Roll Out the Barrel


Most Americans are used to beer with a brewing date of last week, so it might come as a surprise that there is growing interest in the ancient art of producing barrel-aged brews, beers that have spent time in barrels that may have been previously used for spirits such as bourbon or even wines the likes of chardonnay. (Cask-conditioning, which often takes place in stainless containers, is a variation of this process.) The beer may undergo a secondary fermentation and become naturally carbonated; it may take up flavors contributed by the barrel's previous occupant; it will almost surely become more complex with inevitable air exposure, fraternization with microbes and the like. And it's happening right here in San Antonio.

On Saturday July 17 starting at 11:30 a.m., Freetail Brewing Company, in association with the folks at Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, will host the RealTail Festival of Barrel Aged Beers. At the day-long event, Freetail will offer barrel-aged versions of their La Muerta imperial stout, along with Old Bat Rastard, dubbed a “winter warmer.” In addition, Freetail's Scott Metzger says they will present samples of the brewery's Wild Ale produced in a version of the solera process, usually used for Sherries and rums, in which new product is blended with old to create a cross-generational result.

For their part, Real Ale plans to offer a look into their Mysterium Verum barrel aging program, as Empire (an aged IPA) Highlander (Scotch ale), and The Devil's Share (a Belgian-style tripel) are all tapped along with samples from their regular line. “A few more surprises may also be in store for visitors,” hints Metzger.

Freetail is located at the northeast corner of NW Military Dr. and Loop 1604. Admission is free, though full-size servings are likely to come at a price. It's the conditioning of beer, not drinkers, that's being promoted, after all.

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