Soy, Érezée, Belgium and La Habra, California USA; Belgian Farmhouse brewery Fantôme Brasserie Sprl and Orange County California Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC collaborate to create a specialty Saison, Ghost Turtle. Ghost Turtle is firmly grounded in a spicy Farmhouse Saison typical of Brasserie Fantôme, and gently overlaid with the influence of a blend of multiple flowers, herbs, and wildflower honey designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing. The floral and herbal aromatics and flavors gently express characters of Genièvre, an heirloom Belgian spirit that has been called “The grandfather of Gin”.
Target acquired! Had myself a preview pint of Piney the Turtle tonight at Phantom Ales and it meets both the concept target for the collaboration, and the philosophy behind Beancurdturtle Brewing.
Don’t expect to be blown away by some huge palate walloping beer like a DIPA or BBA Stout. The concept called for a Rye IPA (or Rye Pale Ale if you are from California) at 6% ABV and about 40 IBU, with additions of select hops, blue spruce tips, and juniper berries used to contribute restrained yet decidedly piney/resinous characters. Balanced and approachable enough to invite a second pint.
Here’s my tasting impressions from my pint tonight:
Appearance is clear, mostly pale and slightly warm, fine and lasting head.
Aromas are subdued, crisp malty profile and balancing herbaceous characters.
Flavors are dry, spicy/peppery, Rye Ale backbone with complex pine/resinous flavors that layer and build as I get deeper into the pint.
Mouthfeel is light/medium and the finish is long, sticky, and piney.
Burps are – ok, I know burps are not an official factor in beer tasting – reminiscent of dry gin
Overall impression, a straight up and well brewed - by Phantom Ales - Rye (very rye) Pale Ale, complimented by nuanced layering of piney/resinous characters that build in the flavors and have a long sticky finish.
Note that an eensie-weensie taster glass will not get you the full layered build of pine/resinous flavor and finish that a pint will. This beer is like peanuts – one peanut is good, but ten will hit the spot and make you want more. Order the pint.
A great American Rye Ale with pine/resinous deliciousness.
That’s right – nothing fancy, something special.
Piney the Turtle will be available on draft, and to take with you in crowlers, at Phantom Ales on January 14th 2017 when they open. I’ll be at Phantom Ales to hang out and have a pint or two at 5:30pm on the 14th until… I’m not sure.
Piney the Turtle is a specialty American Rye Ale. The dry and spicy character of a cleanly brewed rye ale is supported by piney/resinous hops, blue spruce tips, and a touch of juniper berries to create a uniquely refreshing beer with invigorating aromatics. This beer was designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC and brewed at Phantom Ales in Anaheim California.
I’ve been designing specialty beers for craft breweries for over three years, so it’s nice to finally have one brewed and sold in my hood (Orange County). Big thanks to Phantom Ales for the opportunity to collaborate with them to make Piney the Turtle happen.
I do hope that you’ll enjoy this specialty rye ale.
Or maybe the first question should be, “What is Ginever?” Well, it’s my project name for a beer we collaborated with Brasserie Fantôme to conceptualize, and soon brew.
The concept for this beer is to layer the aromatics and flavors of fine Gin over the peppery/spice and farmhouse/phenolic tones expressed in Fantôme Saisons. The project name is a spin on “Jenever”, the name for the heirloom Dutch liquor that is known as the “grandfather of gin”.
In my conversations about the concept with Dany Prignon of Brasserie Fantôme we decided that he would drive the backbone Saison, and I would design the aromatics. In researching herbs used in Jenever and one of my favorite Spanish gins I learned that Jenever originally was a liquor made by distilling moutwijn (malt wine in Dutch) then incorporating herbs, predominantly juniper berries (jeneverbes in Dutch). So, this beer is fundamentally Jenever that someone forgot to distill (umm… disregard the flourished editorial license).
Contributing the Gin like characters to this beer are bold brushstrokes of aromatics starting with juniper berries of course. Then there’s a few flowers including Chinese tea roses, a few herbs including cardamom, and some wildflower honey. The canvas will be a simple Saison in the rustic/earthy/complex fashion at which Brasserie Fantôme excels.
