Behind The Glass: A Peak Into Our Barrel Room
As you walk in the front door of Wild Mind, you’ve probably stopped and wondered about the large wooden containers on the other side of the glass wall. You’re right to do so. They’re amazing.
Those are our six foeders.
Pronounced food-ers, these large, French oak barrels were made outside of Venice, Italy, and spent most of their lives at a vineyard just outside the chianti wine region in Tuscany. Chianti wine is one of the most popular Italian wines in the United States (just ask Anthony Hopkins). Many varieties of the renowned red wine exist, each with its own unique flavor profile. Now, these foeders get to impart that same wide range of flavors into beer.
The foeders allows us to ferment and age our sours in a more uniform, controlled environment. The large oak barrels provide a slower, softer oxidation rate for the beer, resulting in less acidic acid and a cleaner sour in the end.
We have six foeders — three 30 HL (hectoliters), two 40 HL, and one 50 HL — that have been filled with a range of beers that will age for anywhere from one to three (or maybe even more) years to become complex, delicious sours.
When the foeders first arrived from overseas, we found a vacant commercial building to store them at while we built our taproom. Once that space was leased, we had to get a rigging company to move them to our still unfinished space — WAY earlier than we had expected! The foeders were in great shape and just needed to be rehydrated by steaming the barrel over the course of a day.
The base cradle of each foeder is original and as old as the foeders themselves, but to stack and store the foeders, we asked our neighbors at Ingrained Wood Studios to design and create a foeder stand with a natural wood aesthetic to fit the feel of the cellar room. Because of the weight of both the foeders themselves and the beer inside, the stands needed to be able to hold at least 9,000 pounds.
Once we got the beautiful behemoths placed in our cellar, we knew they wouldn’t be going anywhere. The bottom three foeders were spaced out how we wanted them and were then lifted into place with a rigging company, being incredibly careful to not damage them or hit the ceiling, and two more were placed on the newly created stand.
One of the foeders has become a solera, which is a way for us to age and mix beers to develop a diverse set of flavors. Each batch that’s added to the foeder adds a new layer of depth to the solera. As beer is taken out, remnants of each past batch remain inside, and the process repeats. In several years’ time, the beer will have remnants of many different batches, with flavors and characteristics from each one.
We released our first two foeder beers this month and there’s a whole lot more of funk coming soon. Trust us. They’re not to be missed.