The Science of Barrel-Aged Beer

By Brian Lemay 100 comments

It’s Oktoberfest! Let’s legitimize our
drinking by talking about it scientifically. Hey guys, Anthony
here for D News. I’ve got local craft
brewer Jesse Friedman here with me from Almanac
Brewery here in San Francisco. All cooking is kind
of chemistry, right? Yeah. But brewing I find is
especially so, right? Because it’s so
specific and precise, the way you have to get
different beers, and things that you have to change
to make things work. Yeah. I often say that brewing’s
a lot like baking. OK. You know, both involve
a lot of fermentation if you’re breadmaking, and
you sort of set up everything, and then you just sort
of set the process loose, and see what comes
out at the other end. And so instead of
like cooking, where you adjust as you cook,
and stuff like that, with beer it’s more like
you see how it comes out, and then you go back
to the beginning and make a new batch, and
tweak, and adjust your process. So tell us about the
main ingredients that are going to go into every
beer, and kind of what purposes they serve. So, all beer by definition
contains four ingredients. Water, hops, yeast, and barley. OK. And that goes back to a
17th century German purity law that said only
those ingredients could be made with it. At the time they
didn’t say yeast, because it hadn’t
been discovered, but after they found out there’s
yeast, they added that in. OK. And so each of those
ingredients, and you can vary all of them
in different ways to make all the
different styles of beer. So what makes us adhere to
the 17th century definition, as opposed to kind
of evolving it? Oh, we don’t. We flaunt it. My brewery flaunts it
at every opportunity. Excellent. We put all sorts of
different things in our beer. Yeah, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about some
of the other stuff that you guys put in. I mean, sometimes
fruit is added, right? Yeah. Sometimes other kinds of food. So Almanac Beer,
we call ourselves a farm to barrel brewery. So we brew, we
describe our beers as being brewed in
collaboration with local farms. So the idea, and we use
a fancy French term here, is to infuse a sense of
terroir into our beer. Because beer is all made with–
all the ingredients in beer can be dried and
easily transported. So the idea is to go to
local agriculture systems, and bring in fruits
and vegetables, and local ingredients to
infuse a sense of California back into our beer. You know, we brew with
a lot of real fruit, so we source that
fruit from local farms, and then we stand
there and by hand put all that fruit into the
barrels one piece at a time. Gotcha. So talk to me about the
chemistry of what goes on here. When you throw everything
into the vat, what happens? Well, you start out
with your barley, and the barley is molted,
and that’s usually done by a molster. So usually a brewery
won’t do that ourselves. And they sprout it, and then
kiln it to different levels. And actually, that
toasting process is how we make beer lots
of different colors. We take that, we soak it in just
the right temperature of water to extract out exactly
what we want out of there, and beer brewing is one of
those great things where the process has been evolved
over so many hundreds of years that it’s like a
self-contained process. So when we melt all the sugars
and starches out of the barley, the husks that are
in there actually become a natural grain
bed that filters it out, so you get an almost
perfectly crystal clear liquid when you’re done with that. Then we begin a
boiling process, and we add hops during the
boiling process. And the hops act as
preservative, and delicious, delicious flavoring agent. So we add hops at the
beginning of the boil, and that creates bitterness. And the more hops you add
at the end of the boil, those actually add aromas. So you guys are
also doing something that’s kind of trendy
right now in brewing, which is the barrel aging. Exactly. How does that work? Well, that’s one of those
trendy things that’s thousands of years
old, if [INAUDIBLE]. It’s definitely very
in vogue, and it’s one of the most exciting parts
of the beer brewing process. So we take the
beer, and don’t just go brew with brewer’s yeast. We sort of draw–
for how strict, and the Germans are about
their beer brewing process, the Belgians are
kind of the opposite. OK. So they’ll make
beers in Belgium that are what are called
spontaneously fermented. So that means they make the
sugar water solution, called wort, and then instead of adding
a very specific yeast strain, they actually open the
windows, and whatever drifts in through
the windows will then create the spontaneously
fermented beer. What? So we drawn on that tradition
for a lot of our wild, what are called
wilder sour ales. OK. So there’s a– But what drifts in
through the window? Well, I mean, it’s just like
San Francisco Sourdough. OK. So in San Francisco, if you
want to make San Francisco Sourdough, step one,
go to San Francisco. OK. And then you just mix
some flour and some water and put that out, and
it’ll naturally inoculate. Because we have, there’s wild
yeast, there’s lactobacillus, there’s all these
different bugs. They’re all around
us all the time, it’s just a matter
of culturing them. And then as you grow them
up, the alcohol tolerant ones will naturally weed
themselves out. OK. And so we use a cocktail of
while Belgian yest and some San Francisco sourdough to
bring in that local flavor, and we age the beer in a barrel. In a barrel the oak is
perfect, because as it gets warm and dark
during the day, the barrel actually will
breathe, soaking in the beer and pushing it back out. So we get all those great
whisky, oaky flavors. Wow. That is awesome. So, how long have
you guys been around? Just celebrated our
two year anniversary. That’s awesome. Happy anniversary. Well, thank you. And you guys have
a website, as well? Yeah. Do you want to know more
about Almanac’s barrel aging process, or about the beer
brewing process at all? There is a new show
for beer enthusiasts, it is called Brew Age. it’s at That starts on October
23, so check it out. Jesse, thanks so
much for coming by. Hey, thanks for having me. Let’s go get a beer. Yes!



