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
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Rye Sense of Humor: High West Double Rye!

High West Double Rye!

High West Distillery’s Double Rye!

On the docket: High West Distillery’s Double Rye! (46% a.b.v.), a blend of a 2 year old and 16 year old rye.

Poured into: Manhattan cocktail glass

S:  Honey-apricot with just the barest hint of haze plus a fleck or two of particulate.  A note, this is not chill filtered.  The aforementioned process is used to produce a more brilliant color, but robs the spirit of congeners, compounds that help impart favorable flavor.

Let me say something about the bottle:  The bottle has microscopic air bubbles trapped inside, its surface.  It’s dimpled; giving it a rustic, rugged look.  The logo of the distillery in addition to some of the lettering is textured on the glass.  Nice presentation.

A:  The description on the back of the label is quite surprising, citing evergreen, gin, clove, anise, and eucalyptus buttons to name a few flavors.  I certainly a get green, floral element in the aroma, in addition to a sweet corn bourbon-esque note.  Also present in a spicy, earthy component that no rye should be without.

T:  Mirroring much of the aroma, I detect young, green nearly minty flavors.  They subside and the more mature, corn-heavier 16 year old sweetness helps to smooth out the spice.  The finish is slow and pretty long, the heat taking its time to build on its way down the throat.  The clove and anise are most noticeable on the lips and the tongue long after you take a sip.

F:  Full, coating.  Sip this slowly, and it might be a great, natural cough remedy.

O:  Do I like it?  Certainly.  Had this been just the young, brash 2 year without its partner, the 16, I’d deem it undrinkable.  However, High West was wise to blend this spirit in this fashion.  It’s flavorful, it’s affordable, and a thoughtful example of what a blended straight rye whiskey can offer.

Suggested pairings:  Spice cake, my ideal sandwich from my previous post, sweet vermouth in the form of a Manhattan

 

Rye Are You Looking at Me Funny?

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In having to choose between the many varieties of distilled grain alcohols, rye is my favorite by far.  I suppose it stems from my love of intense and savory flavors.  While most kids were high on PB&J on Wonderbread, I wanted my roast beef on caraway-studded rye bread with a thin coat of spicy brown mustard and a side of garlic dill pickle (hungry yet?).  I still love that meal.  When I started drinking adult beverages, and learned that rye is an option, I embarked on a journey.  Though bourbon is nice (though for me too sweet), and Single-malt Scotch quite divine (though for me usually too expensive to buy a bottle that’s old enough to vote), rye offers me the quality, flavor, and affordability I look for in a finely crafted spirit.  Just like scotch and bourbon, rye comes in many varieties.  The key, if you like the spicy, earthy, and more savory qualities of the spirit, is to find bottles with a higher rye content.  This might take a little research, but each brand usually provides ratios on their website.

Distillers can blend rye with corn, barley, or even wheat, each other ingredient adding something to the mix.  Also like scotch, separate batches are often blended together.  In the case of High West’s Double Rye!, a 2 year old with a 95% rye/5% barley melds with a 16 year old 53% rye/37% corn blend.  The young rye provides the spice and bite, the older provides sweetness and smoothness that tames some of the bite.

My favorite spirit also goes into my favorite cocktail, the Manhattan.  Two parts rye to one part sweet vermouth gets added to a dash of bitters and finished with a maraschino cherry.  Splitting the vermouth into equal parts sweet and dry results is what the bar industry calls a “perfect” Manhattan.  In a world that seems to favor the bigger, the better, and the new, this classic cocktail agrees with my sensibilities and palate.  If it was good enough for my 93 year old grandmother, who had one every day at 5pm, it’s good enough for me now!  She’s since moved on to the great Bar in the sky, sharing a table with my grandfather and his beer, but I still honor her memory with every Manhattan I consume.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition, and my first rye review.

Cheers!