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Get to Know: Visions

Now that we are a couple years into production, we have a cellar full of a huge variety of beer aging in barrels and it gives us the opportunity to come up with some awesome small blends —Visions is just that. During an afternoon going through our cellar and tasting barrels, we found a couple barrels that had a character we really liked- tart, citrusy, and a good amount of brettanomyces on the nose. The only thing missing from these barrels was a bit of fruit character. Lucky for us we had a keg of Muscat juice leftover from another project in the cooler looking for a home! The barrels were blended and packaged with the Muscat juice as priming sugar. This yielded an incredibly effervescent, golden beer that bursts with notes of brettanomyces and tropical fruit. It is tart on the palette and finishes dry. With its high carbonation and tropical flavors it reminds me of a crisp and fruity Crémant. Enjoy this refreshing beer on these hot summer afternoons with fresh oysters.

Cheers!  

 

 

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Get to Know: Señor Rhino

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Get to Know: Señor Rhino

In our two plus years of aging beers in wood, we've really enjoyed crafting the big and bold beers aged in Spirits barrels.  While we've played with barleywine and scotch ale along with rum and several brands of whiskey and bourbon, the beer blend we keep coming back to is our Rhino Suit.

Rhino suit, at it's core, is an imperial milk stout. (the milk coming from the addition of lactose which is non-fermentable by yeast, resulting in a full bodied, rich and creamy beer.) We first released Rhino suit in the fall of 2016 and since have created a mocha version and vanilla bean version.  In both cases we sourced ingredients to add to the barrels from local suppliers.  With the mocha, we added coffee beans roasted at Coffee Plant roasters and cocoa nibs from Chocolate Alchemy. Both companies are walking distance from our in town spirits aging warehouse. With 2017's Vanilla Rhino suit, we used vanilla from Eugene's Singing Dog. Now, for our summer release, we've put together a new Rhino Suit variant called Señor Rhino.

Señor Rhino is inspired by Mexican hot chocolate and we think is on par with some pretty well known American made beers of this type: beers like Cigar City's Hunahpu and Perrenial's Abraxis.  For this beer, we started with our base Imperial Milk stout. Prior to aging, it's rich, decadent, and creamy with just a hint of roast and a boatload of chocolaty malt flavors.  We aged that for about 6 months in freshly dumped Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, layering on flavors of vanilla and a hint of cinnamon and a slight warmth from the alcohol. 

We then grabbed some Ancho Chiles from the Latino market in town as well as Cassia Cinnamon and Tahitian Vanilla Beans from Mountain Rose herbs and finally some Vietnamese cocoa nibs from Chocolate Alchemy down the road. Fortunately, we get to taste the many varieties of cocoa from John's shop and get to decide which bean will harmonize with the beer we made!  We're always talking about how great the fruit access we have is here in the Willamette Valley, but we can't ignore that we're also very fortunate to have so many amazing suppliers of other ingredients right here in Eugene to work with!

Señor Rhino is now bottled up, awaiting labels and I personally can't get enough of this beer!  The cinnamon jumps to the nose first, followed by a deep and dark cocoa scent.  The vanilla is a perfect accompaniment to those two spices, mellowing them all... and then, as the beer slides down the back of your throat, you get a touch of heat from the Ancho Peppers (but certainly not overwhelming).  We truly believe that balance is the key to great beer, and balancing all the flavors in the ultra complex beer was definitely a challenge, but we think what you will find is a contemplative beer that is not too sweet, not too boozy, but just the right amount of rich chocolate flavors intertwined with hints of cinnamon and vanilla.  Every sip has a new flavor emerge and the peppers leave you with a texture that is a perfect complement to the bourbon. 

The last thing to note about this new variant is that it is a very small blend, and therefore will be offered only to our new Blenders Circle members. If you haven't heard all the details about our new membership level, click here to see the details and join (it's not too late!).  Hopefully, if you like this beer, we can put it into a larger tank in the future and reach more of our valued customers. For now, check out the Blenders Circle, and if it's for you, we'd love to have you become part of this family.

Cheers!

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Get to Know: Gose Añejo

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Get to Know: Gose Añejo

Following French 75, we have another cocktail inspired beer coming to you in this release – Gose Añejo.  This beer was created in collaboration with the fine folks over at McKenzie River Trail Run as part of their 50th anniversary celebration and represents our first time working with tequila barrels so it has been a really exciting project for us!  And like most people do with their first exposure to tequila, we thought we’d stick to the classics by modeling this beer after a traditional margarita.  

