Batch 14: Woodstock Old Ale

Woodstock – Old Ale aged on oak with brettanomyces

This was my first collaboration with a friend who homebrews under the moniker Playhouse Brewing. His homebrew is an inspiration to me and his experience far outweighs my own, so this was a great opportunity for me. We both intended to brew a similar beer this month so we decided to do so together, splitting the wort and pitching our own yeasts.

The malt bill was his doing, closely matching what I had in mind already:

88.5%  Maris Otter

6.5%   Crystal 40

3.5%   Crystal 120

1.5%   Chocolate malt

Bitterness was added by way of hop extract at FWH to acheive 45 IBU. My 2.5 gallons received WYeast’s 9097 old ale blend, a “Private Collection” strain that includes some brettanomyces and is only released every couple years from my knowledge.

Fermentation was quick to get going and vigorous. Bubbling started after only a few hours.  The next morning there was a nice 30mm krausen, and by that evening it was in full blow-off mode. It continued to blow off for about 10 hours. After a few weeks in primary this will spend an extended time in secondary on boiled oak cubes.

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OG:  1.099     IBU: 45     FG: 1.010

Brewed:  Dec 6th, 2015     Bottled:  April 24, 2016

Fermentation took place in an “ice bath” which I tried to keep at an average 67 – 68F for the first four days, but in reality it would slowly oscillate between 64 and 73F due to my only being able to add ice every 8 hours or so. I pitched only the swelled smack pack, which is a pretty light pitch for 2.5 gallons of 1.100 wort I realize.

Tasting Notes:

Jan 3, 2016 – Sample from primary. SG down to 1.019, though it tastes sweeter. Intense fruitiness and solid caramel backbone. Surprisingly little ‘young’ flavour and not a lot of heat either, considering it’s clocking in at 10.7% right now. Added boiled oak cubes and will leave in primary until bottling.

May 30, 2016 – First bottle. Negligible carb, which was expected and welcomed at this point. Flavour is dominated by a leathery quality which is quite pleasant. Some subtle dark fruit flavour. Moderate and pleasant oak presence. So far, so good! Despite the 90% attenuation, the beer does not come across as particularly dry thanks to the brett flavours.