Video Tip: Blending Your Team to Taste and Blend Barrel-Aged Barleywines

When it’s time to pull nails and evaluate components for blending, New Image’s Brandon Capps recommends including tasters who are less familiar with the style, while also ensuring that tasting happens blindly and individually.

Brandon Capps Mar 27, 2024 - 3 min read

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Brandon Capps of New Image Brewing in Arvada and Wheat Ridge, Colorado, has a reputation for tinkering with chemistry and technique to pack more flavor into beers. His background in engineering and process design informs his iterative, experimental approach, whether it means finding the best way to use hop terpenes in IPAs or deploying macro-oxidation to get the aged qualities he wants from barrel-aged barleywines. Those barleywines are the subject of this course, and we at Craft Beer & Brewing have tasted few that we enjoyed more than New Image 9505. Our blind review panel scored it a 99/100 in our Winter 2023 issue, and it went on to become one of our editors’ Best 20 Beers in 2023.

In this 66-minute course, Capps focuses on New Image’s approach to barrel-aged barleywines, from intentions and ingredients and on through brewing, fermentation, aging, and blending, all while harnessing the key components of oxidation, wood, and time. Along the way, he covers:

  • choosing your approach and selecting malts with intention
  • aiming for different starting gravities to produce different blending components
  • using Noble and aged hops for stability and preservation
  • selecting yeast for attenuation and healthy fermentation
  • using a brewhouse built for high gravities and high boil-off rates
  • using the boil to concentrate the wort for higher starting gravities
  • aiming for high attenuation despite high gravities
  • using nutrients and oxygen to give the fermentation a strong start
  • cool-conditioning and clarifying barleywine before barrel aging
  • degassing before aging, and treating oxidation as a key component
  • experimenting with Madeira-inspired macro-oxidation
  • understanding the flavors in the wood
  • planning for time as a component, depending on the barrel
  • using wood finishing to freshen up an aged barleywine
  • tasting and blending components to assemble great barleywines

And more.

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