Brewing @en

Mount Airy-sous-bois: Tom, Mike & Thomas

Mount Airy-sous-bois

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We brewed Mount Airy-sous-bois, our first collaboration brew, on April 13th with Tom Baker and Peggy Zwerver, long-time friends and owners of Deck & Donohue’s favorite Philadelphia brewpub – Earth Bread & Brewery. EB&B is known for pushing the envelope on both traditional and non-traditional styles, with a special penchant for gruits, alts, milds and saisons.

For this collaboration, we wanted to create an homage to the modern French biere de garde, arguably one of the only “alive-and well” French beer styles. To achieve this, we selected an uncomplicated malt bill, Alsatian Bouclier hops, and an ale yeast we figured we could ferment at unconventionally low temperatures. In addition to this, we boiled the wort for double the typical time to achieve an additional roundness of body and added a dose of black pepper to the whirlpool.

The result shows a clean but rich “lageresque” nose, with light sulfur, spice and bread. The cool fermentation temperature creates a highly restrained and subtle yeast character. A bready malt character and smooth body, with a touch of honey sweetness on the finish, complete this nod to modern French bieres de garde, which we are proud to present exclusively on draft at some of our favorite local spots, including La Fine Mousse, Le Supercoin, and Les Trois 8.

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Jolly Roger – fall seasonal

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Our Fall seasonal – a pumpkin ale – arrives this week !

Pumpkin has been used to make beer for centuries in the United States, being a native plant that was far more available than high quality malted barley. Its sugary flesh replaced malted grains to make a less expensive beer. In fact, certain beers were made entirely from pumpkin.

 

“if barley be wanting to make into malt

We must be contented and think it no fault

For we can make liquor to sweeten our lips

Of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips”

 

Jolly Roger was brewed with pumpkins from the nearby farm “A tout bout de Champs à Claye Souilly”, which were roasted (7 per batch) by our friend Darin in the ovens of the local restaurant Little Kitchen. Once lightly caramelized and softened, the pumpkin was added directly to the mash with the malted barley and wheat, contributing fermentable sugars, a characteristic aroma, and a round mouthfeel. A rich amber color, Jolly Roger presents a malty, round, and lightly toasted flavor with notes of traditional spices and vanilla before finishing dry.
 

It is Freddy Cats, organizer of the festival Noches de los Muertos in Montreuil for the past 6 years, who customized our label with his artwork. This 6th edition of the festival is symbolized in the “Jolly Roger”, traditional emblem of pirates and corsairs. “Ornementation à la fois naïve et aggressive, symbole de la folie destructrice des hommes, porte bonheur pour “trompe la mort”” «An ornament both innocent and aggressive, a symbol of the folly of men, a lucky charm to cheat death». The collective exposition brings together 20 artists in the month of November, in Montreuil and Romainville. Jolly Roger will be available at a number of the events.

 

On Saturday Novemeber 15th, come to the workshop to meet Agnès who supplied the pumpkins for us from the Monts Gardés à Claye Souilly, 30km away. Agnès has already been taking our spent grain since we opened to feed her animals and for compost. She also planted several hop varieties for us, which we look forward to harvesting next year… She will present to us her work, the vegetable baskets from her CSA program (community supported agriculture), and have a pumpkin soup to sample as well!

 

On Wednesday evening November 19th, we have the pleasure to have the Noches de los Muertos come to our workshop with tacos from Café Chilango, the dynamic art of Mucho Media, and a hanging display of art by the children of Les Beaux Mercredis inspired by the theme of Jolly Roger. Come!

 

Addition of November 24th : an image from the November 19th event at the brewery, thanks to all who came!


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Strisselspalt Harvest Ale

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At the start of September, we journeyed to Alsace for the annual hop harvest.

We traveled accompanied by Kate, a writer who was among the first to visit our workshop, and Jean-Marie, photographer extraordinaire — who had already spent a day shooting at the brewery several months back.

