It’s that time of year again already! Our Anniversary Barley Wine, Maiden, is all bottled and our pack team are diligently working away to get the bottles wax dipped and looking at their finest. First and foremost, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support since the first ever batch of Maiden mashed in 4 years ago. It’s been a crazy journey so far, and we have no intentions of slowing down any time soon.
Maiden was the first beer ever brewed at Siren and is the first new batch brewed each year. It was always designed to represent everything we’re about as a brewery; creativity, experimentation, good fun, and most importantly, great beer.
The American style Barley Wine is aged in a variety of spirit and wine barrels, before being blended back together with a percentage of fresh beer, to create that year’s vintage. This year there is beer in the blend from barrels 007, 008 and 011 among others. Some of the oldest beer in the brewery!
The barrels that have been used are left with 10% aged beer in them before being topped up with fresh Maiden, in what is a form of the Solera system. This ensures a constant evolution and development of flavour. We introduced a new twist this year, and invited our close neighbour Andy Parker of Elusive Brewing to brew a Parti-Gyle with the second runnings. This has given birth to the superb ‘2 UP’, with the Elusive ‘Baby Barley Wine’ taking the beer in a whole different direction after a generous dry-hopping with mosaic. We highly recommend tracking a bottle down if you can.
As is tradition, we brought in some outside help for our Maiden blending day this year. We welcomed to the brewery Brett and James from The Wild Beer Co, along with Brody from our friends at HonestBrew and Roger from one of our longest standing customers, The Hope. It’s invaluable to have different perspectives brought to the table and we appreciate the support, Brett has done some amazing work with barrels and blends and offered some great insight into the Wild Beer Co’s philosophy. Likewise Roger and Rowan at The Hope, along with Brody and the team at HonestBrew, work wonders in spreading the word about our beers and introducing us to whole new audiences, so we’re delighted to let them in on the brewing story from start to finish and appreciate their input.
Maiden releases are always regarded for their depth of flavour and complexity of barrel notes. This year’s blend consists of 20% Fresh Maiden, 10% Armagnac, 10% Banyuls, 20% Heaven Hill, 30% Red Wine and 10% Rum (in ex-Jack Daniels barrels). This is quite a departure from 2015 – which was 50% fresh Maiden with no Red Wine! It never ceases to amaze us how time in barrels can impact beer, and right now our Le Grappin barrels are really singing. More on that later!
This year’s beer pours a deep ruby colour and has a vinous aroma with hints of caramel and liquorice. It’s a rich experience when drinking, with toffee, fig roll sweetness, red berries and a well-rounded oak character bringing everything together. We love it! As always with Maiden, we think it tastes great now, and it’s already spent a lot of time maturing in barrels. But it will also continue to age nicely. We’ve supplied no best before date, only a ‘bottled on’ – so drink at your leisure or save for a special occasion.
Maiden On Draught – Tonight at Craft Beer Co Clerkenwell
First pours of Maiden are tonight, Thursday 23rd March, at Craft Beer Co Clerkenwell. Along with Maiden 2016 and a host of treats on tap, we’ll also be pouring some very special one-off kegs of single barrel Maiden (literally taken out of the barrel and carbonated – no blend). These will be Red Wine, Rum and Tequila. It’s a complete one-off, and it gives you an idea of the flavours available to us when bringing the blends together.
Siren Craft Brew launched in 2013 across the Craft Beer Co pubs, so we’re delighted to be returning to one of the sites this year to celebrate four years on.
We’ll also be starting a raffle for a Hand-Painted Magnum of Maiden 2014 for charity. These bottles only surface for very special occasions. They’re painted by the illustrator who created the original Maiden Siren. We think they’re really nice pieces – we’ll be doubling any proceeds before donating to Age UK (Previously Age Concern) . Thanks in advance for your support on this!
We hope to see some old friends and new faces in Clerkenwell tonight. Maiden 2016 is available from our web store and brewery shop from today.