September 12, 2014

Angry Hessian…Is Back Again!

ImageYes, it is that time of year. Our pumpkin beer is back. For those who don’t know, here is the story from a previous post:

Okay, so what the heck is an Angry Hessian? Well, cast yourself back to the 1819 Washington Irving story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Ichabod Crane competes with Brom Bones Van Brunt for the affections of the comely Katrina Van Tassel. Ichabod attends a party at the Van Tassel estate and, upon leaving, is chased by the Headless Horseman. The horseman is supposedly the ghost of a Hessian trooper “whose head had been carried away by a cannon ball in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War”, in the language of Washington Irving. If I had my head carried away by a cannonball, I would be angry, at least for a brief moment.

While the story leaves poor Ichabod’s fate a bit ambiguous, a shattered pumpkin is found beside Ichabod’s abandoned hat. And, according to Yukon Brewing legend, a strain from this very same pumpkin found its way into our beer.

Okay, so we made that part up.

Every fall we produce our pumpkin ale, brewed with 60 kg of pumpkin as well as molasses, demerara sugar, crushed cinnamon sticks, pureed ginger, and crushed whole cloves and whole nutmeg – and oats for body. The result is pretty much pumpkin coloured, and very smooth and creamy. Close your eyes at the nose and you think there is a slice of pie on a plate in front of you, but when you fill your mouth the perception is more like pumpkin cheesecake, full of delicious flavour and mouthfeel.

The Angry Hessian is on tap here at the brewery, in the growlers, now. It is also available in 650 ml bombers both here in the Yukon, and in Alberta (soon). It always goes fast, so don’t snooze…

August 22, 2014

Cruising Out of Summer…

longest nightWe get to that time of the year in the Yukon where the almost endless days of summer start to change in a big hurry. In July, the days are getting darker, but not really at a speed that you notice. By the equinox in September, however, the days are shortening at a frantic pace, a few minutes a day. Seems right about now, as we get into the last third of August, you can notice it. At my house, we were even talking about how we might have to walk the dogs a bit earlier soon, as darkness is closing in. Makes the porcupines harder to spot – and it is definitely a good idea to see the porcupines before the dogs see the porcupines.

But I digress…

This post is all about the longest night in December. That is still 4 months away, but watching the days shorten makes us think about it, just a little bit. Seems like the right time to bring back Longest Night, our Cascadian Dark Ale. The beer just got onto the growler system at the brewery, but this year we are graduating the beer from elementary school to high school.  It will be available full time, in bottles, in our Dark Side Mixed Six Pack, along with Lead Dog Ale and Midnight Sun Espresso Stout.

As you might imagine from the name, Longest Night Cascadian Dark Ale is brewed with plenty of plenty of Cascade hops, both during the brew and in a final dry hop. But the signature hop might just be the Glacier hops we use. We think that Glacier hops are an amazing creature – they were released by Washington State University 14 years ago. They are made up of 9 different hop varietals – a true hybrid. And the flavours that this hop brings are truly as complex as their lineage.

So, Cascade hops plus Glacier hops plus some Millenium and Sterling to boot, plus six different malts…this beer is full of layers. Of course a full roasty body, plus a bouquet of hop aroma, flavours, and balanced bitterness. Come and try some today, 6.0% abv, rich, smooth, and soon to be in the Dark Side Six Pack.

June 13, 2014

From the Heart of the Tree

birch beer up the creekWay back in 2007, we stumbled upon a very unique Yukon product that we thought might make an interesting ingredient in beer. That, of course, was birch sap or syrup. I guess we must have been right, since we have been making it every spring since, 8 versions and counting.

The beer is made by tapping the birch trees from a stand that grows in the general vicinity of Dawson City. There are about 1,500 trees that are tapped in this stand. About 1,000 trees are tapped into buckets, and 500 trees into a tubing system. These buckets need to be emptied every day that the sap is running, an onerous task without doubt. After the sap is collected, it needs to be boiled to drive off some of the water – it takes 80 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup. This is done out in the woods, since the stand is rather remote and it makes little sense to haul out water that you can evaporate on site. The sap/syrup that we use is not fully boiled down to the consistency of table syrup, which is why we are not really sure what to call it, sap or syrup. Really, it is at a midpoint between the two.

We are so lucky to be able to source out this very unique ingredient, and we are pleased beyond words with the flavour that it imparts to the beer. Due to the nature of an ingredient as natural as birch syrup, every year we get slightly different results, flavour-wise.  This year’s version, Up The Creek, is definitely sweeter than last year’s version. This is generally expected, as birch sap is mostly fructose, which is a complex sugar that does not ferment until it is broken down into simpler sugars. Up The Creek is very layered, with pungency shining through the entire swallow, at both the front and the back. Think full bodied honey ale, with a large dose of birch zestiness. Or don’t think – just try some.

