My short bio: I've been brewing for 12 years and recently moved back to Maine from Texas where I'd been working on helicopters as an engineer for the government. I'm opening Barreled Souls with a friend I've know since 4th grade and this has been both of our dream for many years. We're using a unique fermentation method that as far as I know will make us the only brewery in the world making beer this way. We're also building a large tasting room and barrel aging almost half of all the beer we make. Our goal is to bring something unique to the craft beer scene while doing what we love. Thanks for participating!

Shameless Self Plug: We're doing a Kickstarter Campaign with lots of great rewards! Please help us out! Thanks!


It's 12:47 EST. I've got to go make some beer, but I'll be back in a few hours to answer more of the questions already asked. I've been amazed by not only the number of questions, but the quality and obvious knowledge all of you have. Thanks so much and check back tonight, I'll try to get to most of the questions.

My Proof:

Comments: 813 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

johnnynoname12128 karma

how many black people are in Maine?

barreledsouls353 karma

Maine's population is 100% black. I was surprised too.

Philobus110 karma

What exactly is a Burton Union System for those of us who are too lazy to look it up?

barreledsouls128 karma

Its a method of fermenting beer that uses oak barrels as the primary fermentation vessel. The design of the system allows the yeast to travel up through pipes into a catchment tank where it can then be separated from the beer and reused in subsequent batches.

As far as I know, we are the only brewery in the world fermenting 100% of our beers this way.

turtlepharm37 karma

Is this the same system firestone walker is using for their DBA?

VagrantCorpse18 karma

I'm pretty sure it is but if I recall they only do about 20% of DBA using it. They blend in the rest.

barreledsouls70 karma

Firestone uses a variation of the system they call a Firestone Union. The barrels themselves are not linked together and they don't harvest the yeast for subsequent batches. I was able to talk with Matt Brynildson (head brewer at Firestone Walker) when I was first developing the system and he gave me a lot of great advice.

And yes, the put a small percentage of their DBA through their barrels. If you visit the brewery they have a 100% barrel fermented version of DBA that is fantastic.

trik102919 karma

Is it better in any way? I mean it sounds cool but being the only guy that does it all that way doesn't mean much for a guy like me that just buys whatever lost abbey or dogfish head is on the shelf...

barreledsouls47 karma

I'm hoping to work with another local brewery to brew our same recipe on their stainless steel system and do a side by side comparison to determine what effect the barrels and the burton union really have on the beer.

The main reason I'm doing it is to create the healthiest most hospitable environment I can for the yeast, and to be able to extract the strongest yeast crop possible for later batches.

TailgatingTiger43 karma

That seems like an important thing to have done before deciding to go this route for for all your beer.

barreledsouls120 karma

Sometimes you just have to trust your intuition and take some risks.

llimllib5 karma

another local brewery

Which one? Just curious, as a local.

barreledsouls3 karma

Haven't finalized that yet but have talked with Bunker and Oxbow about possible collaborations. There's so many great breweries in Maine, I hope to work with as many as I can.

CruelHandLuke711 karma

Marstons in the UK does it this way too.

barreledsouls6 karma

You're right! Marstons ferments one of their beers, I believe it's Pedigree, in a Burton Union system.

isobane100 karma

So since you use barrels, does that mean you have an abundance of bungholes?

barreledsouls150 karma

We're swimming in bungholes over here

Icarus-rises41 karma

Guessing your beer will be available in maine for the time being; do you have any plans, assuming success, to move product out of state?

barreledsouls42 karma

That's one of those "down the road" decisions we haven't been focussing on too much right now. Opening a new business is about doing what you need to do TODAY to keep things moving towards opening day.

But it's something we've definitely thought about, and if things are going well and it's clear there is out of state demand, then I think it's very likely we would branch out and start distributing.

Ideally the federal gov will relax the laws about interstate beer shipping and make them more like they are for wine. We'd rather take mail orders and ship them then have to work with a distributor that can put demands on what we're making and how much we need to make.

John_Bedlam30 karma

Just shut up and come back to texas...

