Bottle Conditioning and May Beer Release!

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Bottle Conditioning and May Beer Release!

As most of you know, we always 100% bottle condition our wild beers. This process involves adding a known amount of sugar and fresh yeast at packaging time to the still (un-carbonated) beer. The beer is then immediately packaged and kept warm to undergo the beer's last fermentation while sealed in the bottle. As the fresh yeast consumes the newly available sugar it is producing mainly ethanol and CO2. Since the package is sealed and the CO2 has nowhere to escape to, it stays dissolved in the beer producing carbonation! With our process and depending on the beer it takes about 6-8 days for all the sugar to be consumed by the yeast and the beer to be carbonated. BUT, the beer is not ready to consume at this point...

During conditioning, the yeast is also producing some flavors and aromas that are normal by-products of a healthy fermentation. Several of these flavors are desirable in the final product but not all of them, so it's important to allow the beer sufficient time to condition.  We typically allow another 3-12 weeks or until the green flavors of fermentation have all been consumed by the hungry yeast still inside the bottle. It is at this point that we finally release our beer because we want you to be able to enjoy it in all its glory from the day that it is released.  

That's a long-winded intro and explanation getting to the main point here, which is that today we did one final taste of all the beers for the May 20th release before opening the pre-sale and can still detect a small amount of these green fermentation flavors in Pinot Spontanée. The yeast will consume all the green flavors in the coming weeks but there is no guarantee that will happen before our release party.  Unfortunately that means we will be holding the bottles of Pinot Spontanée until our next release to make sure the beer has the time it needs to finish conditioning and tastes as delicious for you all as we know that it should. But look for it later this year.  It is an awesome beer!  

BUT, don't be too sad, because in its place we will be pulling out a few cases of the first version of Touch of Brett from our cellar for the mailing list release as a library offering so you can compare it side by side with this year as a mini vertical! Keep in mind when tasting them both that we were not trying to make the EXACT same beer. The theme of the Touch of Brett series is that the beer is: 

  • Barrel Aged
  • 100% Brettanomyces fermented Saison  
  • Liberally dry-hopped after aging  
  • Bottle conditioned  

With those themes in mind here are the differences between Touch of Brett and Touch of Brett Mosaic- 

BEER

Yeast Strain

Barrels

Dry Hop

TOUCH OF BRETT ('16)

Brett. Lambicus

French Oak and Acacia

Citra

TOUCH OF BRETT: MOSAIC

Blend of Brett. Brux

French Oak

Mosaic

We hope you enjoy this mini vertical and we'll see you all at the release!

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Get to know your beer: Plum in Love

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Get to know your beer: Plum in Love

At Alesong, we like to think that each of our beers is brewed, aged and blended with love – love for our community, our craft, and of course a love of drinking beer!  Plum in Love, though, is the culmination of a yearlong project to create a beer that was worthy of representing Brian and his fiancée Lindsey at their upcoming wedding, so it felt like it had to go even further than that! 

Of course when they got engaged last spring, it was a given that Alesong had to play a role in the nuptials! Starting a brewery isn’t the best way to have an extravagant wedding budget, but there are certainly some perks to be had.  Like having the wedding at a new brewery in the country! Oh wait… never mind. Anyway, some things aren’t always under your control, but one thing we did know: Brian’s wedding beer was going to be amazing!

So how can you possibly begin to make a beer that is going to live up to all the expectations of love, of a wedding, and of a lifelong commitment?  First, you go through the cellar and taste every single barrel to pick out your favorite one.  It has to represent you on your big day!  Then, take 50 lbs of hand-picked, tree-ripened plums from a friend’s garden and spend a day together with your fiancée pitting and processing, maybe eating a few... Add lots of laughter and silliness (those who know Lindsey will understand!), and finally, take all your effort and turn it over to Mother Nature to add the finishing touches!

Well, after about 9 more months re-fermenting in the barrel, Plum in Love lives up to all of our highest expectations for Lindsey and Brian. And of course for the beer!  A beautiful, subtle nose that is unmistakably plum mingled with a hint of hayfields after spring rain gives way on first sip to a mildly tart Belgian-style golden ale that finishes dry and clean.  Delicious and refreshing!  If the way Plum in Love turned out is any kind of omen, I think Lindsey and Brian are in for a long and happy life together!

Cheers to many years!

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Get to know your beer: Strawberry Symphony

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Get to know your beer: Strawberry Symphony

Our non-barrel aged beer of this release is a collaboration with the Eugene Symphony for its 2nd annual SymFest on Saturday, June 3rd. SymFest is the symphony's celebration of all things Eugene and the surrounding Willamette Valley, and a great chance to try out the symphony if you’ve never been before. Before the main concert, they offer beer and wine tastings in the lobby of the Hult Center, and food carts outside, with a bluegrass band and marimba players adding to the fun. The smaller theater inside the Hult Center will feature a showcase of local performing arts groups hosted by Eugene’s Slug Queen and including a mariachi band and dancers. The main concert features the orchestra with Eugene vocalist Siri Vik and the trio Time for Three playing mash ups of classical and pop music. Afterwards, you have two ways to end the night – either dancing to a DJ in the lobby or relaxing in the jazz lounge – or do both! And all of this is included in the concert ticket (starting at $21).

Scott Freck, Executive Director of the Eugene Symphony, with Matt on brewday. 

Scott Freck, Executive Director of the Eugene Symphony, with Matt on brewday. 

