The Parched Eagle approach to sour beers

Happy beautiful Sunday everyone!

What’s a sour beer, you ask? An ale fermented with wild yeast strains, most commonly Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and the holy grail of wild yeast: Brettanomyces.

Co-founder Tom and I are big fans of sour beers, and I’ve had pretty good success (luck?) brewing a couple of different sours on the homebrewing level. We intend on having a separate one barrel brewing system for sours that will be entirely separated from our main 3.5 barrel system. We need to do this to ensure that the wild yeast strains used for our sour beers do not infect the equipment used for all our other beers as while sours are a special world of wonderful beers, nonetheless the flavor characteristics (sour, tart, acidic, barnyard, horse blankety) imparted by wild yeast strains really don’t work for, say, Hop-Bearer IPA or Pegboy Pils.

The main sour ale we will offer is Brookie’s Sour Brown, my attempt at a Flanders Brown Ale (aka Oud Bruin). One of the best beers I’ve ever had is Liefman’s Goudenband, a wonderful blend of sweet & sour with rich toasted malt sweetness coupled with an elegant sour flavor in the finish. That beer is the inspiration for Brookie’s Sour Brown.

As wild yeast strains take a long time to ferment beer Belgian brewers usually let their sour ales age for upwards of two or three years and often blend old (two or three year old) batches with “young” (one year old) batches. We won’t really have the luxury of that much time for aging Brookie’s Sour Brown, rather I plan on aging it for around six months (and not blending it). In my experience using the Wyeast Lobs Roeselare Ale Blend that’s enough time for a nice/somewhat restrained sour character to develop. There’s a good chance we’ll use wooden barrels to age it in, as well.

Meanwhile for the past 19 months I’ve had a lambic, a pomegranate lambic no less, slowly fermenting away. A full yet smooth, dare I say it sublime sour character has slowly developed with this the old batch. Then in February I brewed the young batch to which I added a gallon of organic pomegranate juice last week. Next weekend I’m going to blend the two batches together with another infusion of pomegranate juice. I’m quite hopeful that POMEGLAMBIC will turn out to be quite a successful experiment! Pomeglambic will be offered at an upcoming Parched Eagle investor relations party. And who knows? Maybe a few years down the line it will be brewed on our one barrel sour system!

Op uw gezondheid!

Jim

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Tasting notes from Belgian Dark Strong Ales exploration

Happy Spring all!

As noted in my first blog post three of us ushered in spring on Thursday evening March 20th with a tasting of five different Belgian Dark Strong Ales, including a bottle from the pilot batch of the Parched Eagle’s Stella! A component of this tasting was a food and beer pairing, an important consideration for the brewpub. According to beeradvocate.com these foods are good to have with a Dark Strong:

Cuisine (Barbecue) Cheese (sharp; Blue, Cheddar, pungent; Gorgonzola, Limburger) Meat (Beef, Grilled Meat).

So, we grilled (sirloin steak, Italian sausage, and a cajun chicken breast) and had a couple of strong cheeses (a two year old cheddar and an aged parmesan). Then we had dark chocolate with caramel crunch for dessert. Each food was tasted with each of the beers. On to the tasting notes:

1) Rochefort 10.

This was the consensus favorite and is probably one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Elegant, sublime, smooth, and dangerous at 11.3% abv! A sense of malt/sugar balance throughout the flavor profile with a lovely dry finish. A very well attenuated (completely fermented) beer! As far as pairing this beer with food: it went well with everything we had, because it’s just so damn good! This was the only Trappist brewery dark strong we had, and quite a spectacular one.

2) St. Bernardus Abt 12.

This one came from behind late to be the consensus second place choice. A bit sweeter than the Rochefort 10 but nonetheless finished pretty dry (a hallmark for the style). Strong toasted/caramel malt aroma and flavor with appropriate dark fruit esters (raisins, figs, prunes) quite evident, as well. Like the Rochefort 10 it pretty much went well with any of the food.

3) Unibroue Trois Pistoles.

