Friday, March 13, 2009

Barleywine Week: Almost Done – A Delay Tactic

Two things that are semi-related to our topic this week, combined with our topic for next week.

Unfortunately, no Barleywine tasting today. I was going to put up some tasting notes for the Dogfish Head Red & White – a beer that takes Barleywine a little more literally than most: "Malt beverage brewed with coriander & peel with pinot noir juice concentrate added with 11% aged in pinot noir barrels and 89% aged on oak staves." Yes, it's a beer brewed with coriander and orange peel (almost sounds like a wit or white beer, eh?) with "pinot noir juice concentrate added". I have no idea what that means. Other than the obvious "they added pinot noir juice concentrate"; I have no idea what "pinot noir juice" is – perhaps the unfermented juice of pinot grapes? If I were to guess that seems as good as any. And a concentrate of that. Who makes that? Minute Maid? Can you buy it in the freezer aisle to go home and add water and have pinot noir juice for your morning breakfast? If not, why not? That sounds pretty good actually. But it's not really clear what "added" means. Added when? At fermentation? To the boil? To the aging tanks? Given that this beer 100% barrel aged (89% in oak, 11% in pinot noir barrels) was the concentrate added when the beer was moved to the barrels? As you can see, it's not really clear what "added" means. If I were to guess? I would guess that the pinot noir juice concentrate was added sometime after fermentation and before it went into the barrels, perhaps a secondary fermentation before barrel aging? Maybe added to the primary fermenter; this is a 10% ABV beer, so the juice concentrate would have definitely provided fermentable sugars to jack up the alcohol above and beyond your typical wit (usually in the 4.5-5.5% ABV range).

In any event: beer + wine = Barleywine. But I didn't get a chance to taste it yet because, well, I was home alone last night. And while I don't have any problems drinking alone, I'm not going to down a 750ml bottle of a 10% ABV beer by myself. I could. But I won't. So, you'll just have to wait until next week when I can find someone to drink this thing with.

In the meantime, I was looking up barleywines and I found this cool recipe to make Barleywine Marshmallows. No, I did not actually make them. But we are going to talk about this book in some pretty gory detail next week because it's awesome. We don't think twice about cooking with wine, so why should we think twice about cooking with beer? Well. We don't.

Second food-related item from the PRNewswire, via Reuters: Point Brewery and Brakebrush Brothers are teaming up to bring you frozen Point Amber battered chicken wings. Now, this is something that Beer Buffalo Lodge should be all over. "Brakebush Brothers, a leading supplier of chicken products for foodservice and consumers based in Westfield, Wis., uses Point Amber Classic in the batter for Tappers, resulting in a hearty, yet delicately crisp and tasty coating with a hint of hops and a distinctive amber color." I like Point, I like wings. I'll admit, the "distinctive amber color" gives me some pause for concern. Tappers are only sold to restaurants, taverns and pubs, so you'll have to get them next time you're in your local watering hole.

More importantly, this is something that more breweries should be looking to do: not chicken wings specifically, but working with food processors, restaurants and taverns to find new and unique ways of using the beer other than just serving it in a bottle to drinkers. For example, a Dogfish Head rep told me about an ice cream and sauce that a chef made with the Palo Santo Marron. Yum. But braising bases, sauté liquids, reductions, soups, stews and chilies; the options are endless.


  1. I believe they make wine juice concentrates for home wine making, sort of the wine equivalent to malt extract for homebrew, and it was probably something like this that they added to the beer.
    I agree that beer needs to be used more in food, especially marinades and stews. Sauces and reductions are tricky, or at least trickier than with wine. When you start with a beer that has a high or even moderate bitterness, then reduce it down, the result can be VERY bitter, which is rarely what you want with say a pan sauce. I think often people think about cooking with beer as a substitute for cooking with wine, and it often doesn't work that way. That being said, some beers work great; Jon and Kyle made a reduction of New Glarus Raspberry Tart that was fantastic.

  2. Count me in on the beer with food thoughts. I MCed a dessert competition one year at the food and wine show and one entry made an Autumnal Fire float. When I first saw it I thought it was going to be like something I woulld have thought was a good idea at 3 in the morning when I was living in the dorms. Then this guy shows up with ice cream made from Autumnal Fire covered in chocolate and then poured the beer over the top. I was blown away by the taste.

    Also at the first Lake Louie dinner at Natt Spill they made mussels with Arena Premium instead of wine. That broth ranks among the best things I have ever tasted in my life. Whenever someone tells me they are making mussels I lobby for them to try this.

    Great, now I am really hungry.


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