Wild Ballyhoura: The Oak King Belgian Pale Ale

Wild Ballyhoura series: 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.

Naturally adventurous.
It’s the Eight Degrees way.

The Legend of the Oak King & the Holly King
The Oak King Belgian Pale Ale 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 Midsummer the Oak King – representing light – is at the height of his strength, while the Holly King, which represents darkness, is at his weakest.

At the Winter Solstice we celebrate the birth of the new sun, the renewal of light, and the return of the Oak King’s strength. To celebrate this re-birth, we have brewed a golden Belgian-style pale ale, using local pale and lager malts, and aged it in our oak barrels along with our new friend, wild yeast Brett C. This Golden Vale Pale Ale is light, complex and tart, followed up by a wild funk aftertaste. In the battle of light and dark, the Oak King stands tall.

Short description: austere, funky, dry.
Style: Belgian Pale Ale Aged in French oak with Brettanomyces C

Malt: Irish Pale ale and Pilsner malt, Caramunich Type 1, Munich malt.
Hops: Nugget, Saaz, Hallertauer Tradition. 
Strength: 6.5% ABV
Bitterness: 70 IBUs

Colour: sparkling gold in the glass.
Aroma: funky apple cider and sherry, vanilla and cinnamon tingle.
Flavour: there’s a restrained use of brett that shows itself in the austere vanilla and biscuit flavours. Notes of manzanilla sherry, with a saline aftertaste, come through as the beer opens up in the glass.
Aftertaste: dry, spicy aftertaste, with a hint of pepper.

Food pairings: serve well chilled in champagne flutes as an aperitif on Christmas morning, with a half-dozen oysters or some smoked salmon, or take it to the dinner table to pair perfectly with your turkey.

Launch Date: November 2017
Serving temperature: 8 degrees celsius
Availability: 750ml bottles and very limited draught (30L kegs).
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2 Comments
  1. Hey guys, very very interested in trying some. Would you be able to tell me where I can find this? Cork area.

    Thank you, and fantastic work!

  2. Hi Emiliano
    That’s available on draught at Bierhaus in Cork city and in bottles at Bradley’s Off Licence and the No 21 off licences. It’s also available as part of a gift pack with its fellow, the Holly King Imperial Stout, in our online shop: Wild Ballyhoura Gift Pack: The Oak King Belgian Pale Ale & The Holly King Imperial Stout (2x750ml)

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