Up The Creek is available at the brewery in growlers, as well as in 650 ml bombers in Alberta and at our brewery store. Get it while it lasts, since when it is gone we cannot brew more until the trees yield their bounty next spring.

May 23, 2014

How About a Yukon Holiday This Year?

yukon holiday kolschSummer has definitely sprung in the Yukon, with long days, warm afternoons, and a very active community. Biking, paddling, disc golfing…you name it. And, of course, tourists are beginning to arrive. What a perfect time, we thought, for a Yukon Holiday.

Now, you might remember the movie Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. And, you might think, ‘That kind of looks like them on the artwork’. And who knows, maybe they are. The person here who created the artwork is currently en route to Haines, Alaska, for the amazingly fun Haines Beerfest. If you have never been, put that one on your bucket list, by the way…

But the reason we have no idea where this artwork came from, is that we have nobody to ask! And, we have no idea what Yukon Holiday has to do with kolsch. And, we definitely have no clue where Gregory Peck or Audrey Hepburn fits into this.

But we do know kolsch…this is a pretty tasty rendition, if we do say so ourselves. The beer style originates in Cologne, Germany, and is pretty much a German version of the British Pale Ale. The word itself is basically an adjective meaning “Cologne-ish”, as in ‘from Cologne’. Seems like the perfect thing to name a beer that is popular in the region.

Traditionally this beer was made with a single pilsner malt. We changed it up a bit by using some Vienna malt, giving a bit of breadiness, and some malted wheat for some citrusy notes. Hopping is light, and done with traditional Czech Saaz hops. And, And, in traditional fashion, while an ale this beer was fermented more like a lager, long and cool. Alcohol content is 5.0% abv, which is pretty much in the middle of the range for the style.

Yukon Holiday is available at our growler bar, but it is the first beer that we have put into 650 ml bomber bottles. The bombers are available at the brewery, and throughout Alberta. We plan to have more beers available in bombers in the near future….watch this space!

May 23, 2014

Before There Was Purity…

roggenbierPretty much everybody has heard of the Reinheitsgebot, or the Bavarian Purity Law. This law originally stated that beer could only be made with barley, hops, and water. The original law made no mention of yeast, one of the key ingredients of beer. The reason for this is simple – Louis Pasteur did not discover its role in fermentation until about 300 years after the original law was written.

Part of the reason that this law came about was to save other grains, such as wheat and rye, for the bakers. If the brewers make too much use of these other grains, the price of bread might go up!

This law goes back a long time, to 1516. And it is to that era that this beer takes us…

You see, Rapscallion is a roggenbier. The word ‘roggen’ is German for rye, which leaves Roggenbier to pretty much describe how this beer is made. In addition to barley, a good deal of rye is used in the grain bill. Rye gives the wort a pretty aggressive flavour, so generally was limited to no more than 1/2 of the total quantity of grain. In our case, we used just over 30% rye. We also use rice hulls in the mash because rye is a grain without hulls, which means it absorbs water easily. Care must be taken when brewing to not gum up the mash – hence the use of rice hulls.

Rapscallion is relatively lightly hopped, all with Czech Saaz hops. Make no mistake, the star of this beer is the rye, which has a flavour all its own. Giving the beer a flavour, all its own. Coming in at an alcohol level of 4.9%, it is pretty much right in the centre of the normal range for the style which is 4.0% to 6.0%.

Find Rapscallion on the growler system, at the brewery, until it is not! And find out what you might have been drinking…if you lived in Bavaria about 500 years ago.

March 7, 2014

Deadman Creek Cranberry Wheat Ale

deadman creek 2014Way, way back in the late 1990’s, we produced our first beer made with local low bush cranberries. The base was a North American style unfiltered wheat ale, which we thought would make the perfect backdrop for the tartness of cranberries.

To get local cranberries, we hung signs around town looking to buy clean picked cranberries. And it worked, we got the ingredients we needed to give it a try.

Well, it turned out to be very popular. Which gave us another problem – cranberries can only be picked in the fall and, depending on the weather, sometimes there is a great crop and sometimes no crop at all.

In order to make it year round, we decided to purchase the cranberries from a supplier. We quickly learned that almost every cranberry ever grown is bought by Ocean Spray. So, they became our source.

Trouble is, they are a huge, huge company and we needed a couple of 20 litre pails at a time. Organizing this purchase was a pain for us and a pain for them.

Eventually, we found a supplier in Quebec. We used them for a while, although it was a long way to ship and resulted in the occasional hiccup.

We stumbled on a supplier in Vancouver, and that has worked fantastically. We buy cranberry puree (picture cranberries run through a blender) on a regular basis from them, and we are always impressed with the quality.

For the longest time, we simply called this beer Cranberry Wheat Ale. This certainly made the beer style obvious to the customer, but we eventually decided – this beer needs a name.