Upon arrival in Alsace we met up with Erwin Sohn from Cophoudal(Coopérative des Producteurs de Houblons d’Alsace), at the warehouse of the cooperative in Brumath. Founded in 1939, Cophoudal at one time consisted of as many as 360 hop growers, but now numbers only 58. The region’s harvest had begun several days prior to our arrival and already members of the cooperative were pulling up with large trailers that resembled boats, full of 50kg bales of their dried hops. The warehouse was still nearly empty, with only several corners of the cool room showing growing piles of the Tradition and Fuggles varieties, but the harvest would last an entire month.

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La filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.com

Erwin was a brewer before joining the cooperative, and so serves as an ideal link between producers and brewers. As we sampled rubbings of Cophoudal’s experimental hop varieties, which take about 10 years to bring to market, Erwin enthusiastically advocated for one that smelled like overripe pineapple. We opted for another variety, the P11-11, which had strong floral and lime aromas. Erwin graciously complied and vacuum-packed several kilos of this variety for us, which we used to dry-hop a keg of our Mission Pale Ale at a recent barbecue at the workshop. We then moved naturally from sampling hops to sampling beers as Erwin appeared with an armful of bottles brewed with different varieties of their experimental hops.

La filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.com

In the afternoon, we found ourselves on the land of the Holtzmann family, producers of hops for generations. It was the patriarch who showed us around the impressive processing facility where hops are mechanically separated from the bines (yes bines, not vines) and dried for several hours before being baled up and sent off the cooperative for storage. He spoke with pride and passion of the automated drying system they recently developed, which ended decades of a much more manual and sweaty labor of processing hops in temperatures of 60 degrees Celsius. The Holtzmann family produces 8 varieties of hops, and has even recently produced several beers of their own. The large barn where the hops are processed was steeped in the heavy aroma of the Strisselspalt hops, sweet and spicy, vegetal and garlicky. The Strisselspalt variety is the classic Alsatian variety par excellence, and has been cultivated for over a hundred years in the region.

La filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.comLa filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.com

Sebastian, the son who took the reins of the operation from his father, returned from the fields every thirty minutes or so with a trailer full of hop bines. Hop bines can grow up to 10m tall and can contain up to 7000 hop flowers per bine. We took our van off road and followed Sebastian in his tractor out to the hop fields being harvested, where hops extended out to the horizon. We left with ten kilos of “wet hops” – un-dried flowers fresh from the bines.

La filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.comLa filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.com

Hops are a fragile plant and drying within a few hours of harvest preserves oils and resins that provide the unique taste of beer. There is only one harvest of hops annually, and conservation to allow brewing all year round is crucial – hence, the drying and cold storage. The unprocessed aroma of fresh hops was intense and memorable, and drives the inspiration to brew a fresh hop beer once a year.

It was the brewery Sierra Nevada in Chico, California that revived the tradition of the wet hop beer in 1996, and many American breweries have since followed suit, offering “harvest ales” using fresh hops. In France, Christian Artzner of Perle Brewery in Alsace has made wet hop beers now for several years.

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We returned to Montreuil the next morning to immediately brew our “harvest ale”, approximately 24 hours from field to kettle. Hop additions were made during the boil in primarily mid and late additions, in giant floating sacks.

We are pleased to present to you the result of this trip: Strisselspalt.

Strisselspalt exhibits a soft floral aroma with notes of earth, spice, and light citrus. Bitterness is extremely low to showcase these smooth Old World hops, which in their fresh form add a green and vegetal characteristic to the brew. Slightly caramelized malts add a nice Autumnal color and a faint nuttiness. The beer finishes discretely dry.

Deck&Donohue-strisselspalt

Strisselspalt will be available on tap at Supercoin and Les Trois 8. Bottles are available from our usual partners! You can also come to taste the brew at our workshop each Saturday from 11am to 15h while supplies last!

 

 

Photo credits: Jean-Marie Heidinger, http://www.heidingerjm.com/All rights reserved