People often ask me, “Chris, how do they make beer?” And I say, “Do you mind? I am taking a shit!” And then a couple minutes later I come out and say, “How do they make beer? Well, what breweries do is they reach into the realm of the infinite — at the quantum level, where all possible beers exist — and they just grab ‘em. They turn the possible into certainty. Yessir, each and every day, breweries give us all just a little bit of the cosmos.” And then there’s a nice pause. Birds chirp. A flower blooms. Then they finally say, “You weren’t taking a shit in there, were you?”
Here’s your five beers to know this week. Send news of your own sippable certainties next week to ccr[email protected].
Rodenbach’s first collaboration in its 200-year history now in the realm of the possible thanks to Dogfish Head
Brouwerij Rodenbach of Belgium, arguably the most awarded brewery on this planet, a leading brewer of oak-aged mixed-fermentation ale dating back to 1821 and an inspirational source for sour beer producers around the world, announced its intent to brew a collaboration beer with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. This would be the first time Rodenbach has agreed to a collaboration brew in its nearly 200-year history, and a monumental step forward in bringing a unique sour beer to consumers who are seeking a refreshing alternative to what’s currently available on the market today.
“I have been a huge fan of Rodenbach beers since the early 2000’s when legendary beer writer, Michael Jackson, turned me on to them at the Brickskeller in D.C. Rodenbach are the global pioneers in sour and wild beers production. Dogfish Head is proud to have the number one selling sour beer in America. So we have a lot to learn and explore together — and getting to know Rudi, David and the Rodenbach team has been rewarding and fun. I am confident we are going to make a beautiful, unique beer together,” said Sam Calagione.
The idea of a partnership first came about following a panel discussion of leading sour beer experts at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Nashville, Tenn., in March, 2018. Rudi Ghequire was joined by several sour beer brewmasters including Bill Marchi, head of Wooden…It Be Nice!, Dogfish Head’s wild beer and barrel-aging program, to discuss the nuances of traditional sour beers and the modern expressions showcased by Dogfish Head and others. Before the end of 2018, Rudi Ghequire and Kristof Ampe, chief marketing officer of Rodenbach, visited the Dogfish Head facilities in Milton, Del., to explore further and solidify plans.
“We spoke a lot about how Rodenbach’s traditional methods of brewing and blending, dating back centuries, and how that would heavily influence the direction of the beer. That began the foundation for our collaborative brainstorming,” said David van Wees, president of Swinkels Family Brewers Imports, the North American importer for Rodenbach. “It was amazing to watch these two icons work so closely together and see the magic happen as wheels started spinning about what a final product could look like.”
“We intend to take our time and get it right for a beer of this magnitude, and in order do that we have to go to where it all began — to Roeselare, Belgium,” added Calagione. “The brainstorming will continue overseas, as Rudi and I explore the region together, explore the area’s culinary influence and experience the legendary brewery and cooperage which undoubtedly will serve as a huge inspiration behind the beer we create.”
While still in its early stages, the beer is planned to be brewed and blended in the United States in 2019 and available for an early 2020 launch for American consumers to enjoy. Following this, the duo will explore a release of the beer in Belgium, where Rodenbach is widely sold.
LIC Beer Project has the best cans of the week
Last week, the LIC Beer Project on Long Island, N.Y., held a can release party for Flyest and Path of Totality, and I really dig these cans. Flyest is 7 percent IPA double dry hopped with Motueka and Hallertau Blanc for an expressive amount of tropical notes of pineapple, mango and papaya. Hazy and straw colored with a generous amount of oats in the malt bill for a lighter and creamier mouthfeel. Finishes with a slight bittersweet note and lingering hops.
Path of Totality, 5.5 percent, is a Turbid golden American Pale Ale with honey and flaked oats for extra airiness on the mouthfeel. Heavily dry hopped with Citra, Simcoe and Columbus for notes of lemongrass, grapefruit zest and cantaloupe over a backbone of evergreen. Clean finish with some bitterness lends to the medium bodied mouthfeel.
Breakside Brewery split this new Imperial Stout into eight variants
Breakside Brewery’s new barrel-aged Imperial Stout, The Oligarch, was a single batch of British Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels. But the Breakside brewing team dove into experimentation mode and created eight different variants of the beer using a variety of ingredients. The Oligarch project encompassed 84 casks, resulting in 122 bbls of finished beer.