This stellar French-Canadian beer really stood out because of the spices used in its recipe. Neither Tom, Geoff or I really realized just how spiced this Dark Strong is until we had it with these other ones (though even Rochefort 10 uses a little coriander). Basically, its got all the desirable aroma and flavor characteristics of the style that are augmented by somewhat considerable use of spices. The spices apparently used are anise and orange zest. As with the first two medium high carbonation that makes this style quite “digestible” (as the Belgians like to say) and finishes quite dry. A wonderful beer, but a little off style because of the spices. It was a favorite with the dark chocolate because of the spices.

4) Parched Eagle Stella!

We agreed that Stella held up well with all of these stellar Dark Strongs, with a depth of malt flavor and aroma appropriate for the style. What made Stella stand out was the relatively high hop bittering level (at the top end of the range for the style) and use of wildflower honey, which lent a nice midly spicy sweetness contrasted with the sugars used in the other beers (candy sugars are common ingredients for Belgian beers, certainly including Dark Strongs). We noted that Stella went best with the Renard’s two year old cheddar because of the hop bitterness in the pretty dry finish. A question moving forward is whether to ever use wildflower honey in Stella at the Parched Eagle? An intriguing thought.

5) Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor.

A wonderful beer, but definitely the sweetest of the bunch with an enormous caramel malt flavor that smacks you across the face (in a good way, of course). A relative one trick pony in terms of complexity of aroma and flavor: the caramel malt is so dominant it pushes fruity esters and anything else (except alcohol) way in the back. Also finished the sweetest of any of these Dark Strongs. Geoff noted that its huge caramel malt flavor went well with the caramel crunch in the dark chocolate.


As indicated by these descriptions we were struck by the variation represented in this wonderful style by each of the beers we tasted. Each had its own distinct/tasty character. Also I think Beer Advocate’s food pairing suggestions are pretty much right on, along with our addition of dark chocolate (which pretty much goes well with everything). 🙂

Here’s the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) description of the style (scroll down to the bottom):
http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style18.php

Cheers!
Jim

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Tasting notes from Capital Starkbierfest

Leave it to me to post about a German beer festival on St. Patty’s Day(?).

Last Saturday I attended the Capital Brewery’s first Starkbierfest. Starkbier (strong beer) festivals occur in Bavaria in March and were originally started by monks at the Paulaner brewery centuries ago. The fine folks at Capital decided to give this concept a try: expanding the concept to both strong and sour beers. Several local/regional breweries participated.

It was fun to see a few folks (and seemingly more as the afternoon wore on) don monkish robes and regale in Saturday’s chilly weather at the Capital Beer Garten. It was a fun festival that was really well run and I look forward to the Parched Eagle hopefully participating next year! I did spread the Parched Eagle word to several locals in attendance: the response was positive! On to tasting notes…,

…here are my top five tastes from Starkbierfest:

1)Barrel aged Toil & Trouble from Sweet Mullets.

This is a collaboration beer from Sweet Mullets and Vintage Brewery. I had the Vintage non barrel-aged version at the Mason Lounge last year and was duly impressed. The Sweet Mullets’ whiskey barrel aged version was even better! Toil & Trouble is a gruit: an ancient style of ale that traditionally used a variety of herbs and spices that pre-date the use of hops in beer. Toil & Trouble has heather and mugwort in it.

Another aspect of ancient styles of beer is an intrinsic sour character as brewers of yesteryear did not engage in proper sanitation methods. Toil & Trouble has a wonderful sour character that is pretty similar to a Belgian Flemish Red ale. I think the reason why I liked Sweet Mullets’ better is not the fact that it’s barrel aged, but rather that the sour character has developed wonderfully over the past several months since I had the Vintage version. So nice I went back twice!

2)Potosi Brewery Barleywine.

Holy crap what a sublime huge caramel malt slap across the face! Wonderfully complex throughout in terms of sweetness, toasted malts, alcohol, and dark fruity esters. All of these were balanced out just enough by hop bitterness and (very little) hop flavor and aroma. Very well done effort at an English barleywine and the 12% abv was actually fairly well masked. So nice I went back twice!

3)Vintage Trompe Le Monde.

