August 7, 2013

Exotic Bling -- Funkwerks Exotic King clone-ish

Two weeks ago I brewed Tropic Bling, my clone of Funkwerk's Tropic King saison. As I discussed in the opening comments of the recipe, I am not a huge fan of Tropic King but I really like Exotic King, which is a blend of barrel aged Tropic King and fresh Tropic King. Tropic King is heavy on Rakau hops, which I don't love, but the barrel aging makes it a more mellow beer. The blending of fresh beer gives it a little fresh hop character without the assertive hop flavor and aroma in Tropic King. So when I brewed Tropic Bling I wanted to taste some of that barrel aged greatness of Exotic King but I'm not going to brew multiple batches so I am leaving the blending to the pros and going with a straight barrel aged batch.

The process

My Tropic Bling batch is 2.5 gallons. I am going to pull a full gallon off the batch for aging. Funkwerks barrel ages this beer in bourbon barrels for a few months (I believe the age it for three months). I want to replicate that process as much as possible, even though I do not have a barrel. However, I do have the last of a round of oak chips I bought that have been soaking in some Maker's Mark for several months. (I have a separate oak aging process that I intend to compare against barrel aged beers to compare the quality of my pseudo barrel aging process against actual barrels. I will post on that after I have enough data to make useful comparisons.)

Oak and whiskey for one gallon of aged saison
I have racked a gallon of Tropic Bling (which is pretty good in spite of my general ambivalence towards Rakau hops) into a 5l wine jug with a mere tenth of an ounce of the oak chips and a teaspoon of the Maker's Mark. My plan is to let it age for three months but I am going to taste it around the six week mark to see how oaky and bourbon-y it is. I don't want overwhelming oak or bourbon, just a bit of an aged character in the hops and malt paired with a slight barrel character. If the barrel character is too strong I'll go ahead and bottle and let it age away from the oak. If it's too mild, I can add more oak and/or bourbon.

I'm not hardcore committed to the three month mark but I assume Funkwerks knows the sweet spot for its beer better than I would. I'll bottle once I think it has a good flavor and put it aside with my other beers to enjoy slowly. I expect to hold a bottle or two until next summer when I brew another saison and then I can do some blending in the glass to see how it works as a blending beer. Who knows, I might end up making Exotic Bling a regular beer to blend with other beers. We'll see.

But if it sucks
In the jug -- it's on the dark side of saisons

If it doesn't turn out a great beer on its own I'll take a look at it to determine what it's missing. The fresh beer blending may be the key to Exotic King's flavor profile. If that's the case, I might hold all of the bottles until I brew some saison next summer or something else that will fill in the flavor. Maybe a hoppy saison or a pale ale. At a minimum, it's another data point on my pseudo barrel aging project so it's definitely a worthwhile project from that standpoint.


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