Allrighty. In the lineup for pilot/test beers to brew in the next month or two.
First will be a Belgo-American Double India Witte. It's basically a White IPA that I've made before, but I'll incorporate Belgian elements, and use a hop schedule like a New England IPA. I already have the ingredients, so I'll do it. This beer is not hazy by design, but hazy by the expression of its ingredients.
Next will be a Grisette. This is a (currently) very misunderstood beer style that was brewed in Belgium mostly during the 19th century, when the industrial revolution was booming. It was the hydration beer for miners. Quite possibly the first beer produced in an industrial versus farmhouse/Abbey way in Belgium. It should be light and crisp, and cleanly fermented without lactobacillus or wild yeasts. A light ale with Belgian barley and wheat malts, French and Czech hops, and a slightly spicy yeast of Belgian origin.
Then I'll brew a Scottish 60 Shilling Ale. Classically a dry and crisp beer with toasty/caramel characters and a light garnet color. Hops from England for balance only, and fermented with yeast strains from Scotland that lend a hint of smokey notes to the aromas and flavors.
Later I'll brew a Patersbier (Father's beer). Traditionally a low alcohol beer that Abbey breweries made for hydration for the monks. It will be light in color, body, and alcohol. Yet it will be rich in balanced character from Belgian grains and the house yeast from a Trappist brewery.
All three of the last beers have ABV targeted between 2.5% and 3%, will have very low residual sugars, and will be eminently crushable.
Is it really necessary? Doesn’t a Budweiser, like iced water, go with anything? Is this the kind of twisted Chefery that results in a food truck trying to sell me a curried pork belly soft taco with béchamel sauce and pickled strawberries? Well – no, and yes. Hear me out, because this “pairing” thing is actually simpler than you’d think.
In this article, I’ll discuss the Beancurdturtle method for pairing. The basis comes from research into chefery and flavorist snobby things, years of tottering about in the kitchen, and years of hovering over a hot brew kettle. I’ll distill it all down into three different types of pairings, and an example of how they might work. Then wrap it up with an invitation to join me at a restaurant where I’ve put together a list of eight pairings of Belgian beer with Italian food (of the North-Americanized ilk).
What all this pairing stuff really is, is combinations of flavors and aromas from different sources that result in something easy to appreciate, something exciting, and sometimes something complex and bold. I break it down three ways; You’ve got comfort pairings, complimentary pairings, and contrast pairings.
A comfort pairing is in large part a cultural or regional thing, it’s closely tied to knowing your audience. It’s simple flavors and aromas that we are so used to being together that it “just works”. A simple example of a comfort pairing would be Mac and Cheese. Mac and Cheese is easy to appreciate, un-complex and usually well accepted even by folks not familiar with the flavors.
A complimentary pairing is a combination of flavors and aromas wherein the contributors have a broad base of similar characters. A complimentary pairing can be exciting, “Oh yes, this is nice together!” But the closeness of the marriage of characters should be universally apparent. An obvious example of a complimentary pairing would be coffee and chocolate.
A contrast pairing is trickier and more dangerous than the others. First the balance of contrasting flavors needs to be right. Second, the individual palate of the taster has a big role to play in the success of the pairing. A good example is lemonade – sweet and sour. The same batch of well mixed lemonade will be too sweet for some, too sour for others, but pretty darn pleasing to a bunch of folks between them. Yet the contrast pairing provides the greatest opportunity to present something complex, bold, even divisive – think Hawaiian Pizza, Tom Yum Gai soup, or Mexican Mole sauce.
Now I’ve defined my three classes for pairing, then attached the pairing classes to some familiar foods. For a beer food pairing you just need to wrap the concepts of comfort, complimentary, and contrast pairing around a beverage and food together. Of course, you also should have a discerning palate and sensitivity for aroma, and be familiar with the aroma and flavor characters of a bunch of different beers, dishes, and ingredients. Which means you need to taste a lot of beer, and try many different dishes. So get on that right now.
In the meantime though – if you’d like to test this strategy at a great little Italian American restaurant with a terrific beer selection – haul your behind over to Alza Osteria in Brea and try one of these pairings on for size:
• Brasserie d’Orval – Orval Trappist Ale with Pescatore
• Brouwerij Westmalle – Trappist Dubbel with Penne Calabrese
• Brasserie Dupont – Saison Dupont with Chicken Piccata
• Trappist Achel – Bruin with Blonde Lasagna
• Chimay – Grande Reserve Blue with Sausage & Peppers (pasta)
• Brouwerij Huyghe – Delirium Tremens with Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
• Brouwerij Lindemans – Framboise with Grilled Chicken Strawberry (salad)
• Fantome/Beancurdturtle – Ghost Turtle with Linguine Puttanesca
I had my chuckle, then I started thinking about it. I posted a link to Stone’s prank post on the Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC Facebook page with the comment “I could do this for real, and make it good. No fooling!”. Someone commented “Do it. I dare you.” I opened my big mouth, got called out, and there you go.
