Franco-American Strong Ale

Some of you, quite rightly, are scratching you head and wondering, “did the BJCP codify a new style I’m unaware of?”  No, but I did.  As my second on-premises homebrew recipe, I am collaborating with my bother-in-law.  He’s French by birth, but I won’t hold that against him.  Our idea is something that is both French and American, something that reflects our heritages, and our common love for bold, complex, Belgian-y beer.  With a last name like Shoemaker, you may quickly deduce that I’m from German stock, and you’d be right.  Look below and you’ll find an ingredient that’s German- Avangard Pilsner malt.  American Magnum hops, used for bitterness, are German in origin.  The spices used are quite common in French cooking, and to tie it all together, a Belgian style yeast to handle the anticipated higher gravity and to dry out the beer.

This trans-Atlantic brew does not have a name yet, but something will come to us.  Have an idea for the name?  Leave it as a comment.   An added bonus, Benjamin (my b.i.l.) is an accomplished artist.  I’ve charged him with the responsibility of doing the label art.  Our brew date is this Saturday, 3/25/17 at 4 p.m.

Upon completion you can bet I’ll be reviewing the beer.  Will it come out like I’ve imagined it, or will it result in something entirely different?  We’ll see.

Recipe: RED SUPER SAISON F-A.S.A.
Brewer: JOHN SHOEMAKER
Asst Brewer:  BENJAMIN PERRAMANT 
Style: Saison
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) 

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 6.25 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.00 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 21.6 Plato
Estimated Color: 15.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 30.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt            Name                                     Type    #     %/IBU         
13.00 lb       Pilsner Malt (Avangard) (1.7 SRM)        Grain   1     83.9 %        
1.00 lb        Crystal Malt - 60L (Thomas Fawcett)      Grain   2     6.5 %         
0.75 lb        Rye, Flaked (Briess) (4.6 SRM)           Grain   3     4.8 %         
0.50 lb        Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)   Grain   4     3.2 %         
0.25 lb        Wheat - Soft Red, Flaked (Briess)        Grain   5     1.6 %         
0.75 oz        Magnum [13.30 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop     6     30.8 IBUs     
1.00 oz        Pepper Corns (Boil 7.0 mins)             Spice   7     -             
0.75 oz        Nutmeg (Boil 7.0 mins)                   Spice   8     -             
1.0 pkg        Belle Saison (Lallemand/Danstar #-)      Yeast   9     -             


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 15.50 lb
----------------------------
Name              Description                             Step Temp.  Step Time     
Mash In           Add 19.64 qt of water at 169.9 F        154.0 F       75 min        

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 3.20gal) of 168.0 F water

Oh, have you not Herd? It was my understanding that everyone had Herd!

Bolero_The_Herd_My_BlogOn the docket:  Bolero Snort’s IV Anniversay, The Herd 750mL

Poured into:  Dogfish Head craft goblet with enough vigor to produce a head, but as not to disturb the yeast from the bottom of the bottle.

Sight:  A deeply gingerbread body fills the glass with a quick-forming khaki head.  As dark as it is, there’s nice evidence of carbonation, tiny, delicate bubbles well up from the base.  A few seconds later, the head dissipates to a tightly hugging ring and a storm-front mass of suds on top.  Further insepction reveals a lovely reddish hue to the body.  No lacing, but hey, it’s a 10.5% abv drink.  Taking a look at the bottle, one can observe a ring of  yeast sediment on the bottom.

Aroma:  Intense, sweet malt.  Almost rootbeer-like spicy sweetness.  Just a fleeting sense of vanilla and gentle perfume of esters and alcohol.  Molasses.  Dark purple fruit note.  Yep, the plums are there.  No hop presence.

Taste:  Much of the aroma follows through to the palate.  Malt and sugar sweetness, on the fuller side of the style.  Pleasant warmth from alcohol which keeps it from becoming too sweet.  The plum note manifests as part of a “fruitcake” sort of fruitiness, along with the yeast.

Mouthfeel:  Highly carbonated, with very fine bubbles, not sharp and biting.  Finish is moderately dry with a slight bitterness, bringing another means of balance.  Medium-full body.

