Wild Ballyhoura: We’ve got a new pet at the brewery and his name is Brett. This wild yeast is a curious and mischievous little creature and we recently introduced him to our oak barrel-aged beers. There’s a whole shipping container of French oak barrels, formerly used for pinot noir and chardonnay, tucked away in a corner where we can age our very specially brewed ales. While they’re sitting there, we bring Brett to the party.
His full name is Brettanomyces Clausenii, or Brett C, the earliest strain of brett to be classified by a chap investigating funky flavours in British breweries (Brettanomyces = British fungus). We can assume that all pre-modern beer would have picked up brett in storage over time; by playing with Brett C, we’re getting a good indication of how beer brewed and aged in the Ballyhouras, over one hundred years, ago would have tasted. Wild yeast = wild flavours.
It’s the Eight Degrees way.
The Legend of the Oak King & the Holly King
The Holly King Imperial Stout Aged in French oak with Brettanomyces C
In Celtic mythology, the Oak King and the Holly King were warrior twins, engaged in a never-ending fight for supremacy. At Midwinter the Holly King – representing darkness – is at the height of his strength, while the Oak King, which represents light, is at his weakest.
To celebrate the Holly King’s midwinter dominance, we have brewed one of our favourite winter styles, an imperial stout, aged it in pinot noir barrels and added a dash of wild yeast Brett C for good measure. There a rich cherry and vanilla presence with undertones of dark roast coffee and brett. It’s the dark side of the year and the Holly King is finishing strong.
Short description: rich, full bodied, complex.
Style: Imperial Stout Aged in French oak with Brettanomyces C
Malt: nine different types of malt, including Irish pale ale and Pilsner malt, Crystal malt, Chocolate malt and CaraRye malt.
Hops: Nugget. Just the smallest bitteen.
Strength: 9.8% ABV
Bitterness: 70 IBUs
Colour/appearance: as black as a dark winter’s night, with a dark tan head. Great legs.
Aroma: there’s a lot going on here, especially as it opens up in the glass. Close your eyes and inhale vanilla, cherry and molasses, all underpinned with a vinous aroma.
Flavour: complex red fruit flavours, particularly cherry. Rich molasses and red wine depth. Dark roast espresso and cocoa notes.
Aftertaste: full bodied with a long roasty aftertaste and pleasant warmth. Pairs nicely with an open fire.
Food pairing: The Holly King is a hugely complex beer, so pour it into snifters and sip it slowly to end a meal with a slice of spicy Christmas Cake, studded with nuts and dried fruit, classic Black Forrest Gateau or a box of cocoa-dusted dark chocolate truffles.
Launch Date: November 2017
Serving temperature: 8 degrees celsius
Availability: 750ml bottles and very limited draught (30L kegs).
Get social: #HollyKingImpStout