On the horizon of West of Africa to be more specific.
Right now I'm firming up an opportunity to put together a concept collaboration with a small Artisan Brewery and Winery on the Canary Islands. It won't be a huge project - but it will be a fun one if it works out. The first concept I'm proposing is a peppery and clean session-ish Saison, gently touched with spices grown on the Canary Islands and in West Africa.
Once I get confirmation from the brewer - and more information regarding available spices, malts, hops, yeast and such - I'll share more about the brewery and the beer. Assuming the first concept works out well - there's a very interesting possibility of using one of their kiloliter open fermenters for a wild ale some time in the future.
Black Lingerie is probably the most favored of the annual specialty beers I make. It is a BCT tweaked Imperial Porter base recipe averaging 10% ABV, and Chinese tea roses and Papua New Guinea vanilla beans go into it for several days right before bottling. Batch 1 was awesome, because it was. Batch 2 was dialed back a touch in the roses and vanilla and slightly lower in alcohol than Batch 1, still awesome but not quite as sexy. Batch 3 was back up above 10% ABV and aged in red wine barrels, and awesome in a whole different way.
So what am I aiming for in Batch 4? I'm targeting a beer that retains all the best qualities and sexiness of the 10% ABV version, but is not as high in alcohol. You might ask, "But why?" - and I'll tell you. Beers (in general) in the 10% range require long aging cycles - typically 8 months or more from brew day to the first pour. This allows the heat and booziness of the alcohol to mellow and integrate with the beer. This takes up space in the fermenters and makes it more of a challenge to brew them more often or at a commercial volume. Besides, Black Lingerie is all about unique character and complexity, not about high alcohol.
So I'm focusing on the unique things that make Black Lingerie as awesome and sexy as it is - the things that give it richness, dark chocolate characters, floral aromas, smooth tobacco notes as it ages - and dialing the alcohol back about 25%. I'm convinced it will be as awesome as ever, but ready to enjoy within a couple months or so versus 8 months. And you'll be able to drink more without falling over.
Beancurdturtle Brewing Saison 1833 is a session Saison at 3.5% ABV, brewed with heirloom grains, lactobacillus delbrueckii, brettanomyces bruxellensis, and a Belgian yeast strain. The acidity from the lactobacillus, and the funk from the brettanomyces are a perfect compliment for pan con tomate, Spanish boquerón stuffed olives, and queso de cabra con romero.
Lunch is served at Beancurdturtle Brewing. Wish you were here.
I am brewing a beer tomorrow that is over 14% black malts (57 SRM, or "black as night" in lay person terms), and 110 IBU. Let me repeat that - 110 IBU, even though more than 50% of the hops are post boil (whirlpool) additions.
All I can say is, look out Sublimely Self Righteous, I'm gunning for you. Well, actually, not. I'm looking to make something as glorious as SSR, with BCT nuance.
Appearance 3/5: Light gold with a touch of warmth. Big fluffy white head.
Aroma 4.5/5: Earth and spices. Tart apples crushed right from the tree. King trumpet mushroom umami. Sweetly floral. Damp old timbers.
Flavor 4.5/5: Malts provide a clean and slightly sweet canvas for the circus of flavors. Tartness and herbs. Throughout an earthy funk. Touched by spices. Slightly tannic like green apple skins.
Mouthfeel 3.5/5: Light and astringent to start. Crisply effervescent. Finishes dry with a lingering herbal and slightly savory quality.
Overall Impression 4.5/5: Wow! Fantastic. Clean and crisp malt canvas splashed with spice, tartness, funk, sweetness, and blossoming herbs. An extraordinary beer. The restrained tartness and earthy complexity remind me of a natural and wild Asturian Sidra from Spain.
In my dreams I would wish to collaborate on a concept and recipe, and brew a beer with Dany Prignon of Brasserie Fantôme.
A "right proper" English grain bill from my friend Shawn Olsson - plus a new-fangled hop schedule and a sneaky English adjunct from BCT. A long and coolish primary fermentation, cold crash to 45F to drop the yeast, add some sugar and go right to the bottles. That'll get you BCT English IPA.
A quick taste of the uncarbonated beer between the fermenter and the bottles - wow! This is going to be a good one.
Amongst a field of over 45 different breweries, from all continents on the planet. Judged by 15 well respected judges, Valencia Saison was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Dublin Craft Beer Cup. Some of the other craft breweries that submitted beers for judging that craft fans in the USA may recognize include Abita Brewing Company, Anchor Brewing Company, Great Lakes Brewing Co., Left Hand Brewing Co., Moa Brewing Company, and Oskar Blues Brewing.
Of course a Gold Medal would have been nice. But considering Valencia Saison is the first commercial beer brewed with a concept and recipe conceived by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC, and the competition and judges are quite respectable - I'll take the Bronze with pleasure.
If you want to check the Medal Winners, the beer brewed with my recipe is listed in the Bronze Medal Winners section as: Company: Premium Beers From Spain SL Country: Spain Name of Beer: Valencia Saison
Valencia Saison will be available at quality bottle shops in 33cl bottles, and on draft at discerning craft beer tap rooms/restaurants around April of 2014.
In "Other Brewery's Brews" I will present tasting notes and/or thoughts about beers that creatively inspire me.
I am drinking Ballast Point's Victory at Sea tonight - an excellent huge Porter with coffee - and thinking about Café Solo in Spain. Café Solo is very similar to espresso except some of the beans are usually café torrefacto. Sugar is added to the roasting process so the beans have a deeply caramelized glaze - like the crust on a crème brûlée. It's a wonderfully rich tiny cup of coffee with a restrained bitterness.
I think I've got a new concept for a coffee beer brewing in my head.