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Get to know your beer: Pinot Spontanée

Winemakers say it takes a lot of good beer to make great wine; I usually say the opposite. Wine and wine making have always been an inspiration for me as a brewer and it is very ingrained in our brewing philosophy at Alesong. So naturally we make several wine inspired beers and Pinot Spontanée is the next to come out. Pinot Spontanée was spontaneously fermented on Pinot Noir from Benton Lane winery and aged in French oak before conditioning in the bottle for nearly four months prior to release.

Picking Pommard clone at Benton Lane

Picking Pommard clone at Benton Lane

This was a really awesome project because it enabled me to treat a beer much more like a wine than I had ever done before. After hand picking Pommard clone pinot noir from Benton Lane Winery we cold soaked the fruit prior to de-stemming. The whole clusters were de-stemmed into a small open top fermenter and our Lambic inspired wort was knocked out directly onto the fruit. Unlike most beers, we did not pitch yeast, but allowed the natural yeast on the fruit to inoculate the wort, which started fermenting after a couple days. The fermenting beer was left on the fruit until terminal gravity was reached about a month later and we “punched down” the cap twice daily throughout the fermentation. After primary fermentation was complete, the beer was racked off the fruit and into some of our “newer” French oak barrels where it matured until it was ready for bottling.

De-stemming the fruit into the open top fermenter

De-stemming the fruit into the open top fermenter

Pinot Spontanée pours vibrant red, reminiscent of a rosé of Pinot Noir, and the nose is bright and bursting with oak and Pinot character. The tight bubbles dissipate quickly like Champagne and it is slightly acidic on the tongue with flavors of both pinot noir and our Lambic-inspired wort. This beer tastes more like a carbonated rosé than a beer and is only going to get better with age.

Pinot Spont.jpg

 

Cheers!

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Get to know your beer: Bailey's Joy

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Get to know your beer: Bailey's Joy

Way back in 2016 we were approached by the folks at Bailey's Taproom in Portland for a collaboration beer. Geoff Phillips' iconic taproom has been a mainstay in the better beer bar crowd in Portland for the last decade and they were making plans to celebrate their first 10 years in business.  Because we love Bailey's and the people that work there, we were thrilled to be included.  Their plan was to reach out to 10 Oregon Breweries that they love and respect and work on a collaboration barrel aged beer to be served and sold in bottles at their annual birthday party in July. 

Traditional beer collaborations can be a challenge for us because we brew our base wort at another brewery and we only have fermentation space for so many beers per month, and we have to plan our beer releases way in advance. Fortunately we had time for this one.  We decided that the best way to tackle this issue was to  taste through our barrel library and see if we could come up with a barrel blend that we loved.  Knowing that we could add whatever we wanted to the aging beer made the possibilities seemingly endless. The Bailey's employees who came down to Eugene to 'work' on the blend (tough job, right?), had the thought of searching for bourbon barrel aged stout blend that could come out of a candy bar inspiration. After a little brainstorming we settled on the chocolatey and coconutty goodness of an Almond Joy. After numerous tastes we found 4 barrels, two Early Times bourbon and 2 Old Forester bourbon barrels that could work perfectly.  They held Imperial Stouts that we had brewed in the fall of 2016, so we knew the beer was going to be a pretty big one. After closing in on the blend, we took a little field trip to taste and smell through some cocoa nibs at Eugene's Chocolate Alchemy.  John, the alchemist over there, has dozens of different single source cocoa beans that have many different flavors and aromas. Once again, we had to choose something that would pair well. We looked for, and found, something that not only had a deep chocolate flavor and aroma, but a bit of nuttiness too, as we weren't going to add any nuts to this beer for the almond part of the Almond Joy. 

After the crew from Bailey's headed back to Portland, it was up to us to toast the coconut and get that and the nibs aging on the beer. We barreled up the aged beer on the two flavor elements and left it at room temperature for about a week. What resulted is a rich, strong beer with deep, dark chocolate aromas with background hints of toasted coconut and an integrated thread of bourbon piercing the rich decadent flavors.  While strong, at 10.5 percent, it drinks sweet, smooth and balanced and the complex flavors should continue to meld with a little time in the bottle.