In our case, we were able to source some freshly emptied Extra Añejo barrels from Suerte Tequila that, upon arrival, had a wonderful smoky and spicy aroma that we knew would add a great depth to our beer.  As a quick tequila lingo primer – the vast majority of the spirit produced never touches oak and is sold as “silver” or “blanco,” while only higher end tequilas are aged to create a smoother, more complex flavor.  “Reposado” tequila is aged for less than 1 year, “añejo” for less than 3 years, and “extra añejo” is anything beyond that. 

To create the base of the margarita, we brewed a slightly adapted gose recipe, thinking that the mild acidity and saline character would be a great starting point.  In the margarita spirit, we supplemented our malt bill with a dose of pure blue agave syrup and added a heavier dose of Oregon harvested Jacobsen Sea Salt than we normally would to make sure we got the right amount of salinity.  Once done with primary fermentation, this beer spent the next several months resting in our tequila barrels, which gave it an amazing earthy, smoky depth.  As a final touch, on blending, we added lime and orange zest to play up the citrusy notes that are the cornerstone of this classic cocktail.  I love a good margarita and will happily say that we couldn’t be more pleased with the final beer representation of one of my favorite cocktails!

So crack open a bottle of our new Gose Añejo on one of these hot summer afternoons, close your eyes, and picture yourself on a beach in Mexico!

¡Salud!

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Get to Know: French 75

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Get to Know: French 75

People often ask us where we get the ideas for the beer recipes we create, the blends we come up with and even the barrels we use. The answer to that is somewhat diverse— at Alesong, we take inspiration from many sources, including classic beers, other brewers or beverage makers, and the culinary world.  Sometimes, even a cocktail will spark an idea that we want to run with, especially when it comes to our spirits-aged beers.

French 75, one of our new summer releases, is a nod to the classic drink of the same name.  If you're not familiar with this cocktail, it is created with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and topped with Champagne. Our take on the French 75 starts as a traditional Saison made with regular Saccharomyces yeast and is then aged in Old Tom Gin barrels from Ransom Spirits.

Ransom Spirits is a fantastic Oregon Distillery that makes a great Old Tom Gin (read more about this Gin variety here), and we are fortunate to be able to snag a few freshly dumped barrels from them every so often.  During the barrel aging, we add a dose of Brettanomyces to continue to evolution of the beer.  After roughly 6 months in the gin barrels we add a dose of lemon peel for about a week and then bottle and condition it for two months.

The wonderfully aromatic gin botanicals that are left behind in the barrel infuse into the base saison and blend seamlessly with the added lemon accents.  Bottle conditioning adds a crisp effervescence reminiscent of a nice bubbly. While our creation isn't meant to be an exact replica of the drink (hey, just go pour yourself some gin and champagne if you crave the OG!), we think the elements of the cocktail are evident in this unique barrel aged beer!

If you think you may have had this one before from us, you are probably right. We released a tiny blend of French 75 in September of 2017. This time around we made a little more, but judging by the gin fans' excitement last time, we are sure this one will go quick again. Give our French 75 a try in August and see if round #2 is as awesome as the original. We sure think it is!

Cheers! 

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Get to Know Your Beer: Pomme

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Get to Know Your Beer: Pomme

Wild ciders from France have always been my favorite cider style. They are generally wild fermented, giving them a farmhouse brett character that I love, and are fermented in a way that leaves a bit of residual sugar and results in natural carbonation. The best part of these ciders is that they are burst with apple flavor and have a really nice tannin structure and color due to the time the juice spends on the skins of the apple.

If you are interested in the production of these types of cider, Dave Takush wrote a nice blog post about how they are made and his approach at 2Towns. We wanted to take the idea of aging the juice on the entire apple and apply it to our beer. The Willamette valley is full of apple orchards and we have several surrounding Eugene. For this project we worked with our friends at Detering Orchards to select a blend of their apples that would marry well with a saison we had in barrels for about 18 months. The apples were halved and placed into one of our small fruiting tanks then the beer was racked into the tank. The beer took about a week to show signs of fermentation from the natural yeasts on the apples and in another couple of weeks the beer was back to dryness and we racked it off the apples. From there, we bottle conditioned the beer for about six months.

Pomme is a hybrid ale somewhere between a wild beer and cider. Leaving the beer on the skins for this amount of time gave it a dark golden hue and a complex tannin structure. On the pallet this beer is very reminiscent of the complex wild ciders of Normandy, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, a good dose of funk and finishes with a light acidity. This beer drinks great now and will age gracefully for years to come! Santé!

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