Mind games - a collaboration with firestone walker
Mind Games is a collaboration with our good friends at Firestone Walker Brewing Company. We knew we wanted to produce a barrel-aged beer, and while Matt Brynildson, their head brewer, was working in Europe last year, we took the chance to travel to Bordeaux together for some inspiration. Whilst there, we met up with Alex Sakon of ASC Barrels and together we toured the region’s Chateaux, Coopers and Cognac distilleries in search of inspiration for a new beer. We had thought we had decided on the beer we wanted and the Cognac barrels we were going to age it in; however, just as we were leaving the barrel yard, a chance encounter with a truckload of freshly emptied gin barrels changed our minds! As soon as we smelt the inside of them, we knew we wanted to use these to create something unique.
We both agreed that a strong Saison-style beer would work best for this project, so we brewed a classic version, using Savinjski Goldings hops and three different Saison yeast strains. It’s not often we get to make a Saison here at Thornbridge, so it was with great pleasure that we propagated the three different yeast strains and perfected a very gentle spice mix for the boil. After fermentation, we racked the beer straight into the gin barrels, where it stayed for 8 months in total, gaining a touch of oakiness and pleasant gin character. With Matt working hard in Belgium, samples had to make their way in the post so he could check on the beers development! Often with ageing projects, there can be a lot of difference between each barrel, but this time however, there was surprisingly little variation, which simplified the blending process considerably. On the final tasting, we did notice that we wanted a touch more acidity, so we added a small proportion of kettle-soured beer to balance the final pH. We finally bottled it with Champagne yeast, aiming for a fairly high carbonation (as is traditional for a Saison).
We’re really happy with the result and very pleased we can finally release the beer. As for tasting notes, Mind Games is an almost bright, golden colour with initial peppery notes of chamomile and candied orange. Classic Saison estery characteristics of lemon, pineapple and vanilla come through on the palate, with a gentle impression of juniper and toasted oak.
Dominic Driscoll, Production Manager