Winter Warmers: Barrel-Aged Hard Shake & Plum Pudding Available Now
One year ago...
The world has a funny way of turning out coincidences, and today we realised that one such serendipitous happening was emerging before our eyes. A year ago, we picked up the keys to a unit just down the road from our York Street brewery. This empty warehouse was to become our Barrel Store, and marked the dawning of an exciting new era for Wiper and True.
It’s a dedicated space for us to experiment with more experimental brewing techniques, like ageing and using wild yeasts. Over the last five months, many of you will have seen us talking about the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces, and our range of deliciously complex, nuanced mixed fermentation beers, all brewed at the Barrel Store. We’re really proud of the beers that we have created on this site; they’re multifaceted flavour bombs that reveal increasingly layered and interesting characteristics as time goes by.
If you’re yet to try anything from the range, we really recommend ordering a mixed fermentation mixed case from our online shop and drinking half of the beers fresh, letting the rest age for a few months before sampling them again and comparing the experience.
While all the wild yeast shenanigans unfold, our Barrel Store head brewer Will has also been busy living up to the building’s name, tending to row upon row of mysterious barrels. When we first took on the site, we already had a couple of barrel-aged experiments tucked away at our main brewery site. These were transported up the road via forklift and installed in pride of place in the new building, alongside tanks for our mixed fermentation brews.
Will’s next job was to source and fill all manner of interesting barrels, that previously housed drinks ranging from Italian red wine to bourbon to locally produced gin. Today, there’s a real smorgasbord of vessels; looking at the markings on the barrels is like peering at the shelves of a beautifully-stocked bottle shop, but we don’t just choose these barrels at random.
For the last few months, Will has been carefully sampling the contents of these barrels (such a hard life), monitoring the evolutions in flavour, aroma, consistency, and ABV as the beers mature. This is the really interesting part; it’s fascinating to see the way that a particular tasting note from the un-aged beer can really be amplified during its maturation period; or be refracted and emerge as something completely new, thanks to echoes of flavours from the barrels themselves, and their previous fillings: therein lies the magic.
Fast-forward to December 2020, and we are absolutely delighted to be sharing the first two barrel-aged releases from this site.
First up is Plum Pudding: already one of our favourite seasonal brews, we’ve ramped up the festivities with this 7.6% barrel-aged version. The base recipe was laced with dark toasted malts, dried fruits and lemon zest, and then spent a six month stint in oak cognac barrels, which really helped elevate things to a whole new level. Distinctive notes of rich dried prunes linger at the fore, with sweet marzipan flavours adding to the festive feel.
The second release is Hard Shake, our Barrel-Aged Imperial Milk Stout. Over the years we’ve released several versions of this beer, but we’re particularly thrilled with the way this 11% iteration is tasting. The beer has a carefully layered malt bill, with darker roasts providing an indulgent base of black treacle flavours and aromas. An eight month spell in freshly emptied American bourbon oak barrels introduces distinctive notes of vanilla and coconut to the proceedings. The end result is a lusciously indulgent, velvetine beer that envelops, soothes and delights the senses.
Both beers are available to buy directly from Wiper and True: you can buy single cans of each at our Can Kiosk, or in four packs from our online shop. They will also be available from good bottle shops near you - keep your eyes open next week!
So what’s next?
Well, even as brewers we are never quite sure how things will evolve at the Barrel Store - or how long the beers will need - but if all goes to plan, we’ll have two more very delicious barrel-aged beers to share with you in January. First up is the second batch of Old Twelfth Night, our barrel-aged Orchard Ale. This year’s release is from the 2018 vintage. The second release will be Swally, a traditional Scottish Wee Heavy that’s been aged in red wine barrels. Bring on the New Year!