We were truly honored to be selected to make a beer with Bailey's for their 10th anniversary.  Hopefully you can track down the other nine bottled beers from some of the best breweries in Oregon.

Cheers!

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September 3rd bottle release!

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September 3rd bottle release!

On Sunday, September 3rd from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m., we are hosting our fall release of barrel-aged beers at the newly opened wine country tasting room and brewery.  The new facility boasts stunning wine country views, outdoor seating and a handful of draft only, tasting room offerings in addition to the current bottled release.  At the event, five new bottled beers will be available for tasting for the first time and bottle pickup for mailing list members (sign up here). 

“After a handful of releases in the parking lot, we finally have a place that we’re just as proud of as the new beers we’re releasing!” says cofounder Matt Van Wyk.  “We’re also excited to celebrate after the Ducks get their first win of the season that Saturday!”

Beers to be released include: 

  • Pinot Spontanée – Barrel-aged wild ale spontaneously fermented on Pinot Noir must.
  • Kind of Blue – Barrel-aged wild ale refermented on blueberries.
  • French 75 – Brett saison aged in gin barrels with lemon zest and spices.
  • Bailey’s Joy – Almond Joy-inspired, imperial milk stout aged in bourbon barrels with coconut and cocoa.
  • Oregon Honey – Farmhouse ale brewed with Oregon-grown malts and local wildflower honey.

EVENT DETAILS: The event will take place from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Sunday, September 3rd at Alesong’s new brewery and tasting room – located at 80848 Territorial highway about 30 minutes southwest of Eugene. Beers will be released online first to the mailing list a couple weeks prior to the release and this will be the official pick-up party.  For members who have purchased bottles during the online presale, orders will be ready for pickup and free samples will be available of each, accompanied by carefully paired ice cream samples.  A food cart will also be on site providing more substantial meals.

Non-mailing list members are also welcome - tastes of our newest release with ice cream pairing will be available for purchase ($20) as well as bottles of the new release depending on availability after the presale.

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Get to know your beer: Anniversary Double IPA

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Get to know your beer: Anniversary Double IPA

You may have read the title of this blog and scratched your head…. "Alesong Double IPA??  That doesn’t sound right!  Did these guys give up on the barrel-aged and farmhouse angle??  Are they an IPA brewery now??  WTF?! I guess it was bound to happen eventually…"

Well, the short answer to all those questions is no!  We’re still focused on barrel-aged and farmhouse styles.  No we’re not making an IPA year round, and no we didn’t buy a canning line...  But!  We do love IPAs and we like to have a little fun too!

Our one year anniversary was coming up and, as you do in the beer world, we wanted to come up with a cool anniversary beer to celebrate… In this industry, though, everyone usually makes some sort of special, barrel-aged creation, and we kept struggling with that starting point.  We couldn’t come up with anything that felt right because we put all of our “special, barrel-aged” ideas into our normal production cycle and it just didn’t seem unique and celebratory enough for our anniversary.  So we decided it needed to be something different, something out of character for us, and something fun. 

We tossed around a few ideas and after some serious debate we eventually decided that a double IPA in cans would be awesome (narrowly beating out an American Light Lager in 40s)!  Primarily because it’s a style we love, but also because it’s a little “off brand” and fun for us as a one-off anniversary release.  And since it’s just one batch for the anniversary and we don’t normally make a lot of hoppy beers, we really went for it on the ingredients, using all of the most awesome hops (and extract, and lupulin powder) we could get our hands on! 

Anyway, this was a super fun project for us and a beer we’re thrilled with.  I can say that each time we’ve tasted it, we’ve had to really show some discipline to not keep nudging up our "founder allocations" and drinking all of it ourselves!  We hope you enjoy it with us out on the patio of our new brewery and on a few of your other summer adventures. And maybe if you guys like it as much as we do, we’ll make it again next year!

Cheers and happy birthday to Alesong!!

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Guest post:  Blackberry Gose cocktails with Isaac Johnson

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Guest post: Blackberry Gose cocktails with Isaac Johnson

This is a special post for us!  A good friend and amateur mixologist took it upon himself this past winter to host a party centered around creating unique beer cocktails using our Blackberry Gose.  It's an awesome concept and I'm sure some would work well with Strawberry Symphony as well!  Give them a try or create your own and let us know what you come up with!  Thanks Isaac!

