Barley Wines That Stand Out
- Feb 23 '16
Heading out to the beer-obsessed Pacific Northwest, Michael gave Portland’s Alameda Brewing Company a visit. With a mouth-watering menu, delicious beers, and a brewing system right-smack-dab in the middle of the place, Alameda impressed Michael as a “classic brewpub.”
First, Michael helped assistant brewer Marshall Kunz make a batch of Yellow Wolves of Thailand, a Thai inspired derivative of their Imperial IPA. After milling in with a pilsner malt (to lighten the body), a two-row malt base (the best overall base malt, according to Michael, because of its diastatic power), and Munich malt (for flavor and mouth feel), the two also threw in oats (for body) and steeped in coconut, Thai basil, and ginger.
Leaving the mash to finish, they headed to another batch of the same beer that had been fermenting for eight days. It was time for dry hopping. Dry hopping involves adding hops — either pelleted or whole—to already-fermented beer. The alternative method allows for more flavor and aroma (particularly floral notes) without causing too much bittering.
When the hops had been added, they left the batch for yet another that had already been hopped. To this one, they added freshly pressed mango juice. Marshall gave Michael a sample of the finished product, which was fruity without being sweet. Michael was pleasantly surprised.
Next, Michael met up with Alameda’s head brewer Carston Haney at the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, where the brewery was showcasing a couple of their unique fruit beers. Before checking out Alameda’s contributions, the brewer led Michael around to taste the brews from other participants. The nearby Commons Brewery was offering their Beer Royale, which was brewed with a yogurt culture. They also found a “certainly unusual” blue raspberry beer, which Michael declared the oddest-looking beer that he had ever seen. Finally, they stopped to try the two from Alameda—the Huckleberry Hound IPA and the Alamosa. Although the first was a painfully bright pink color, the taste was much less overpowering. The huckleberries provided a tart flavor and the hoppiness and bitterness helped to balance it. The latter sample was, as Carston put it, simply “a lager version of a mimosa.” Brewed with both regular and blood oranges, the beer was fruity but found a healthy balance—the key to fruit beers, according to Michael.
Leaving the festival, Michael headed back to the brewpub to cook with the talented chef, who just happened to be Matt Schumacher, the owner. They jumped right in to making Alameda’s famous Black Bear Stout Turkey Pot Pie. Dumping the Black Bear Stout on top of a heaping pan of veggies, the duo let the concoction simmer for several hours while they cut up freshly cooked, Cajun-seasoned turkey. They then added the meat to the veggie mixture, where the turkey immediately began to absorb the rich flavor of the sauce. After spooning it out into individual bowls and covering them with dough, the dishes were put into the oven and came out steaming and flaky-crusted. Upon tasting, they found that the stout was everywhere, infused into the depths of the pot pie.
Sitting down to a tasting with Matt, Marshall, and Carston, Michael found several delicious dishes and beers waiting. They started with the whiskey crab bisque, which they paired with the P-Town Pilsner (a German-style pils with a light, bready malt flavor and an earthy aroma). Pilsners are known for being seafood’s perfect match (since they’re light enough to avoid stepping on the flavor), and that pairing was no exception. The beer was a crisp, refreshing end to each bite, and it cut through the spiciness of the dish.
Semi-spicy wings were next on the menu. Paired with the Klickitat Pale Ale (an American pale ale with citrus, pine, and mildly spicy flavors), there was a lot of flavor going on in the combination. The beer had a nice malt base and great hoppiness (thanks to the Cascade hops used) that cut the spiciness of the dish and worked to cleanse the palate.
Next up was a dish not often found at brewpubs, paella. With mussels, scallops, shrimp, and Andouille sausage, the dish was paired with the Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA, which boasts intense tropical fruit flavors as well as pine and citrus. Since the sausage had some serious spice, the IPA was a great choice. The fruitiness of the beer brought out unique aspects of the dish, and Michael stated that the pairing was perfect.
Finishing with the pot pie masterpiece, the brewers paired it with Stubbs Old Crow Hazelnut Porter (which has chocolate, nutty flavors and an earthy aroma). After the first taste, Michael commented on how the Black Bear in the dish was crucial to the pairing. Without it, the robust porter would’ve stepped all over the dish. But the stout changed (and improved) everything.
After feasting, Michael sat back and reveled in the glory of Alameda, asking, “What brewpub serves paella?” Their excellent and elegant cuisine is on par with their award-winning beers, and the results set the bar high. Michael went as far as to say that Alameda sets an example for other brewpubs.