Archive for the ‘flavored malt beverage’ Category
a wine/beer hybrid that combines traditional barley, hops, water and yeast with winegrapes. Named for the grape fungus botrytis, which is associated with Sauternes and Tokaji dessert wines, Noble Rot uses Viognier and Pinot Gris grapes sourced from Washington’s Alexandria Nicole Cellars. The 9%-abv offering will be available in about 27 states this week, priced at $13 a 750-ml.
The statement of composition on this product looks a bit redundant, with two references to grape must — but upon closer review it nicely underscores the distinction about adding the grape must before and after fermentation. I wonder if the must added before fermentation could or should be considered wine. Dogfish explains:
The first addition is unfermented juice, known as must, from viognier grapes that have been infected with a benevolent fungus called botrytis. This noble rot reduces the water content in the grapes while magnifying their sweetness and complexity. The second is pinot gris must intensified by a process called dropping fruit, where large clusters of grapes are clipped to amplify the quality of those left behind. “This is the absolute closest to equal meshing of the wine world and the beer world thats ever been done commercially,” says Dogfish’s Sam Calagione.
The Washington Post apparently saw this beer a long time ago and added many crucial details:
Thousands of years ago, notes Sam Calagione, our distant ancestors didn’t draw a semantic line in the sand between beer and wine. Whatever fermentables they had, whether grain or fruit, went into a common pot to produce their unique tipples.
What is noteworthy is that the grapes and the grain each contribute about half of the fermentable sugars.
Given that beer and wine are taxed and regulated differently, did Calagione get any flack from alcohol regulatory authorities? “The only challenge was that the TTB [Tax and Trade Bureau] wanted a better description of at what point we added the grapes,” noted Calagione. For the record, the botrytis-infected must (the unfermented grape juice) is added after the boil, and the pinot gris juice post-fermentation, primarily for extra aroma.
Calagione estimated that he made about 4,400 cases of Noble Rot and expected it to linger on shelves until May. He anticipated prices of $12-13 for a 750-mililiter bottle. That will scarcely recoup his costs, he added. “I paid $62,000 alone to transport a tanker truck of temperature-controlled grape must from coast to coast,” he noted.
Aside from the joy of experimentation, Calagione confesses that he had another reason for producing this beer: “We always wanted to see if a beer with the word ‘rot’ in the name would actually sell.”
We’ve seen plenty of beers and whiskies aged in wine barrels, and beers that look like wine and we will be on the prowl for actual beers with actual wine added. It sounds better than wine with beer added.
As this blog enters its fifth (gulp, yes, fifth) calendar year, it has covered many bacon-related concoctions. There was of course this bacon flavored vodka in 2009 and this bacon flavored beer in 2010.
Although it’s not clear that any of the earlier-featured bacon-related products contained actual bacon, it was only a matter of time until something like Bacon Brown Ale came along. It is Ale Brewed with Buckwheat and Bacon, made by Uncommon Brewers, of Santa Cruz, California. The brewer explains:
We’re not faking our flavor with smoked malts, Bac-O Bits or other tricks that some breweries are using to create their bacon beers … . There’s real cured pork in that beer.
Even though the government would probably not allow anything resembling a health claim regarding normal beer, wine or spirits — whether tongue in cheek or not — everyone seems to have a soft spot for bacon. The TTB-approved label does indeed proclaim that “bacon makes everything better.”
I do believe this Olde Bay Saison label raises at least a few legal issues. First of all, I sure hope the brewer had permission to use this famous branding. McCormick owns the Old Bay seasoning brand and probably would not have a sense of humor about any unauthorized uses. Even if the beer is loaded up with the same seasoning, and even if the reference tends to be flattering. I can not imagine that changing one letter (from Old to Olde) is likely to help any more. The total production for this ale with spices seems to have been tiny, so that may help somewhat more to avoid problems.
A second legal issue is that, such a beer needs formula approval, before label approval and production. To get formula approval, it is usually necessary to provide a detailed ingredient list to TTB. It can be very difficult for anyone to get ingredient details (beyond what FDA typically requires on a food label’s ingredient list) about famous and protected products like Coca-Cola, Angostura Bitters, or Old Bay. TTB typically needs to check for artificial flavors, allergens, colors, and use-rate limitations, and this can be very difficult to do without a complete ingredient list of the sort that McCormick would be unlikely to provide to the brewer here (The D.O.G. Beverage Co. of Westminster, Maryland). So this raises the question of whether this beer actually contains Old Bay seasoning, or TTB did not require details about all 18 ingredients, or D.O.G. somehow got hold of the ingredient list.
I was driving along and heard perhaps the perfect confluence of beer, TTB, fruit, and a multimedia extravaganza (plus history, my sister in law, etc.).
NPR ran a story about The Pawpaw: Foraging For America’s Forgotten Fruit on September 29, 2011. The pawpaw is a creamy, mango-like fruit that grows along the banks of the Potomac River. Experts say the pawpaw is “every bit the rival of a perfect peach or apple. And these fruits have had thousands of years of breeding to make them taste good.” So good that a pawpaw newbie exclaims (at about 3:50): “Mmm, very good. Wonderful flavor. On my tongue, it says this is something new and wonderful and that I should continue it.”
It did not take long for a beer company to grab onto the pawpaw fervor. In discussing how the fruit plays into locavore trends and does not travel well, NPR’s Allison Aubrey talks with Garin Wright of Buckeye Brewing (at about 6:10):
AUBREY: But at a pawpaw festival earlier this month in Ohio, people were showing off, at least one way of extending the pawpaw season. They make pulp from the fruit that can be canned and frozen. And even use it to make beer. Garin Wright of the Buckeye Brewing Company in Cleveland wasn’t convinced the taste of the pawpaw would come through in his brew, but it did.
GARIN WRIGHT: I really think that I got freshness out of that pulp that you can really smell and taste in the beer I made, so it’s awesome.
Garin’s label is here. I say extravaganza because the blog post is here, the audio is here, the video is here, 163 comments are here, recipes are here, the transcript is here, and so on. I say sister in law because my kids started calling Aunt Paula “pawpaw” from their earliest months. I say TTB because NPR’s street interviews (on the video) are 100 feet from the old TTB building (across the street from the current NPR building). Finally, I say history because Lewis & Clark, and Thomas Jefferson, were apparently big pawpaw fans according to NPR.