Seven years ago, Barrelworks blended a special beer as an ode to Belgian Lambic style beers, which are made with wild yeast strains and bacteria for sour beer flavors. Thus, the birth of Feral One.
We asked Barrelworks’ Master Blender Jim Crooks to tell us more about Feral One, the annual blend celebrating the anniversary of our Barrelworks program…
Feral One presents itself as an idea and is a very personal beer for me. It is created using my most important brewing tool, my palette. I have been refining what this beer means to me and Barrelworks over the past seven years. Each annual release of Feral One is a blend of what I consider to be our most beautiful, charismatic barrels blended to make a beer that is more than the sum of its parts.
— Jim Crook, Barrelworks Barrelmaster
In a pure sense, Feral One is created from putting beer in a barrel and letting time work its magic, to the point where that barrel is “discovered” to be in its sweet spot of aroma, flavor, and harmony.
There is no specific recipe brewed to make Feral One, meaning there is no specific malt, hops or fruit added, no particular addition of bacteria or Brettanomyces (wild yeast) for fermentation. Feral One is not a batch of beer made to order. Feral One can also be blended from any specific barrel-style we have at Barrelworks: American, French, or Hungarian Oak, as well as any size barrel, be it a “small” 60-gallon wine barrel up to 1600 gallon wooden foeder. The blended component comprising Feral One have been as young as 18 months and as old as 50 months.
Feral One, to me, presents itself as an idea. I start with a specific spicy aroma, one of musky citrus rind and pith, melded with fresh hay. These distinctive flavors are what define a chosen Feral One barrel from the 1800+ barrels we have at our facility. These are flavors that are inspired by the famous Lambic Geueze beers centered around the brewing area of Brussels, Belgium.
— Jim Crooks
This flavor could be described as a lean, bracing earthiness, followed by freshly zested lemon rind layered on oaky vanillas with a dry finish.
We are always tasting barrels here, keeping our most important tool – our palettes – at work. Throughout the year we earmark barrels we find stunning for their individual character and set aside for Feral One. When time permits, all the chosen barrels are brought down onto the floor from their lofty racks, and I make the years blend using the barrels that sing to me.
This year’s blend includes a Wheaty Blonde, which is a malted wheat heavy version of 805, Lil Opal, which is our farmhouse-style Saison, and just a small amount of Rosalie, our beer rosé.
Available in bottles at our locations starting Saturday, March 7, 2020. Feral One Batch Seven is an American Wild Ale at 5.9% ABV.