St Henry 2019 is an Australian Wild Ale refermented with peaches. It is named for Chris and his wife's second son. Saint Henry II was a Holy Roman Emperor during the 11th century.
In 2018, we made St Henry with Trevatt apricots from Thornbrook Orchard in Orange, NSW. However, during an unseasonal hailstorm in December 2018, all of Thornbrook's apricot crop was damaged and we were unable to harvest apricots for the 2019 version of the beer. The same storm dented a percentage of their white peaches as well, so in an effort to move with the conditions of the season, as well as make use of fruit that would otherwise been useless, we decided to switch St Henry to peaches for this harvest year of 2019. We doubled down and also made another version with yellow peaches however we believe this beer will benefit with additional time in bottle before release and hope to release it sometime next year.
In 2019, this beer was made from 5 barrels of golden mixed fermentation, barrel aged beer. 1605 (8 month old barrel of Gold), 1721 (12 month old barrel of Gold), 1836 (7 month old barrel of Gold), 1834 (12 month old barrel of Gold) and a portion of 1709 (15 month old barrel of Gold). On 29 February 2019, we racked barrels 1605, 1721 and 1836 onto 400kg of fresh white peaches from Thornbrook Orchard in Orange, NSW that we had split and removed the seeds from within.
The three barrels and beer were left in contact with each other to macerate and referment for 10 weeks to allow for complete fermentation by cultures both off of the skins of the peaches as well as those still alive in the beer at racking to fruit. This extended maceration also, we believe, helps express the 'fleshyness' and density of the whole fruit. On 15 May 2019, we blended barrels 1834 and 150 litres from barrel 1709 with the white peach refermentation which had been gravity-transferred into a blending tank to prepare for packaging. This is our preferred method for fruit refermentations - overshoot the fruit rate initially and blend to taste after the referment. It was packaged on the same day and allowed to go through a tertiary fermentation for carbonation and conditioning for 25 weeks. At bottling it was 5.7% ABV and 1.2 P (1.004 SG).
On release, it has a sweet aromatic nose of peach fuzz and peach skin, blossoms and subtle herbal spice. The palate is delicate and balanced. A pristine peach character flows from start to finish. Soft creamy acidity reminds me of the gold base used for the refermentation and gives great length and freshness. A really balanced, pretty beer.
St Henry 2019: White Peach, along with our other fruit re-ferment beers this year, were packaged in 375ml bottles. There will be a 4 bottles per person limit to purchase online and at the cellar door. We have 1200 of St Henry 2019: White Peach and we will make around 600 bottles available online and at the brewery. It will also be offered on selection to a number of our wholesale accounts and will see some distribution.
Like all our beers, St Henry is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).
I'm really proud of these two beers. We do hope to switch St Henry back to an apricot beer next year if the harvest conditions allow. Its a good thing Chris and Em had another baby so we can use peaches for a 'St' beer in 2020 as well!