Monday, January 17, 2011

Anti-matter, stouts, food and gas

We had a nice turnout on Saturday for our Killer Kapowski bottle release, which was a pleasant surprise given how freaking cold it was (Bryan and I had to call it off a little early due to the lack of feeling in our fingers and toes, and faces for that matter). Thanks to everyone who made it out, hope those bottles are treating you warmly!

We decided to brew our Imperial Stout, the Dark Matter, again a week back. It's about done fermenting and tasting great, with a big starting gravity of about 23*P. We dry hopped it today with some Centennial and Chinook hops to round the nose out with a big dose of pine and grapefruit, and we additionally spiced it with just a hint of Star Anise, to add an extra depth of flavor. We're really excited about how this one will turn out, and we should release it next month for our next tapping party.

Another return for our cellars is the Iron Horse Stout, which we brewed last Friday. We are planning to release part of it on nitrogen, and then carbonating it for the remainder. It'll be a fun experimentation on the effects the gas has on the beer itself. Bryan and I call the carbonation of a beer the fifth ingredient, because of how much it impacts beer's flavor. With beer served on nitrogen, the flavor comes through much smoother, more mellow and more creamy. Plus, the head of a nitro beer has the classic Guinness ever-lasting pillow effect. This is all due to the insolubility of nitrogen in beer, and once it breaks out of solution, it does so in very fine bubbles, which create that creamy ever-lasting head. Additionally, with stouts, the nitrogen doesn't pull as much of the roasted flavors out of the beer, creating a smoother, more mellow stout. Serving a beer on nitrogen is a way to emulate serving a beer "real ale" fashion, with the low carbonation and the creamy effect of the nitrogen. In fact, most real ale beer engines have sparklers attached to the end of the faucet, to whip up more nitrogen into the beer upon serving to give it a creamy head. In contrast, the solubility of CO2 gives a very coarse mouth feel to the beer and, with stouts, pulls the roasted flavors out, lending to a drier, more roasty stout. Additionally, the acidity of CO2 gives a sharper bite to the beer, giving it a more crisp taste.

This of course isn't anything new, many breweries have been playing with nitrogen draft systems for a while now. In fact, many breweries are trying nitrogen on many different beer styles other than stouts, such as Pales, IPA's and so forth. It's fun to taste the difference the gas can give a beer, and we'll get to taste that change with our Iron Horse!

Alright, enough of that ramble, on to our big event this weekend. We finally have decided on our dish for the Brewpub Shootout. We're pairing our HiFi-Ryewine, non barrel aged, with Chef Eduardo's green peppercorn encrusted beef tenderloin, sitting atop a mashed sweet potato with pasilla peppers whipped with a housemade HiFi butter sauce. It tastes great (from what I've heard, I'm a vegetarian and haven't tried it), and everyone here is really digging it. So hopefully it'll show well come Saturday. Additionally, we're entering our Intercontinental IPL (6.7%) and our Wooden Horse Barrel Aged Stout (5.6%).


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