Get to know your beer: Alesong White

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Get to know your beer: Alesong White

For the last beer of our winter release we are doing another round of Alesong White but this time we are packaging it! We first brewed Alesong White last summer for our tasting room and loved how it turned out so we wanted to package it for a mailing list release. Alesong White is our take on a Belgian Witbier or White Beer. This beer is brewed with a healthy dose of Malpass Farms wheat along with fresh orange zest, dried orange peel, camomile, coriander and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. It gets its name, white, due to the fact that the protein from the wheat and the Belgian yeast does not easily fall out of suspension leaving the beer opaque. This beer was hazy before it was cool to be hazy. 

Alesong White is light, soft, and thirst quenching. Coming in at 4.8% abv with citrusy and floral aromas this beer is perfect with salads and seafood.

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Get to know your beer: Kentucky Kilt

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Get to know your beer: Kentucky Kilt

Scotch Ales, sometimes referred to as a Wee Heavy, are strong malty beers with caramel, toffee, and brown sugar aromas and flavors. They are not a style you see everywhere today due to our love of the almighty hop, but if you're someone who loves the depth and complexity of beers originating in Scotland, a wee heavy just might be for you! 

And, if you live in a good craft beer community, you might be able to find one of the classic examples that are made today including things like Alesmith's Wee Heavy, Founders Ol Bastard and Backwoods Bastard (barrel aged), and Oskar Blues' Old Chub Scotch ale.  One of the first beers of this style that I was introduced to was Orkney Skullsplitter. I'm not even sure if that one is imported into our country anymore, but I recall the rich malty flavors, balanced by the warming alcohol level and fruity yeast esters. I definitely put Scotch ales in the 'contemplative' beers category for the usual desire to sip on one during cold winter months right next to the fire. (Don't forget that spring doesn't officially start until late March!)

Last year, we decided to make a small batch of Scotch Ale and lay it to rest in bourbon barrels.  We only filled four barrels, so knew this one would be a small blend. Old Forester and another West Coast distillery's American Whiskey barrels were chosen to mature this one.  Since this style of beer is not quite as bold as, say, an Imperial stout, we thought these barrels would highlight the unique malt forward flavors we would have in the base beer.  Kentucky Kilt rested in these barrels for about a year in total and emerged with mild vanilla aromas supported by rich toffee and caramel flavors.  A hint of coconut lingers on the finish.  The personality of this beer is a sweet melody that will envelope your taste buds with a relatively easy drinking, malt forward barrel aged beer.  We hope you enjoy what we blended up. Just make sure you get your allotted 2 bottles. I'm not sure it will be around long!

Oh, and a little insiders tip for reading this far: We are nitrogenating some draft that is going to be simply divine. Keep an eye out for that, especially at our tasting room.

Cheers!

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Get to know your beer: Rackhouse Reserve

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Get to know your beer: Rackhouse Reserve

One of the nice things about having a couple years of brewing behind us here at Alesong is that our collection of barrels in the cellar is getting bigger and more varied, allowing us a little more to play with come blending day.  Within our cellar, we keep things separated between our “clean” (Saccharomyces yeast only) barrels and our “wild” (mixed culture including Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus) beers.  As it turns out our “clean” cellar is pretty much entirely spirits barrels so we’ve started referring to it as our “rackhouse,” a nod to the naming convention used at distilleries. 

Anyway, our rackhouse at the end of 2017 was filled with a pretty good variety of different beers that were tasting delicious, so while we knew we were getting ready to blend up some more specific batches of things (bourbon barrel-aged stout, rum-barrel-aged quad, etc.), we also wanted to create a blend that encompassed and showcased the variety of barrels we were cellaring.  So we sat down with a table full of barrel samples and tasted them all, weighing the relative flavors and characteristics of each and how they might fit together.  Then comes the really fun part: blending!

I’d characterize blending as an exercise in educated guesses and trial and error combined with some very enjoyable sampling. So over the course of the next hour we probably created and tasted 12-15 different blends before narrowing in on the one we liked the best. Admittedly, these are pretty big beers, and as we go, the assessments and disagreements get more and more animated and enthusiastic… So after coming to a general consensus on what we like, we circled back the next day with fresh pallets to make sure we were still happy where we ended up and to tweak as necessary.

The final blend that we’re presenting to you now as Rackhouse Reserve is a combination of imperial milk stouts aged in barrels that formerly held Jamaican rum, Old Forester bourbon, Woodford Reserve bourbon, and Early Times whiskey.  The result is a rich, chocolatey stout that oozes with aromas of rum-induced molasses and brown sugar over the top of a bourbon vanilla base.  We recommend serving this one in a snifter and a little bit on the warmer side so you can experience all the layers of decadent flavor revealed.

