Greetings fellow beer lovers,
We’ve got a few new beers coming out: the thirst quenching Dallas Blonde and the highly anticipated (at least around the brewery) Wealth & Taste.
Many of you likely remember our previous flirtation with an ale of the Blonde persuasion, and while it served its purpose and we moved on. It turns out that we couldn’t slake our thirst without a good-time Blonde.
However, our tastes in Blondes have changed a bit since our initial offering. The spirit is still similar, but we’ve revamped the hopping schedule and are introducing a very new hop variety, Meridian, which is rich in fruitiness, with a very mellow, even profile compared to many of the newer super high alpha hop varieties. Our Blonde is certainly in the American tradition and borrows its hop forward character from the subset known as Extra Pale Ale (XPA) and has the body some of the grainy character of a Pale American Wheat.
Dallas Blonde is great with bar food like nachos and wings, but is also at home with sushi, chicken satay, and sweet and savory pastries alike.
Wealth & Taste has been a long time coming, over a year, in fact. We brewed the initial pilot batch shortly after my Texas arrival and served it at the 2011 Eno’s Brew Riot and our 1st annual BrewBQ. It started as a wild idea and has only strayed ever so slightly from the very first version (it originally contained lavender, but after realizing that some people had become a little too attached to their lavender scented hygiene products, we changed gears and selected Rose Hips to round out the spicing).
Regarding the name, Wealth & Taste, it is a roundabout tribute to three of our inspirations. The name itself comes from a line in The Rolling Stones’ classic Sympathy for the Devil.
But why this song? The original Belgian-style Strong Golden Ale is Duvel, which for all intents and purposes is ‘Devil’ in Flemish. Many brewers have since named their similarly styled brews in tribute of the original, much like how dopplebocks are often named with the ‘-ator’ suffix in tribute to Salvator. Thirdly, it pays a bit of reverence my father, Dan Huerter, as he home brewed a Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale, which was damn tasty, and named it ‘Wealth & Taste’, luckily, like his original home brewing equipment, he was kind enough to let us keep on using.
The base beer is a Belgian-style Blonde Ale. Which begs the question: what makes it Belgian-style, exactly? In a word, yeast. Belgian yeast strains are the defining ingredient to Belgian-style beer production, in fact Belgian style ales cannot be made without them (save the Franco-Belge concoction known as Biere de Garde, but that’s another post). While members of the same species, saccharomyces cerevisiae, as their American, German, English, Irish, Scottish and other cousins, they behave much differently. Some strains, such as that employed at Saison DuPont, appear to have been a convergence between ale and wine yeasts, as determined by genetic studies. Genetics aside, the results of their differences are first apparent in the fermentation cellar and then in the glass.
The Brasserie DuPont strain is a wonderful example of how differently they behave in the cellar, the brewers there routinely allow the temperature of the fermenting beer to soar up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, far outside the range of other ale fermentations. We allow all of our fermentation temperatures to rise at DEBC in order to get a fuller range of flavor from the yeast, to encourage a strong finish to fermentation which encourages dryness or digestability and makes it easier for the yeast to reabsorb some of the less savory chemical byproducts produced during fermentation. We do not employ the Brasserie DuPont strain around here, but the lessons are applicable. Our house Belgian strain is in fact a blend of three different commercially available varieties, two which hail from Trappist breweries and one from a Saison brewery.
In the glass, the results are quite apparent. Even without employing a rising temperature fermentation Belgian yeasts produce much greater quantities of esters and phenols than any other ale type yeasts (excepting German Weizen strains, of course). What exactly does this mean? Belgian-style beers have the potential to much fruitier and spicier than many of their counterparts. Sometimes brewers of Belgian-styled brews choose to augment these characteristics with fruit or spices, or in the case of Wealth & Taste, both.
I mentioned spices earlier, but here are the ones at play: grapefruit peel, rose hips and chamomile flower. They are used at pretty low levels and are included to add complexity to the flavors contributed by the yeast. The fruit employed here is used in much greater quantities and is usually used to produce very tasty beverage all on its own, with some help from yeast. Before fermentation we added juice from California grown Muscat grapes. The simple sugars in the grape juice are highly fermentable and allowed the finished beer to take on a very dry finish. They also contributed substantial acidity, heightening the palate’s response to the beer and keeping it quite refreshing. The grape’s own fruity character plays with the base beer’s own fruity and vinous character.
Then to not only play up the beer and wine connection further, but to round out all of these big, bright flavors, we aged part of this beer in Missouri grown White Oak barrels that spend the last seven to eight years in Napa, California as aging vessels for Chardonnay. This barrel aged batch was then blended with a newer, fresher batch to get best of both treatments.
Wealth & Taste pairs well with a wide array of cheeses, roast pork and fruity desserts.
As our first foray into barrel aging, we’re obviously very excited for this release. It also provides us the opportunity to start on our third barrel aged project (number two is still in process) which I’ll have to tell y’all about in the near future.
Cheers and beers,