Big Barrel Aged Stouts with Michael Tonsmeire – BeerSmith Podcast #302

by Brad Smith on April 25, 2024 · 0 comments

Michael Tonsmeire from Sapwood Cellars joins me this week to talk about very high gravity barrel aged stouts.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (40:41)

  • This week I welcome back Michael Tonsmeire. Michael is a founder of the brewery Sapwood Cellars in Columbia, MD. He is the author of the book “American Sour Beers“(Amazon Affiliate Link) as well as the blog The Mad Fermentationist online. He’s also a certified beer judge.
  • We briefly discuss what’s new at his brewery Sapwood Cellars.
  • Michael introduces the style of very high gravity barrel aged stouts, which is largely an extension of the traditional Imperial Stout.
  • We discuss starting and finishing gravities as well as how you balance the high sweetness/maltiness from the very high finishing gravities.
  • Michael explains how the mash and boil are done either by using sugars/liquid malt to supplement a regular mash or by doing multiple mashes and an extremely long boil to concentrate it.
  • We discuss fermentation considerations at these very high gravities including yeast hydration, multiple oxygen additions and also concerns like osmotic shock.
  • Michael provides his other fermentation tips, including cold aging.
  • Michael discusses barrel aging, what it adds to the beer and some tips for minimizing oxygen transfer.
  • We talk about alternatives to barrel aging including wood chips, spirals and mixing with small amounts of spirits.
  • Michael talks about added flavorings like maple extract, cocoa nibs, and vanilla.
  • We talk briefly about blending finished beers which is commonly done with these styles.
  • Michael gives his closing thoughts.


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