Or I'll move to Maine.

barreledsouls23 karma

Hahaha, you should move to Maine

toxiclogic37 karma

I'm located in Portland, ME and tempted to pony up the $200 for the Barrel Society. My favorite styles are BA Stouts and sours, can you divulge what you have in mind for the first few bottles??

barreledsouls56 karma

I'm brewing a 10.5% ABV imperial porter-ish beer in the next couple days that will go into a couple Woodford Reserve barrels we were able to get our hands on (the only barrels we were able to find at all). This is a super thick Porter style beer made with tons of flaked grains to increase the velvetly mouthfeel.

We'll be putting barleywine, imperial stout, strong scotch ale, wheatwines, etc. into barrels to age and bottle for our members. The kickstarter funds will allow us to get the variety and amount of barrels we need to make all this happen so you're membership funds will go to a great use.

We're holding off on barrel aged sours right now because we only have one barrel aging room and we don't want to risk cross contamination. It's something we want to experiment with down the road but for now it's big, high ABV beers for us :)

thirdeyedesign18 karma

Do you only use new barrels? Because the distillery in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia sells their used barrels cheaply with a few bottles worth of whiskey in the bottom.

barreledsouls13 karma

Wow, awesome, I'll have to look into that. I'd love to put some beer into good Canadian whisky barrels.

toxiclogic7 karma

I'll grabble around for the funds, but you've got me convinced.

Another question; I see you'll be pouring at Beer Camp Across America on 8/1, what goodies can we expect?

barreledsouls3 karma

We haven't decided yet as they're only allowing us to bring 2 beers. That'll be a game time decision. See you there!

abigrace35 karma

Why ferment in barrels? What's unique about that?

barreledsouls96 karma

There's a number of reasons, added flavor complexity and the effect of oak tannins on the texture of the beer being couple of them. The main reason we're doing this though is to promote healthy yeast growth and allow us to re-capture the best yeast from each batch to be used on subsequent batches. The shape of the barrel reduces atmospheric stress on the yeast during fermentation which lead to a healthier life cycle for the yeast. The yeast that is then pushed up and out of the barrel and collected in the Burton Union system is the healthiest of the batch. In this way we're almost selectively breeding the yeast, choosing healthier and stronger yeast each time. No GMO here, just good old fashion survival of the fittest :)

GetHaggard15 karma

Curious if you purchase your oak barrels from wineries or not, and if so, what percentage of neutral oak vs. new oak will you be using?

barreledsouls18 karma

We won't be using any new oak as our intention is to incorporate the flavors of whatever the barrel held before with the flavors of our beer. Second use barrels like this aren't neutral yet in terms of oak character they impart, but around 70% has been taken up by the wine, even more if it's a spirit barrel.

But yes, we plan to work with wine barrels as well as spirit barrels.

namelessbrewer4 karma

How do you plan on maintaining sanitation of your barrels? Will you only be using one yeast strain in your facility or multiple for different styles? From experience, wood and multiple strains can be troublesome.

barreledsouls6 karma

We use 2 yeast strains but each barrel is dedicated to one yeast strain. The barrels are washed out with an oxygen based cleaner and if they have to sit for more than a day we fill them with a citric acid solution.

smokey_dokey22 karma

I live in Maine. Can I come see your brewery? Will you hire me??

barreledsouls24 karma

We're not hiring right now, maybe down the road a bit. You can definitely come see the brewery though and sample our beers!

vikinglady20 karma

What got you into brewing your own beer?

What's your favorite beer that you brew yourself?

barreledsouls58 karma

I was given a homebrewing kit for my birthday 12 years ago and was really hooked after my first batch. I was already into craft beer and cooking at that point so homebrewing seemed like a natural progression.

My favorite of the beers I make is always the one in my glass, hahaha. But really I think the strong scotch ale I make called Munro might be my favorite. It's a malty rich beer filled with caramel and fig flavors that comes in a 8.5% I want one right now, screw this coffee I'm drinking

Jfenn0819 karma

What is your favorite beer besides one you brew?

barreledsouls35 karma

If I had to pick one, which is an insanely difficult thing for me to do, I'll go with Founders Backwoods Bastard. It's there regular strong scotch ale aged in bourbon barrels, amazing stuff. It's one of the many beers that inspired us to age so many of our beers in barrels.

Jfenn083 karma

Awesome! thanks for the response, I'll have to try that. I live in Richmond VA and Hardywood brewery has a Bourbon barrel aged Bourbon Sidamo which is awesome and almost 11%.

barreledsouls5 karma

Oh man, now I want to try that one :)

Worfrat112 karma


barreledsouls20 karma

We're not introducing any bacteria or brett into the brewery at this point for exactly that reason.

