Several months ago we received two ex Te Kairanga Sauvignon Blanc barrels . White wine barrels are a lot harder to acquire than red barrels as wineries tend to reuse white barrels more times than they do red barrels meaning there are less exiting production and available to brewers and garden centres at any one time. So we were pretty lucky to be in a position to pull a few strings and secure the sauvignon barrels. My day job at Regional Wines and Spirits comes with all sorts of useful contacts!
When we received the barrels one sniff revealed that the winery had heavily sulphated the barrels to keep them ‘sweet’ , however major sulphate is not only a less than ideal aroma in beer but also its preservative nature can hinder some of the wild yeast and bacteria we want to thrive in our sour barrels. So we set about rinsing and soaking the barrel to reduce the sulphate levels , no small task in a brewery that is currently doing an awesome impersonation of a building site. Two weeks ago I determined that the sulphate levels had been reduced to acceptable levels and the barrels were emptied of rinse water and Luke filled them with our Saison. I then pitched the Bruxellensis strain of Brettanomyces into the barrels. Now the sleep of the righteous begins and after a year or so the result will end up being released as Le Chaleruex Rivage Bruxellensis Reserve, a funky tangy vinous version of our Saison.