by Jonathan Chambers, Cider & Beer Manager 

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Join Capitol Cider for the 2nd annual Barrel Fest all week long. Enjoy barrel-aged ciders, a new selection of barrel-aged brews, plus a bottle pour option this time around. See below for a full offering.

Why Barrels? (A History of Cider)

Barrels are great for cider, because of both tradition and the crafting of the product. Originally, cider was fermented and held in a wooden vessel, whether it be a more traditional barrel style, or in a wooden pail behind the barn. These were the only containers available to ferment in.

Metallic vessels became available in the mid 19th century and were utilized by high-volume, mass producers. This technology was not conducive for small farm operations, not to mention, the materials used to make the barrels (i.e. copper and lead) would leach into the product. As cider is highly acidic in nature, it was a good move to stick with the barrel production process.

In the late 1950’s, stainless steel tanks took the beverage industry by storm and are now the industry norm. Reliable temperature control, lack of oxidation issues, and larger production capacity are some of the main reasons for this switch. However, there remains a thriving minority that still utilizes wooden vessels for what they can imbue.

The basic compounds that make up oak can add certain flavor notes ranging from toasted complexity, vanilla, tobacco, tea, and other nuanced flavors. Depending on the time in the barrels, these notes can be pronounced or subtle. Tannins are also another benefit, matching and melding with the native tannins found in certain apples, this can help create a more noticeable texture, or add an otherwise unknown profile to the apple varieties that are devoid of noticeable tannins entirely. If second-use barrels are in play (i.e. whiskey, red wine, or other spirits) the original occupant can give an extra “umph” to the flavor profile, as all the elements mingle together in the aging process.

BARREL-AGED GOODNESS TO TRY THIS WEEK

BARREL-AGED CIDERS

  • 2 Towns – Barrel Aged Nice & Naughty
  • 2 Towns – Return of the Mac
  • Anthem – Barrel Aged Fresh Hop
  • Alpenfire – Apocalypso
  • Ace – Blackjack 21
  • Finnriver – Firebarrel ’15
  • Finnriver – Oak & Apple
  • Liberty – Stonewall
  • Honey Moon – Bourbon CiderHead
  • Millstone – Hopvine
  • Whitewood – Barrel Aged Kingston Black SV
  • Schilling – Sauvignon Blanc Chai
  • Seattle Cider Co. – Barrel Aged PNW Berry
  • Seattle Cider Co. – Gravenstein Rosé
  • Woodchuck – Barrel Select
  • Wandering Aengus – Barrel Aged Wickson SV
  • Wandering Aengus – Barrel Aged Golden Russet SV
  • Reverend Nat’s – Barrel Aged Lorrie’s Gold

BAREL-AGED BEERS

  • Avery – Raspberry Sour
  • Deschutes – Pinot Suavé
  • Lagunitas – High Westified Stout
  • Orlison – Barrel Aged Two Finger Pour
  • Elevation – Signal de Botrange
  • Brasserie de Silly – Silly Willett
  • Hale’s Ales/Chuckanut Brewing – Oak Barrel-Aged Smoked Doppelbock
  • Engine House 9 – Barrel Aged Saaz Farmhouse Ale
  • Local Option – Die Königin
  • Two Beers – Fall Line

BARREL-AGED BOTTLES

  • 2towns – Reserve Batch #1
  • Alpenfire – Pirate’s Plank
  • Alpenfire – Calypso
  • Carlton – Slake
  • Crispin – 15 Men
  • Crispin – Venus
  • Finnriver – Oak & Apple
  • Finnriver – Firebarrel
  • Finnriver – Berry Barrel Sour
  • Liberty – Stonewall
  • Millstone – Cobbler Peach
  • Millstone – Farmgate
  • Moonlight Meadery – Last Apple
  • Reverend Nat’s – Deliverance Gin & Tonic
  • Reverend Nat’s – Whiskey Sour
  • Sea Cider – Prohibition
  • Seattle Cider Co. – Gravenstein Rose
  • Sheppy’s – Vintage Reserve
  • Snowdrift – Cornice
  • Tieton – Cidermakers Reserve
  • Thistly Cross – Whisky Cask

These products are limited. Some come out yearly, others are one offs that we’re proud to showcase here at Capitol Cider. Due to the length of time it takes to ferment the product, then tuck it away in a barrel and sit ’til it hits a level of perfection, they tend to be pricey but well worth it.

The barrel-aged process is one way to experiment, without wasting a lot of capital or product in the process. For some of these companies, all their products are introduced to wood and barrels at some point. It just happens to be the way that they view their products: steeped in tradition.  That’s the reason I love throwing this event, tasting the final product of somebody’s hair brained idea come to life, or sometimes in those magical moments, tasting the beautiful result of time itself.