For years, the Foederbier has been bewildering newcomers to Joymongers taproom. In fact each of our bartenders would attest to having the following experience:
Bartender: Hello! What kind of beer can I get for you?
Patron: **with a look of confusion and apprehension** uh, what is a Fa—uh? Faux? Beer?
Perhaps you too were at one time unsure about the Foederbier (pronounced food-er-beer, by the way) and still are skeptical. Either way, we hope we can demystify this complex brew that many in the Joymongers family have come to love!
WHAT IS A FOEDERBIER?
The base of Joymongers’ Foederbier is our traditional amber ale. Our Amber is made with mostly pale base malt, but then toasted malts like Munich are added to give it characteristic biscuit and caramel notes.
At this point, rather than fermenting in a steel fermentation tank, like most beers traditionally are these days, that amber goes into a Foeder tank and we begin a process called solera, inspired by European balsamic vinegar production. In this process, after an initial fermentation, some of the beer is removed and additional unfermented wort is added to the first ferment and allowed to ferment again for several weeks. Sometimes this happens several times until the desired balance and depth of flavor is reached, at which point hundreds of pounds of fruit are added!
If you’re a Joymongers Foederbier fan, you know that in the past we’ve experimented with many different fruits including mango, passion fruit, cherries, clementines, and more. Depending on the fruit, the result is a unique balance tart, oaky tang infused with bright, juicy flavor.
BUT WHAT IS A FOEDER TANK?
To put it simply, a Foeder is an extremely large barrel. They can vary in size, but the going standard is in order to qualify as a Foeder, the vessel should be roughly three times the size of a standard American barrel.
Most of them are constructed by small, skilled teams of craftspeople called foudriers. They can take weeks, or even months to complete depending on the final size of the Foeder. So as you can imagine, with the rising interest in craft beer and brewing, demand for these well-crafted vessels currently far outreaches supply.
Joymongers is lucky to have two such vessels made by Foeder Crafters of America, the only Foeder crafters in America, based in St. Louis, Missouri. Ours are roughly 10 times the size of the average American barrel. Foeder Crafters’ vessels are constructed from white oak, professionally processed and treated.
WHY USE A FOEDER?
In many cases, breweries use a Foeder tank to accomplish a fermentation that would otherwise need to be done in several average sized barrels. When using many small barrels, the ratio of wood to beer is very high, allowing the wood and the oxygen that enters the barrel to affect the beer at a higher, faster, more unpredictable rate.
Using a Foeder results in a more consistent, successful and delicious beer! The construction of a Foeder means the ratio of wood to beer is much lower, and a Foeder allows a slow but steady introduction of oxygen to the beer that creates that rich oaky flavor but that can be easily monitored and supervised with tasting. So that the Foederbier you love always has that same flavor that you’ve come to enjoy!
LOVE THE FOEDER?
We love it, too! We love trying different fruits and seeing how they compliment and highlight the flavor the Foeder vessel develops. Which Foederbier is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!