With the high yeast pitch rate the yeast is strong enough to overwhelm the small amount of bacteria or brett that may have unintentionally found it's way into the barrel. We thoroughly wash the barrels with an oxygen based cleaner and store them filled with a citric acid solution if they are not actively fermenting beer. This prevents any unwanted growth that could potentially infect the beers.

NobodyPoosButYou11 karma

Do you worry at all about how saturated the craft beer market has become over the last 10 years? What's your plan to get your beer into bars/onto shelves?

Good luck, man!

barreledsouls27 karma

That's a big reason we're opening the type of brewery we are. Fighting for tap handles and shelf space is becoming more and more competitive with the growing number of breweries in America. We decided that we wanted to create a brewery that is a destination itself and sell most of our beer through our tasting room. We will still have accounts throughout Maine, but that will not be our primary means of selling our beer.

codialknight9 karma

Could you briefly describe how to crew beer?

barreledsouls30 karma

The first step is called Mashing and consists of soaking malted barley in hot water for about an hour or so, it's the consistency of thick oatmeal at this point. This liquid is then strained out and put into a boil kettle, it's called Wort at this point. That's boiled for about an hour at which point hops and anything else you want in there is added. This liquid is then cooled down and in our case moved into oak barrels where yeast is added. It stays in the oak barrel fermenting for anywhere from 5 to 10 days depending on the beer. The beer is then moved to a conditioning tank where it clarifies and is carbonated. We then keg the beer from this tank and serve it on tap here at the brewery.

flancresty8 karma

What brewers/breweries do you think are making the best stuff?

barreledsouls15 karma

It seems like there are different breweries that excel at different things. Allagash makes some of the best sour beers in the world. Oxbow is putting out amazing Saisons. Banded Horn right down the road from us makes some fantastic IPA's.

The Bruery in Orange County, CA has been a favorite of my partner and I for a long time and was a big inspiration to us in starting Barreled Souls. I think pretty much everything the Founders puts out is fantastic.

There's so many great ones. This is an amazing time to be a beer lover!

JB7076 karma

No love for Russian River?

mynameismaryjo5 karma

Russian River is AMAZING <3

barreledsouls5 karma

I love Russian River. Visited the brewery a couple time as well. Everything they make is amazing.

insanesquirle7 karma

What is the most disgusting thing that goes into brewing. Also, is that rats found in beer barrels true, or just a myth?

barreledsouls15 karma

I guess it depends on what disgusts you. Some breweries use an emulsion that includes ground up fish bladders to help clarify their beers (it's called isinglass), I could see someone finding that slightly disgusting.

Beer has been made in barrels for 3000 years (I actually have no idea, but it's been a long time) and I would guess over all those years a rat found it's way in at some point.

swiller7 karma

First, thanks for doing this AMA and for brewing some beers other than ales. I prefer lagers, stouts, porters and black and tans. I get up to Maine at least every other year so I will stop by.

What is your philosophy on hops and hoppiness? I tend to subscribe to the view that craft beers in the USA are often too hoppy. The tastes are often too sharp for me.

barreledsouls9 karma

I tend to agree with you on that one. I love hops but I agree that the intense bitterness can be unpleasant at times. We're brewing an imperial belgian IPA right now called Mosaic Thump that uses all Mosaic hops for flavor and aroma and comes in around 9%ABV. I like Belgian IPA's because the fruitiness of the yeast offsets the hop bitterness really well.

Bissel Brothers in Portland make a great beer called Substance that does a wonderful job of accentuating hope flavors while keeping the bitterness at a nice balanced level.

IEnjoyBoobs26 karma

How many 3rd graders do you think you can fight all at once?

barreledsouls14 karma

In a perfect world 17

But I've only seen 6 in person...that was epic though

lincolnfan015 karma

What advice would you give to someone who has just recently started making beer within the last year? Are there any trade secrets, tips, or tricks you can divulge?

barreledsouls8 karma

There's two things I always tell homebrewers are crucial to great beer and are often overlooked. Proper yeast pitching rates and fermentation temperature control. The yeast life cycle is critical to great beer and too often is an afterthought for homebrewers. I recommend reading Yeast by Jamil Zainasheff and Chris White

zombeefood5 karma

I made a batch of beer with too much esters, do I dump it or choke it down?

barreledsouls8 karma

Just say it's a traditional British style beer. A lot of those pub style ales from England are intentionally fermented warm to increase ester production, unlike the clean American style ales that are fermented colder and slower.