Sep 9, 2013, 9:21 pm Reply

its awesome to see the usa getting into real ales in the last few years.thers some really healthy competition going on between usa and english real ales with lots of new ideas fermenting to the surface!

Michael Sambasivam

Sep 9, 2013, 10:06 pm Reply

You forgot canada.


Sep 9, 2013, 10:41 pm Reply



Sep 9, 2013, 10:41 pm Reply

Yay! Anthony backed Broken Age!!!

Ebenezer Adams

Sep 9, 2013, 10:44 pm Reply

Thanks Now I know


Sep 9, 2013, 10:53 pm Reply

its the 22nd ­čśÇ that's kinda late

Yamaan Gattous

Sep 9, 2013, 10:53 pm Reply

More like SefptimperFest


Sep 9, 2013, 10:54 pm Reply

cool! LETS GET DRUNK wait… what IS Oktoberfest?

Schlimm Shady

Sep 9, 2013, 11:06 pm Reply

Why does everyone say beer is delicious ? All beer tastes crap and bitter and disgusting. Orange juice is delicious, hops not so much.


Sep 9, 2013, 11:17 pm Reply

Best DNews ever. Beer is the source of peace.

karl De Pauw

Sep 9, 2013, 11:29 pm Reply

belgium style :-p yes We are a so smalloff a country but look at all thode beers in belgium ­čÖé we are big in a small way


Sep 9, 2013, 11:39 pm Reply

"What drifts in through the window?"
Um… Air?


Sep 9, 2013, 1:07 am Reply

What's non alcoholic beer? Is it really alcoholic?


Sep 9, 2013, 1:28 am Reply

Flaunt: To show off, parade
Flout: to break the rules contemptuously

So how exactly do you flaunt the old German beer rules by going outside of them at every opportunity?

Elizabeth Cole

Sep 9, 2013, 1:34 am Reply

Can people be allergic to hops in beer? Because I think I might be, I drink beer and it INSTANLY makes me nauseous…


Sep 9, 2013, 2:24 am Reply

Actually no such thing as non alcoholic beer..


Sep 9, 2013, 2:55 am Reply

Nausea isn't a typical symptom of an allergy. If you don't experience any other symptoms, it's probably not an allergy. Might just be a taste aversion.


Sep 9, 2013, 3:00 am Reply

If he doesn't like beer in general, I doubt he will enjoy even the best of beers. You could serve me what you think is the best beer in the world and it would be entirely wasted on me, because I simply don't enjoy beer. Best case would be that I don't hate it, but that's really all you can expect. Some people just don't like particular tastes.


