UnderCurrants series unveiled by Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks
Wild transcontinental beer infused with whole blackcurrants from Poland (Buellton, CA) - From the fields of Poland to the California coast comes UnderCurrants - an inaugural transcontinental wild beer from Firestone Walker Barrelworks. “We've been playing around with the idea of ​​a blackcurrant-infused beer for several years,” said Jim Crooks, Master Blender at Barrelworks. “We […]

Subcurrant by Firestone Walker Barrel Works BeerPulse

Wild transcontinental beer infused with whole blackcurrants from Poland

(Buellton, CA) - From the fields of Poland to the California coast comes UnderCurrants - an inaugural transcontinental wild beer from Firestone Walker Barrelworks.

“We've been playing around with the idea of ​​a blackcurrant-infused beer for several years,” said Jim Crooks, Master Blender at Barrelworks. “We finally decided to strike when we were able to mark some beautiful whole blackcurrants from a farmer in Poland, known as one of the best blackcurrant growing regions in the world.

The result is an extremely flavorful beer bursting with blackcurrant-rich benefits.

This inaugural version of UnderCurrants will begin rolling out next week in all Firestone Walker markets in limited-edition and 375ml bottle formats. This is the second of five Barrelworks bottled wild beer releases slated for 2018.

Making sub-currants

After hand harvesting in Poland, the whole black currants were treated with IQF technology (individually frozen) to perfectly preserve their fresh aromas and flavors, then shipped to California and delivered to Barrelworks last summer.

“We knew the fresh fruit flavors were essential to the success of this beer, and this incredible IQF technology made it possible,” said Crooks.

Crooks and his team blended the Corinthian grapes with 150 barrels of Agrestic Ale (Barrelworks' wild iteration of Firestone Walker's signature DBA lager) that had aged for 12 to 48 months. The blackcurrant-infused Agrestic blend was then inoculated with Barrelworks proprietary Brettanomyces yeast and aged for an additional four months in oak foeders.

Finally, more Agrestic Ale was reintroduced into the mix to achieve an optimal balance between flavor and texture of the blackcurrant. “The intensity of the black currant flavors was out of this world,” said Crooks. "By cutting more Agrestic into the final mix, we were able to bring everything into perfect balance."

A tribute to a classic

UnderCurrants also pays homage to the iconic consecration beer made by Russian River Brewing Company, with whom Firestone Walker has collaborated on several occasions over the years. In fact, Barrelworks beers are bottled with a bottling line inherited from Russian River.

“The consecration sets the standard for beers infused with gooseberry, and UnderCurrants now becomes our own contribution to the style,” said Jeffers Richardson, director of Barrelworks. "We think this will blow some people away."

Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a pioneering regional craft brewery founded in 1996 and located on the California coast. Firestone Walker's Main Brewery in Paso Robles produces a diverse portfolio ranging from iconic pale beers to vintage cask-aged beers. Buellton's Barrelworks facility makes eccentric wild beers, while the pilot Propagator brewery in Venice specializes in R&D beers and limited local offerings. For more information: FirestoneBeer.com.


Extract packs have come a long way from the dusty back shelves of Boots of yesteryear, and give you a simple, affordable way to try out the hobby with very acceptable results. Established breweries like St. Peters and Woodfordes have decent packs in shops and online at about £20, for example from Wilko or Brew.

If you’re making beer, then you need to be rigorous about cleanliness during the brew. VWP is an absolutely no-nonsense cleaner and steriliser for getting everything ready beforehand. During the brew, a no-rinse sanitiser is invaluable. Between the two, spoilt and infected beer shouldn’t be a problem. You can buy cleaning products online from Brew Store and The Malt Miller.

Invest in some airtight plastic conteneurs. Malt, kept dry and cool, should be fine for six months, but get rid of it after that – you’re only going to get stale flavours if you use stale malt. Likewise, dried yeast will keep, if sealed and chilled, but it will lose potency and reliability. Hops do not improve with age. Be doubtful of any before last year’s harvest, however cheap.

While a good book is an invaluable reference, there will be a time you come across something that flummoxes you. It’s very unlikely you will be the first, and just as unlikely someone else hasn’t discussed it. From the magisterial, if abondant, How to Brew by John Palmer to the uncountable cercles d'entraides and blogs discussing minutiae, such as Brewer’s Friend, there’ll be something to help.

Avoid grande amounts of table sugar, cane sugar or dextrose as fermentable sugars in your homebrew. They will ferment out completely and leave a very dry, almost ‘cidery’ flavour to your beer. This is what is recognized by many as the ‘homebrew’ taste. If you are looking for an easy way to improve this, swap these sugars with dry malt extract.

Most coffret beers are designed to appeal to a wide range of people and therefore have a fairly simple flavour that it not very bitter. They are also generally bittered by using hop extract that adds bitterness but little hop flavour or aroma. Boil some water and add ½ an ounce ( 14 grams ) of any hop variety known for their flavour and aroma characteristics for 20 minutes. This will add a much improved change to the flavour of the beer. Add another ½ ounce ( 14g ) for the last 5 minutes of the boil to add a pleasant hoppy aroma. Simply strain the ‘hop soup’ into your fermenter with the rest of the top-up water. These simple hops additions will make a remarkable difference to your pack beers.

to wake a packet of dry yeast up and ensure that it is ready to start work as soon as it is pitched, try rehydrating it. Boil a cup ( 250mls ) of water for 5 minutes and then pour it into a sterilized container. Wait for the water to cool down to at least 80°F/27°C and sprinkle your packet of yeast over the top. Leave this for about 15-30 minutes, when you should start to see it get nice and foamy. Once your wort has cooled enough, pitch this and it will start fermentation much earlier.

