According to The Lost Abbey’s blog, there may be some changes in store for the future of their coveted Cuvee de Tomme. Here are some details, including some quotes from the recent blog post, “2014 Cuvee de Tomme.”
“We produce Cuvee the same every year, beginning with our base beer of Judgment Day, aging it in Bourbon, Brandy and French oak wine barrels where it’s spiked with our house cultures and a generous helping of Sour Cherries. Cuvee will spend at least 12 months developing in the barrels before we blend.”
While years of practice have helped The Lost Abbey master their techniques in blending this beer, the challenges of bottle conditioning such a complex blend have proven difficult. Bottle conditioning, the process of adding a calculated amount of sugar and yeast into the beer prior to packaging into bottles, is a traditional way of carbonating the beverage. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to reach the desired carbonation level for the beer’s style.
“What we have found is that a majority of the yeast die within 36-48 hours of being placed into Cuvee.”
Without yeast, not only is there no carbonation—there is no beer.
“Yeast also converts sugar into ethyl alcohol during fermentation. As the alcohol percentage increases in the beer, the yeast slowly die from the alcohol. In other words, many die in Cuvee before they can even get started!”
So what does The Lost Abbey do to continue producing Cuvee in bottles? So far, they’ve spent years working to better understand what’s happening inside the bottle. What they’ve learned might mean some changes for future production of Cuvee.
“Since traditional bottling conditioning doesn’t seem to work for Cuvee, we are investigating other techniques to increase the carbonation level in future bottling (we prefer re-fermentation methods for its aging properties).”
Want to taste the differences in carbonation for yourself?
“If you want to taste Cuvee with a higher carbonation level, we suggest comparing the bottles to draft. If you’re enjoying Cuvee de Tomme out of a bottle, we would recommend serving it at 55°F to enhance the depth of the oak and red wine character in the beer.”
Check out The Lost Abbey’s blog for more information about the 2014 Cuvee de Tomme and its ongoing dance with yeast.
Tiffany Lutke is the current Craft Beer Program intern at the Brewers Association. She spent her days as a kid in the small craft brewery her father owned on the east coast, which led to her love for small and independent breweries. When she’s not pouring beer at Upslope Brewing Company taproom in Boulder, she’s sharing pints with old friends at her favorite beer bars like The Mayor of Old Town in Fort Collins, Colo.