Get to know your beer: Dubbel

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Get to know your beer: Dubbel

If you've been drinking craft beer since the nineties like me (It's true, I'm old), you probably had to start your 'better beer' journey with a few imports. And if you grew up outside of the Northwest, an area where it all began, you surely were drinking beer brought over from Europe. Newcastle Brown, Guinness, and Harp lager were three beers I saw at a lot of bars in the Midwest. These watering holes were typically flooded with light lagers, so any imported beer was a treat. But as my tastes in flavorful beer evolved, I took notice of the special corked bottles on the shelves of certain bottle shops around Chicago. Belgian beers were a whole new world of 'craft beer' for me, and Chimay was one of the classic Belgian beers that I cut my teeth on.  When I started to search out and enjoy other Trappist beers like Westmalle and Rochefort, I discovered that these yeast driven and malt driven ales were in a category all their own. Rich, complex, and fruity described these beers, yet they were remarkably light, dry, and drinkable. It was then that I sought out more Belgian Styles and it fueled a passion for beer and homebrewing, which of course led to me to become a professional brewer and this crazy life I now lead.

Belgian Beers styles cover a wide range of colors, flavors, and aromas.  From Saisons and Biere De Gardes to the Abbey styles of Dubbel, Tripel, and Quads, to the seemingly un-caterorized beers like Orval, Duvel, and Deus. I haven't even mentioned the lambics and the Flanders styles of beer. These wild, funky and sour beers also provide a lot of inspiration to Alesong. You can clearly see that the Belgian-style beers are nearly impossible to boil down to a single sentence descriptor.

Dubbel is one of the handful of Trappist Style beers originating in Belgium. Trappist beers are a group of beers made in monasteries throughout Belgium and the Netherlands. Chimay 'red', actually called Chimay Primiere, is one of the classic examples of a dubbel that you could get in our country when I was learning about all of these Belgian Styles. For our 4th beer (and non-barrel aged) in the November 2017 bottle release we set out to tackle this style.  Now, imitating the classic Chimay Premiere, or any of the notable Belgian Dubbels would be impossible to do, but we are certainly inspired by the flavors and traditions of many of the world's classic beers. Dubbels, in general, are described as slightly strong, reddish brown ales, whose body is thinned by the use of sugar in the recipe (that's the dry and drinkable part of many Belgian beers). It is typically lightly hopped with a dry to modest body. Complex caramel, raisin, and fruity flavors are noticeable and it has a fairly crisp finish. 

Our dubbel, which we creatively have named Dubbel, carries on many of those traits.  It is just over 7%abv and has mild notes of fruit (pear, apple, banana), with a touch of raisin and sweet caramel, and then it finishes crisply with a light body and very little flavors lingering behind. The yeast did it's job well, as do most Belgian yeast strains, in creating unique and complex flavors and aromas while leaving very little sweetness from unfermented sugars behind.  Give our take on the classic Dubbel a try and let us know if we came anywhere close.  Or, if you're new to many styles like this, throw your expectations out the window and enjoy this rich, complex, and malty yeast driven take on a Belgian Dubbel. Prost!

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Get to know your beer: Apricot Sky

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Get to know your beer: Apricot Sky

One of my personal favorite beers of the upcoming fall release, this beer started over a year ago as a petite blonde ale, something that we hoped would be a great blank canvas for fruit down the line.  It started with a primary saccharomyces fermentation in stainless and was barreled down into a mixture of French oak and acacia barrels with a mixed culture of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus after that. 

We really liked using acacia barrels in this instance because acacia provides some nice mouthfeel and fruity and floral elements without being overly tannic or oaky.  With a light beer like this, it’d be pretty easy to overpower everything else with oak – especially with a longer aging time that we wanted for the mixed culture referment.  

This beer spent about a year in barrel before we felt the flavor profile of oak tannin, brett funk and lacto acidity was in balance with the body and ready to be blended.  Once in the blending tank, we refermented a third time on Apricot – feeling like apricot’s lighter bodied, sometimes funky sweetness would go well with the subtle mixed culture tartness we were seeing in the base beer.  As with all of our brett and wild beers, we bottle conditioned for a fourth (!) and final fermentation before it made it to release.

We love the big apricot aroma on this beer and the really light, refreshing acidity – nothing too bold or overpowering, just a delicious, balanced and refreshing apricot beer!  It’ll go great with your lighter holiday appetizers and salads with fruit before you move on to your hearty main courses and holiday-induced food comas :-)

Cheers!

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Get to know your beer: Terroir Pinot Gris

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Get to know your beer: Terroir Pinot Gris

It’s the end of fruit season here in the Willamette valley and this year we took full advantage of what our little slice of heaven had to offer- peaches, apricots, apples, and of course Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. Over the last month of processing fruit from our local orchards, farms, and vineyards we were always drawn to the fact that here in the Willamette valley we have such a diverse and unique array of fruits and, as brewers of barrel aged fruit beer, that makes us incredibly spoiled. This is also what makes Alesong Beer, well Alesong beer. The local ingredients, climate, microbes, and our process all come together and form our Terroir. Our new release, Terroir, is a celebration of one of the fruits Oregon does best – Pinot Gris.