“This is the longest we’ve ever aged a single batch of strong ale, with the oldest casks of the blend having been in wood since January of 2017,” said Ben Edmunds, brewmaster for Breakside Brewery. “This is also the first time we’ve blended different-aged batches of the same wood-aged stout into a finished blend, which gives The Oligarch incredible nuance.”
Here’s some notes on each:
- The Oligarch — An Imperial Stout blended from four different batches of stouts aged in bourbon barrels, this beer is rich, sticky, sweet and aggressive and is best shared with friends who tend toward excess, indulgence and pleasure.
- Maple Oligarch — Edmunds said that “the maple-bourbon barrels from Bissell Maple Farm in Jefferson, Ohio, provide a ton of complexity, offering an especially nerdy delight.”
- Candy Cap — This variant is made with one of the Pacific Northwest’s most beguiling foodstuffs: candy cap mushrooms. Their intense brown sugar smell helps create a sweet-then-savory sensation that dovetails perfectly into some of the strong oxidative notes of the casks.
- Bocconotto — Aged on cinnamon bark, toasted almonds, chocolate and a touch of lemon zest, this beer is an ode to one of Breakside’s favorite Italian pastries, a specialty of southern Italy.
- Champurrado — Comprised of eight of the richest casks from the series and inspired by the flavors of Mexican. Breakside aged this stout on a mix of cacao nibs, vanilla bean and toasted corn.
- Piedmontese — The most elegant variant in this series, this beer was fashioned on the off-sweet cakes of northern Italy. We conditioned this blend of maple barrel-aged stouts on Oregon-grown hazelnuts and vanilla bean and added a touch of sea salt for depth.
- Coco Breakfast — We took inspiration from our brewmaster’s favorite childhood breakfast cereal and loaded up the cocoa and vanilla for a beer that’s great for dessert — or breakfast.
- PB & Oligarch — The last variant (but surely not the least) combines the original Oligarch with raspberries and almonds. Just like our mom used to make only better! This variant has a delicious nutty aroma with a kiss of raspberry that takes us back to those lunchtime classics.
Saint Arnold prays to the god of ciders
Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Texas’ oldest craft brewery, is releasing a cider for the first time next week. Saint Arnold Original Dry Cider will be available on draft in bars across Houston beginning Feb. 11 and in 12-oz cans and draft throughout Texas and Louisiana in March.
With the opening of the Beer Garden and Restaurant and the diverse set of customers coming through the door, the demand for a variety of drink options was mounting. The brewing team’s creative juices started flowing to develop a new product.
“Many of our customers have asked us for something gluten-free, and I’m not a fan of gluten-free beers. We decided to experiment with cider making especially since there are not a lot of local options for ciders,” said Founder and Brewer Brock Wagner. “We love the challenge of learning how to do new things well. The most important part: When I finish one pint, I want another.”
The process for developing the cider was just like the process for developing a new Saint Arnold beer, except a bit lengthier because no one had prior cider experience. Team members brewed over 100 test batches experimenting with different blends of culinary apples, yeast and sugars until the right combination was discovered. Original Dry Cider is comprised of a proprietary blend of apples from the Pacific Northwest, Saint Arnold house brewer’s yeast and a combination of Belgian candi syrup and Burleson’s Honey from Waxahachie, Texas. It has a bright apple flavor and aroma with pear, citrus and melon notes throughout. Mild acidity balances the flavors and a touch of sweetness delivers a refreshingly light but complex balance and clean, dry finish. It is a most saintly cider.
Shiner attempts to make spring a reality, possibly succeeds
Anyone else notice that this list doesn’t add up to five or are even include all beers? Anyway, one more: to prepare us for the warmer days ahead, Shiner released its newest seasonal Lemon Pils. Brewed with Meyer Lemon Peel & Lemondrop Hops, this clean, crisp and refreshing pilsner, Shiner Lemon Pils will add a little zest to your step this spring! Don’t forget to garnish with a lemon wedge for an extra fresh serve. Shiner Lemon Pils is available for a suggested retail price of $8.99 for a six-pack with 4.8 percent ABV and 28 IBU.