Barrelling Craft Beer

Barrelling Craft Beer

Thorny Devil is Australia’s best, favourite Craft Beer.

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Inherent in the process of making beer are so many opportunities. Thorny Devil gets to create new flavours, learn about different techniques, and, most of all, we get to share it with people and spread the word about just how exceptional craft brews can be. We get to explore and connect and learn, uniting those who value meticulously curated brews—and know the difference between marketing fluff and something truly handcrafted—with our simple, homespun blends.

Moo Brew’s Seasonal Stout and, in particular, its strictly limited release Vintage Barrel-Aged sibling are icons of the Australian craft beer scene. So, when the Tasmanian brewery announced that this year’s 2,500 Vintage bottles would be the sixth and final such release, eyebrows were raised at Crafty Towers. The good news is that, rather than doing away with the barrels in which they’ve been ageing their seasonal stout for the past six years, the plan is to expand the barrel program. What’s more, from 2014, the Seasonal Stout will all be barrel-aged, with a proportion of next year’s batch spending time in oak before being blended back into the rest of the batch prior to release.



The decision comes down to a couple of factors, according to head brewer Owen “OJ” Johnston: the desire to experiment a little more and the need to free up one of the John Kelly artworks used on all Moo Brew’s labels in anticipation of adding a sixth permanent beer to their range.


“I’ve got six paintings and have used all six of them now,” says OJ. “The one that we use on the Vintage Stout is only used for 2,500 bottles each year. It’s a bit of a waste, so in light of that and the fact that we want to do some more barrel ageing we decided this would be the last Vintage release.


“I feel like we’ve kind of done the barrel ageing of the stout. I’m not overly sentimental over our beers or recipes, so while it was a relatively important beer in the landscape when it came out, I’m happy to change it. We can fill and empty these barrels pretty quickly, so this way I don’t have to sit on 2,000 litres of stout for 12 months. They could be doing all sorts of other stuff in that time.”


First up for a little bit of barrel action will be a Belgian Tripel, 500 litres of which went into new American oak that “smells absolutely amazing” two months ago and will be blended back into the remainder of the batch for a Spring release.


As for the identity of the beer that will ultimately take ownership of the sixth John Kelly painting, it’s too early to say. With Belgo only being added to the permanent lineup last year, it will be at least a year before another arrives. OJ says his brewers are pushing for an IPA, but he’s yet to be convinced.



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