Sep 9, 2013, 3:23 am Reply

"so first thing you do is go to San Francisco…" cut to shot of LEAVING San Francisco.


Sep 9, 2013, 4:30 am Reply

Making and drinking beer as a profession for Life….Better than going to Mars for Life..


Sep 9, 2013, 5:04 am Reply

October fest.. In September?

varsha Soman

Sep 9, 2013, 6:04 am Reply

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Sep 9, 2013, 6:38 am Reply

beer tastes like shit to me. give me some vodka please


Sep 9, 2013, 8:53 am Reply

he knows his stuff


Sep 9, 2013, 9:40 am Reply

Dear DNews, please change the background music for your videos. It may not bother most of those watching the video, but for select people like me, that constant ticking in the background really takes away my attention from the video when I'm really trying to ignore it. Much appreciated even if you just read this message and consider it in the future.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 11:18 am Reply

I am from Czech repuplic, and beer is our liquid bread. And I do not exaggerate. Our average beer consumption is the greatest in Europe and maybe even worldwide.
And we brew the best beer in the world (wich is matter of fact).

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 11:21 am Reply

air and bacterias, and there is a specific bacteria, and it is yeast bacteria. and th there would not be ANY beer without it!!

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 11:38 am Reply

Belgian beer is not bad at all, but it is not best beer in a world.
many german breweries do far better, even austrian is not bad at all.
but no beer worldwide, have such a zest as a czech beer.
If you do not believe, try czech beer someday, but be careful, once you try, you will not want to drink anything else!!!

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 11:40 am Reply

poor guy, I feel with you -_-

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 11:42 am Reply

shut up you French!!

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 11:43 am Reply

your minus

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 11:47 am Reply

beer is not for little children, take a glass of juice and go watch some fairytales.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 12:12 pm Reply

Yeah, I agree completely, here in Czech republic, beer have over ten centuries old tradition, and even young people are rather conservative about beer selection, we take it really seriously. I prefer Budweiser Budvar, this brewery wich has been found early in 13th century in the Kingdom of Bohemia. and In the U.S., guy called Anheuser-Busch borrowed This name from czech brwewers and started using the Budweiser brand in 1876.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 12:14 pm Reply


Adrian Nicpon

Sep 9, 2013, 12:16 pm Reply

thanks a lot, what has been heard cannot be unheard…

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 12:28 pm Reply

There is indeed a gorgeous ammount of labels. and many diffrent kinds of beer to each of them, you got 10┬░,12┬░, Lager, wheat beer, unpasteurized, black beer, light draft of course, and those are the very basics kinds.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 12:36 pm Reply

Beer is healthy unlike vodka, It can raise one's immune system and also can help to cure stomach problems, It was even being prescripted as a cure for digestive illesses. It also contains many B vitamins. And overall, It makes people happier.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 12:38 pm Reply

brofist ­čÖé

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 12:43 pm Reply

One old Czech Proverb says: Love passes trough stomach.
For me, beer is heart concerning matter.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 12:47 pm Reply

You would get yourself killed for such statement in any czech pub


Sep 9, 2013, 12:51 pm Reply

damn i didnt notice it until i saw this. now its driving me crazy.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 1:06 pm Reply

Here in Bohemia we've been brewing beer for cenruries, and you blame czech beer for not being trendy?! Our recipes are time-approved and prettty much delicious. Unlike many czechs conservative drinkers, I don┬Ęt mind those fruit flavored beers but classic is just classy.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 1:10 pm Reply

Dr pepper is the most disgusting thing I ever drunk


Sep 9, 2013, 1:12 pm Reply

now i can't ignore it.

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 1:13 pm Reply

A brewer huh, You got nice work, I almost envy you ­čÖé

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 1:15 pm Reply

NO, non alcoholic beer does not contain alcohol. is it really so unbelievable?

