Brew Day: Barrel House Z Launch Pad Contest

There are more breweries in the US than there have been at any point in history. Locally, breweries are opening on an almost monthly basis. One new brewery scheduled to open is Barrel House Z in Weymouth. The brewery is being opened by original Harpoon brewer Russ Heissner, and like Innis and Gunn all of their beers will be barrel-aged.

A couple of months ago I received an email from the North Shore Brewers about Barrel House Z’s Launch Pad Contest:

Launch Pad is a real opportunity for you, the home brewer, to scale up your operation and get a taste of what it’s like to brew your beer on a commercial level! The winner of the Launch Pad Contest will get to enjoy the following:

·Commercially produce, brand, and distribute a limited batch of beer in collaboration with BHZ (minimum of 20 BBL, maximum of 140 BBL)
·Attend and enter your beer at the Great American Beer Fest (travel & accommodations included)
·Be the “rock star”, host tastings and signings for the beer on the South Shore and in Boston
·Learn the ins and outs of the craft beer business and how to scale up from home brewing to commercial brewing
·Receive consultation on starting a brewery and/or setting up a contract brewing operation of their own

Well, that certainly sounds interesting! Now, look at the kind of beer they are looking for:


My Camp Randall Red IPA is exactly what they are looking for! I was thrilled with how the beer came out; it had a fruity hop flavor and was complimented by a complex blend of malts. I had it in my mind to brew this one again. The contest just moved it to the front of the line.

The original recipe was a partial mash where a good chunk of my fermentables came from liquid malt extract. This time around I wanted to brew an all-grain batch with all of the base malt being pale ale malt, as opposed to the malt extract which uses lighter 2-row malt. I brewed a three gallon, all-grain batch on my stove-top.


The character a beer gains from oak aging varies greatly depending on the type of oak and type of spirit aged in the cask. I get a lot of vanilla from most wood-aged beers that I drink. With that in mind, I adjusted the grist to make the malt flavor a little less sweet up front so the beer wouldn’t be too cloying coming out of the barrel. I also increased the hop bitterness and dry hops figuring that the beer would lose some bitterness and a fair amount of hop character after being aged in the barrel.

I purchased my ingredients locally on brew day. After not making a yeast starter, I ended up using a dry yeast. I chose a yeast that I have always had success with, but haven’t used in awhile. It ferments fast and clears beautifully. When the people at Barrel House Z try my beer I want it to look great to really make a strong first impression.

In my mind I think this beer would work really well aged in a rum barrel. To maintain a fresh hop character the beer could be racked from the barrels back into a stainless steel tank for dry hopping. Another alternative could be to blend the barrel-aged beer with a fresh batch that wasn’t barrel aged.

I might split the batch and age one gallon on rum-soaked oak cubes to get an idea what the beer would taste like after barrel aging.

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