Gin Barrel Aged IPA

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Naugled, Apr 9, 2015.

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  1. Naugled

    Naugled Defender (644) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    I had the opportunity to try Gigantic's Gin Barrel Aged IPA, Pipewrench, a few weeks ago. I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting and delicious that beer was. I really didn't expect it to be as good as it was. It did not remind me of the gin I typically drink at all, but the aromatics and flavor components were all there.
    They say it is aged in these Gin barrels for 3 months. I've never had this gin so maybe the flavors of the beer do match is particular gin. I plan to pick up a bottle to do a little R&D.
    aside: Gin is not typically aged in barrels, this one is.

    I also had a gin barrel aged IPA at Fat Heads across town. They use the same Old Tom barrels. That's really how I ended up at Gigantic. A patron there told me if I liked this one I should go try the Pipewrench. Anyway they were both impressive.

    So on to my questions. Has anyone tried to brew something like this at home? I've seen some threads with people asking about using gin and gin flavors, but nothing that specific. Also, if you have tried to brew this, how did it turn out? And how did you go about it? Anyone?

    My first approach is going to be simply dosing an IPA with some Old Tom to try to find that balance. But longer term I'd like to figure out how to brew this without having access to gin barrels.
  2. Brew_Betty

    Brew_Betty Disciple (394) Jan 5, 2015 Wisconsin

    I had the same Gigantic beer and thought it was very good. I think the easiest route would be to buy some Ransom Old Tom Gin and some french oak cubes.

    Pipeworks makes a beer called G&T which uses the herbs that are used to make gin such as juniper berries and other ingredients that aren't so easy to source. That route seems like it would be more difficult to get right.
  3. Mag00n

    Mag00n Initiate (0) Nov 21, 2008 New York

    Soaking oak cubes in the spirit is what I recommend. I have to ask though, do you feel youve nailed 'regular' ipa's yet?
    LuskusDelph and premierpro like this.
  4. Seacoastbrewer

    Seacoastbrewer Initiate (134) Jun 5, 2012 New Hampshire

    I've given this advice before, but here's my process when determining flavor additions:

    My recommendation is to add a sample of the flavoring to a commercial beer in the same style as what you are making. Add different volumes and keep notes of what ratios work for you.
  5. Naugled

    Naugled Defender (644) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    It depends on what you mean by 'nailed'. I'll throw down IPA's with anybody. Do I have them nailed? Certainly not, I've only been brewing them since before the internet, so I still need a little more practice. And I do mean that. If anybody does think they have IPAs nailed, they are fooling themselves. But I am confident brewing them and tweaking the parameters to get what I want. My inexperience lies mostly with the new hops on the market. I just don't have enough time to try them all.

    If you tried the beer or read about it I don't think you'd recommend oak cubes as the answer. I know you were just trying to help, but I don't think this beer is about the oak, there wasn't much oak in the Pipewrench. I even searched the BA reviews, and no one here described it as oaky, there was one bourbon description, but I didn't get any bourbon. I got more of the herbs/spices/fruits . Ransom describes the sachet d'├ępices on their site, so that might be a good place to start. But they tell you very little about the barrel other than it's French Oak and Old Tom was in it once. No information on char levels, or if the barrels had something else in it before the gin, like wine. If it is on its third use then I would not expect much oakiness to come through. But if the barrel is saturated with Gin that would come through. I haven't tried Old Tom yet, but that might even be too oaky/bourbony. But I will try it as soon as I can find a bottle.
  6. Naugled

    Naugled Defender (644) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    Thanks, I've added G&T to my beer want list
  7. Brew_Betty

    Brew_Betty Disciple (394) Jan 5, 2015 Wisconsin

    I tasted plenty of wood in Pipewrench. It reminded me of cedar, even though it was french oak.
  8. Naugled

    Naugled Defender (644) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    I agree, I got something like cedar out of it too. Not as strong as Jai Lai cedar aged though. Cedar reminds me of black pepper and pencils. Very different than oak IMO. I think it's coming from something in their spice mix.
    Juniper berries,
    orange peel,
    lemon peel,
    coriander seed,
    cardamom pods,
    and angelica root.
    I'm not familiar with angelica root.