JSquared0074 karma

hey, is it true that the double arch is the best way to build a bridge?

barreledsouls11 karma

Everyone knows that.

If you come up with an idea that already exists but you just didn't know about it then you basically invented it right? I invented that toothbrush looking flossing device...just saying.

JSquared0073 karma

I actually have one of those toothbrush flossing devices. It's fantastic.

barreledsouls12 karma

You're welcome

Kimbernator3 karma

I'm looking to get into brewing with an intention of opening my own brewery sometime in the future. What was the most difficult part for you to actually get it off the ground?

barreledsouls5 karma

Hmm, probably the combination of raising the capital and finding the right location. We turned to friends and family for a lot of funding but also were able to get a bank loan that really helped. Location is also critical and it took us almost a year to find the right one.

Although really the most difficult part may be committing to actually doing it. You can spend years thinking about it, but making the decision that you're actually doing it and there's no turning back, that might be the hardest.

MikeBoost3 karma

What size system are you using and what is your projected output?

barreledsouls5 karma

It's about a 2 Bbl system but the size is more dictated by the oak barrels which are 53gallons, so we're really doing about 50 gallons each time we brew. We could get up to 700 or so Bbls annually on the setup we currently have.

Shurikane3 karma

Montrealer here with a weakness for any drinkable thing put in a barrel. Any plans to sell that potential deliciousness in Canada in a very near future? :D

barreledsouls8 karma

Man, interstate commerce is complicated enough here, I wouldn't even begin to know what it would take to distribute in Canada. I would love to if I could.

If you become a bottle member we will hold your bottles at the brewery to be picked up at the end of the year, that way you don't have to come down every time we do a release.

I went to Montreal with a bunch of friends after graduating high school back in 1999. I had Unibroue Maudite for the first time and that was the beer that completely changed what I thought beer was or could be. Everyone has that beer that opened their mind to the possibilities of craft beer, that was mine.

Parkus653 karma

I've got a couple of questions.

  1. What made you get in to brewing in the first place?
  2. What made you want to make the shift to owning/running a brewery?
  3. Are you going to distribute, or serve at your restaurant only?
  4. What's your favorite style of beer to drink/brew?

barreledsouls11 karma

I was given a homebrewing kit for my birthday 12 years ago and was really hooked after my first batch. I was already into craft beer and cooking at that point so homebrewing seemed like a natural progression.

I recently was hired as the lead brewing consultant in converting a restaurant in Corpus Christi, TX into a brewpub. I worked for about a year on this project and had an amazing time. This experience made me realize I had to do this for myself.

We're just a brewery with a tasting room, no restaurant. We'll be distributing to a dozen or so accounts to start and the tasting room will be open Wed-Sun

I like almost every style of beer, but if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be strong scotch ale...or maybe barrel aged imperial stout...or if it's a hot sunny day and nice low ABV super hoppy IPA...geez I don't know, that's a tough question

lula24883 karma

Could you update the facebook page to say that you're doing the AMA? Thanks.

barreledsouls10 karma

Just did, thanks!

lula24884 karma

Please can you you remove the "Also please upvote us to help promote the conversation, thanks!", which is against the rules of reddit. I have removed your post for the time being. Thanks

barreledsouls12 karma

Just did, sorry about that, didn't realize

Revekkasaurus3 karma

I am heading to Maine next week to visit family... where abouts are you located and would we be able to do a tour and/or tasting?

barreledsouls11 karma

We're at 743 Portland Road in Saco, ME

We open July 19th and will be open every Wednesday through Sunday from then on.

Come on by if you're here then! Would love to give you a tour and share some beers!

barreledsouls7 karma


Wednesday and Thursday 4pm - 10pm Friday 4pm - 12am Saturday 12pm - 12am Sunday 12pm - 9pm

DingusMacLeod2 karma

Home brewer here. How much time and money will I need to start my own brewery?

barreledsouls5 karma

That depends on all kinds of things. You could start with a 1 Bbl system and rent some space in an industrial park and probably get the whole thing off the ground for $30,000. You could also get a 15Bbl turnkey brewing system made by a quality brewing equipment manufacturer and spend $1 million. I think it would take at least a year to get up and running regardless of what size you're looking at.