Cheers!

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Get to know your beer: Pêche

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Get to know your beer: Pêche

We are in the heart of winter in the Willamette Valley: It’s another cold, dark, and rainy January day. Fruit trees have been pruned back to almost nothing and vegetable gardens are covered with mulch and completely saturated with water… It’s always around this time that I find myself longing for the fresh flavors of summer – that juicy tomato, crisp cucumber, or bright peach. And that feelings is what makes the next beer in our winter release so special...

Our Pêche started out as a Belgian blonde ale that was matured for over a year in French oak barrels with a blend of brettanomyces and lactobacillus. We then added 2lbs/gal of whole, local, veteran peaches from Detering Orchards at their peak ripeness and waited another 2 months to bottle the beer. Refermenting beer on whole fresh fruit like this locks in the aromas and flavors of the fruit. It also adds a unique fermentation flavor from the wild microbes that are on the skin of the fruit. The result is an incredibly aromatic beer that gushes with the tastes and smells of a fresh peach and finishes refreshingly tart and clean on the palate.

It’s hard to escape the reality that we are in the middle of winter. But when you close your eyes and experience this beer, you are suddenly in your backyard on a sunny day, a juicy peach in hand and maybe even a few drips running down your chin.

Cheers!

Brian

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Get to know your beer: Four Pirates

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Get to know your beer: Four Pirates

In the fall of 2016, we made a Belgian Quadrupel and named it Four Brothers in reference not only to the history of the beer style in which monks would patiently create these Abbey beers, but also because Brian, Doug and I all grew up with three other brothers. Makes all the sense in the world, right?

At the same time, we were able to source some freshly emptied Jamaican rum barrels and thought their big molasses notes would provide a great complement to the rich malt and yeast character in Four Brothers. So we took about half of the batch of Four Brothers and barreled it down to rest and pick up some of that amazing rum character.  Well, we waited a year, and found the results to be, well, quite 'rummy.'  This beer was always intended to be a big beer, but the rum flavors were out of balance with the underlying base beer and frankly a little boozy.  And, when we had it tested, it had become a 15.4% abv behemoth! We were all in agreement that some artful blending with a little bit of fresh quad would provide a much more balanced beer.

Enter Jensen Cummings, a Denver based chef and founder of Brewed Food and the Good Bugs Project. From his website, "Brewed Food is a cutting edge Food Lab tapping into the most innovative applications of fermentation and integration of raw brewing ingredients and aims to spark a full-fledged food movement. It's built on the belief that craft beer brewing is a culinary art and can be applied as the core philosophy of cooking." We totally agree!  Furthermore, Jensen and his project really wants to focus on what fermentation means to flavors, aromas and experiences in beer.  It's often a forgotten piece of craft beer today. 

Well, that definitely sounded right up Alesong's alley and we were thrilled to be asked to work on a collaboration beer, along with Inland Island Yeast (out of Denver), that could be featured at January's Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywine fest in Breckenridge Colorado as part of the Good Bugs project.  After a little discussion, we realized a wild, mixed culture fermentation beer with brett, et al was not going to work out in the timeline we were given, but we wanted our collaboration to be a barrel aged beer that had a signature Alesong character.  So what we settled on was a blend of two Belgian yeast strains from Inland Island (Monk III and Gnome) to produce a fresh batch of Belgian Quad that could then be blended with the strong Quad in Rum barrels to create a beer that highlighted the yeast and malt of the quad as well as the molasses character of the rum. 

At blending day, we sat down with the barrels and the newer version and came up with a blend that we felt was balanced and enjoyable to drink.  We felt that cutting it with a bit of fresh quad, which was absolutely necessary, acted a little like when you add a drop of water to your neat whiskey.  It truly opened up the flavors from the wood and spirit.  Notes of brown sugar and molasses blend nicely with the malty base beer and hints of apple, pear and banana can be detected from the fermentation. 

It's tasting delicious now, but I think this strong beer can also hang in your cellar if you choose and round out to a really balanced tipple.  You might want to grab a couple! We did premier it in Colorado in early January for the aforementioned fest, but are thrilled to release the full batch to you now with the rest of our February release to our mailing list for presale the first week of February and at the 2/11 release party and to select accounts and at the tasting room shortly after.  We're excited to see how you think the original Four Brothers Quad has transformed into Four Pirates by these rowdy rum barrels.

Cheers!

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