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Drinking with the Idiots #4: barrel-aged barley wine

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We have done – it again – with the barrel-aged versions! This time we tasted the original six barley wines and their barrel-aged versions at Jef’s brewery in Izegem with Grégoire Rifaut of Dynamo in Brussels joined by Ben Floren of Beerlovers Bar in Antwerp and a cast of characters in the audience.

It got a bit wild. The collaborations were put together by Jef with Brasserie Minne, Brouwerij ‘t Verzet, ‘t Hofbrouwerijke, Brouwerij Alvinne, Totem and Atrium.

In ‘Drinking with the Idiots #3’ we had a live tasting of six collab barley wines put together by Jef Pirens of D’Oude Maalderij with 6 other craft brewers in Belgium with Greg (see the video below). 

The recipes produced by each of the brewers described:

  • Brasserie Minne: brownish barleywine at 20.5° Plato.
  • Brouwerij ‘t Verzet: rye barleywine with 4 kg Sorachi Ace hops in the whirlpool.
  • ‘t Hofbrouwerijke: barleywine with spelt, peated malt and double yeast fermented down to 0°Plato
  • Brouwerij Alvinne: barleywine at 22.8°Plato with fig leaves and Palo Santo wood.
  • Totem: barleywine at 21°Plato with golden naked oats and Kveik yeast.
  • Atrium: brewed at 22.7°Plato with Tonka beans

Eureka moment

“I though, as a brewer I am often too busy to do collaborations as I don’t have time on my hands,” Pirens said. “Now I have time, why don’t I do more collaborations?”

With the borders closed he turned to his brewing friends in Belgium with the idea for doing a unique six pack each with a different brewer. They convinced him that they wanted to do barley wines, since that had previously commended him for his expertise in producing this style of beer.

Each brewer produced a different recipe for their collab barleywine and after Pirens collected all the ingredients, each visited him between December and January to brew 10h each. The release on 1 April represents half of the output with the other half going into barrels at each of the brewers, which they will release in 6 to 18 months.

 
Pirens lists three important goals of the collabs: “The first was to have fun and learn from each other. The second was to gain some money. We are all small brewers. And the most important was showing the world that we are still and around and doing something.”

He adds: “I am inspired by the American craft spirit of collaborations. We are not competing as small brewers. We are all colleagues. The main thing is to help each other out and learn from each other. No commercial brewer is doing this. That is no problem. Let us do this and promote ourselves. I also hope to bring a small amount of joy to a lot of enthusiasts and make them not forget us.”

The barleywine style is known as a high percentage alcohol beer tempered by complexity. Check out the articles and video interviews the Beer Idiots have done in the past with the featured brewers.

Beer Idiots’ interviews with the brewers

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