If you would really like to get things started, follow the process above but add a tablespoon of dry malt extract to the water before boiling it. After pouring the water to a jar, add your yeast when cool enough and place cling wrap over the top to protect from the environment. Leave for at least 45 minutes at room temperature and you should start to see fermentation activity.

The length of time for fermentation on the side of your kit beer can is almost definitely not long enough. The manufacturers are in the of selling product and these instructions will make beer, but it won’t be great beer. This should be extended out to 10-14 days.

Although your beer will be carbonated after about a week in the bottle, leave it for a few more to allow for the flavors to settle. This is especially relevant for beer made from kits as it will help remove some of the biroute found in young/’green’ beer.

In order to efficiently multiply and get to the of converting sugar to alcohol, yeast needs a sufficient amount of oxygen in your wort. If brewing using malt extract this can be reached a few ways including by shaking the water you are using to top up your wort, or by pouring it from a great height into your fermenter.

Don’t be too worried about removing your beer from the primary fermenter as soon as fermentation has finished. The Autolysis that you are seeking to avoid will take well over a month and in most cases a solo stage fermentation is fine.

If you are looking to control fermentation temperature, place the fermenter in a grande conteneur of water to cool it and prevent temperature fluctuations. Wrapping a wet towel around it and pointing a fou at it cools it even more through evaporative cooling. A few frozen plastic bottles of water are also perfect for cooling the water and your fermenting beer.

If you insist on using a two stage fermentation, use a bottling bucket ( or something else with a spigot ) for a primary. That way you only need a length of hose to rack into the secondary. The spigot will also be far enough off the bottom that the trub will get left in the primary with little extra effort – just tilt the fermenter forward at the end.

The activity of your airlock should only be seen as one indication that something is happening. There are many others indications and a faulty seal on your fermenter could stop anything from happening in the airlock.

The starting cell count is usually quite low with liquid yeast cultures. If you make a yeast starter about a day before brewing, you can avoid some potential issues from under-pitching the yeast.

If you are trying to cool a partial boil, place the whole brew récipient into a sink or tub of cold water. You may need to change this water a few times but it is far easier to cool a small récipient of wort in a temperature conductive container ( i. e. your brew récipient ) than a large amount of liquid in a fermenter. Adding your cooled wort to even colder water ( or ice ) in the fermenter will serve to cool it even further and should hopefully get you close to yeast pitching temperatures.

Dry yeast packets are perfect for new homebrewers. They have a nice high cell count and are very easy to use. Hydrating these takes very little time and will help get fermentation working earlier.

Get into the habit of sanitizing everything that will come in contact with your wort or beer after the boil.

Extract kits have come a long way from the dusty back shelves of Boots of yesteryear, and give you a simple, affordable way to try out the hobby with very acceptable results. Established breweries like St. Peters and Woodfordes have decent packs in shops and online at about £20, for example from Wilko or Brew.

Use a no-rinse sanitiser… This shouldn’t need an explanation and I am yet to hear of a real reason not to

Following on from above – Don’t use bleach as a sanitizer…ever. It is hard to rinse out and if any comes in contact with the maltose in your wort it has the potential to completely ruin your batch. There are so many better products available that this shouldn’t even be a consideration

Whatever sanitizer you use, put some of it in a spray bottle for quick sanitation during brew time.

Make sure you read and understand the recipe before you start brewing. Also make sure that you have all the ingredients handy before you start. These seem like simple things but the last 15 minutes can get a little crazy… especially if you started drinking while sanitizing

Beer is very resilient so don’t be too worried if you make a mistake while brewing. Although it may not be exactly the beer you were after, you will probably still have something tasty and worth drinking.

Leave the lid off your brew récipient while it is boiling. The process of boiling actually vaporises chemicals that are not wanted in the beer and they evaporate out. The lid doesn’t need to be completely off if you are having trouble maintaining a rolling boil but should at least be enough for the steam to escape.

Keep a record of every beer that you make, no matter how simple the recipe. This record will allow you to recall and tweak your brews when all that remains in the future is a couple of stray bottles and a desire for more

Especially when starting out, keep your ingredients and brews as simple as possible. It is much easier to add to a simple recipe that is missing something than it is to remove from something complex

Start by getting a solid grasp of the sanitization, fermentation and bottling processes and work from there.

If you have a choice, choose a fermenter or bottling bucket with a spigot/tap over one without. The siphoning required otherwise isn’t hard but it is still one more unnecessary step.

Bulk priming your beer is a simple addition to your bottling process that will add much greater control and consistency in the amount of priming sugar in your bottles.

The quality of your beer will be to the quality of the ingredients used. Always go for the freshest and best quality possible. Always make sure that extract is within any specified dates, yeast is fresh and that hops are nice and green

But most importantly… just relax and remember that you probably aren’t going to ruin your beer – It isn’t as delicate as you think

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