There is a growing identity crisis in craft beer. No, not the one about who is Big Beer and who is “craft beer,” but, is everything being aged and blended and open fermented out there still really beer at all? The CBB answer is either “yes,” or “who cares,” but Saint Arnold Brewing Co., one of the oldest craft breweries in Texas, continues to push those bounds with Bishop’s Barrel No. 16.
Brewer and Wood Cellar Manager Aaron Inkrott aged the Sorachi Ace Dubbel, previously released as the 2014 Icon Red, in red wine barrels from the French region of Bordeaux for 11 months with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast added to the barrels for a secondary fermentation.
The flavor of Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 16 begins with the reminder that this is first and foremost a beer, with caramel malt and dark fruit sweetness. It quickly takes a turn into a deep, red wine flavor of black currant and tart raspberry. There’s a tannic, oaky bite that complements the overall beer. It finishes with a wine-like tail on the palate.
“In two words: wine candy,” said Inkrott.
Inkrott suggests pouring the beer into a snifter or wine glass to bring out an aroma of rich, red wine with sour cherry pie. It pours with a dark/blood red color with a tan head that slowly dissipates and leaves a thin rim around the glass. The aroma is oaky with a Brettanomyces funk of hay and earthy undertones. As it warms, an almond-like nuttiness presents itself.
Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 16 is ready to drink now, however, it will continue to evolve due to the Brettanomyces. It is best enjoyed between 55°F and 60°F.
Future Bishop’s Barrel projects include an Adambier aged in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels and Oat Wine aged in WhistlePig Rye Whiskey barrels.
Bishop’s Barrel 16 Specs
Date Brewed: November 19, 2015
Date Barreled: December 3, 2015
Date Bottled: November 23, 2016
Type of Barrel: Bordeaux Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon
Original Gravity: 1.072
Final Gravity: 1.0115
Alcohol: 8.4 percent ABV