We’ve got some new toys!
Foudres are made in the same way and from the same materials as barrels but tend to be much larger. Usually used in wine production, encountering foudres in a brewery is a rarity, and their use in sour beer production is legendary.
Their use is typified by two of our sour brewing heroes; Rodenbach in Belgium and New Belgium in Colorado - both of whom have done away with barrels in favour of foudres.
The benefits to sour beer production are pronounced. Foudres are built with thicker wooden staves to support the increased weight of beer held in them. This means that they allow less oxygen transport and so inhibit acetobacter from producing acetic acid (vinegar) and acetone (aroma of nail polish) which can be an issue when using regular sized barrels.
Generally speaking, beer ages more gently in a foudre, allowing delicate yet complex fermentation character whilst the smaller surface area produces a more nuanced wood flavour. Foudres are revered for the level of refinement you can achieve from ageing sour and wild ales, harbouring diverse microflora in the grains of the wood.
In addition, the larger the batch size, the more consistent the result. Ageing beer in barrels is a two-edged sword; the same beer in different barrels can result in radically different flavours, sometimes producing exciting results, sometimes perplexing ones.
Using a foudre for ageing produces a more consistent base beer, allowing richly accented notes to be added from our collection of over 400 barrel-aged beers.
Look out for our first Foudre releases coming in 2017.