Being a new brewer, I have been looking for all sorts of sources of information. I have been listening to the Beersmith podcasts as I can do this as I drive to work. The episode I just finished with was about designing beers and it really got me thinking. The guy in the podcast had been clearly doing this a long time. Not only am I a new brewer, I am also a fairly new beer drinker (3ish years). I say new as I could have been drinking it (legally) for 25.
I am trying to figure out how I might make a beer I had at a local German restaurant a a couple years ago. They have a micro brewery.
It was a brown beer and was described as such (meaning not porter or stout). When we got it, it was very good and in the midst of this hoppy malty flavor was what could only be described as… apples? Almost apple juicy? It was not the dominant flavor, nor sweet like a cider, but it was certainly there.
I thought about that beer enough that I went back to the restaurant not for the food this time, but to get more of that beer. This time it tasted more like what I expected a brown beer to taste like. More, it wasn’t very good. Where was that magic flavor? So sad…
More about the em… magic beer… There’s something that… Well I just don’t understand how they did it. When we got the beer, we were shocked to find it has slivers of ice in it. NOT like ice cubes of any fashion, but slivers. Like when you break a glass on the floor… teensy tiny little slivers. There was not a lot of it, but with the ice cold glass and the ice cold beer, they hung out for a little while and it made a very unique and pleasurable experience. I should also mention that they weren’t floating on top, they sort of hung within the volume of the beer. You might get like 2 or 3 in a sip and they would sort of sparkle on the tongue which added more mystique to the applish thing. Sadly, (again), the when I revisited the place, the beer was not served like this. It was much warmer and not as good.
So, I am trying to figure out how I go about recreating a beer which I didn’t understand in the first place and is several years removed. I am understanding beer so much more within the past couple of months being that I have been doing nothing but reading and listening and watching things about it. Call it a new passion.
I don’t think it needs to be an exact copy, I just want to recreate the experience. I am a little concerned that my mental image of the beer would have shifted by now as brains tend to do that. So I am also thinking I need to head towards the mental image.
So, I am thinking about starting with a brown ale vibe, and then while I can’t be sure that there wasn’t apples in it, I want that flavor. Would it make sense to put apples in the beer during the boil? Or even use some juice as a portion of the initial liquid? The guy in the podcast mentioned that he put mushrooms in one of his beers (I know… right? ). He had dried, vacuum sealed, and then froze them. He then added them to a later part of the fermentation cycle. I thought that sounded risky, but it seemed to work for him. In thinking about this, I thought that perhaps doing the same thing with apples. I could dehydrate them and add some slices to the fermenter at some point.
The book I am reading right now talks about Australian and Brittish Ale yeast having a potentially tart and or fruity flavors, and listed as good for brown beers, so I suppose that is also an idea too.
As to the ice slivers… I have been thinking about this a lot too. Is it possible that they got the temperature so cold that ice started to form, but it was not cold enough to actually freeze? Or they kept the beer moving, sort of like a basic form of a beer slushy? HEY NOW!?! Beer slushys anyone? Sorry… squirrel moment there. Or do you think it was the glass which might have had some water on it when they put it in the freezer. I just don’t think you would get the sliver size if it were just beads of water. I think it was in the beer itself.
Sorry for the insanely long post, but it’s an experiential thing, and I tend to get long winded about those sorts of things.
Edit: I asked the friends who were with me if they could remember anything about it. One reminded me that it was a “Nut Brown”. I don’t know what that means, but there ya go. I figured I should mention it.