Overall:  More abbey-style than Trappist, a nice New-World interpretation.  This is not your father’s Chimay.  A great way to celebrate four years… at least that’s what I herd.

Suggested food pairing(s):Mongoian beef and broccoli, port-wine cheese, filet, raspberry chocolate cheesecake

Beer Dinners, and Why They’re Awesome

If you’ve ever attended a well-run beer dinner, you know the treat it is– the thoughtful pairing of beer and food.  I attended one not too long ago, featuring an extensive list of Firestone Walker’s portfolio, paired with wonderful dishes, ranging from Bavarian pretzels (with Pivo Pils) to pork belly (with Double Jack).

Beer and food pairing is an excellent creative exercise, and one Garrett Oliver goes to explain at great lengths in his book, The Brewmaster’s Table.  This is also a valuable concept to understand when studying for and taking your Cicerone exam.

For those of you who follow me and are local to Warren County, NJ, I’ll let you in on a little secret:  I’m brewing up a celebration of sorts, a beer dinner that will feature the three Hackettstown breweries all under one roof.  That’s right, Czig Meister, Man Skirt, and Jersey Girl will share the spotlight one night in the semi-near future at a location I’ll disclose as I get further along in the process.

Excited?  I know I am.

More Powerful Than a Lauter Tun: Jersey Girl Brewing Co.’s Rake Breaker

jg_rb_2017

On the docket: 16 oz. can of Jersey Girl Brewing’s Rake Breaker

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  Honey-gold, reminiscent of peach juice.  Hazy, murky, unapologetically New-England in color and appearance with a nice thick cap of head.  I can’t see the bubbles, I’m sure they’re there.  Not a huge amount of lacing, but it’s present in delicate, icing-drip fashion.

A:  Aromas of apricot, tangerine, and peach rocket into your nostrils.  You can detect this heady mélange from nearly a foot away.  A slight malty sweetness creeps out from behind the hops, which are clearly the star of the show.  Stick your nose in the glass when you’re done (and before you pour the next can)- divinely grainy aroma sticks around.

T:  Closely following the aroma, the taste is very juice-like with nearly candied apricot and peach.  Nearly no malt presence at the outset.  After it warms a bit in the glass, there is a slight cereal presence- must be the oats.
F:  Medium-full, despite a fluffiness on the tongue, coupled with a smooth, refined (NOT FLAT) carbonation.  There’s enough bitterness present to provide a nice contrast to the prominent, fruity flavors.

O:  Fans of incredibly hoppy, incredibly bitter West Coast style IPAs should reconsider what it means to brew an IPA.  This version of many craft drinkers most cherished style is large and in charge.  Fruity, tropical, easy to drink.

Suggested food pairing:  Hawaiian pizza, Asian salad with mandarin orange wedges, toast points with orange marmalade, fresh fruit with heavy cream, jalapeno-cheddar cheese

Bonus idea:  Combine with a touch of Cointreau or peach schnapps, garnish with appropriate fruit slice, and you have two ridiculous beer cocktails.

Orange You Glad I Said Bolero? Bolero Snort’s Orange Cream Pop IPA

On the docket:  16 oz. can of Bolero Snort’s Orange Cream Pop IPA (brewed with lactose, orange zest & vanilla beans)

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn craft glass

S:  Honey-gold or Ticonderoga pencil, supporting an off-white head.  It sits around for a while, great retention.  Lacing is thick and doily-like.  Mostly translucent but clear.  Tiny bubbles well up from the base of the glass.

A:  Bright orange citrus and a touch of vanilla stands out first, with a slight pine and subtle sweet malt.  Excellent aroma, could sniff this for the dog days of summer.

T:  Much like the aroma, the orange zest comes through immediately, plus a small dose of pine.  Midway through the malt comes in, simple with a water-cracker starkness.  This is also where the gentle sweetness from the lactose helps to balance out the bitterness of the hops.  The vanilla is in there somewhere, helping your mouth think that you’re cooling off with a creamsicle.  With a crisp and bitter finish, this one makes you reach for more.  Without a doubt an IPA.

F:  Medium body, with some fluffiness.  Finely attuned carbonation.

O:  Intriguing take on an IPA that’s well executed.  It does conjure images of that white van and unforgettable loud-speaker jingle, standing in line, and finally handing over a few dollars for Good Humored relief from the blistering summer sun.