Good luck if you decide to take the leap!

TumorPizza2 karma

Best of luck. Will your products be available in NYC?

barreledsouls3 karma

Not anytime soon. We're really small right now and focussing on the Maine craft beer market.

If you purchase a bottle membership through our kickstarter campaign we will hold your annual allotment at the brewery so you only have to travel up here once to pick everything up.


FullBirdColonel2 karma

What styles of beer do you love vs what you want to make?

barreledsouls2 karma

We make the styles we love here which is what's so great about owning you're own business, especially you're own brewery.

Gibbonslayer42 karma

Bell helicopter? Dixie Southern? oh wait this is about beer

barreledsouls5 karma

Boeing and Sikorsky. All military helicopters. Don't drink and fly helicopters though...big mistake.

IEnjoyBoobs22 karma

Does your beard give you magical powers?

Will you still be at Classic Brew '15?

What is your favourite yoga pose?

May small batch brewers like myself send you beer to sample?

Which is better pancakes or waffles?

barreledsouls2 karma

All beards have magical powers If I'm invited I suppose I might make an appearance I like em all Send away I'll go with pancakes, unless there's fried chicken on that waffle, in which case I'm all over that

The_Better_brother2 karma

How can i sign on to receive a shipment of your stouts/porters/doubles? I live out of state and I would love to try some east coast craft brews!

barreledsouls3 karma

Unfortunately breweries in the U.S.A cannot ship their beer across state lines (although I believe this law will be changing soon).

You have to come to the brewery and pick up the bottles, or assign someone local to do it for you. We will hold your annual allotment of beers that come with the bottle membership here at the brewery so you can make just one trip to pick everything up.

Everyone should travel to Maine once a year anyway :)

tegaychik2 karma

May I have some samples? :)

barreledsouls4 karma

Is there an app for that? :)

Our opening day is July 19th so if you're anywhere near Saco, ME come on by! I'd love to pour some samples for you!

gettyler1 karma

Hello thanks for doing this! What an interesting AMA, I just have one question. Other than the cost of startup, what was the most challenging aspect of staring your own brewery?

barreledsouls1 karma

I have to say finding a location. We really wanted the tasting room to be a major component of our brewery so weren't willing to move to an industrial space. This meant finding a location that was zoned properly, could accommodate the industrial demands of a brewery but was in a busy part of town and easily accessible.

Dr_Donuts1 karma

Hi Barreled Souls,

I'm interested in brewing from a chemical/engineering perspective. Ideally, I would like to work with wine and beer after completing grad school. Can you tell me about how you found yourself working for a brewing company and what it's like?

barreledsouls1 karma

I got a job at a brewery about 10 years ago while taking a year off from school. It was a brewpub and I started out working in the kitchen and was eventually hired on as the assistant brewer.

You should check out for professional brewing position posting. Good luck!

faschwaa1 karma

Cincinnatian here. We've got a booming brewing market and tons of new avenues for distribution in our local economy. Can we expect your beer to hit our area anytime soon? I imagine it might be difficult to make enough of it to ship all over if you're only brewing in barrels.

barreledsouls2 karma

Yes, it's unlikely that we will every have a market presence in Cincinnati. If you join our bottle club through our kickstarter campaign we will hold your annual allotment throughout the year so you can make just one trip out here. Or, if you have someone local you have them pick it up for you.

Thanks for the interest!

toppa6661 karma


barreledsouls6 karma

We'll be making a large variety of beer ranging anywhere from 3.5% ABV to 16%ABV.

There's a time and place for every type of beer and we want to offer as many options to our customers as we possibly can. Of course in the summer we'll be making more of the 3.5% ish stuff whereas in the cold Maine winters we'll be coming out with a lot more high ABV beers to warm you up.

Ikinhaszkarmakplx20 karma

This is something special because...?

barreledsouls5 karma

If you asked the yeast they would say it's the fermentation method that makes this special. They love barrels and they love getting to climb up and out of the barrel and find there new home in the Burton Union trough.

If you asked our customers they's say the variety and quality of the beers along with the beautiful tasting room are what makes this special.