Thursday, January 28, 2016

Former Future Brewing with Barley's Angels CO and Brewed Food.

Last week in Denver, Barley’s Angels hosted an event at Former Future Brewing with Chef/Cicerone Jensen Cummings of Brewed Food. This was a very strange but interesting beer and food pairing event that I’ve ever attended.

Former Future Brewing co-founder Sarah Howat was there to give us a tour and was the spokesperson for the brewery.  They brew on a 4 barrel system where yeast is a defining ingredient in their beers. Sarah mentioned that " we tend to use more varieties of yeast then any other ingredient, allowing each beer to stand out on it's own." Sarah also talked about their sour ale brewing, Black Project, where they kinda have an open fermentation with two large cooking kettles. Black Project never uses lab yeast in the fermentation process but collect what's floating in the air. Jensen Cummings is the founder of this pop-up group, Brewed Food. They push the boundaries of cooking with beer but they take it to another level, instead of cooking with beer they use the ingredients or techniques in brewing; hops, yeast, malt or fermentation in their dishes. I was confused at this point until he talked about the sauces on our plates that were going to be paired with beer.
Deborah Cameron, Sarah Howat, and
Jensen Cummings.
Sarah and Jensen explaining the pairings.

Fermentation kettles for the sour ales.

First course was a plate of 3 sauces or marinades, I understand they can be either. The red sauce was a fermented sriracha and blueberry sauce that was paired with Lage Landen, a Belgian tripel with a 9.0% ABV.  This pairing went well, the beer cut the heat from the sauce.
The second sauce was sweet with the flavors of a teriyaki marinade but it only had 2 tbsp of soya sauce in the whole batch, so it was a wort reduction from Former Future's and it had a molasses thickness and flavor.  The third wasn’t a sauce but a powder substance which turned out to be a hop cured egg yolk. Yeah, this was one of the weirdest thing I have ever tasted. Cured with salt, sugar, spent grain that was aged for 5 months and it turns into a Parmesan cheese with funkiness. This was paired with Bonne Ace IPA with Citra hops. to me the beer gave the egg more egg flavor. Weird, I know.

The next pairing was a vegetarian dish with a Korean BBQ influence. Bugolgi style squash with baechu kimchi, soured mango and pueblo chilie bbq. All of the vegetables were fermented so there wasn’t a pickled taste but I was really hungry and this dish didn’t satisfy me very much but all the other women really enjoyed this pairing. The beers for this dish were in contrast of each other, one was the Gadabout Lager which had herbal notes and the Pabulum, a Grisette which is a low alcohol Farmhouse ale.  I liked both beers and thought they both worked well with the fermented vegetables.

All in all it was an interesting night and I am impressed with Former Future Brewing that I will go there again. If in the neighborhood, check them out Jan 29 and 30, it’s their 2 year anniversary party.

Friday, January 22, 2016

An evening with Andy Parker of Avery Brewing discussing, Gestalt Theory: United Forces

Barley’s Angels had an educational event hosted at Avery Brewing with Andy Parker, Barrel Herder. We got to experience the process that goes into choosing which barrel-aged sours goes into production at Avery Brewing.

Kirsten Mundorff, one of the Barley's Angels organizers.

Andy Parker, Barrel Herder.

Andy Parker has been an employee at Avery for 13 years and asked Adam Avery’s permission to buy a few barrels which ultimately started the barrel-aging program at the brewery. In 2009, Brabant, a barrel-aged wild ale became the first in their Barrel-aging series and the success of that program is evident in the soon to be released number 33, Lunctis Viribus.   We were privileged to be the first outside of Avery Brewing to get a taste of Lunctis Viribus, when translated from Latin means Joined Forces or United Forces. Avery Brewing has over 2000 oak barrels and 300 wine barrels.   

Balcony area behind the brew house.

The event was in the back balcony of the brew house where there are tables and a portable bar. On each table there were place mats labeled with tank 1-3, Tequila sour, Eremita IX, and the final product that will soon be bottle and sold sometime in February of this year. We were poured a two ounces glass of tank 1-3 sour ale and asked which one we liked. Then Andy told us what the tasters from Avery thought of them. Of course, the Avery tasters were in a blind test, they didn’t know what they had while we did. It was very interesting hearing the results.

Tweak, barrel-aged Mephistopheles with coffee.

