Barley Wines That Stand Out
- Feb 23 '16
At the beginning of this episode, Michael Ferguson sums up a unique reality of craft beer brewing:“One of the greatest things about the craft beer industry is that it’s like a club. We like each other, we drink together, we help each other out.” Which is exactly what’s going on in Minneapolis, as Michael helps the folks at two breweries - Indeed Brewing Company and Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub – create a fabulous beer together, Hot Box Imperial Smoked Pepper Porter.
It began in Northbound’s kitchen, where Michael met up with chef Bryce Strickler. Together, they smoked grain (most brewers using smoked grain buy it that way) and two kinds of peppers, jalapenos and fresnos. Then Michael brought the grain and peppers to
Indeed Brewing six miles away. There, he met up with co-founder Tom Whisenand to make some beer. After milling and mashing in with several malts, including the smoked two row from Northbound, they hopped with Columbia and East Kent Goldings. Then they moved on to a batch of the same beer that had already been fermenting for two weeks, adding the peppers that Michael helped smoke. The result was far more than a specialty beer, “amazingly good” in Michael’s words–a very nice combination of heat, smoke and malt.
Next, Michael helped Tom perfect a beer in development, brewing a honey ginger beer on the beautiful 10-gallon system that Indeed uses for small batches. The honey, raw and unprocessed, came from a producer on the edge of Montana’s Glacier National Park. Michael described the flavor of the finished beer as “honey on a ginger biscuit.”
Then it was back to Northbound’s kitchen to do some cooking with Chef Bryce for a porchetta sandwich. Pork butt, dry rubbed, then immersed in Smokehouse Porter beer, was then smoked over hickory. Michael helped the chef create a beer based barbecue sauce as well, and the pork was shredded, piled on a bun, topped with cheese and the sauce.
At dinner it was paired with the beer Michael helped brew earlier, the
Hot Box Imperial Smoked Pepper Porter. The heat of the beer paired perfectly with the sandwich, while the flavors seemed to layer on the palate.
Next on the menu was the Smokehouse Platter, a sampler of smoked salmon, white fish dip, and smoked trout, paired with Smokehouse Porter, an American porter with light smokiness and chocolate flavors. The beer’s subtle smoky qualities enhanced the delicate tastes of the fish rather than overpowering them.
A heavily smoked beef sandwich was then paired with Indeed’s Midnight Ryder, an American black ale with roasty and hoppy flavors. The intense flavor and hoppy profile of the beer worked to bring out the best in the dish, and the two complemented each other well.
Ratatouille was paired with Indeed Day Tripper, an American pale ale. The hint of hoppiness and low malty profile enhanced the various vegetables with a nice, crisp flavor, according to Michael.
The experimental holiday ale with ginger and honey was paired with beer-battered mushrooms. The sweetness of both the dish and the beer complemented each other well. With a hint of savory from the mushrooms and the ginger in the beer, the unique combination was a hit.
Finally, a salad with house-smoked bacon, house-smoked trout, and house-smoked eggs, was paired with Honey Wheat Ale. With the delicate flavor of the dish, the crisp beer was light enough to avoid overpowering the food.
This episode is a great example of the collaborative spirit that is so pervasive in the craft brewing world. Along with some terrific eating and drinking as well.