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Aug 5 2010

Barrel-Aged Gonzo: A Labor of Love for Liquid Heaven

How many Flying Dog employees does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One.

How many Flying Dog employees does it take to package a special-edition, 750 ml bottle of whiskey barrel-aged Gonzo Imperial Porter? At least seven.

Every 750 ml bottle of Flying Dog is hand-packaged - a lengthy process that is well worth it for the liquid heaven it produces.

First, our brewers transfer the beer (after it's aged in Stranahans whiskey barrels for at least 180 days) from the barrels into a brite tank. Brite tanks are the last stop for any beer in the brewery because this is where it receives its final quality tests prior to it being packaged.

After the brite tank, the Gonzo is transferred into a portable, 90-gallon vessel called a grundy. Close your eyes and picture R2D2. That's what a grundy looks like.

Once the beer is in the grundy, our brewers add sugar and yeast to prep the beer for bottle conditioning. (If you don't know what bottle conditioning is, don't worry. We'll revisit that in a minute.)

From the grundy, the beer goes special filler and the bottles are filled, corked, and caged by hand. Don't believe us? Take a look at these pictures (taken today) of head brewer Bob Malone and his team:

Filling the Gonzo
Filling it.

Corking the Gonzo
Corking it.

Caging the Gonzo
Caging it.

Then, the bottles sit for at least three weeks to condition. During this time, the added yeast eats the sugar to produce a mild carbonation, as opposed to standard forced CO2 carbonation. Once those three weeks are up, the bottles are hand-labeled and (finally) ready for distribution.

One day when we were having a few pints of our Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter, we tried to figure out how many days total it took to produce this liquid heaven. That made our heads hurt. So we gave up and continued to drink.