Most everything I brew now is a pilot for a collaboration brew or gypsy brew, or to further develop a targeted beer. I rarely brew just for fun. This offers me the opportunity to brew for fun, and for an object lesson in using vegetable adjuncts.
The target for No Foolin’ was a clean ale base, restrained (East Coast) neutral bittering hop profile, enough asparagus to contribute some grassy/herbal/dank characters, and late and dry hopping to compliment the asparagus presence and not overwhelm it. I started with my taproom tested recipe for a Double White IPA base, plus a changeup of the hops and a couple other tweaks. I made a tea with asparagus and the hops to provide a checkpoint, and the components seemed to work together.
The brewday went well with no surprises and I hit all the expected targets for extraction. Fermentation schedule progressed as expected, utilizing a diacetyl reduction cycle for a clean base beer, and attenuation was a little higher than expected. I kegged and carbonated the beer – a taste at this point showed good promise.
A week after packaging and the first pour is exactly what I targeted. Crisp and clean White IPA base. Late hops presenting fresh citrusy/dank characters, though not burying the asparagus. The asparagus is present in aroma and flavor/finish, though not overwhelming the beer.
I’m very pleased with the beer and find it very enjoyable. Other tasters think it’s great. Even tasters that don’t like asparagus have claimed to enjoy the beer very much. So what started as a April Fools prank, progressed to a boast, answered with a challenge, results in a very cool Asparagus IPA. No Foolin’.
“Make it all about fresh oranges.” Was the request when I was designing this specialty Saison to be brewed in Valencia Spain. I’d used fresh oranges in a couple beers before – they only remain fresh maybe a few weeks at best. After that the freshness fades fast, and the orange character becomes muddled and pithy. The first pilot beer proved this.
So rather than use fresh oranges, I asked “How can I proxy the characters of oranges in a way that will last?”. For some brewing challenges I have to dig deep into the practical library in my head from cooking for 30+ and brewing for 20+ years – this was one of those challenges.
No oranges are used in brewing this beer, though in aroma and flavor it expresses the aromatics and flavors of fresh oranges. How? Two kinds of dried orange peel – European and Caribbean – for the aromatics and flavors. Rose hips for the acidity and residual sweetness. Citrus forward New Zealand hops for the juicy backbone. Orange blossom honey for the aromatics. It is “all about fresh oranges” after months (even years) post packaging.
It was the first commercially brewed and internationally distributed beer that I designed. It has been awarded a medal in international competition. It has been sold and enjoyed from Finland to Spain, and in the USA. It is at its core an earthy, turbid, and funky Saison, expressing what you would expect being brewed in Valencia Spain – oranges in your face. That’s right – nothing fancy, something special.
Tonight I'm raising a glass to all my fellow Orange County Brewers Guild members who were awarded medals at the Great American Beer Festival. I chose this red wine barrel aged Robust Porter that has been awarded two medals in international competition designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC (me) and brewed at Mateo & Bernabé & Friends.
Toasting my guild's medal winners with a medal winner.
So it’s been two weeks since we served beers at the LA Weekly Burgers and Beer festival. Time for a wrap up – both because we had a great time, and because we received a very nice compliment. First though I’d like to thank Brew Crew Inc for hooking us up with the opportunity to serve at the event, and LA Weekly for putting together such a well-organized and, well, just plain terrific event.
We served two of the most popular beers we designed for the BCT Brewing Project brand – a Champurrado Imperial Stout called Captain Jack Turtle, and a wild yeast fermented Pale Ale with Hibiscus, Rose Hips, and Szechuan Pepper called Tingle Me Pink. Kind of polar opposites from a beer style standpoint – but consequently quite fun to serve.
We were in good company, with fellow Orange County Brewers Guild Members Cismontane Brewing Co., Noble Ale Works, Pizza Port Brewing Co., The Good Beer Company – and other great breweries like Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Founders Brewing, The Lagunitas Brewing Company, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. With peers like this, the compliments we received, and being called out as having the best beer at the event by a CBS Local food and beer writer was a very pleasant surprise.
And I’m going to guess that I probably had the best educated bevy of servers at the festival. Family and friends including an M.A.Ed., one near Ph.D., and one M.D. Them plus me – a guy who makes beer – and a crash course on beer in the morning, and we were all ready to pour. The weather was gorgeous, the servers were sharp as tacks, and the beer (with the exception of a minor and brief equipment failure) poured great all day.
People loved the beers, especially Captain Jack Turtle. Quite a few people came by near the end of the event to tell us that we had the best beer at the festival, and to get a last pour. Many were disappointed to find that the full keg of Captain Jack Turtle had kicked. We got about an hour in to the event and people were walking up and saying “I was just told that I HAD to try the Captain Jack Turtle.” It kicked about an hour before the end. Unfortunate, but I took it as a good sign of a beer well liked.
