (11/8) for the bottle release.

Triple Digit Cranium
Photo courtesy of Dutch’s

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