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By Ed Razzall, also posted in News on 22/05/19
I sometimes think one of my favourite parts of my job here at Adnams is also the one that requires me only to actually do two days of work on it each year.
It’s of course looking after the barrel collection we’ve been growing for a few years now. What started as a single 'mother' barrel that brewers Fergus and Dan first filled in 2014 with bottled strength Broadside has now grown to around 35 casks tucked away in various places all over the brewery. If there’s spare floor space I’ll probably try and tuck a barrel or two in it.
The 2019 vintage of Both Barrels - Barrel-aged Broadside - is now available online and in our stores, and it’s very different to the first two releases.
2017 was the first release and whilst eminently delicious, was a paean to wood – lots of vanilla and coconut flavours from the freshly filled casks.
In 2018 I introduced some more barrels that had previously been used to age Adnams Spirit of Broadside, our eau de vie de biere. These were much softer and more rounded, and this shows in the final blend of that year – much fruitier (maybe because I also put 5kg of sour cherries in each cask!), much drier and with a definite character similar to the beers of Roeselare over in Belgium that undergo long wood ageing.
My plan for 2019 was to refill all the casks that I thought were showing the best potential. This ended up being around 25 casks including some that had held bourbon, whisky, and finally, beer. I wanted to avoid letting the beer dry out as far as last year, too, but micro flora respects no man and some of the beers in cask fermented really far (sorry about the mess, John), partly due to the long, hot summer we had in 2018.
The final blend this year is a good balance of young (relatively!) beer layered on top of the beer from barrels that had a great level of acidity from the wild bacteria and yeast that have taken over some of the barrels, with a good savoury note from the wood itself.
I’d drink this at just below room temperature with a gamey dish like venison carbonnade or duck salad, but it’s absolutely perfect with a strong blue cheese.