Working away quietly at Bootleg Brewery in Margaret River, head brewer Michael Brookes has been experimenting with oak fermentation and oak aging his current range of beers.
Back in October when Bootleg had released The Grandfather Barley Wine, an annual limited release beer aged in Merlot barrels, there were plans to play around with oak fermenting their core range. Right now you can try Bootleg Wils Pils that has not only been fermented in oak but also aged in oak for two months. Not just any oak either, Michael has used the same barrels that he used for The Grandfather.
Michael poured the oaked Wils Pils and my excitement got the better of me as I stuck my nose into the glass without registering the golden straw clarity of the beer. The clarity of this unfiltered, oak aged pilsner was a bit of a nice surprise to Michael.
Oaked Wils Pils is an interesting beer and one that makes you sip, think and repeat. It has an unexpected sour funky thing going on and it’s buried in flavours of a recently empty glass of bourbon. Elements of a nice malty pilsner linger in the background but it’s being bear-hugged by some vanilla and spicy yet also sweet characters. Wils Pils on oak is definitely one I would recommend trying.
Drunk side by side with the regular Wils Pils, it is amazing what a little comparison can do. The aromas on the Wils Pils were just as though I’d stuck my face into a bag of pale malt. Citrus flavours that I’d never really thought were big in the Wils Pils were suddenly announcing themselves with great fanfare.
The next beer to get the oak treatment is Tom’s Amber Ale, currently fermenting away happily as I type. Tom’s Oaked Amber Ale will also be dry hopped with Australian Galaxy hops and sent off to next months GABS Festival (Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular).
Since I know very little about oak aged beer I’ve been doing some reading, good beery reading. If you’re interested, here a couple of articles I enjoyed:
- Beer-Wine Hybrids – Two Worlds Collide by Ashely Routson, aka The Beer Wench
- How Not to Make Money Making Beer by Dee Dee Germain
In other Bootleg news, Michael has recently purchased a couple of cognac barrels so it will be interesting to see what he has planned for those. The recent addition of a new bright beer tank also means improved consistency in the brew house which certainly makes for a happy brewer!
You may have already seen on Facebook but Bootleg have new t-shirts with funky designs that I just couldn’t pass up. Available in both girls and boys sizes; girls will be pleased to know these tees have some length in them, not leaving you pulling them down every thirty seconds; and are a nice fit, as opposed to small man shirts disguised as women’s t-shirts.
And finally, did you know Bootleg Brewery is on tap at the new Jamie’s Italian in Perth? (sadly there’s no beer menu on their website) I hear that Bootleg and Feral Brewing were specially selected on the basis of the high quality of their beers, the ingredients they use and how they produce their beer. I’m very much looking forward to trying Jamie’s Italian soon with an entree of Feral White and main course of Bootleg Raging Bull!