Way back in 2018, we received a call from our friends at Baere Brewing Co., a local Denver brewery. They asked us to stop by to taste two barrels of beer that had become too sour, which they were unable to sell or use anymore. Baere Brewing Co. had hoped that we might be able to salvage the acetic beer by working on a collaboration together.
In the beer brewing process, acetic acid is created by Acetobacter in the presence of oxygen. While some styles of beer aim to promote the formation of acetic acid, such as Flanders-style sour ales, it is generally considered an off flavor in most beers. When too much acetic acid forms, beer turns "sour" or goes bad.
The first barrel of beer began its journey on June 2, 2016, as Baere-liner Weisse, Baere Brewing Co.'s house sour beer, which also is the beer used in The Real Dill Green Chile Hot Sauce. It was initially brewed and fermented in stainless steel before being transferred on June 14, 2016 to an oak barrel, which had previously held Baere Brewing Co.'s 2nd anniversary celebratory sour beer. Baere Brewing Co. generally tastes its beer barrels after 6 months or so to gauge how they're doing. On Halloween of 2018, they made a note that said "The Real Dill or dump!" The brewers noticed that along the journey, the beer had began to become acetic, tasting like a nice vinegar. This is when they began dreaming of making a beer pickle collaboration.
The second barrel held a tart saison that Baere Brewing Co. brewed on March 7, 2017. It was fermented and aged in a Laws Whiskey Origins Barrel A. This barrel was from one of Laws Whiskey's original whiskey batches, when they first began distilling. During the initial 18 months of this beer's life in the barrel, it tasted like a great pineapple forward saison. The brewers at Baere Brewing Co. had intended to re-ferment it on loads of pineapple, once they had the time. Fortunately, for the sake of this story, when they tasted it in May of 2018, it had turned acetic, and it had developed a number of other "off" flavors. They held onto it to see how the acetic acid fared over time, and on October 15, 2019, they decided it was liquid gold and also needed to be given a second life by The Real Dill.
After we received news that Baere Brewing Co. was in possession of these acetic barrels, we stopped by and tasted them. We talked about repurposing the beers, but nothing ever came to realization. A few months later, we went back a second time to taste the beer, and it had turned even more acetic. "I'm not sure what dictates whether a beer is suited to turn into nice tasting vinegar," says Ryan Skeels, Co-founder of Baere Brewing Co. "But both of these barrels that we hung onto, in hopes that this project would someday come to fruition, just kept tasting like better and better vinegar."
When we revisited the beer for a second time, we all had a lightbulb moment: instead of making a beer pickle, we should turn the acetic beer into a barrel aged malt vinegar. "Upon tasting the liquid, I noticed that these beers were starting to turn into vinegar on their own, so why not encourage that and intentionally make a barrel aged, malt vinegar?," says Tyler DuBois, Co-found of The Real Dill. The guys at Baere Brewing Co. agreed and thought this was a great alternative to dumping the sour concoctions. Yet after that meeting, several years passed, and the beer remained in its original barrels, turning more acetic by the day.
Finally, on February 13, 2020, right before the world would change forever, we picked up the barrels from Baere Brewing Co., and loaded up them into The Real Dill company van. Back at The Dillery, our facility, we pitched alcohol and raw vinegar with a mother to start the conversion from beer to malt vinegar.
Raw vinegar contains a fermentation starter, commonly referred to as a mother. The mother converts alcohol to acetic acid, and in turn, into vinegar. We controlled the vinegar making process by adding raw vinegar and more alcohol (beyond the alcohol content found in the original beer) for the mother to feed on.
For the next year, the barrels sat at The Dillery, and the vinegar developed. In 2021, we determined that the vinegar conversion process was complete. However, after we tasted the barrel aged vinegar, we decided that we wanted to infuse it with local flavors, so we added rosemary and Palisade peaches to the barrels and let them sit for a few more months.
In 2021, we also launched the Prospector Series, which serves as a new home that we can use as a creative outlet to develop a more limited line of products. As a collection of culinary trailblazers, independent thinkers, and innovative makers, we are constantly digging through the depths of our imaginations in the hopes of unearthing a creative breakthrough. With this notion, we developed the Prospector Series, our newest series that spotlights single-batch, underground, and very limited releases, for when our inspiration strikes gold.
Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find something truly unique. The Prospector Series features our most exclusive, experimental product offerings and taps into rare ingredients and eccentric combinations. We are so excited for everyone to finally meet Malt Miner, our third Prospector Series release, and to finally taste our first ever malt vinegar, made in collaboration with our friends at Baere Brewing Co.
Malt Miner is the definition of a labor of love that took six years in the making. It harmoniously balances piney rosemary and juicy Palisade peach infusions, while packing a tart, fruity, and oaky punch. Its bright flavor makes it a versatile pantry star.
As pickle makers, we love vinegar, and we hope that Malt Miner helps other people realize vinegar's amazing powers. What people may not know is that the acidity in vinegar can amplify the flavors in your food. Most people are very turned off by vinegar because conventional vinegars are extremely intense and overwhelming. If used properly, and if you use the right type, vinegar is an incredible condiment that easily transforms food, taking it to the next level with a splash or two.
If you have never tried vinegar this way, Malt Miner is a great place to start. The barrel aged vinegar packs an oaky punch with a rosemary flavor on the forefront and peach flavor on the backend. Drizzle it on top of a garden tomato or burrata salad, use it as a mignonette for fresh oysters, splash it in your favorite cocktail, or add it to just about any dish that is in need of brightness or a flavor boost. We also love it as a base for sauces, dressings, hollandaise, aioli, and marinades.
Fair warning, this limited-run product will only be available once. You can buy Malt Miner here, on our online store, and there will also be limited quantities available at Baere Brewing Co. taproom starting on Saturday, February 26, 2022. In addition to Malt Miner, Baere Brewing Co. will release a sour beer and also have Peach Rosemary simple syrup to add into their house beer, Baere-liner Weisse. Guests will receive a free special beer pickle with the purchase of a beer.
Be on the lookout for forthcoming Prospector Series releases in the future. Due to the specialness of the Prospector Series, each release will be crafted in extremely small quantities and typically, only available at therealdill.com.