Beers Both New and Old
Tomorrow (Saturday, August 29th), we are releasing three new beers! One is a super-fresh hoppy beer brewed earlier this month, another is a malty lager we brewed in June, and the last is a fruited sour from 2018! Pre-orders for all three are available through our webstore right now: pre-order here
House of Secrets ($16/4-pack) is an intensely aromatic 5.7% ABV pale ale hopped like an IPA. We selected Citra and Galaxy (the Snip Snap combo) along with Vic Secret. Vic Secret is often called “Baby Galaxy” because it too hails from Australia and brings tropical fruit aromatics, but it also contributes a deeper danker flavor more akin to Mosaic. In this case, that adds some balance to the fruit onslaught. A few points drier than the “of Light” series to get that late-summer crisp drinkability!
Sky Meadow ($16/4-pack) is our first house-canned lager! I realize German-inspired beers probably aren’t what you think of when you think about Sapwood Cellars, but we’ll try to change that! We brewed Sky Meadow (6.4% ABV) to be closer to what they pour in the tents of Munich… or would have if Oktoberfest wasn’t canceled. These “Wiesn” (meadow) beers are paler, stronger, and slightly hoppier than the orange-hued “Märzen” or “Oktoberfest” examples typically exported to the US. We brewed Sky Meadow with 100% German ingredients (except the water): Weyermann Pilsner/Vienna/Munich, Best Chit, Tettnang, and 34/70 lager yeast. We then lagered it near-freezing for eight weeks before canning! Bready, spicy, and almost too easy to drink!
Brettwood Rd ($16/bottle) was refermented on local peaches and nectarines from our friends at Milburn Orchards (Elkton, MD). We selected White Lady peaches and white nectarines because of their beautiful fruity-floral aromatics. When choosing fruit for a sour beer, how good it smells is the most important factor because the texture doesn’t translate, sugar ferments out, and the acids are diluted. Thanks to the base beer, the acidity is punchy on this one, and it has a pleasant Brett-funkiness in the finish.
Let’s Talk About Freshness
Beer is an inherently delicate product compared to most other alcoholic beverages. Distilled spirits and are almost completely immune to the effects of time and oxygen. Wine can often sit warm for years with no ill-effects. Most beers are best as fresh as possible because they contain compounds sensitive to light, heat, oxygen, and time.
There are a few exceptions, a heavily dry-hopped IPA may smooth over the first week or two. Some beers like Imperial Stouts and Barleywines can improve with age if oxygen pick-up during canning or bottling is minimized, and they are stored in a cool place. Time tends to mellow their flavors, and oxidation rather than muting fresh hop aromatics (in a hazy IPA, for example) can add dark fruit flavors complementary to the roast or maltiness.
We suggest storing our canned beers cold and drinking them within six weeks. As our 16 oz “mini-crowlers” are filled by hand with less control and more oxygen pick-up, we suggest consuming them within a week. For the stouts and sour beers, they are often fine longer, but no guarantees and we’d say a month at most!
Our bottled sour beers are a different story. The microbes that carbonate the beer in the bottle can survive, continuing to scavenge oxygen and generate interesting aromatics. As a result, these beers are best stored cool, but not cold. A basement (even if a bit warm) is preferable to a refrigerator. That isn’t to say that our sour beers will always improve with time. They are ready to drink at release. The fresh fruit, dry hop, or herbal additions will fade over time. On the label each bottle lists a suggested maximum cellar time from the bottling date. Nothing terrible will happen if you store the beer longer, but most of our original intent may be lost.
Mike & Scott