Holiday Yum: Stout and Eggnogg Recipe

I haven’t much experience with beer floats, but the other night I had a jug of eggnogg and no Wild Turkey to mix with it. So I tried a little concoction along the lines of what so many of you have tried with ice cream.

Expedition StoutHere was my quick recipe. Let me know what you think and if you have a variant.
-3 ounces of eggnogg (I used Braum’s eggnogg because the wife swears it’s the greatest EVER and I’m too lazy to make eggnog from scratch.)
-2 ounces of stout (Here I used Bell’s Brewery Expedition Russian Imperial Stout. It’s a little harder to find in these parts, so I’d recommend one of your local favs.)
-1 ounce of milk (I REALLY don’t like thick eggnogg. I cut my mix with a little milk, but it’s not a must.)
-Sprinkle of nutmeg
-Sprinkle of cinnamon

The end result was excellent except that the eggnogg accentuated a slight bitter after taste from the stout into something more prominent. The sweet eggnog, cinnamon and nutmeg went swimmingly with Expedition’s chocolaty, fruity goodness, but I just worried about that bitterness that was hiding at the end of every sip.
Expedition Stout and Eggnogg
Here’s where I have to turn to you, the reader. Have you had better experiences mixing sweet/milky ingredients with beer? Do you have a recommendation to overcome that bitter after taste? Because this drink would be PERFECT without that bitter monster in the back of my throat. In hindsight, I could age one of these Expeditions and let that bitter taste melt away, but I want to hear how it could be overcome or replaced by another beer.

Enjoy Your Craft,
Ben Esely is a co-founder and the Brewer Interviewer for Beer Drinkers Society.

Jester King’s New Sour, Bière de Blanc du Bois, Looks to Grape and Orange Winemakers for Inspiration

Biere De Blanc Du Bois bottleFrom Jester King:
We’re pleased to introduce Jester King Bière de Blanc du Bois — a barrel aged, sour beer refermented with Texas-grown Blanc du Bois grapes. Bière de Blanc du Bois is the creation of Adrienne Ballou, Head of the Barrel Program at JesterKing. Adrienne came to us about two years ago, having previously studied viticulture at U.C. Davis and worked in the wine industry in France. During her time at Jester King, she has implemented numerous wine making techniques into our fermentations, including our use of punch downs during our fruit refermentations. Punch downs lead to better flavor and color extraction from the fruit during refermentation and aid in keeping acetic acid development (think vinegar) at bay. Bière de Blanc du Bois is one of the special projects that Adrienne has worked on over the last several months. Here is her description of the inspiration, process, and presentation:

“At the start of this year’s past harvest, our friend Doug Lewis, from Lewis Wines, contacted us about some extra Blanc du Bois grapes from east Texas that he would have available. Blanc du Bois, an American hybrid, is an interesting varietal that is often overlooked in the wine world. My interest in this varietal began during my time working in the experimental vineyards at U.C. Davis. The varietal was released by the University of Florida in the 1970s and is a cross between Cardinal, an American species, and Florida D6-148, a cross between several Vitis Vinifera species including Golden Muscat. The varietal was bred to be resistant to Pierce’s Disease, a bacterial disease that often affects grapevines in the south/southeast region of the United States.

When it comes to our fruit refermentations, we often look to the wine world for inspiration. Most winemakers, when making white wine, immediately press the skins off the juice prior to fermentation. For this beer, we decided to take an unconventional approach to how we would use the grapes; we decided to look to the world of orange wine. The techniques used to make these wines have their origins in ancient Georgian winemaking. What makes them unique is that instead of separating the skin from the juice, winemakers leave the skin, and sometimes the stems and seeds, in contact with the juice (or must) during primary fermentation. Some producers will even ferment and age the wine in amphoras placed underground with the skins in contact for several years. This type of aging provides a controlled environment for slow, oxidative aging. These techniques result in some of the most intriguing, complex wines I have had. On the palate, they present more along the lines of a red wine with bold structure and round tannins. In the aromatics you often get slight notes of oxidation, spices, honeysuckle, fruit, etc.

With the release of Bière de Blanc du Bois, we will also be offering glass pours of an orange wine produced by Donkey & Goat Winery out of Berkeley, CA. Donkey & Goat is one of the true pioneers of natural winemaking methods in the California wine industry. This wine, Stone Crusher, is made with 100% Roussanne grapes from El Dorado, CA. The fermentation is in open-top wood vats and has a 14 day contact time with the skins.”