What’s In that Glass?

Alesong’s Blackberry Gose

By: Isaac Johnson

Alesong’s Blackberry Gose is the perfect base for beer cocktail mixing.  The gose bursts with fresh blackberry juice, in a beautiful dark red/violet hue and finishes clean and dry with notes of coriander and cereal grains lingering on the palette.  Our intention as a team of mixologists was to create simple recipes that showcased the tart and juicy nature of the blackberry gose while adding subtle flavors and aromas to each drink.  We balanced the additional sugars from the herbal simple syrups with two different hop shrubs made with apple cider vinegar, a dry cider from Wildcraft and golden beet brine from the fridge.  The herbs were grown naturally around the garden, as were the beets and jalapeños for the experiment.  Our friend Jesse Levine provided a bottle of Bell Curve vodka from his work at Wolf Spirits Distilling.  The Mosaic and Cascade hops came from the Home Fermenter Center, the neighborhood brewing supply store.

Having never done this before I estimated on the amounts of fresh herbs to use for each simple syrup base.  I mainly used 16oz mason jars for storing and serving with the roasted jalapeño in a 32oz jar.  Both shrubs were made in 32oz jars due to the expanding volume of the fresh hops.  I used a cast iron skillet and pink Himalayan salt to “roast” the jalapeños until juicy and tender.  After a quick rinse and pat dry, the herbs were ready for their jars and a bath in the hot syrup mix.  As cleanly as possible I ladled hot syrup into each jar, filling the emptiness with unknown outcomes, keeping one jar of plain syrup as a base.  They had a couple days to marinate before the big party.  Even after cleaning the kitchen the ants still went crazy that night with all the sugar syrup.  

Stocked with jars of savory simple syrups, hop shrubs, various soda waters, tonic waters and bottles of prosecco we anxiously started measuring liquids and guessing what ratios might provide the best outcome.  The rule was to document the best combinations and recreate them down the road, after a couple “palette cleansers.” The naming of the cocktails had hilarious outtakes as each participant in our group of 12ish had their own input.  After a couple oops’ we quickly learned the portion sizes for the simple syrups and shrubs, especially the rosemary and roasted jalapeño. ¡Aye dios mio!  A roasted jalapeño and white pepper cocktail was floating around that grew upward on the Scoville scale, yet people continued to sip and enjoy.  It made my tongue numb for a while but was earthy, complex and enjoyable in small sips.

The majority of the finished cocktails measured between 6oz and 8oz and there were lots of shot-sized experiments happening in an effort to utilize the booze.  The majority of these smaller “concept” drinks avoided documentation but sparked the creation of a larger drink down the road.  The reddish-violet hue of the blackberry gose contributed blood-like colors to the drinks and brought out vampire jokes and impersonations along the way.  The majority of the gose cocktails appeared similar in hue with differences from straining the ingredients and the ratio of gose to other liquids.  We mainly used .25ml snifters for glassware as a way to showcase the gorgeous colors of the drinks and be able to swirl our drinks in admiration.

We all shared an evening, drinks and laughter over life’s adventures and about the various blackberry gose cocktails we created and look forward to the next evening of mixing beer cocktails together.  As each season brings new fruits and vegetables to the garden, seasonal beers follow suit and showcase the seasonality and abundance of our region.  We are fortunate to live in a fertile valley and to be surrounded by passionate individuals willing to craft delicious beverages based on locally sourced ingredients.  The concept of mixing beer and cider cocktails is relatively new but with products like Alesong’s Blackberry Gose the future is bright and tastes amazing!  Hopefully this event and others will inspire drinkers to think outside the glass and explore their creative imaginations of what their ideal drink is.           

 

Simple Syrup and Hop Shrub Recipes

Equal parts water and granulated sugar.   Heat water and sugar together in a large pan, stirring to incorporate the sugar.  When liquid becomes clear and all the sugar has dissolved, turn off heat.  Use a ladle to scoop hot syrup base into smaller mason jars with fresh herbs or other serving vessels. 

