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.