The Sixpoint Brewers announced the launch of its Mad Scientists line of beers. Debuting with a 9.4% ABV “Spelt Wine”, the brewery plans to release a range of extremely limited, highly creative one-off beers six times a year. Beer enthusiasts can expect to see these beers at more discriminating beer purveyors on the first of the month on a bi-monthly basis, with the next incarnation to be released February 1 to coincide with the brewery’s sixth anniversary.
The Spelt Wine is a twist on the more traditional barleywine beer style and features 51% spelt malt – an ancient cereal grain rarely found in the brewing process.
“Evolutionarily speaking,” explains brewmaster Shane Welch, “spelt is an old cousin to wheat, similar in its composition and flavor profile, but less hybridized. The extra-large grain bill coupled with an abbey yeast allowed this beer to ferment very dry, further emphasizing the tart and spicy notes of the brew. It was seasoned with two different types of noble hops.”
The genesis for using a predominantly spelt malt base for a production beer started on Sixpoint’s 60-liter pilot system – affectionately known as the “Enterprise”.
“Upon first experimenting with spelt in our pilot brewery,” elaborates assistant brewer Dan Suarez, “we were delighted by the earthy flavor it imparted on our beers. We chose to showcase this character by brewing a fairly straightforward pale beer with a large proportion of fermentable malt sugars derived from the ancient cereal grain. Our goal for brewing this beer was to let the spelt flavor shine. The result is a dry, tangy, and spicy blond beer.”
Brewing the beer was not without its challenges, however. Extrapolating the beer from the Enterprise to Sixpoint’s 15-barrel production system required some “Mad Scientist” ingenuity.
“Working with such a high proportion of spelt malt in the grist was a bit of a challenge since it doesn’t behave in quite the same way barley or wheat does during the mash,” relates head brewer Craig Frymark. “Traditionally, we use a single mash to produce about 30 kegs of beer. However, in order to hit our target gravity for this one, we had to combine two mashes together in the brew kettle in order to achieve the desired amount of fermentable sugar for the same 30 kegs.”