Deadman Creek is an actual creek, located in the Yukon east of Whitehorse. There is no special significance to the name – we just like it. And, we thought that it opened the door to a pretty funky piece of art that we could use for the packaging development.

Deadman Creek is one of our full time bottled products. These products find their way on to our growler system from time to time, and we generally don’t make a big deal of it. But, it has not been there for some time, and so we thought we would get the word out there.  Deadman Creek is a perfect spring beer, light on the palate, 4.7% abv, and rather tart and refreshing. If you have not tried any for a while, now is the time to pick some up on tap. Bring in a growler and give it a go.

March 7, 2014

Still Feeling Rash or Cheeky?

Last year, we dropped a Scottish Export Ale on the market. And, it was good. At least, that is what we heard, over and over again. So, guess what’s back?

And, either in the spirit of bringing back the past, or in the spirit of being lazy, here is the original post that went along with it:

In that well known and oft quoted Scottish language, “yer gallus” means, “you’re daring, rash, wild, or cheeky”. Kind of describes most of the folks here at the brewery on their best days, let alone after a couple o’ gigots of this Scottish ale! Of course, in that fine language, a gigot is a pint, and yer growler holds a couple o’ those, so come on in and fill ‘er up.

Scottish ales were traditionally defined by the tax that was levied on them – Back in the day, the amount of tax varied by alcohol content, so the lightest ales (under 3.5% alcohol) were 60 schilling ales, while the strongest (over 6.0% alcohol) were 90 schilling ales. Our Yer Gallus is 5.2% alcohol, and hence falls into the group of export Scottish ales, or an 80 schilling ale. In deference to the style, this beer is very malt forward, with a nearly indistinguishable hop finish. It’s mahogany in colour, ever so creamy on the tongue, and finishes with a hint of smoke, as we used a wee bit of peated malt in the recipe.  Robbie Burns would be proud.

February 21, 2014

Imperial This, Imperial That…

imperial pils

The brewers must be in an Imperial mood these days. We have recently brewed up our Imperial Red – Megalomaniax – as well as our Imperial IPA – Double Trouble. Now they have whipped up a batch of Imperial Pilsner, aptly called Imperial 69, in honour of the 6.9% abv.

As a pilsner style lager, we brewed Imperial 69 largely with pilsner malt, rather than the normal pale malt. However, we threw a bit of a spin on that as well. The brewers used a wee bit of chocolate malt for just a little touch of colour. They used some acidulated malt, also known as sour malt, which introduces lactic acid to the mix. Lactic acid gives the beer a little bit of a sour tone, sharpening up the crisp pilsner flavour. And, to add some zing to the result, in went about 10% malted rye. Now, rye is a pretty aggressive flavour – as an Imperial Pilsner, we felt that the malt bill should give Imperial 69 a bit more zip than a normal pilsner.

First hop is Sterling, an interesting hop who parentage is 50% Saaz, 25% Cascade, and then on from there. The Sterling hop gives a notable but delicate bitterness. Second and third hops are Saaz.

If you are looking for a beer with the clean crisp lager flavour, but with something else going on (thanks to our two good friends, acidulated malted barley and malted rye), then bring in your growler and grab some Imperial 69.

January 28, 2014

Trouble is Back

double trouble newOur Double Trouble Imperial India Pale Ale is back. By very popular demand, by the way. The hop crazy brewers have again  blown the company budget on grain and hops to produce another batch of this large size beer.

To produce this beer we up the malts, then really go to town on the hops, more than twice the hops for a small size batch.

Bring in your growler and fill ‘er up – we did not bottle this bad boy, so if you are a hop fiend, your growler is the only answer. See you at the brewery!

Double Trouble came off at 8.0% abv, so be careful out there!

December 20, 2013

More Yukon Grown Ingredients

black currant kolschAs many know by now, we were fortunate to have been asked to have a beer in a product available in western Canada this winter, an Advent Calendar featuring 24 unique beers. We took the opportunity to brew an IPA using black currants, which we surmised would suit the season. The timing was such, however, that we had to purchase the black currants from the south. Our Advent Calendar day was December 4…hope that you enjoyed the beer if you had the chance to try one.

While we were talking about how much we enjoyed the flavour that black currants brought the beer, we learned of some locally grown black currants that were available. We jumped right on that and bought enough for a brew.

So, available now at the growler bar at the brewery is A Currant Affair.  While our Advent Calendar beer (which was called 39 1/2 Foot Pole, by the way, for all you Grinch fans) was an IPA, we decided to go down a different road with this beer. So, we brewed A Currant Affair as a kolsch. Originally only brewed in Germany, this is a bit of an obscure style in North America. However, it is stylistically rather light in body with a moderate to slightly assertive hop bitterness. It is an ale, however is cold conditioned after fermentation like a lager. Our brewers thought that this was the perfect canvas for the black currants, and after tasting it, we think that they were bang on.

 A Currant Affair, 5.0% abv, now at the growler station in the brewery.

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