Monday, August 30, 2010

The Bruery: Coton

Okay, so every major craft brewery in north America and abroad, has jumped on the barrel aging bandwagon. So much so that an entire cottage industry has evolved to find those highly sought after oak barrels. But what sets The Bruery's "Coton" apart from the rest is that they not only limited the the aged portion to 25% of the over all volume but they did this by using a process called "Solera". Now at the risk of totally confusing you and myself. I decided to have Wiki explain it. Alright I'll come clean it is actually kinda hard to retain much information after a snifter of this  2010 anniversary ale which chimes in a robust 14.5%.
  Take it away Wiki.......
   In the solera process, a succession of containers are filled with the product over a series of equal aging intervals (usually a year). One container is filled for each interval. At the end of the interval after the last container is filled, the oldest container in the solera is tapped for part of its content, which is bottled. Then that container is refilled from the next oldest container, and that one in succession from the second-oldest, down to the youngest container, which is refilled with new product. This procedure is repeated at the end of each aging interval. The transferred product mixes with the older product in the next barrel.
  No container is ever drained, so some of the earlier product always remains in each container. This remnant diminishes to a tiny level, but there can be significant traces of product much older than the average, depending on the transfer fraction. In theory traces of the very first product placed in the solera may be present even after 50 or 100 cycles.
  The age of product from the first bottling is the number of containers times the aging interval. As the solera matures, the average age of product asymptotically approaches the difference between the number of containers (K) and the fraction of a container transferred or bottled (α), divided by the fraction of a container which is transferred or bottled {(K-α)/α}.
  For instance, suppose the solera consists of four barrels of wine, and half of each barrel is transferred once a year. At the end of the fourth year (and each subsequent year), half the fourth barrel is bottled. This first bottling is aged four years. The second bottling will be half four years old and half five years old (the wine left in the last barrel at the previous cycle), for an average age of four and a half years. The third bottling will be: one fourth wine that was six years in the fourth barrel, one fourth wine that was four years in the third barrel and one year in the fourth barrel, one fourth that was three years in the third barrel and two years in the fourth barrel, and one fourth that was two years in the second barrel, one year in the third, and one year in the fourth: average age five years. After 20 years, the output of the solera would be a mix of wine from 4 to 20 years old, averaging slightly under 7 years. The average age asymptotically converges on seven years as the solera continues.
 Are you still with me??? Well the beer geeks out there probably followed all that but I'm still left wishing i had passed Algebra in high school. None-the-less Coton is based on the Bruery's the original recipe for Papier, their first anniversary ale brued in the English style Old Ale tradition.
  Ideally served at 60 degrees this malty complected beer is wildely complex with flavors of dark fruit,vanilla, oak, and burnt sugar. It pours with a deep amber color and a robust beige head. Coton is a "big " beer in all respects. So if you can find it in your area by all means pick a bottle up. Mine was # 06372. Cheers!

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