A few days after the event, CBS Local food and beer writer Hungry Hungry Harris wrote up the event and called out Captain Jack Turtle as the best beer at the fest, and “one of the best stouts I have ever tasted.” Altogether I would call the event a great success, both from a fun day perspective, and from the generous compliments we received for the beers we brought. I’m hoping to participate again when it comes around next year.
These five huge multinational beverage companies often engage in unfair (and by my reckoning, unethical) business practices that harm craft brewers, the craft brewing industry, and you the craft beer consumers. Buying their products only supports less innovation, less creativity, and less choice – don't buy them.
Yes, I know - it's Gin, and not beer. However - it's a Spanish Gin, and a damn fine one. I just emptied the bottle to make a classic Negroni (with Vermouth Rosso, which you really should try). But! you may ask, "Why would we speak of Gin here, on a beer related page?". Go ahead, ask...
Well, this Gin is the inspiration for a crazy cool beer I designed and brewed for and at the BCT Brewing Project called Giniper White. It's an Imperial White Ale infused with some extraordinary and expensive aromatic herbs and flowers designed to proxy fine Gin in a beer.
Sipping this Negroni, I am inspired once again - I'd look for another batch of Giniper White to be released this summer if I was you. Damn good Gin - inspiring an amazing beer. Seriously, what could be better than that?
We are one of a handful of breweries (well, brewery related companies) in California that has a proprietary, locally sourced, wild yeast strain for brewing some terrific beers. Beancurdturtle Sacc WLP5179 expresses lots of citrus characters, peachy chardonnay aromas, and an earthy “farmhouse” character.
The short story is this. Sometime around June of 2015 I harvested yeast from the skin of a tangerine growing in the Beancurdturtle Brewing yard.
I propagated the wild mixed culture up to cell counts appropriate for brewing a 5-gallon test batch called Ordinary Wild.
I brewed a one-barrel batch at BCT Brewing Project called Cali Native with the wild mixed culture. One of the fastest selling beers made by BCT Brewing Project.
I took the mixed culture to White Labs for analysis, where they isolated and genetically identified the two predominant organisms as a wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain and a strain of Lactobacillus casei.
White Labs is banking both the mixed culture as “BCT Cali Native”, and the S. cerevisiae isolate as “Beancurdturtle Sacc”.
White Labs propagated up Beancurdturtle Sacc for a one-barrel pitch and I brewed a test batch at BCT Brewing Project called Wild in the Sacc that was released on February 27th 2016.
The beer was well liked, and if I can convince a brewery with a seven barrel brewhouse - the minimum pitch size White Labs propagates for private strains - to collaborate with me, we'll brew with it again.
So, I think it's time. I did the actual count and it works out to four medals in respected international judging against commercial craft brewers from all over the world, awarded to beers I have designed.
At the risk of appearing egotistical, I'm going to run down the list (up to September 25th 2015) of commercially released beers, and the awards and distinctions associated with beers that I have designed. Some were architected by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC then brewed as collaborations with commercial breweries in Spain. Some are designed and brewed by my very own little self - and served in the tasting room - at the BCT Brewing Project in Riverside California.
• Valencia Saison - Saison. A collaboration brewed in Spain by Premium Beers from Spain (available in the US)
• 29 Daniel - Wine barrel aged Porter. A collaboration brewed and barrel aged in Spain by Mateo & Bernabé and Friends (available in the US)
• Thirsty Dog Saison - Organic Saison with herbs. A collaboration brewed in Islas Canarias by Tierra De Perros
• Parking Beer C Murciélago - Imperial IPA. A collaboration brewed in Spain with Mateo & Bernabé and Friends
• Parking Beer C Pelícano - White IPA. A collaboration brewed in Spain with Mateo & Bernabé and Friends
• Café Olé - Coffee Porter. A collaboration brewed in Spain with Cerveses Spigha
• Rosita White IPA - A collaboration brewed in Spain with Cerveses La Gardènia
BCT Brewing Project Beers:
• Robin's Red - Irish Red Ale (gluten free). Core beer
• Sexy Mexican - Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale. Specialty Beer
• Double White IPA - Imperial / Double IPA. Specialty Beer
• Giniper White - White IPA. Super specialty Beer
• Super Blonde - American Blonde Ale. One time brew
Medals in International Competition:
• Bronze Medal, 2015 World Beer Awards - 29 Daniel
• Silver Medal, 2015 Dublin Craft Beer Cup - Rosita White IPA
• Bronze Medal, 2014 Dublin Craft Beer Cup - Valencia Saison
• Bronze Medal, 2015 International Beer Challenge - 29 Daniel
Distinctions - the customer speaks:
• Highest rated Porter brewed in Spain, untappd.com - 29 Daniel
• 2nd Highest rated Porter brewed in Spain, untappd.com - Café Olé
• Highest rated (stays in top 3) Saison brewed in Spain, untappd.com - Valencia Saison
There's more beers to come for sure - watch our web pages and facebook pages. And let's keep our fingers crossed for more awards and distinctions.
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