I drew from my experience with juniper berries and floral aromatics brewing Giniper White IPA for the BCT Brewing Project, and Rosita White IPA which I designed for Cerveses La Gardènia in Tarragona Spain. I used some tips on grain and hops from Dany Prignon. I made some adjustments to account for the peppery/herbal/spice expressed by Fantôme beers, then designed and brewed a test batch.
Tonight I decided to prove the merit of our concept. I side-by-sided Ginever with a classic dry martini. Maybe a twist of lemon peel would have been better than the olive, but I digress. The similarity in the aromatics is delightful. The herbal and floral flavors are the fulcrum. Tipped to gin it is dry, bright, and elegant. Tipped to the Saison base it is invigorating, complex, and comforting. Very simply, it works – especially if you like gin.
So on January 3rd of 2017, Dany Prignon (the undisputed “Mad Scientist” of modern Wallonian Super Saisons) and Daniel Fernandez (a humbled designer of aromatic and flavor complex specialty beers) will come together at Brasserie Fantôme to brew a unique collaboration that will surprise many beer drinkers. Frankly, it will be best understood by those who have enjoyed a shot of frozen Jenever, or a classic dry martini (preferably with Spanish gin).
My recommendation? Get yourself a bottle of Jenever or a fine gin. Put it in the freezer. When this beer is released (probably mid-2017), set yourself up a shot to side-by-side with this beer. You’ll understand what it’s all about… Yes you will!
“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.
Heads Up! There are only 28 cases of 29 Daniel batch 3 left at the onshoring point in New Jersey. This red wine barrel aged Porter I designed was awarded two Bronze Medals, at the 2015 World Beer Awards and the 2015 International Beer Challenge. It is brewed by Mateo & Bernabé & Friends in Logroño Spain.
Every batch of this beer gets a little better as Alberto, the brewer (previously a chef), tweaks it to please his excellent palate.
If you want some, ask your bottle shop to get some. In California the distributor is Lime Ventures.
Valencia Saison is a beer I designed in late 2013 to be brewed at Premium Beers from Spain, the brewers of La Socarrada and Er Boquerón. To date (December 20, 2015) two batches have been brewed. Recently the guys at Premium Beers from Spain asked me for tasting notes. Tonight I dug my only bottle of batch 2 out, put on my impartial tasting notes hat, and came up with the following.
Name: Valencia Saison Brewer: Premium Beers from Spain ABV: 7% SRM: 12 IBU: 46
Aromas: Fresh orange juice, soda bread, honey, clean earth, citrus oil, and orange blossoms.
Flavors: Lightly toasty, crisp and slightly tannic graininess in the malts. Hops are floral, citrus, orange/tangerine, and slightly spicy. Yeast is bready and peppery.
Mouthfeel: Medium light mouthfeel and carbonation is bursting when it hits the palate. Long lasting slightly astringent, citrus and white pepper spice finish.
Overall Impression: All the rustic, crisp, and peppery characters of a classic, old world Saison as the backbone – with inescapable Valencia orange aromas and flavors. Reminds me of sourdough toast smothered in orange marmalade. Simultaneously rough and crisp – the contrast of juicy orange characters and a dry spicy finish balanced nicely. A very unique and extraordinary Saison.
Frankly I'm a tough critic of beers I design. In this case, I'm really pleased. The head brewer, Rafa Suñer, at Premium Beers from Spain has once again done an excellent job brewing this beer. I hope others enjoy this beer as thoroughly as I do.
Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC is looking forward to collaborating with Pirate Brew GmbH to brew a Russian Imperial Stout with Cacao nibs, Vanilla Beans, and a little spice. Pirate Brew GmbH will brew it in Europe, and we'll brew it at BCT Brewing Project.
It will take a little time to get it into rotation, but when we're ready...
Damn the Reinheitsgebot - and full speed ahead! Maybe we'll call it "Captain Jack Turtle".
This last medal is from the World Beer Awards. Daniel 29, a collaboration between Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC and Mateo & Bernabé & Friends, was awarded a Bronze Medal. And this isn't some obscure non-event competition. There's some horsepower behind the competition, and the competitors.
The World Beer Awards is a truly international competition with commercially released beers from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa – basically all over the world. We're quite pleased to share this honor with Mateo & Bernabé.
Don't forget, I'm also brewing small batch at the BCT Brewing Project brewery and tasting room. So come on out and try some beers I am making.