Podcast Episode 125: Brad Clark of Private Press on Brewing and Blending Barrel-Aged Stouts and Barleywines

The former brewing director of Jackie O’s in Ohio left the acclaimed brewery to launch his own barrel-aging project in California. Here, he talks big beers—from malt and yeast to blending.

Jamie Bogner Mar 6, 2020


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Brad Clark has taken a big risk. He left a job overseeing brewing operations at Jackie O's, a 14,000-barrel-per-year brewery in Athens, Ohio, to launch his own small startup with a tightly focused approach on barrel-aging and blending. Private Press launches early this summer and will release barrel-aged stouts and barleywines, sold only through a membership program. It’s only possible thanks to the reputation he built brewing for more than a decade at the Athens, Ohio stalwart.

In this episode, Clark discusses the challenge of moving from big to small, the gravity arms race in imperial-strength beers, choices for building body in big beers, designing component recipes for blending stock, how to use dark malts to guide oxidation in favorable directions, building a language to describe flavors and sensations while blending, defining the “pocket” for a blended beer, discovering emotion in exceptional barrels, being present and focused while tasting, and brewing and packaging lessons learned the hard way.

“Happy accidents don’t happen anymore,” says Clark. “There’s intent, there’s vision, there’s palate, there’s this drive behind them. It’s not just an afterthought. It’s not a couple barrels in the corner. This is identity. Avoid happy accidents. Don’t even use that word. Think about what you’re doing and set it up for success.”

Photo: Tim Bottchen

This episode is brought to you by:

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Captain Pabst Logo
Out of the west a storm surprised, swept down on Captain Pabst,
That mariner and gentleman, his actions swift and fast,
He sailed the seabird against the throes, routing twain wind and fear,
He took haste to protect his kin, but the port was far from near,
Pabst’s intuition proved him right, and bore a friendly coast,
The mighty seabird crashed aground, and to that we raise a toast,
For while the seabird indeed was lost, safe were kin and crew,
And without this mighty ship to steer, Captain Pabst... began to brew.

Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].