    My gut also tells me this is an incomplete list.
    Brew_Betty likes this.
  9. Mag00n

    Mag00n Initiate (0) Nov 21, 2008 New York

    I use the oak cubs to impart the flavor of the spirit by boiling the oak a few times to mellow it out then doing 1 or more long term soaks. Thats how I impart bourbon and rum flavors in my beer(never tried gin). I dont really care to argue about it, if you think its more about the other spices thats fine. Betty suggested the same and hes had it before. Cheers and good luck
  10. OldSock

    OldSock Zealot (582) Apr 3, 2005 District of Columbia

    In general I find it easier to blend in spirits/wine to taste at bottling. That way you can add exactly the right amount without having to go through the oak-cube middleman. Oak cubes are great for adding oak flavor, but I don't see a great argument to get them involved in the spirit game. The professional brewers who do it are essentially skirting the law that forbids them from fortifying their beers with anything except "non-beverage" flavorings.

    That said, I suspect that the evaporation from a barrel likely concentrates the flavors of the spirit in the oak (allowing them to contribute more character per alcohol unit than the straight spirit). I've started to wonder if allowing a spirit to evaporate, or maybe even repeated soaking/drying of spirit soaked cubes might better imitate "barrel" character.
    MrOH likes this.
  11. Naugled

    Naugled Defender (644) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    I apologize, I didn't mean to come off as argumentative. I like the boiling idea. That would certainly take the edge off the oak. In the past I've done a lot of experimenting with oak levels and different chars. I may repeat some of those with the boiling to see how that changes things.
    jbakajust1 and Mag00n like this.
  12. premierpro

    premierpro Aspirant (259) Mar 21, 2009 Michigan

    I bet if you put Gin in your beer Grandma will like it!
    Naugled likes this.
  13. Naugled

    Naugled Defender (644) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    I agree with your first paragraph, and I like the idea in the second. I was thinking along the lines of soaking the mix of herbs/fruits with oak in vodka for a few months then bottle the alcohol (essentially making barrel aged gin and a gin barrel) and then place the spent wood/herb/fruit combination in a keg with the beer. But I think you are right, all that is needed is the wood, and repeated uses may concentrate the flavors in the oak.
  14. skiofpinsk

    skiofpinsk Aspirant (235) Jun 18, 2008 Pennsylvania

    FWIW, I've made gin myself fairly recently using the steeping method. I intended to only let it sit for a couple days, but ended up letting it go for three or four before filtering out the herbs and spices. It turned out pretty well; not quite as crisp as distilled gin, but I was pretty happy with it. Not sure what a few months would do, but I would think that the less time the better.

    GUNSLINGER Initiate (66) Nov 18, 2013 Colorado

    I don't know the exact recipe that distillery uses, but most gins have a mix of the ingredients you listed and/or these:
    -cubeb berries (this is a type of pepper, soft and very nice)
    -licorice root
    -orris root
    -seeds of paradise
    -bitter almond
    -grapefruit peel
    -dragon eye

    There are other ingredients distillers utilize, but the above list combined with yours makes up the vast majority of what is typically used.

    Gin is definitely one of the broadest spirit styles; not quite as pinned down as others; so you get a lot of variance.

    Never had a gin barrel IPA, but I could imagine the pepper, citrus and juniper melding well with a specific hop combination.
  16. Brew_Betty

    Brew_Betty Disciple (394) Jan 5, 2015 Wisconsin

    If you end up using cardamom, be careful with the amount. It's very potent.
    telejunkie likes this.
  17. Naugled

    Naugled Defender (644) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    I finally got my hands on some Ransom Old Tom Gin. The gin is really nice, lime and orange dominates, but the spices do come through, a very drinkable and delicious gin.

    So I tried some varying amounts in an IPA, and the flavor was there that I remember from the barrel aged beers. What was missing was the feeling of dryness. That guessing that came from the tannins in the oak. From what I can gather the oak barrels are probably pretty well spent of their oak flavor after being used for wine and then gin and then lastly beer but the tannins still seem to be there. I'm going to try some boiling some medium toast french oak and then soaking with the gin before adding to the the beer.

    The citrus notes in the gin really complement the IPA IMO.
  18. Brew_Betty

    Brew_Betty Disciple (394) Jan 5, 2015 Wisconsin

    I'm not a gin drinker anymore despite consuming copious amounts of it in a previous life. This beer inspired me to order a Ransom Old Tom at a bar with tonic on the side.

    Wow! Way better than any gin I've ever had. Might even buy a bottle.
  19. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (749) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    IPA...Gin...what's not to like? : )
  20. telejunkie

    telejunkie Aspirant (257) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    just tried a tequila barrel aged ipa and really enjoyed my understanding is that gin barrels are similar to tequila barrels in that they have very little oak flavors of vanilla or caramel left in them. You would definitely want lighter toasted oak to give more a toasted coconut flavor and have a small amount soaking in the least that's what i'd do
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