Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Trending Upwards

If you can read and you like beer you will have noticed that three things are trending in beer right now:

1. Collaborations
I read today that local outfit Phillips are brewing a Belgian IPA with Halifax's Garrison. There are special circumstances behind this particular collaboration, but it proves even our Island outfits have joined the throngs of brewers eager to mash each others' tuns. Brooklyn and Schneider did it, twice. Dogfish head will do it with literally anyone. Even hirstute beer bloggers are getting in on the act. (humble old us did it too recently, but we don't like to shout about it)

2. Beer cocktails
When the Beer Wench is mixin' IPA-a-rita in the same week that Alan McLeod is eying up saucy suds, you know it's beer cocktail silly season for the twitterati.

3. Belgian IPA
It's hoppy, it's yeasty, it possesses the unqualifiable characteristics of Belgian beer whilst simultaneously usually not being brewed in Belgium nor being in any way shape or form an IPA. It is, inexplicably, the Belgian IPA. It makes no sense, but it sounds delicious and people are in love with the concept of it anyway. More power to them.

The small beer blog likes to trend hard; it has been known to go on a three-day-trender. So naturally I felt compelled to make all three trends meet (within a tight budget) with my passive-collaborative-beer-cocktail-Belgian IPA: I dumped a can of Red Racer IPA and a bottle of Unibroue Fin du Monde into a right big glass and glugged it.

Blending beers has always been a core component of the production of many beer styles (ok ok I know it's not exactly a 'cocktail'). Depending on which sources you believe, porters were often produced with up to three separate brews. The Duchesse du Bourgogne Flanders Red I drank last week is a combination of an aged batch with a newer one — something that Guinness used to do (possibly still does?) with the addition of some sourish beer to produce a desirable twang.

Blending is not the same as brewing a beer with the combined ingredients of the blend, of course, as different yeasts and fermentation processes obviously nurture different flavours from each batch. I tend to mix two ales together from time to time on a whim — just to see if it'll work. But this was my first intentional blend and it worked out beautifully.

Fin Du Monde is a dry and pungent tripel — oozing peppery yeast in the classic Belgian mode, and Red Racer IPA is probably the most aggressively hopped, well-made IPA brewed within Canada. In combination they did not disappoint. I was very surprised that even in a 50/50 mix the Fin Du Monde engulfed what I presumed would be the more dominant hop-ridden bedfellow. The result was a very mellow, thick and resplendent drink. The bite of the yeast played well with the subdued, complex hops. The flavour was perhaps muddled after a too-cold first pour. But when it warmed up a bit it was really very lovely.

Give it a go with your favourite local Tripels and IPAs, or perhaps saisons too if you have them. But never, ever, EVER a Dubbel. It would only encourage someone to coin "Belgian Dark IPA": not worth the risk.

1 comment:

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