Rosemary Syrup
11.2g fresh rosemary in a 16oz mason jar filled with syrup base

Oregano Syrup
10.4g fresh oregano in a 16oz mason jar filled with syrup base

Thyme Syrup
1.7g fresh thyme in a 16oz mason jar filled with syrup base

Fennel Syrup
24.6gtoasted fennel seed in a 16oz mason jar filled with syrup base

Jalapeño Syrup
93.8g salted and roasted jalapeños in a 32oz mason jar with syrup

Mosaic Hop Shrub
1cup Plain simple syrup
1cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1oz-pinch Fresh Mosaic Hops
After stirring and macerating the ingredients I used cold water to fill to remaining space in a 32oz mason jar but in the future I’d increase the volumes of apple cider vinegar and simple syrup instead of water.

Cascade Hop Shrub
1cup Plain simple syrup
1cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1oz-pinch Fresh Cascade Hops
I used cold water to fill to remaining space in a 32oz mason jar but in the future I’d increase the volumes of apple cider vinegar and simple syrup.

 

Cocktails!

Hoppy Thyme
5oz Blackberry Gose
1/2oz Thyme Simple Syrup
1/2oz. Mosaic Hop Shrub
Ice
Stir ingredients together, strain and enjoy. Garnish with a thyme sprig.

Lime Thyme
1/2oz. Oregano simple syrup
1/2oz. Thyme simple syrup
1/2oz. Lime juice
4oz. Blackberry Gose
Stir together with ice and enjoy. Garnish with a thin lime slice.

Fennalatio
1oz. Fennel Simple syrup
1oz. Cascade Shrub
6oz. Blackberry Gose
splash tonic water
Stir ingredients together with ice and top with tonic water.

The Weird
1/2oz. Thyme Simple Syrup
3/4oz. Cascade Shrub
1/2oz. Plain Simple Syrup
3oz. Gose
1oz. Vodka
pinch Turmeric
Shake all ingredients together with ice, strain and enjoy.

Bloody Scarecrow Martini
2oz. Vodka
1oz. Thyme Simple Syrup
1oz. Golden beet brine
2oz. Blackberry Gose
Stir ingredients together with ice, strain and garnish with an almond stuffed olive.

Fennel Attraction
1oz. Vodka
1/3tsp. Fennel simple syrup
Small squeeze lime juice
3oz. Blackberry gose
Pinch cinnamon
Optional-dash plain simple syrup, cocoa powder
Shake ingredients together with ice, strain and enjoy

Papa Don’t Take No Mess
1oz. Vodka
Pinch of turmeric
1.5oz. Stiegel Radler
1/3 tsp. Jalapeño syrup
2 Basil leaves
tiny squeeze lime juice
Shake with ice, strain and enjoy

Scarecrow no.2
2oz. Vodka
1oz. Golden Beet brine
1/2oz. Jalapeño syrup
1/2oz. Thyme Syrup
Almond stuffed olive
Dash fennel simple syrup
Shake above ingredients with ice, strain and top with Steigel Radler, adjust with beet brine.

Unnamed Beauty
Dash oregano simple syrup
Dash jalapeño syrup
2oz. vodka
2oz. Gose
1/2oz lime juice
1/2oz. lemon juice
Dash Steigel Radler
Pinch fennel seeds
Stir together with ice, strain and serve on fresh rocks, adjust with Gose

Pioneer Cemetary
1oz. vodka
2oz. Blackberry Gose
2tsp. Jalapeño Syrup
2tsp. Mosaic shrub
3oz. Wild Craft Pioneer Perry Cider
Stir together over ice, strain and enjoy. Adjust with gose.

Cider? I hardly Mo her!
2oz. Mosaic shrub
1oz. Vodka
4oz. Wildcraft Pioneer Perry Cider
1oz. Blackberry Gose
1oz. Rosemary simple syrup
Stir together over ice, strain and enjoy

Clocking Out
½ tsp. Jalapeño syrup
½ tsp. oregano syrup
1 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Pear cider
2oz. Blackberry Gose
dash lemon juice
dash lime juice
stir together with ice, serve on the rocks. Repeat and enjoy the weekend.

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