Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Darlinghurst Ale Stars blended the Beers beautifully

Last Wednesday was an intimate gathering with the usual suspects, leading the proceedings in vanguard was local guru Darren 'Doc' from Doctor's Orders Brewing, and The Local's own beertender Hugh to share his insights and to punish everyone with the trivia.

This session the theme was to blend two beers to form another known style of beer. For this to work we provided both beers in separate glasses, as well as another blending glass for each round. This meant that participants had a chance at tasting both beers before the blend, as well as deciding the blend ratio themselves.

Starting it off was an attempt at creating a Schwarzbier by blending the Meantime London Porter (6.5%, UK) with the Trumer Pils (4.9%, Austria). A Schwarzbier is a German dark lager characterised by its deep black colour, and its chocolatey-coffee flavours. While the blend didn't taste bad, it didn't quite strike the style. The colour was a murky brown instead of a deep oily black, and to everyone’s surprise the hops in the Trumer really beamed through the mix. Typically Pilsners are not considered hoppy beers next to their ale counterparts, and on its own the Trumer Pils has a fairly subtle flavour profile with honey-grain maltiness and bright carbonation. However, blended with the Meantime London Porter its hop character was really amplified against the backdrop of the milk-chocolate, roasty malts. It was agreed that more Porter to Pilsner ratio produced a better blend.

Second up was a blend with two classic beers, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.6%, USA) and the Duvel Strong Ale (8.5%, BEL), to create a Belgian Pale Ale. The result was as expected, a very drinkable blend that incorporated characteristics from both beers in a pleasant balance. The interesting zesty aromatics from the Belgian style met the fresh bouquet of North-American hops from the New World pale ale. The seams in this blend were noticeable, however it achieved the range of taste anticipated for a Belgian Pale Ale, and beers such as the Duvel Triple Hop 2012 (Citra) were brought to the discussion.

For the third round we explored the idea of creating a Black Saison by blending the Meantime London Porter (6.5%, UK) with the Red Hill Saison (6.0%, VIC). A Black Saison sounds like contradicting terms, however think of it as a Belgian version of a Dunkelweizen. Its a hybrid style that has been brewed by New World breweries in recent years by brewing with dark malts, while capturing the refreshing vibrant qualities of a Saison. Our blend using both these beers produced the best one on the night. Although this style is not terribly familiar to some, the result was one that everyone was happy with. It maintained the qualities of the target style as the dark malts were lifted by the refreshing dry carbonation of the Saison, while tarty farmhouse esters complimented the chocolatey-vanilla taste, giving a pleasant mouth feel. Moreover, the result was seamless no matter which way one decide to ratio the blend.

Last for the night was a blend between the mammoth Nøgne Ø #100 IPA (10%, NOR), and the light and spicy Hoegaarden Witbier (4.9%, BEL) to produce a White IPA. As I feared the enormous canvas of flavour from Nøgne Ø swamped any chance of the Hoegaarden making its impression in the mix. Although I should report that everyone enjoyed the tsunami of the taste these Imperial IPAs are known for.

Not all blends were perfect, however experimenting was fun and fruitful, and surprising how this exercise spotlighted some specific characteristics of each beer through the resulting taste. Perhaps the real winning combination on the night was being present at The Local to syphon the last drops of Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta from the taps!

The Next Ale Stars we have a very special visit from 4 Pines Brewery, it's on the 20th Feb so don't miss out, book here. 

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