New Tank Comes to the Barrel Cathedral
The Barrel Cathedral got a new beer tank to make sour beers
A new brewing tank will soon be the birthplace of numerous sour beers at the Yampa Valley Brewing Company’s restaurant, The Barrel Cathedral. The first brew that will be put into the tank for the week of December 14th will be an apple sour, head brewer and co-owner Christian Dufresne said.
The tank was always in the plans as a way to expand operations of making beers to the Craig location — Dufresne said he started making plans for the tank after receiving a grant from the city of Craig in 2019. That grant allowed them to purchase foeders, or oak barrels. The sour beers in the foeders, will be transferred to the new tank. The barrels have bacteria two centimeters deep into the wood which provide the beers unique flavors and aromas. As a result, the foeder will not be fully emptied, Dufresne said.
“The first time we do it, it takes a year until the beer is ready to be (enjoyed),” he said. “If you never empty it, you keep topping it back up again, that turns into three or four months so it becomes a faster process as the bacteria grows and grows.”
The tank allows for easier bottling as well because the beers don’t have to travel back and forth from the main location in Hayden anymore.
“It would get sent here in kegs and get put into a barrel then it would sit in the barrel anywhere from 3 months to 8 months, or when it would come out of the foeders,” Dufresne said, “Then it would sit in the kegs, go back to Hayden, get put into a bright tank, condition, carbonate, and then it would go back into a keg, come here and get packaged.”
The new tank also helps the local economy because Dufresne and the brewery need 3 to 4 employees in order to help bottle. As well, in the craft beer industry, sours can also help be a magnet for beer lovers regionally, as people scour far and wide for breweries that sell hard-to-find sour beers.
Whereas regular stouts and IPAs and lagers typically take two weeks to make, sours take between six to eight months.
The biggest challenges that the tank presents is cleaning it in between beers because of the live cultures and bacteria that live inside the barrels. Dufresne said, “We have to put a ton of heat on it, soak up all of the gas that’s is filled in the disinfectant because each beer has a different disinfectant in it now.” If the tank is not properly cleaned, it will affect the taste of the next beer overtime. He said.
Dufresne points out that it is a commodity because the conglomerate breweries often don’t have the time necessary to brew a sour beer, while small craft breweries like the Yampa Valley Brewing Company do. He said,
“They can’t make sour beers, it’s hard to make sour beers on that scale. The time, the complexity, makes it really hard, that is the one area craft breweries will always have, no one can do this,” he said. “We do this, no one else is doing this because Anheuser Busch can’t come in and say we’re gonna make this (Brettanomyces)Brett, sour beer and make enough of it to put it in every single store, and so that makes people gravitate towards that as the heart, where the heart of craft is still.”
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