Guest Post by Justin Rivard, Head Brewer, Peter B's Brewpub
Back in late November, I was talking shop with Jonathan Plise, one of our talented beer ingredient distributors and specialist with Country Malt Group. I worked with Country Malt Group back when I lived in Michigan and love their products and passion for high quality grains, hops and adjuncts.
I mentioned a brewery I know of that collaborated with another ingredient company, and Jon was like "We should do that" and I was like, "Hell to the yeah". A date was set right before Thanksgiving to brew a collaboration beer at Peter B's Brewpub, the question was…what.
We tossed around recipe ideas over the next few months and I mentioned I had recently brewed a Kolsch. "I love Kolsch" Jon proclaimed and stated he had made number of successful homebrew batches. I wanted to do something that was fitting for a slightly colder season, and started playing around with the idea of maltier more lager-like versions of a Kolsch, like Marzen or Bocks. Being from Michigan, this is bundling up in a blanket season, and I wanted to pay homage to the fact that I no longer need to do that, only in spirit.
Jonathan brewing at Peter B's
I asked Jon if he had any new and exciting ingredients coming out. He reported that Great Western Malting just came out with a new type of malt called Caramel Steam and sent me a sample. The sample arrived, and the second I made a little decoction and tasted the grain, I knew we had a winner. The malt looked incredibly light on the outside, yet when you crush open the kernel it was a darker amber color on the inside. I'd never seen anything like it. I guess Great Western has a new top-secret process that stews and caramelizes the inside of the grain, while leaving the outside lightly toasted. The resulting grain is toasty, nutty, and has a delicious caramel sweetness without the astringency that comes with heavily malting grains. It screamed nuance and reminded me of a honey roasted peanut.
The grain arrived from the malt house with a special surprise in store. Unfamiliar bags on the pallet, unmarked and unknown. Oh yeah, Jon replied in an email, "I sent you this new malt," Great Western Pure Idaho Pilsner Malt. "You guys are the first to use it. It was a lovely hay color and smelled like a delicious grainy/grassy Pilsen malt." This was going to be a killer brew day!
Justin and Jonathan brewing at Peter B's Brewpub
The mash in went well and the runoff was just a beautiful dark copper/light ruby color. Jon pulled his weight and mashed in on our brew house like a boss. Mashing in entails using a paddle to hand mix the grain with hot water. While most brewers use augers and grain hydrators, we make beer the way it was made for hundreds of year – Old school, very artisanal, and a great way to get huge delts. During the boil, Jon and I reflect that Willamette was a great hop to use with this wort, as it's mild and pleasant hop spiciness drifts over the kettle. As the wort fills the fermenter for its next transformative journey, Jon must part ways and we shake hands, as he heads off to visit with family for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hell of a way to start Thanksgiving!
Copper Clad moving to the fermenter
Nearly a month later, with a pint in hand, I'm blown away by the complex flavor- that honey roasted peanut flavor stayed, along with a little malty sweetness and some sugared plum (my assistant thought pluots). The malty sweetness is well balanced by a light hoppy spice. I love a well-made balanced beer, something the Midwest is especially famous for. I think about the change from late fall in Michigan and frosty nights before the first snow and draw a parallel to the chilliness of Monterey as of late. Looking forward to more exciting malty beers to come as we head into the holiday season. Cheers!
Copper Clad Copper Lager