We carried the local theme of SymFest into our beer. This Strawberry Gose is made from 100% Oregon grown, harvested, and cultured ingredients. The grain came from Mecca Grade Malt in Madras, hops from Crosby in Woodburn, yeast from Imperial Yeast in Portland, Lactobacillus from Springfield, hand-harvested Oregon coast sea salt from Jacobson, and Strawberries from Stahlbush Island Farms outside Corvallis. This is the first time we used Mecca Grade Malt and we are incredibly impressed. The malt imparted a very unique grass and spice character that really added to the depth of the beer and we will be experimenting more with it in our saisons over the next few months.

The beer came out hazy, pink in color and mildly tart. If it ever decides to stop raining here in Oregon, this beer is going to be awesome on a hot sunny day!

Collaborations are always fun and help get a brewer out of his comfort zone to learn some new tricks and techniques. The best part of this collaboration, though, was wrapping up brew day over a shift beer with an intimate performance by the symphony's principal cellist Anne Ridlington.

Principal Cellist Anne Ridlington

Principal Cellist Anne Ridlington

The music-beer collaboration is really flowing over the next few weeks. A string ensemble from the orchestra will serenade us during our release of this beer at our event on May 20th. We are also doing an event with Tap & Growler on June 2nd at which all proceeds from a keg of Strawberry Symphony will go to the Eugene Symphony Association! AND we will be pouring at the main event – SymFest – on June 3rd at the Hult Center! Don’t miss it!

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Get to know your beer: Touch of Brett - Mosaic

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Get to know your beer: Touch of Brett - Mosaic

Many of the beers that we have made at Alesong are not particularly hop forward.  But it doesn't mean we don't use hops. In fact, I'm told we'll lose our "PNW Brewer" card if we don't find a good way to use hops in our beers. However, it is true that we are not known for making IPAs, Double IPAs, and the slew of red, black, white, and hazy versions we see on the market today. Since we take so much influence from Belgian beers and especially farmhouse-style beers, you won't see a lot of highly bittered American hoppy beers in our lineup (although we may have a treat for you hopheads soon ;-) Stay tuned!).

But starting with 2016's Touch of Brett, we have been excited to explore how citrusy American Hops play with Brettanomyces yeast in primary fermentation. Many beers that are fermented with Brett in stainless, highlight tropical fruit flavors such as pineapple, mango, and passion fruit.  Sometimes citrus notes of orange and lemon and lime can even come forward, or even stone fruits like peach and apricot.  These fermentation flavors find a hook in the huge aromas found in many of the most popular varieties of American hops today.

In the fall of 2016, we were fortunate enough to earn a gold medal in the Brett beer category of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver Colorado with our first blend of Touch of Brett.  That beer was dry hopped with Citra hops and displayed many of the aforementioned tropical and citrus flavors and aromas.  From that batch on (only our fourth beer brewed), we've continued to produce Brett beers using different strains of Brettanomyces yeast and different American hops.  Many of these Saisons are still aging in barrels, but for this release we have the second in our Touch of Brett series.  This time, we were able to get Mosaic hops, thanks to a brewer friend who had some extra.  We hopped it at about 3/4 of a pound of hops per barrel after fermentation was complete (the definition of dry-hopping), and the beer suddenly popped with wonderful tropical and floral notes and hints of grapefruit. 

Mosaic hops, new to the industry in 2012, are highly sought after and oft considered one of the new 'cool kid' hops.  I just like how they taste and smell.  Some have even described them as similar to a 'dry gewurtztraminer experience' where you can have big fruit punch flavors in a dry beverage. There is a perception of sweet flavor even though hops aren't providing any sweetness.  In Touch of Brett-Mosaic, I get that tropical and citrus flavor and aroma and since the brett has fermented the beer so dry, there is a sensation of acid on the tongue, not unlike when you enjoy a juicy citrus fruit like grapefruit or a slightly unripe lychee fruit.  Touch of Brett-Mosaic has a wonderful nose from the Mosaic hops that invites you to your first sip.  It is dry and fruity, and the flavors from the Brett fermentation envelope the tropical notes in the hops, providing a refreshingly complex finish. 

We hope you enjoy our most recent Brett-fermented Saison topped with this exquisite hop, Mosaic.

Cheers!

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May 20th bottle release!

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May 20th bottle release!

On Saturday, May 20th from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., we are hosting our fourth release of barrel-aged beers with a nod towards the coming sunny days of summer. The new beers will be available for tasting for the first time and bottle pickup for mailing list members.  Additionally, in celebration of their collaboration with the Eugene Symphony and its upcoming SymFest, a classical string ensemble will perform during the release.

We’re all excited about this release as it includes a few really fun projects, (including Brian's wedding beer!) and are also looking forward to warmer weather and the beginning of fruit beer season!

Beers to be released include: 

  • Touch of Brett: Mosaic – Farmhouse ale aged in French oak barrels and dry hopped with Mosaic hops.
  • Pinot Spontanée – Barrel-aged wild ale spontaneously fermented on Pinot Noir must.
  • Plum in Love – Wild golden ale aged in French oak barrels with whole local Santa Rosa plums.
  • Strawberry Symphony – Collab with the Eugene Symphony. Strawberry gose with 100% OR ingredients.

EVENT DETAILS: The event will take place from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. on May 20th at the brewery (1000 Conger Street) in Eugene.  A Eugene Symphony string ensemble will provide live music for a portion of the afternoon and a food cart will be on site with meals available for purchase.  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, served in commemorative glassware and accompanied with carefully paired chocolates.

Non-mailing list members are also welcome - tastes of our newest release and chocolate pairing will be available for purchase ($15; no commemorative glassware) as well as bottles of the new release depending on availability after the presale.

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