Suggested food pairing:  Green salad with mandarin oranges, chicken and vegetable and mozzarella kabob skewers, fruit salad, fruit tart, ambrosia

To Boldly Drink: Carton’s Cosmonaut

On the docket:  Carton’s Cosmonaut

A:  Decadent aroma of coffee, vanilla, dark cocoa powder, coffee and a waft of booze.  Deep, dark, bold.  If the blackness of space were “aromatized” and the “scary” removed, this is what you’d smell.  Luxury.

Sight:  The blackest of black, with slightly darker black highlights suck in all the light around the body.  Komrade, this is one dark beer.  The khaki head wells up, up and almost over the rim of the glass, but the boosters fall off, and the head plummets back down.  Completely opaque, and the search for bubbles is fruitless.  All that’s left is a small remnant of head completely covering the surface of the beer.

T:  Much of the aroma follows through into the palate, all the crew is there- coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate plus a hint a cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mission control also provides a vague berry candy flavor, which may in fact be the dehydrated ice cream.  Mid palate you discover a bit of raisin-esque and brown sugar sweetness.  However, the tannic, astringent bitterness of the roast and hops take over on the finish, adding balance and dryness to the finish.  Only when is warms up do you taste evidence of the abv (10%!).

F:  Chewy.  Oily.  Rich and bold, a firmness that marks the best of Imperial Stouts.  Carbonation here is very fine and is hard-pressed to complete its mission of scrubbing your palate.  Fearless, they press on.

O:  A complex brew expertly executed.  If you love roasty, full-flavored, sip-demanding beer, you are Go For Launch with Carton’s Cosmonaut.  This beer begs to be paired with a cigar

 

Take a Trip With Me: Flying Fish Exit 18 Baltic Porter

Flying_Fish_Exit_18_Baltic_Porter

On the docket:  750 mL bottle of Flying Fish Brewing Co.’s Exit 18 Baltic Porter, no best by/born on date.

Poured into:  Jester King Snorkel snifter

S:  A pitch-black body fills out the snifter, capped with a khaki head that builds, sticks around long enough for you to notice it was there, then makes a smooth exit  (See what I did?).  The result is a soapy vapor-trail like film on top, coupled with a few bubbles and a tightly hugging ring around the perimeter of the glass.  Lacing is spotty and nearly absent.

A:  Dark and brooding.  Roasted malt, mainly coffee and dark chocolate.  Though the malt is the star of the aroma, one can detect a faint bit of citrus and pine from the hops.  Faint whispers of molasses and date/fig, not unlike its cousin, the Russian Imperial Stout.

T:  Much of the aroma follows through to the taste, but that’s fine by me.  Dark, bittersweet chocolate and coffee arrive first, speeding through to the middle, where the fig and/or date flavors get picked up, holding a cardboard sign saying, “will work for beer.”  The trip ends with a hop bitterness, some pine and citrus—and as the beer warms up—a wave of booze.  It’s to be expected.  This Baltic beauty clocks in at 9.5%, so sip with care.  While the booze is present, it’s not alarming.  It’s welcomed, much like finding the highway deserted in the wee hours of the morning on one’s way to work.  An added bonus- a slight (but noticeable) bit of black licorice on the end.

F:  Smooth, creamy, luxurious.  I’ve used that trifecta to describe beer before, but it’s apt.  Delicate carbonation, enough to free up some of the traffic, but it’s more a three lanes back to four, not three lanes back to five, to continue the transportation metaphor.  The hops help to dry out the tongue in the finish, and combined with the roasted malt, provide a nice astringency that gives balance to what could be a too-sweet beer.

O:  So far, my favorite Exit done by Flying Fish, and a great representation of the style.  This is a “clear your schedule” type of beer, especially if you’re not keen on splitting high-abv offerings.

S:  4  A:  4.25  T:  4.5  F:  4  O:  4.25

Suggested food pairing:  grilled red meat and roasted vegetables, hearty stew, earthy, nutty cheese, coffee-driven desserts or maybe even Black Forest cake.  Also good as what I will start calling a “cocktail beer,” in the sense that it’s excellent in place of dessert itself; enjoyed on its own.