Bière de Blanc du Bois was brewed with Hill Country well water, barley, wheat, and hops.

Adrienne Ballou performing punch downs on Blanc du Boise refermentation.

Adrienne Ballou performing punch downs on Blanc du Boise refermentation.

It was fermented with our unique mixed culture of microorganisms, which includes farmhouse yeasts, naturally occurring wild yeasts harvested from our air and land in the Texas Hill Country, and native souring bacteria. After extended fermentation and maturation in oak barrels, it was refermented with Texas-grown Blanc du Bois grapes. Bière de Blanc du Bois is 6.7% alcohol by volume, 3.2 pH, and has a finishing gravity of 1.004 (1.0 degree Plato). It is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and 100% naturally conditioned. The artwork for Bière de Blanc du Bois was created by our in-house artist Josh Cockrell.

Bière de Blanc du Bois will be released at Jester King Brewery when our tasting room opens at 4pm on Friday, December 19th. It will be for sale by the glass, as well as in bottles to go (500ml x $16). Approximately 800 bottles are available with a limit of one bottle per customer per day. Aside from a few special events, Bière de Blanc du Bois will be available exclusively at JesterKing. As Adrienne mentioned, we’ve created a special optional pairing for Bière de Blanc du Bois with Stone Crusher from Donkey & Goat Winery. We think the similarities in ingredients, techniques, appearance, aromas, and flavors between Bière de Blanc du Bois and Stone Crusher will make for an interesting comparison and sensory experience. This pairing will be available at our tasting room by the glass while supplies last.
Bière de Blanc du Bois glass

Stone Brewing’s Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean is on its Way!

Stone Brewing Smoked Porter with Vanilla BeanFrom Stone Brewing:
We’ve only released this richly flavored favorite twice in bottles, and both times you let us know in no uncertain terms just how much you adored it: We were flooded with love notes, pledges of lifelong fealty, and heartfelt pleas to bring it back. Well, we’re feeling the holiday spirit, and your wish has been granted. These gorgeous 22oz bombers will start arriving on store shelves beginning Monday, December 15.

Warm up your palate with this delicious vanilla-laced creation. Whole Madagascar vanilla beans impart a vanilla quality that melds perfectly with the malty, chocolaty, coffee-like characteristics of our venerable Stone Smoked Porter. Enjoy this exquisite brew on its own or paired with a variety of food, from clam chowder to pumpkin pie.

Starting Monday, Stone Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean will be available in 22-ounce bottles in all states and territories where our beer is sold. It’s the first time this smoky, slightly sweet and easy-drinking delight has been available in this larger format, and only the second time ever that it’s been bottled. The first time was spring of 2012, when it was released in 12-ounce bottles as part of a one-time run, along with another specialty brew, Stone Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Peppers. Rather than just send the beer out and move on to the next of our many new beer projects, we set up a special page on our website where our fans could chime in about both beers and share their thoughts with us and each other. It garnered a great deal of interesting connoisseur-based conversation, all of which we pored over like the contents of a well-stocked bottle shop. And what we found was that our fans were really into both beers, but there was something about Stone Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean that really resonated, creating an almost cult-like following.

It was immediately clear to us that we’d need to bring it back. Some things are just that good! The only questions were when and how. Earlier this year, we figured out the best answers to that pair of queries, opting to let seasonality guide the way. With its roasted-malt depth and warm, comforting vanilla overtones, Stone Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean figures to be best enjoyed during the colder winter season. So, we put it on the brewing calendar and, figuring anything this universally loved should be offered in larger quantities, opted for the 22-ounce bottle. (Hey, you can never have too much of a good thing.)

Review of Jolly Pumpkin’s Oro De Calabaza

Jolly Pumpkin Oro De CalabazaJPBC has always held a special place in my little, black heart. Spontaneously fermented, barrel-aged ales??? YES, PLEASE.

Every single beer I have ever tried from them has been an experience that I could never forget, due to the complexity, depth, and inspiration they put into each beer they make. The chance to get them in my store (Thank you, Flood Distributing) made me giggle like a little girl, and pee in my pants. (Just a little. Luckily for me, I keep an extra pair of underpants in my trunk. Better safe than sorry, right? (Also, don’t ever trust a fart once you’re over 30-years-old, kids.) Anyhow, I’ll quit yammering about general shenanigans, and review the damn beer.

