Since my last update, the nocino was removed from the barrel on the advice of my panel of taste testers. It was replaced with an imperial stout. The intent was to allow the stout to soak up the flavors of the nocino and the barrel (Duh!). Prior to making the decision to introduce an imperial stout into the barrel, I did a fair amount of research on that style’s suitability to pair with nocino. It seemed like a good fit. However, without getting into all the details, the pairing was not as successful as I had hoped. As one of my tasters suggested, the flavor of the resulting stout was “noisy.” I have 2.5gal of “un-barreled” stout that I can blend with the “barreled” stout, but at this point, I am not optimistic that blending will remedy the problems.
I decided to go to Plan B. This plan will involve brewing a very different ale for introduction into the barrel. On April 3, 2019, I brewed a Belgian Quad that stayed in primary for almost 3 weeks at which point I racked it into a secondary (4/23/19) and placed in my temperature controlled freezer for cold-crashing. The quad fermented well and ended with an ABV around 9.5%. However, I found that brewing with poor near vision introduced some significant problems that I now have to remedy.
After four eye surgeries over the last few months, my near vision is not very good. I need reading glasses for near vision, but even they do not fully solve the problems because I currently have quite disparate vision between my two eyes. Two problems occurred during the process of designing and brewing the quad. First, I use BeerSmith for keeping track of my brews and recipes. In BeerSmith, I designed a “equipment” profile for my typical brews. This should be a sticky setting for any new recipe. For some unknown reason and without my awareness (possibly due to poor near vision), I failed to notice that the profile for my recipe had changed to a different one. Second, I misread the alpha acid level on one of my hops. The result of this screw up was a massively over-hopped ale. What to do? I decided to brew a very under-hopped version (3gal) that I will mix with the original batch, thus bringing down the bitterness to my intended level, Note to self: Do not brew or develop recipes without reading glasses.
Over the next few weeks I will drain the “barreled” stout into a keg. I will “recharge” the barrel a bit with some nocino, and I will brew the new batch of the Belgian Quad for blending with the existing batch. Then I will drain the barrel and fill with the quad.