Curieux is made by aging our Tripel in Jim Beam bourbon barrels. Logically enough, the only place to get Jim Beam bourbon barrels is from Jim Beam.
Knowing that we get used barrels, the obvious question is: how used? Bourbon makers only ever use their barrels once. The same goes for us. After one batch of Curieux—in which we extract the maximum amount of flavor from the barrels—the barrel is retired.
This is what the inside of one of Jim Beam’s “rickhouses” looks like. No A/C or heat. Just bourbon and the weather.
Jim Beam’s barrels go from emptying their bourbon contents to being filled back up with our Tripel in only a couple days. We really like to get our beer in there as fast as possible. Basically, the more time a barrel is spent filled, the better for everyone.
Quite a few barrels come in and out of our doors.
We go through about 150 barrels per month in order to keep up with demand for Curieux. So what happens to all those barrels? Well, we try to reuse them in every way possible. We have more than a couple tables around the brewery built from barrel staves. Also, the tasting trays—that hold flights of beer in our tasting room—are made from used Curieux barrels. Pretty cool!
Next post, we’ll talk about what we do with the beer once it’s done sitting in the barrels. Hint: there’s “sampling” involved.