spring issue | volume 7
Owner: Carl Meier
TCB: So the sugar you add at the beginning of the ageing process has to be just right? Carl: Yes. I learned most of what I know by trial and error, but reading Cellarmanship by Patrick O’Neill was a real turning point. Aside from the hops and other ingredients we cask condition with, time, temperature, and specific gravity are key. Carbon dioxide produced by yeast in a cask is identical to what goes into most commercially produced beer, but how it is absorbed is different. The cask ageing process, when done right, let’s the carbon dioxide gas absorb into the beer slowly, resulting in a velvety texture in the finished beer. In the book O’Neill really gets into calculating volumes of CO2 based on style and apparent attenuation of the yeast. At Black Abbey we make sure to age casks at least 7 days at ambient temperature, around 60 deg. F, to ensure good carbonation before cold ageing for another week or more. TCB: Nice. I’m adding that one to
my reading list soon! What’s your experience with dry hopping in casks for an extra punch of aromatics? Carl: We certainly do like using extra hops in our casks, when it’s appropriate to the style, but again there’s an art to it, and it’s really specific to one’s personal palate in the end. We’ve found that anywhere from 1-4 oz. of aromatic hops can really enhance the presentation of pales and IPAs and even some of our darker more maltforward beers. Cask-hopping the Belgian styles can be more challenging, so we often add other flavors there - everything from hibiscus to mugwort. Almost nothing is off limits in our cask program. TCB: Wow Black Abbey really does have a lot going on down in the cellar! So after the cask is conditioned, aged, and ready to be tapped, I’ve heard and experienced that serving temperature is also important. What’s your experience with that? Carl: You’re absolutely right. Just above cellar temperature, a pint of cask
aged Champion really comes alive, really sings...the aromatics from the dry hops are amazing. We’re often so used to drinking beer that’s really cold, especially when it’s hot outside...but to really experience it the way it used to be made, it should be served in the high fifties, or even sixties where the flavors from the malts, the hops, and the yeast come together nicely. TCB: Carl, many thanks for sharing the unvarnished truth about your experiences creating your amazing cask conditioned versions of Black Abbey beers. All this talk about cask ales has got me in the mood for a pint. When and where can our readers get their hands on a pint of Black Abbey cask ale? Carl: Our taproom for sure. We also often have casks here at The Picnic Tap, Butchertown Hall & 12 South Taproom in Nashville and The Green Dragon Public House in Murfreesboro, so check in with those spots too. TCB: Sound great. See you at the taproom! Cheers!
The launching of Tennessee's First Craft Cidery