I have been fortunate in the last few years to have several opportunities to brew my homebrew recipes on a commercial scale, and last week, my second beer hit the tap lines at Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado.
The collaboration with Wynkoop Beer Maestro Andy Brown was a part of my Beer Drinker of the Year prize package. We brewed the beer during GABF week last October, and with this year’s finals taking place last weekend, it was time to tap my beer and end my reign.
We brewed my old ale recipe, a choice that annoyed Wynkoop Cheerleader/Idea Man Marty Jones, who noted that “old ale” sounded boring. He’s right. We tossed around calling it “stock ale” or “strong ale” to make it sound cooler. In the end, it simply became “Ye Olde Ale,” which made it an old-sounding beer, an ale-sounding beer and intriguing enough for people to say, “What the hell is that?” and “Hey, I think I’ll try that.”
In my opinion, once you try it, the beer speaks for itself.
Comprised of British pale malt, Special B, crystal malt, chocolate malt and golden naked oats, the beer is a dark brown, malt-leaning eight-percenter with rustic notes of chocolate, dark fruit and a touch of the brett-inoculated Cabernet Sauvignon barrel in which a third of the beer lived during primary fermentation.
“To me the beer has an interesting vinous nose with a fruity chocolate body and a lingering tart finish,” said Brown.
Brown’s finished blend made me happy, and I’d encourage you to ease on down to the Wynkoop to give it a try if you’re anywhere near Denver in the coming weeks.
“Interestingly, I am pretty sure that the translation of Brettanomyces from the Latin roots is ‘British Fungus,’” said Brown. “So the Belgians were perhaps not the only ones to make use of that yeast.”
The brett step was not the suggestion of a pretentious, contest-winning homebrewer. In the interest of creating a unique beer with a rustic, historical bent, Brown suggested the cab barrel right out of the gates. I can’t remember if I said “yeah” or “hell, yeah,” but I was happy to funkify my award-winning recipe. It proved to me that Brown wasn’t simply putting up with me, and I very much appreciated his cheerful approach to making my beer as cool as possible, even though he gave himself more work to do. “Whether this beer tastes like the old ales of England, I don’t know, but it is still a worthy experiment. It is what it is, I guess,” he said.
This beer is many things. One of the things that it is, in one of my occasionally hyphen-laden words, is this: “choco-fruit-velvety-yum.”
At least that’s what I think. Go drink it and see for yourself.