The Zymatore program, in summary

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beers 3257 º places 138 º 09:10 Sat 2/23/2013

To kick off NYC Craft Beer Week, the head of the Zymatore program and barrel master at B. United gave a talk about the initiative at new bar Proletariat and brought along a bunch of beers to share. Here are some key points:

* The Zymatore (zih-muh-TOR-ay) program is run entirely from their facilities in Connecticut

* Three years ago, B. United developed a new beer shipment method in which their trans-oceanic brewers send them beer. Instead of sending kegs all over the world—a logistical nightmare—they invented a new, standardized container. The container is non-pressurized—meaning all the beer in it is flat—and was described as looking like an oil truck, only smaller (though still much larger than a keg). B. United thus carbonates and kegs all of their clients’ beer in-house. The oceanic voyages are all done on refridgerated ships and all arrive in less than a week, besides beers from Japan. Thus, the beer is still very fresh.

* Using these same shipments, B. United has developed a barrel program in which they age some of their clients’ beer themselves in various kinds of barrels from all over the world, and sell them with the Zymatore brand added to the name (ex Glazen Toren Canastre Zymatore)

* The program is very artisanal, and there is a large focus on getting interesting barrels from small and/or international producers rather than just doing lots of bourbon barrels, like the market seems to demand (his words). B. United clearly has a lot of international contacts, and when they are routinely pulling barrels of stuff I’ve never heard of (and I spend a lot of time tracking down obscure international alcohols), you know they are doing something pretty impressive.

* The program currently consists of over 300 barrels, with extensive details that can be found here

* There is a focus on allowing microflora to develop and flourish in the beers. Those that have had the pleasure of trying any Zymatore most likely noted that the beers are quite often somewhat sour, and usually quite strange but very complex. This is intentional. Barrels are left "dirty": in the Reissdorf Kolsch aged in Pazzo barrels (a fortified, madeirzed wine), the barrel arrived filled with grape skins and gunk and all manner of sediment. They left it all in there and went to town. The beer came out fantastic.

* Beers are aged for significant periods of time; I’m not sure we had a single one at this event that was barreled less than 12 months

* All beers in the program are naturally carbonated before kegging. Zymatore repitches yeast and allows a final fermentation before it hits the keg.

beers 3257 º places 138 º 09:10 Sat 2/23/2013

And new a few notes, from me.

This program is absolutely fantastic, and is clearly performed with an immense amount of love. The barrels acquired are always unique and B. United’s ability to work *with* the barrel rather than just letting the barrel take over and dominate the beer like is so common in the industry right now is incredible. They are developing a distinct resident microflora, as well, giving the beer a sort of terroir that is only found in the best sour programs.

I do not hesitate to say for even a second that if you put a Russian River or Hill Farmstead label on some of these beers, geeks would be going nuts trying to acquire them and would be providing stratospheric ratings. The beers are exquisitely produced and it really shows in their complexity, balance, and depth.

I’m quite happy that Ratebeer recently approved the ability to add and rate these beers in the database, as hopefully they’ll start getting the recognition that they deserve.

beers 5428 º places 9 º 09:54 Sat 2/23/2013

Awesome summary Andy. Never even heard of this program till I read this. I will be on the lookout for these for sure.

Thanks for taking the time to post this!

beers 18082 º places 212 º 10:10 Sat 2/23/2013

The only horrible thing, is watching some good UK beers going abroad and getting treatments you cant get back hom.

beers 1248 º places 37 º 10:47 Sat 2/23/2013

My only problem is they often cost too much!

It is a great program, and good to see both the brewers and importers agreeing to have a little fun.

beers 3257 º places 138 º 10:52 Sat 2/23/2013

Originally posted by GodOfThunder
My only problem is they often cost too much!

It is a great program, and good to see both the brewers and importers agreeing to have a little fun.

I haven’t seen any for more than $10/12oz in NYC, and considering most stuff here is $7-8/12 at this point, it’s a pretty fair price.

beers 9004 º places 529 º 12:47 Sat 2/23/2013

Great summary Andy! I’ve been wondering about these things since they first appeared because the few I’ve had (2-3 at most) have actually been really damn good. Did anyone ask about how the original brewers feel about the collaborations? Are they doing any blending or is it more of a series of one-off barrels? How do they see the program developing over time as the resident flora of each barrel develops and the wood contribution fades? Sounds like that was a hell of an event.

beers 2841 º places 194 º 16:49 Sat 2/23/2013

Thanks for write up I wish I could have made last night to hear the talk. But I was fortunate enough to go today and try everything and was thrilled by how delicious everything was. Count me a huge B United fan at this point in time.

beers 2424 º places 100 º 16:56 Sat 2/23/2013

This is a very interesting program. Thanks for the write up!

beers 14694 º places 741 º 18:23 Sat 2/23/2013