Jan Škopek

Sep 9, 2013, 1:20 pm Reply

ok, german beers are great but, maybe you might try Pilsner,


Sep 9, 2013, 6:36 pm Reply

great, now you just ruined it for everyone else ­čśÇ

francis x sullivan

Sep 9, 2013, 7:08 pm Reply

what you did not mentioned about brewing with your concoct of soylent (green) mix from your DNews posting of 6 month age : 'stop eat food – the soylent experiment'.


Sep 9, 2013, 7:22 pm Reply

Maybe you just need some ginkgo biloba or something. ­čśŤ


Sep 9, 2013, 7:38 pm Reply

Yeast had not been discovered in the 17th century, yet it's talked about in the Bible… xD Those Germans…

(dnr if you have something to say about religion)


Sep 9, 2013, 7:51 pm Reply

This is a just an advert!


Sep 9, 2013, 8:03 pm Reply

How the hell can you tell people not to reply about religion when you make false claims involving a religious document?

Zachary Smith

Sep 9, 2013, 1:20 am Reply

Thanks for that… Jerk.

Skylan Wagner

Sep 9, 2013, 4:38 am Reply

asdfhabsfjh i hate you right now


Sep 9, 2013, 6:24 am Reply

nah was just thinking so loud it got typed…

Gref ranger

Sep 9, 2013, 6:40 am Reply

yeah that "ambiance" is quite annoying.

Yo Ritchie

Sep 9, 2013, 7:06 am Reply

FLOUT, not flaunt.

Grae Hall

Sep 9, 2013, 3:30 pm Reply

That. Was fuckin' fascinating.

I can't stand the taste of beer. And holy shit if you are a male of drinking age who can't stand the taste of beer too, you'll know that you wish you could. BECAUSE FUCKING PEOPLE NEVER STOP TELLING YOU THAT IT'S AN ACQUIRED TASTE AND WHY DON"T YOU DRINK BEER?

I don't even give a shit. That's so fascinating, technical, creative and spontaneous that I'd love to taste their beers. Just to see how less horrible it tastes. And just because it's fascinating to me.

Andrew Cooper

Sep 9, 2013, 4:46 pm Reply

Water, Hops, Yeast, Barley
I HATE beer. The way it tastes and even the way it smells. I mean it's like sewage to me. Since I like water, I apparently secretly hate either hops yeast or barley and I just didn't know it.

Daniel Brown

Sep 9, 2013, 5:40 pm Reply

2X IPA southerntier mmmmm


Sep 9, 2013, 8:26 pm Reply

holy shit, i didn't hear it at all first time through, listened for it and now now i can't stop ):


Sep 9, 2013, 2:31 am Reply

Yeast appears in the Bible. Specifically Jesus tells a parable of a woman kneading yeast into bread. The claim I made about the Bible was factual.

I can tell people not to reply because this is not a religious statement. The Bible is not used to convey religion, but as a point of reference in history. I was pointing out an inconstancy in the video, and I don't want people jumping the gun to start a religious debate in a video that has nothing to do with religion.


Sep 9, 2013, 2:34 am Reply

…I never said it didn't. I never said anything about religion, except not to reply if you had something to say about religion. I used the Bible as a point of reference on the timeline. I REALLY don't want people taking what I said and twisting it in to some kind of troll-based religios debate. We have to many of those on YouTube already. Way too many.


Sep 9, 2013, 3:09 am Reply

Eh. two replies before the comment was removed because of negetive votes. Not so bad.


Sep 9, 2013, 6:35 am Reply

I hear ye' man.


Sep 9, 2013, 7:30 am Reply

My curse, I share with you


Sep 9, 2013, 7:54 am Reply

I was just saying I don't like beer… calm down

Mladen Ilic

Sep 9, 2013, 11:47 am Reply

Real men drink only beer!


Sep 9, 2013, 12:25 pm Reply

please dnews, dont support the alcohol industry, it destroys the world

Jerimy McCray

Sep 9, 2013, 1:36 pm Reply


Jerimy McCray

Sep 9, 2013, 1:37 pm Reply

Shut UP!

