Get to know your beer: Kind of Blue

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Get to know your beer: Kind of Blue

The last beer of our September 3rd release is Kind of Blue- Belgian blonde ale aged in French oak with blueberries. This beer was brewed back in April of 2016 and aged in barrels that previously held Anne Amie Vineyards Pinot Noir that we added about one pound per gallon of blueberries to. Over the long maturation period these barrels picked up a ton of color from the berries in each barrel and a good amount of acidity. We then “barreled-up” (racking the beer out of barrels) into one of our small stainless tanks on another 500lbs of blueberries from Organic Redneck farms out on the McKenzie River. The beer went through its third fermentation on these berries for another month before racking off of the berries and into package. As always this beer was 100% bottle carbonated and conditioned for about 8 weeks prior to its release! 
 
Kind of Blue pours a vibrant crimson color with tight carbonation. The aroma is of ripe blueberries and oak vanillin. Kind of Blue is bursting with blueberry flavor intertwined with a pleasant but very present acidity that lingers on your pallet. 
 
Cheers! 
 
Brian

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Get to know your beer: Oregon Honey

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Get to know your beer: Oregon Honey

Honey has been used to make alcoholic beverages for thousands of years. Mead, which is fermented honey, is thought to be one of the oldest known fermented beverages. Beer, however, doesn't usually use honey as an ingredient, unless, like Eugene's Viking Braggot, you use it as one of your main fermentation sugars.  Braggot is essentially honey beer. At Alesong, we hadn't yet made a beer that utilized the nectar, but personally, I've made several at other breweries in which I've worked. And, since Oregon, and especially the Eugene area, is chock full of specialty honey wranglers, we thought we'd take advantage of the sweet goodness that is all around us.  We set out to make Oregon Honey, a farmhouse ale utilizing honey that will serve as our non barrel aged bottled beer at our upcoming September 3rd bottle release.

At the previous brewery I worked, Oakshire, we made a summer seasonal called Line Dry Rye in which we used honey as a complimentary flavor in the pale ale and it was from Queen Bee Apiary in Corvallis. We loved working with them and so I reached out to Karen at Queen Bee to see what kind of honey was available. While they harvest several honey varietals, it was Oregon wildflower honey that was fresh and ready to go.  Wildflower honey tends to be more subtle than some other varieties such as buckwheat or orange blossom honey and with this one we noticed some hints of vanilla and floral notes.  Not wanting to overpower the honey, we designed a lighter saison recipe that could be accented by this sweet kiss of honey. We also wrote the recipe to use Mecca Grade Estate malt from Madras Oregon.  This Oregon producer of specialty malts not only provides us with locally grown malted barley but the flavor and impact of this malt is huge.  We even added a touch of one of their newer malts called Opal for a little 'honey-like' color and a bit of toffee flavors. 

The Wildflower honey was added on Day 6 once fermentation was nearly complete.  Since honey is very fermentable, we wanted to try capture as much of the flavor and aroma of this honey as we could.  Adding it very late in the process can help with that. We finished it with a light dry hop at the end for a little floral and fruity aroma to complement the honey on the nose.

In our new saison called Oregon Honey, you'll find a dry and very drinkable farmhouse ale, with mild honey flavors balanced with the fruit and spice of the yeast and mild citrus notes from the dry hopping.  Hopefully the complex layers of flavors awaken your senses through this wonderful and light, end of summer beer.

Cheers!

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Get to know your beer: French 75

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Get to know your beer: French 75

As you may have guessed by the beer name, this beer draws on some inspiration from the classic French 75 cocktail – a refreshing medley of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne.  Our version is dry, citrusy and spicy, with a bubbly effervescence that we hope is worthy of the French 75 namesake.

This beer started as a French-style saison – primary fermented in stainless with saccharomyces, then transferred to Old Tom Gin barrels with brettanomyces. It spent nearly 9 months resting in the cellar, picking up citrus, juniper and peppery notes and a subtle brett-induced earthiness.  Although it wasn’t the original inspiration for the final beer, we couldn’t help but think of a citrusy, gin-based cocktail – the French 75. 

As a side note: there’s rarely an exact plan for what the final blend might look like when the beer is going into barrels – so much evolves over time and unexpected awesome flavors or opportunities (fresh fruit etc.) arise that we can’t pass up.  We'd prefer to let the beer lead us in the right direction rather than having to force something to fit a sales plan.  But I digress…

So we decided we loved the parallels with this beer and the French 75 cocktail, but to make it a truer representative of its namesake, we thought we’d like to up the gin character slightly and accentuate the lemon side of the citrus notes we were getting.  Fresh lemon zest took care of the citrusy aspects and we were lucky enough to have procured the barrels from a local gin producer who generously allowed us to have some spent botanicals for just this purpose.  Every gin has its own proprietary botanical recipe, so it was really awesome for us to be able to have the exact botanicals to match the barrels that we’d just aged in for a little secondary bump of the gin character!

As most of our beers, French 75 was bottle conditioned and has spent about 60 days maturing in bottle before we release it to you.  We love this refreshing citrusy beer for a warm late-summer evening on the patio alongside a perfectly grilled salmon filet... 

Cheers!

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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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