Terroir: Pinot Gris is the next installment of our wine inspired beers. This beer started its journey as a saison fermented in stainless with a blend of brettanomyces bruxellensis yeast. At the end of primary fermentation we added about 200L of freshly pressed Pinot Gris juice from our neighbors at King Estate. The beer was then barreled down which allowed the residual brettanomyces in the beer to ferment the sugar from the Gris juice and mature the beer over the next several months.  Once the beer was fully matured in the barrels and ready for packaging we dosed the blend with another 100L of Pinot Gris juice to act as the priming sugar for bottling. The resulting beer has all the wonderful aromas you would expect from a great Oregon Pinot Gris- stone fruit, pear, key lime but these are mixed with the funky fruitiness produced by the brettanomyces. The beer has a slight residual acidity that plays nicely with the smoothness from the fruit and with its high carbonation the overall experience is that of a dry funky Blanc De Gris.

Cheers!

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Get to know your beer: Vanilla Rhino Suit

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Get to know your beer: Vanilla Rhino Suit

For the last couple years, we have enjoyed brewing up our big and rich Imperial stout and sending it to rest in wet bourbon barrels and seeing what emerges many months later.  Our first bourbon barrel blend, called Rhino Suit, was released back in November of 2016.  As many of you (and us!) really enjoyed cracking into that beer, we wanted to continue making it, albeit with a little twist from time to time.  At the start of 2017, we released a variant called Mocha Rhino Suit. We utilized Coffee Plant Roaster's beans and cocoa nibs sourced here in Eugene at Chocolate Alchemy. Deep cocoa notes and heady coffee aromas took the base beer to the next level, in my opinion.

For this November's release, we've had Rhino Suit slumbering in Old Forester, Early Times, and Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels for just about the last year. We then blended it and added vanilla beans sourced from Eugene's Singing Dog Vanilla and another shot of cocoa nibs.  The aromatic vanilla works seamlessly with the bourbon flavors and aromas while the cocoa nibs provide another layer of chocolate complexity.

At over 10% abv, this beer is certainly big and warming. In fact, this round of bourbon barrels layered a lot of complex alcohol flavors and aromas which will continue to mellow and develop as it ages. And that speaks to the unique process we use to create beers.  Each barrel is a unique environment for each beer.  As we age, taste, and blend the beers, we're always trying to evaluate how they are doing and also work towards an intended endgame.  It's amazing to experience how a different distillery's barrels influence a base beer. Sometimes we have good ideas for what we  might add to the beer to enhance the flavors (such as coffee, vanilla, etc) and sometimes it is great just as it sits in the barrel.  For times like that, we as the brewers just get out of the way and let the beer and the barrel shine. 

As a teaser, we're already thinking through the next few variants of Rhino Suit... Certainly, there could be fruit involved or perhaps some mole or Mexican cake inspiration.  Who knows, maybe an original Rhino Suit needs to make an appearance again?? Regardless, we'll keep creating these bourbon aged stouts for you to enjoy. This November, try the Vanilla Rhino Suit as the temperatures drop and inky dark and chocolatey beers laced with bourbon and vanilla warm you up.

Cheers!

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November 19th Bottle Release!

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November 19th Bottle Release!

Feels like the seasons are changing around here… cold rainy days and leaves turning can only mean one thing: it’s time for a new release!  So on Sunday 11/19 we’ll be celebrating with four new beers for the upcoming holiday season! 

As the last one, this event will take place at our tasting room, but unlike past releases, it will NOT be open to the public, so you must be on our mailing list AND purchase bottles in the presale to attend.  We have always viewed these events as a way to say thank you to our best customers and let them try the new beers first, but have also always felt there was room for more people to share the fun…  However, as our mailing list has grown, it was becoming harder and harder logistically to provide a great experience for our members while also trying to plan for an unknown number of other attendees and decided to make the change.  If you’re reading this and aren’t on the mailing list, but don’t want to miss out, don’t worry - you can still sign up and be a part of the fun (no cost or obligation to buy)!

Anyway, about this release!  We’re stoked to have some awesome fall beers that reflect both the fruits of this year’s harvest and some wintry themed darker beers that go superbly with a warm fire now that the rainy season is upon us!  Look for more info on all these beers to be posted on our blog in the coming weeks, but the quick version of what’s coming out is below:

  • Apricot Sky – Mixed culture blonde ale aged in French oak barrels with whole apricots
  • Terroir: Pinot Gris – Brett fermented farmhouse ale aged in French Oak barrels and conditioned with Pinot Gris juice
  • Vanilla Rhino Suit – a vanilla version of our bourbon barrel-aged imperial milk stout
  • Dubbel – Belgian style dubbel ale

The release will take place in the barrel cellar at our new tasting room from 12-8pm on 11/19 and will feature live music, a food truck on site and tastings of our four new beers paired with hand-selected bites of artisan cheeses.  Beers will be released via presale a couple weeks prior to our mailing list and, as mentioned above, the only way to get into the party is to order from the pre-sale.  6 bottles purchased will get you in free with your significant other to enjoy the pairings (1-5 bottles and you can still come in, but will have to pay $20 for the tasting) Mailing list members can pick up their pre-ordered bottles and purchase more bottles of the new releases that day depending on availability.  Stay tuned for our release email which will go out the first week of November and keep checking back here for more on each of these new beers!

Cheers!

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