Mladen Ilic

Sep 9, 2013, 6:23 pm Reply



Sep 9, 2013, 6:48 pm Reply

One of the most informative episode ever! Shame that this has to be crammed into 5 minutes. This guy deserves an hour or two documentary.


Sep 9, 2013, 8:01 am Reply

Drinking is meh


Sep 9, 2013, 7:53 am Reply

It was mentioned first in that video with trace a few weeks ago where it was much louder, I think they lowered it since then. It's still there and I agree, cut your losses on the rights to the music and pick a new track.


Sep 9, 2013, 8:16 pm Reply

No shit. September comes before October. Thx dude

Adeolu Adebayo

Sep 9, 2013, 7:36 am Reply

And THAT is why they're giving him and ENTIRE series.

yung mosquito

Sep 9, 2013, 2:01 am Reply

Yes I know what you're talking about it is very annoying.

Jabaru Mclaoin

Sep 9, 2013, 8:16 pm Reply

now that you pointed it out It starts to annoy me.


Oct 10, 2013, 6:56 pm Reply

I never even noticed it before I read that comment, now I won't be able to stop. =(

Alex B.

Oct 10, 2013, 4:39 pm Reply

He "flaunts" the German rule every chance he gets? Pretty sure he meant "flout".


Oct 10, 2013, 11:12 am Reply


Alex M

Oct 10, 2013, 11:48 am Reply

God damn man. You couldn't have sent a private message?

Jude The Man

Oct 10, 2013, 7:54 pm Reply

i already KNEW that song was attractive but i did not wanna tell


Oct 10, 2013, 2:40 am Reply

i hate but I LOVE you people you make me not wanna sleep! but u so cool


Oct 10, 2013, 1:53 am Reply

So here's where this guy has been, He isn't in rev3's videos anymore

Jan Škopek

Oct 10, 2013, 2:51 pm Reply

thank's for tip friend ­čÖé

Jan Škopek

Oct 10, 2013, 2:59 pm Reply

I am not going to explain to you what your statement says about you as a person, but you'd better to shut up.


Oct 10, 2013, 10:10 pm Reply

It says that I said something stupid, and rather than starting a comment section war, shut up. I think the fact that your comment that tells me to shut up over a week after I did shut up says more about you as a person than me.


Oct 10, 2013, 7:18 pm Reply


Brandon MacDonald

Oct 10, 2013, 8:56 pm Reply

Of course. I read it before I even watched the video.

Daniel Zagora

Oct 10, 2013, 9:23 pm Reply

jasne ┼że toto mo┼że poveda┼ą len ─Źech…no v├Żnimo─Źne, m├í aj pravdu ­čśÇ


Oct 10, 2013, 1:03 pm Reply

this is heresy


Nov 11, 2013, 10:13 am Reply

Yes, because the book about zombies and talking snakes rewritten thousands of times is just ~bursting~ at the seams with scientific and historical accuracy. Do not ever try to use fairybooks as fact-sources in an argument about science, no matter the angle.

Randall Schoverling

Nov 11, 2013, 6:02 pm Reply

I don't understand how the beer is carbonated in the porous wooden barrel.

Brian Vandenbroek

Dec 12, 2013, 5:44 am Reply

Buddy mentions a "17th century beer purity law." The beer purity law was from 1516. I'm pretty sure that was the 16th century, not the 17th.

siers sierinieks

Mar 3, 2014, 10:29 pm Reply

Damn i wish to live in America here u can buy mostly only crappy beer vodka mix so its stronger cheaper and u get drunk faster but it taste terrible ^^

Shane Mcdowell

Mar 3, 2014, 8:18 pm Reply

I'm a huge fan of almost any Bourbon Barrel aged beer, especially stouts. Yummmmm. Blue Mountain Barrel House beer is delicious.


Apr 4, 2018, 4:11 pm Reply

3:52 WHAT

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