Oro De Calabaza pours a slightly murky honey-gold, and kicks up a decent half-finger head, that lingers around for a minute or so. The lacing it leaves on the glass doesn’t go anywhere, and hangs on like Sloopy. (2 points if you get the reference.) The carbonation is just right, for a Biere De Garde, lightly cascading up from the bottom of the tulip, to help support the little bit of head that is left behind. Awesome.

The nose is a pure funk-fest! Loads of Meyer Lemon, coriander, and lacto drift out, accented by light pilsner malts and just a nip of Styrian Goldings hops. Peppery Brett makes an appearance as well, but doesn’t punch the sinuses too much, and the 8% ABV is all but absent. This beer just SMELLS kickass.

A sip shows more Brett character than the nose belies, with loads of prickly carbonation, and a bit of citrus pith, dried grass, hay, and more pilsner malt. It’s bready, like a saltine cracker, and almost has a salty undertone, like a Gose. The Lactobacillus adds just the right amount of pucker to the mouthfeel, making an already refreshing number even more quenching. It has a fuller mouthfeel than you could expect for the style, and lingers around really well, all things considered. This is one dangerous entry from the “Pumpkin-Patch”!!!

As usual, Jolly Pumpkin has melted my brain, and given me another beer to look forward to, and enjoy, any time I want a damn good sour. This would be a good place to start for those of us who aren’t quite used to sour ales, and a wonderful place to come to for those of us who are! Oro De Calabaza hits all the right notes, in all the right places, and for some silly reason makes me really want a pickle. (Which is a big deal, because I friggin’ HATE pickles.)

Get off your couch and go grab a bottle of this masterpiece ASAP, friends, and don’t look back. And if for some reason my lazy butt doesn’t review another beer before then, I wish you and yours a happy holiday, whichever one that may be, filled with laughter, love, and a whole lot of Radass Craft Beer!!!!

<Matt The Beer-Guy>

Founders Brewing is Re-releasing Blushing Monk in 2015

Founders Brewing Blushing Monk Belgian aleFrom Founders Brewing:
Founders Brewing Co. will re-release Blushing Monk, a decadent Belgian raspberry ale, in March 2015 to mark the twelfth installment in the brewery’s popular Backstage Series. Blushing Monk was the original Founders Backstage Series beer, released in July 2011; prior to that, it hadn’t been bottled for four years. Like all of Founders’ Backstage Series beers, Blushing Monk will be sold in 750mL bottles, with a suggested retail price of $16.99 per bottle.

Blushing Monk is brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberries and with a Belgian yeast strain that keeps our Head Cellar Operator, Jason Heystek, from sleeping for a week. It pours a stunning deep berry red and, at 9.2% ABV, has a surprising kick. The perfect dessert beer, it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with fresh cheeses, fruit, cakes and more.

“People keep asking us if we’re going to bring any of our Backstage Series beers back—and now we have,” said Co-Founder and President Dave Engbers. “It seems as though we brew Blushing Monk on a four-year cycle. Our cellar crew hates brewing it because it’s brewed with a different yeast strain from all of our other beers, but we think it’s worth the sleepless nights. It’s an absolutely gorgeous beer.

The Backstage Series is our brewers’ playground, and is a true expression of our slogan “Brewed for us.” Founders’ Backstage Series is made up of boundary-pushing, experimental beers. The intent of the series is to take the die-hard Founders fan experience to a wider audience—though all of the beers are released in limited batches. Since its introduction in the summer of 2011, Founders’ Backstage Series beers have quickly become some of the most sought-after releases in the industry.

Blushing Monk will be released in limited quantities across Founders’ distribution footprint beginning on Monday, March 2, and will be available at the brewery’s taproom the week prior. This will be the first Backstage Series release from Founders in 2015; beer enthusiasts should expect two more releases from Founders later in the year.

Jester King: Figlet (on TV?!)

Figlet Jester King Brewery CollaborationWe’re very excited to introduce Jester King Figlet, brewed in collaboration with the world famous Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas! We love working with local artisans doing exceptional and creative things in the food and beverage world, and Franklin Barbecue is of course no exception.

The original impetus for this collaboration came from the filming of an upcoming episode of BBQ With Franklin, which will air on KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. Aaron Franklin set out to explore the use of smoke in beer making for the episode. We wanted to branch out beyond the traditional use of smoked malt and opted to take a local ingredient that was in season — Texas figs — and use it as a medium to impart characteristics from Franklin’s barbecue pits into the beer. Local figs were caramelized with heat and cold smoked at Franklin Barbecue. Aaron charred a portion of the figs, which imparted a subtle burnt, almost leathery, character to the beer. The base beer was designed to integrate the flavors and aromas of the smoked figs with our house fermentation characteristics, which stem from mixed culture fermentation with a blend of brewer’s yeast, wild yeast from the Texas Hill Country, and native souring bacteria. While we typically brew beer with a sizable majority of pilsner malt in the grist, in this case our Head Brewer Garrett Crowell opted for a base of Dark Munich malt, which he felt complemented the smoky and lightly caramelized character of the figs.

