The Seven Deadly Sins. GLUTTONY.
We decided to re-interpret The Seven Deadly sins through the medium of beer. It’s something we’ve discussed at great length. When walking the Three Peaks as a team last year the discussion on the topic and resulting enthusiasm got us through some of the tougher times. We now have ideas for each one and so far have made LUST; a Strawberry, Hibiscus and Rose Petal Saison – a beer we were really happy with, particularly in the bottle, showcasing each of the component parts. Next up was Gluttony, and we had some particularly special Heaven Hill bourbon barrels lined up. Gluttony was to be an Imperial Chocolate, Coffee, Vanilla, Bourbon stout. We wanted to take Northern Star and turn it up a bit, add some vanilla and a bourbon element. Sounds pretty good right? We thought so…
The base beer was a mixture of Northern Star, Strannik and another specially brewed Imperial Porter from our pilot kit. After 6 months in our four Heaven Hill barrels, Gluttony bottles were screen printed, then filled and wax dipped at the end of October. Unfortunately Gluttony didn’t taste how we wanted it to…
3 of the barrels had the velvety smooth, vanilla bourbon character we’d been looking for; the 4th had this, and subtle hints of tartness. There was no obvious pellicle to speak of and after deliberation we took the decision to include it, in the belief the other barrels would balance it and that it could be a little oxidation which the bottle conditioning process might help. Without it we’d have 150 screen printed bottles going to waste. The final blend was good and we got it bottled. Within a week the tartness was dominating the beer and we had to make the decision to shelve it indefinitely.
For us Gluttony is about eating peanut butter from the jar or cheese from the block, it’s not about thought provoking or challenging flavours. Unfortunately this is what we created. We now have 900 bottles of Gluttony, the forgotten sin that we may release in a couple of years time once the lactobacillus and friends have done their work. A couple of months down the line and the flavours are already developing and giving us hope that all is not lost and that the beer might yet see the light of day.
But for now, lessons have been learnt and the process begins again. This was our first major foray into the wide and varied world of barrel-ageing and clearly we have a lot to learn. But learn we will. Barrel-aged releases have a big part to play in the long-term future of Northern Monk.
We now hope to release a new batch of GLUTTONY in the Spring of 2016.
For those that have bought bottles of LUST we are holding back one keg of each of the releases and will be holding a vertical tasting in 2018. The first 100 people who bring unopened bottles of each of the seven deadly sins will get a free half of each of the kegs we have reserved.