Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Drew's Favorites Volume 1

Rather than just keep my small army of readers up to date on the goings on in the cellar at Mattingly Brewing Company, I have decided to use this blog as a chance to show my appreciation for what fellow brewers are up to. There will no be discernible order or pattern to who or how they are chosen for recognition, other than that I have a deep respect for the beers they produce.
So, on with it then!
Who, oh who should I recognize first?
Well, I was sitting at home (for a change) with my fiance, Julie, talking about the upcoming beer festival season, which kicked off this past weekend with Schlafly's Repeal of Prohibition Festival. We were talking about the first festival she came to (or I dragged her to, whatever), it was the St. Louis Microfest 2006. It was a cool May afternoon and we didn't stay for the whole thing, but we did get to sample quite a few beers. Even after the years there was one beer that stuck out in her mind, New Albanian Brewing Company's Thunderfoot.
For those poor, wretched souls who do not know Thunderfoot, it a magical and mysterious black ale, a Cherry Oak Imperial Stout. Sublime balance of chocolately malt, coffee roastiness, caramelly and toffee malt middle, woody and vanilla oakiness, all drenched in sweet and tart cherries, real cherries. Silky smooth and dangerously satisfying, it is a magnificent beverage. Really, it is no shock that it stuck in Julie's mind.
But, of course, it doesn't end with Thunderfoot. Hoptimus is an American Double IPA drippying in citrusy, grassy hop character with a fantastic, bready caramelly malt backing. Malcolm's Old Setter's Ale on cask was arguably the best beer at the 2008 Great Taste of the Midwest, intense maltiness, some earthy and floral hops to balance the intense rush of toffee and breadiness with plenty of fruity esters and warming alcohol to round out an immense Old Ale. It was truly remarkable.
They also brew an excellent Imperial Pilsner by the name Elsa Von Horizon, a funky, sour, refreshing and outright strange Kentucky Common in addition to many, many others.
Jared, Jesse and their newest team member, David are working tirelessly to get the new production facility up and running to package their fantastic beers and get them into the market.
I, for one, cannot wait!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hops? I'll show you hops!

Stone recently posted on their blog about a new collaborative beer, Juxtaposition Black Pilsner. A joint effort between Cambridge Brewing, Brew Dog and Stone they proclaim that it is the hoppiest beer they have ever brewed.
Wow! Stone's hoppiest beer ever? That must really be something! From the makers of Stone IPA, Levitation Ale, Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, Arrogant Bastard, Old Guardian and many other one time only or occasionally offered hop bombs, they really know how to hop a beer, and this one must be a monster! Right?
They claim a usage of 3 pounds of hops per barrel. They're right it is a load of hops.
But, here's the kicker, they're all excited to put that load into a 10% ABV Black Pilsner with more than 100 calculated IBUS, to be brewed only once...yet our HOPtimal APA, weighing in at 4.5% ABV and 45 IBUs is brewed with...3 pounds of hops per barrel.
Now some may wonder how and why this can be. Stone is using a higher portion of their hop charges for bitterness, while I focus my hop bills more around flavor and aroma. We're both using high alpha (and high oil content) hops in these brews. In Stone's case Sorachi Ace and Motueka, in my case its Magnum, Sterling, Mt. Hood, Ahtanum and Summit.
Okay, so this may be Stone's hoppiest beer, but that doesn't make it the hoppiest beer out there, does it?
Well, how about something really, Really, REALLY hoppy? Yes, please. Lets take a look at Russian River's Pliny the Elder, widely regarded as one of the hoppiest beers around and possibly the best Double IPA being brewed. It clocks in with approximately 6 pounds per barrel of hoppy goodness.
But that still isn't their hoppiest offering, that distinction belongs to Pliny the Younger, a Triple IPA or TIPA. Which based on the information available, it packs the punch of around 9 pounds per barrel of green flowery insanity.
Which brings me to what all this has been building towards. I hear the cries of the St. Louis beer community clamoring "Give us more hops!". Be sure your cries had not gone unheeded.
While HOPtimal APA, which is hoppier than anything Stone has made until now, has been described as "not EXCEPTIONALLY hoppy" and "mild", I find to have the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. I will really bring on the hurt with Dead Flowers Double IPA. It will hit your palate with about the subtlety of a 70 megaton thermonuclear blast or a five mile wide asteroid impact.
The brew was so packed with hops, the entire kettle appeared to full of the sludge, called 'trub' left over in the kettle after a brew is transferred to the kettle.
The hop stopper clogged instantly and the heat exchanger had to be cleaned three times after the brew because so much hop material made it that far.
The dry hopping rate alone exceeds that of Stone's total hop load for its hoppiest beer yet.
You want hops, you got hops.
10...in fact more than 10 pounds per barrel. That's more than three times the hops in HOPtimal APA or Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner, almost twice the hops in Pliny the Elder and still more hops than even the monster, Pliny the Younger. It packs the punch of 8% ABV and 80 IBUs, remember, the focus is on flavor and aroma...and that 80 is still insanely high.
St. Louis hopheads prepare for a rain of fire, death and destruction and the ride of the four horsemen because Dead Flowers Double IPA is coming on April 8th and after it lands on your palate it will leave it like so much scorched earth.