Not only possibly named after a Pixies album, also a damn interesting and tasty beer! Part Imperial IPA and part Saison, the marriage of French Saison yeast (one of my favorite strains that will be used for all of the Parched Eagle’s saisons) with tropical citrusy hops totally works! Wicked at 9.5% abv. I think this hybrid works because Saison is one of the hoppier Belgian styles: the yeast works really well with significant hop bitterness as well as flavor and aroma.

4)Next Door Brewery Heather Sent Wee Heavy.

The use of heather tips lends a really interesting earthy flavor to this big (9.3% abv) scotch ale. It starts earthy and finishes caramel malty: nice!

5)House of Brews Strong Ale brewed with honey.

The honey lent an almost mead-like flavor that nonetheless finished dry rather than sweet with some nice balancing bitterness. Nice!


IF the Parched Eagle participates next year we’ll have a lot of fun thinking about our beers to offer. The possibilities are many. Hmm, maybe Geronimo with Verily and Brookie’s Sour Brown?

Cheers!
Jim

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The Parched Eagle wants YOU (to invest)!

Greetings all,

Tonight I’ve got my President of the Parched Eagle hat on as we are in need of a few generous investors to make the brewpub a reality next fall!

The Parched Eagle Brewpub will raise $250,000 for the construction of the brewpub and first year of operations. $50,000 will be from investors and $200,000 in the form of loans from the Small Business Administration and possibly Brewery Finance, a leasing company for brewing equipment. We are also exploring other possible sources of startup funding (details available upon request).

Vice President Tom Christie and I have been discussing investment options, and have consulted with our banker at the Summit Credit Union on ways that potential investors can receive a return on their investments.

We have written a strong business plan including income and expense projections for the first three years of operation. We have come a long way down the path of opening the Parched Eagle and have a long way to go. With your help we can get there!

We feel that the Parched Eagle is a strong investment opportunity for someone who has a love of craft beer that is brewed by a locally-owned business. Our goal is to produce world-class beers that will add greatly to the Madison area craft brewing scene.

Interested? Then please feel free to contact me via email (jim@parchedeagle.com) or phone (608-204-9192). I look forward to talking with you and can provide you with a host of information and insights.

Cheers!

Jim Goronson

 
The Parched Eagle Brewpub will raise $250,000 for the construction of the brewpub and first year of operations. $50,000 will be from investors and $200,000 in the form of loans from the Small Business Administration and Brewery Finance, a leasing company for brewing equipment.

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First-ever Brewer’s Blog post/Belgian Dark Strongs

Welcome to the Brewer’s Blog!

I’m Jim, Head Brewer/President of the Parched Eagle. I’m damn excited about this project in general and (right now) this blog post in particular.

Looking for an investment opportunity? Feel free to contact me at jim@parchedeagle.com or 608-204-9192.

OK got the business out the of the way. The Brewer’s Blog should be about beer/brewing, right? Let’s get to it then…,

…So I’m going to have a Belgian Dark Strong Ale tasting with Vice President/Operations Manager Tom and our buddy Geoff. The pilot batch of our Stella Belgian Dark Strong Ale will be tasted alongside Gouden Carolous Cuvee Van de Keizer, either Rochefort 8 or 10, Unibroue Trois Pistoles, and maybe Lost Abbey Judgement Day. A trek to Binny’s in Highland Park, IL yesterday to find Westlereven 12 and Achel Extra Brune was sadly not successful. That’s OK, we’ll make do. 🙂

My tasting notes so far on Stella (which is four months old) is its RICH sweet maltiness will probably most resemble the huge malt bomb that is the Gouden Carolous, with said caramelly malt sweetness taking center stage with some hints of raisins in terms of dark fruit esters represented in the background. We’ll see! With future batches I’ll raise the fermentation temperature to encourage the development of said dark fruit esters.

Speaking of which, I predict that Unibroue Trois Pistoles will be up there with any of ’em in terms of the esters profile (and profile in general) you look for in this wickedly delicious style! I “heart” that beer, including its reasonable price at local liquor stores.

Anybody had Kasteelbier Bière du Chateau Donker? The Binny might have had that one (I saw some of their beers), but I didn’t notice that it’s on the BJCP list of commercial examples until after we went there. Alas!?

Style tastings: one of the rigors of being a brewer. Sigh…

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