Andy went through the long blind tasting process that every barrel of sour ale goes through before it is good to go into bottles. It has to be anonymous for the sour ale to go into production. He said that 5% of the barrels of the sour ales on average gets dumped while 1% of non-sour barrels do.  Many sours ales are a blend of barrels, since they don’t know how each is going to taste after being in the barrels. In barrel-aging, Andy noted that the barrel is the fifth ingredient along with water, hops, yeast, and malt. He talked about the Avery house strain of yeast Drie, that was developed from a Tre Foutane bottle with the latter's permission, of course. Templates for the sour ales aren’t from any Avery base beer, these are made from scratch.

The Avery restaurant provided some snacks to pair with the sours we were tasting. It was a very interesting event and hats off to the staff at Avery including Andy Parker for such an educational night.

Andy, Amy, Corie, and Austin, the Avery Staff.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Crooked Stave Artisan Project: 5 year Anniversary of Sours!

January marked the 5th Anniversary of the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. The anniversary party was from January 5-10th with special releases and guest beers at The Source.

We celebrated Crooked Stave on the first day where they had the release of Vieille Reserva barrel-aged with apricots. Friends of the mini-fest; Bell’s, Arizona Wilderness, Jackie O’s, Perennial, Fremont, and Cantillon, were tapped at 5pm. Most of the guest beers were very big barrel-aged ales with a few exceptions of sour ales.

Chad Yakobson, founder/head-brewer was there to partake in the occasion. He told my husband that the brewery was moving forward with brewing big beers like some of the guest beers. That would seem like a logical progression from barrel-aged sours to barrel-aged big beers like imperial stout, barley wines, and Belgian strong ales.

The line for the guest beers was very long by time we arrived, so hubby waiting with the other patrons while I headed straight to the main bar for a taster of Crooked Stave beers. I ordered the Vieille Reserva and Nightmare on Brett Cherry, I really liked the latter much better.  Nightmare on Brett cherry was aged in Leopold Brothers whiskey barrels, the cherries added the sweet tartness with the flavors of the whiskey and at 9.66% ABV, a very big sour. The Vieille Reserva was very tart with the nose of apricots but lost the flavor in the first sip, most disappointing.

The long line to the guest beer taps.

Vieille Reserva and Nightmare on Brett

The Fremont bourbon barrel-aged Dark Star, a 14.5% ABV Imperial Stout, it was really boozy that it took me a half an hour of sipping to finish it. That beer could be cellared for a few years as to mellow out the booziness. Larry, my husband, had Jackie O’s Wood Ya Honey and Perennial Brewing’s Abraxas. He really like both these beers. The Wood Ya had a really strong honey flavor with the barrel and alcohol notes present, the combined flavors were blended together nicely. The Abraxas had a strong cinnamon flavor.

Fremont Brewing bourbon barrel-aged
Dark Star.

I didn’t go to the other 4 days of celebrating but if Wednesday turnout was any indication then it was a successful anniversary party.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Wibby Brewing, brewing lager-style ales in Longmont, CO

It’s always an adventure going to a new brewery. We heard many rave reviews about Wibby Brewing but were hesitant because they brew lagers.  I have enjoyed a hefeweizen and dunkels on many occasions but those are usually my go to beers. Wibby Brewing really surprised us with the quality of their beers and the versatility of style.

Ryan Wibby, founder and head brewer has a nice resume of beer brewing. He started working in the industry on the bottling line at Ithaca Brewing, brewed for Iron Hill Restaurant and Brewery, then trained at the VLB Berlin for a year including a 4 month internship in their research lab. Coming back to the State's, Ryan worked at Deschutes Brewing for 2 years. He told me that after working at Deschutes, he realized that an automated brewery wasn’t how he envisioned his own brewery. He met his partner, Ted Risk at the university in Ithaca. Ted is from Chicago and worked at a local health club. He and Ryan met up at a concert in California where they discussed the possibility of their own brewery. When they decided that they would open a brewery in Colorado, Boulder was their first choice but they changed their minds with a welcoming tour of the city of Longmont and that's where they are today. Skip forward and in Sept of 2015, WIbby Brewing opened to the public.

Ted Risk, founder and all around brewery guy,
he wears many hats.
Ryan Wibby, founder and brewer.

We started with a taster set of all their beers year-round and seasonal. Our favorite was the Double Dunkel, a 7.6% ABV that was brewed with 79 pounds of chocolate nibs and then lagered on Madagascar vanilla beans. This lager is so rich and flavorful that I actually bought a pint.

Brewery tour was similar to most other breweries except that these beers are fermented at a lower temperature.

The ales in these fermenters were at 1 degree at the time
of our tour, they were brewing an Eisbock.

Ryan Wibby brews lagers that non-lager drinkers would like, I highly recommend this brewery.