Figlet was brewed in early July of 2014 with Hill Country well water, barley, oats, and hops. It then underwent a long-term fermentation over the course of four months, first in stainless steel and then in bottles, kegs, and casks. As is the case with all our beer, the aromas and flavors are largely created by giving a diverse array of microorganisms, many of which are native to our land in the Texas Hill Country, the ample time they need to work with each other (or against each other!) to create unique characteristics inexorably tied to our land. During the last few weeks of the stainless steel portion of the fermentation, the smoked figs were added to the beer and allowed to referment. During this process, the sugars in the figs were broken down by yeast and bacteria. Through refermentation, the aromas and flavors of the smoked figs were transformed, integrated, and elevated in a way that we believe is greater than the sum of their parts. Figlet is 6.2% alcohol by volume, 1.006 specific gravity, and had a pH of 3.7 at the time of bottling in early September.

Figlet will be released at Jester King Brewery when our tasting room opens at 4pm on Friday, November 21st. It will Figlet bottle and glass from Jester King Brewerybe available by the glass, as well as to go in 750ml bottles ($12, limit 2 per customer per day). Approximately 3,500 bottles are available, and at this point, we do not anticipate Figlet being available outside of Jester King, apart from a few special events. The label art for Figlet was done in house by our own Josh Cockrell.

We’d like to offer a very special thank you to Aaron Franklin for working with us to create our collaboration beer, as well to KLRU-TV, Austin PBS for documenting the process!

Jester King’s Estival Dichotomous: A Beer with a Summer Source

Estival DichotomousFrom Jester King Brewery:
We are excited to introduce Jester King Estival Dichotomous — our summer saison brewed with chamomile and spelt and refermented with strawberries. Estival Dichotomous is our second seasonal saison following Hibernal Dichotomous, which we released in April of 2014. As we mentioned at the time of the Hibernal Dichotomous release, our brewing is largely driven by the seasons. We make farmhouse ales when the weather is hot and temperatures are conducive to fermentation in stainless steel, and we make spontaneously fermented beers and barrel fermented beers when temperatures are cold and conducive to overnight inoculation of wort and slow maturation in oak. We also use the ingredients that are available to us at various times during the year. For instance, in the winter we make beer with citrus fruit, in the spring we use peaches, in the summer we use apricots, blueberries and figs, and in the fall we use grapes, horehound, lemon bee balm, and squash. Estival Dichotomous is an analog for the summer season. It’s a beer that’s evocative of the summer weather and its bounty, particularly the smells of hay resting in the fields late in the season.

Estival Dichotomous was brewed in early July of 2014 with Hill Country well water, barley, spelt, hops, and chamomile. It was fermented with our unique mixed culture of microorganisms consisting of brewers yeast and native yeast and bacteria harvested from our land in the Texas Hill Country, and then refermented with strawberries. Finally, it underwent a long term refermentation and maturation in bottles, kegs, and casks over the course of three months. Mixed culture fermentation is a very slow and patient process, so while Estival Dichotomous is evocative of the summer, its release is not tied to the season from which it originated. In terms of the chamomile addition, we stayed true to the words and wisdom of our friend Yvan De Baets of Brasserie De La Senne in Brussels, Belgium. Yvan writes in Phil Markowski’s Farmhouse Ales, “If spices are used, it must be with the utmost moderation. A saison is not by any means a spice soup.” Estival Dichotomous is 6.0% alcohol by volume, has a finishing gravity of 1.000 (0 degrees Plato), and was 4.1 pH at the time of bottling. Given the tartness that has developed in the flavor profile, we suspect the pH has slowly dropped over the last three months while in the bottles, kegs, and casks.

Estival Dichotomous bottleEstival Dichotomous will be released at Jester King Brewery on Friday, November 14th when our tasting room opens at 4pm. It will be available by the glass, as well as to go in 750ml bottles ($12, limit 3 per customer per day). Approximately 3,000 bottles are available, and at this point, we do not anticipate Estival Dichotomous being available beyond Jester King, aside from a few special events.