Studies show that within a few seconds individuals can fall in love or become attracted to each other. I think the same type of thing happens with people who enjoy craft beer. From across a room, you can tell if someone likes their beer darker than night or with so much hops it makes your tongue want to fall off….and I guess you could look at what’s poured in their glass as well. One can do the same thing with bartenders as well. If a bartender hands you a bottle of beer and doesn’t hand you a glass, they probably don’t appreciate a good beer and would have pull a pint of Miller Lite for you instead of having to look in a fridge for something. From the moment I spoke with Paul at the gym, I knew he craved good beer. Oh, and he has a strong Irish accent.
Paul and I got to talking beer and then like most conversations, it always turns into a little discussion about work. Paul is a co-owner of Kelvin Cooperage . A brief history:
“Kelvin Cooperage has been family run since it was founded in 1963. Having completed his five-year apprenticeship in the craft of coopering, Ed McLaughlin started his own cooperage on the banks of the River Kelvin in Glasgow. Kelvin has served the major distilleries in Scotland, Ireland, and worldwide continuously since its formation.
In 1991, Kelvin relocated to Louisville, Kentucky in order to take advantage of Louisville’s proximity to Bourbon country and to the supply of the finest American oak for wine barrel production. Kelvin now supplies wine barrels to leading wineries throughout the United States and in Australia.
Ed’s eldest son, Kevin, who also served his apprenticeship in Scotland, runs Kelvin’s modern plant in Louisville. In 2001, Kevin’s younger brother, Paul, joined the cooperage to focus solely on providing service to Kelvin’s growing wine barrel clientele.
To best meet our clients’ needs, we constantly strive to obtain the best oak and utilize the most current machinery while remaining true to time-tested traditional cooperage techniques. Our dedication to maintaining the highest level of quality and service is evident in the care taken at every step of the coopering process to ensure that every winemaker receives a highly crafted, subtly flavored, American oak wine barrel at an exceptional value.”
Paul had me come out to his business and check it out. For someone who loves bourbon and the smell of the oak barrels it’s stored in, it was an aromatic masterpiece. The smells of the burnt oak among the scent of bourbon made me feel like I was on a 5th grader on a school field trip all excited about what lay ahead. I made the trip to get a barrel and some wood chips, but Paul insisted on giving me a tour. He showed me how the barrels were made, stored, and the whole process of obtaining them and re-distributing them. It’s a huge business here in Kentucky because the bourbon barrels can only be used once. Paul gets wine barrels from France, Scotch barrels from Ireland, and then massive amounts of bourbon barrels from Kentucky. Paul gave me a Four Roses bourbon barrel (still waiting to be used), some barrels chips, and some French wine slats. In turn, he would receive some of the homebrew I would be making.
For my first “bourbon” beer, I chose to make a Scottish Ale. Maybe I got Ireland and Scotland confused, who knows, but it was what I wanted. On the brewing day, I soaked some (a small Pyrex container worth) of the Four Roses Oak Chips with Makers Mark the same day as I brewed the beer initially. This was my first “bigger beer” I made after finally getting some confidence in all-grain brewing. I read a lot about adding bourbon and chips to beer, but just kind of winged it.
Date of Initial Brew: 6/9/10
Type of Beer: Scotch Ale
Name of Beer: Kelvin’s Kilt Ale
Extract or All Grain: All Grain
14lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt, 1 lb Crystal 60L, 1lb Munich Malt, 1lb Special Roast, .25 Roasted Barley, .25 Chocolate Malt
Hop Schedule: Chinook (60), Chinook (30)
Yeast: Edinburgh Scotch Ale
Original Gravity Temperature and Reading: 75° 1.0825
Secondary Fermentation Date: 6/16/10
Specific Gravity Temperature and Reading:
Bottling Date: 6/30/2010
Final Gravity Temperature and Reading: 70° 1.02
It is now November 4th, and I only have three bottles left. By far, this beer has been the best one I’ve ever made. It took awhile for conditioning to take place, but once it did, like any bourbon oaked beer, it got better with time. It pours a chocolate-caramel brown color with a medium brown head. The immediate smell is bourbon, but not that strong, hints of vanilla also are apparent. The beer is very smooth upon taste and the bourbon aftertaste stays in your mouth after the first few initial drinks. I am sad this beer is almost gone, but look forward to making it again.
Now what did Paul think? I won’t know until this week actually. Paul was diagnosed with a tumor like mass in his brain (he said there was no room for it because he is so damn smart). I had a package of beer waiting for him at the gym for months, but he never showed or called. I kind of got worried and then Paul showed up one day and he just left with his beer package yesterday. So the true test will be upon his tasting to see if it can hold the Kelvin Cooperage name.
I’m going to tap into one this weekend since Ashley’s stepdad is in town and will post a picture.