Sunday, December 23, 2018

Balzy Blackberry Blast

At Pals Brewing Company we love to make fruit beers. My buddy Nick and I used to brew them regularly back in the homebrew days. In fact the Explosive Raspberry-O got most of its name from a fermentation "blast" that happened one fateful night while Nick was sleeping. He was going to college at Western Michigan in Kalamazoo living in a rental apartment. He and I were home brewing beers about every weekend during the summer. At that time we didn't have very good temperature control and we had brewed up a fruit beer base and we each had 2 glass carboys of fermented beer awaiting the fruit. Nick added a can or two of Oregon Fruit Products raspberry puree to one of the fermenters and then headed off to bed. The next morning, he was surprised to awake to a red mess all over the apartment. The raspberry had set off a renewed fermentation of epic proportions, foam and raspberry puree had entered the airlock, clogging it, and pressure had quickly built up to explosive proportions. As I recall the apartment was a loft with a super high ceiling. A round red mark on the ceiling bore evidence to just how much pressure had built up and the beer exploded all the way to the ceiling. Explosive fruit indeed!

This is the second time we've brewed a blackberry beer at Pals. The great thing about craft beer is the almost unlimited variation of different flavors you one can create. Sometimes we do that by changing conditions of the mash, for example, raising the mash temperature will result in the creation of more dextrins in the wort that are not fermentable by yeast. This can result in a fuller flavored beer or one that tastes maltier. Sort of the polar opposite of what we do with the Jerry Light where we are trying to chop up all the Dextrin molecules to leave simple sugars the yeast can ferment resulting in a very dry beer. Changing the fermentation temperature will alter the types and amounts of the various fermentation byproducts produced by the yeast. For example, higher temperatures may produce more esters that have fruity aromas and flavors. Other times we change the types and amount of ingredients added to the beer to achieve different flavor profiles. For the previous blackberry beer we added about 1.33 pound of fruit per gallon. The blackberry flavor was subtle and in balance with the base beer. Some of the feedback was that the blackberry was a bit too subtle. So.....

This go around we decided to create a beer that has a completely different feel. Enter the Balzy Blackberry Blast! We doubled the amount of blackberry fruit to 2.66 pounds of fruit per gallon to slap you in the face with blackberry flavor. It's basically a fruit bomb (sorry for the explosive pun) that explodes in your mouth. To be honest I'm not even sure it's beer. Inky purple in color it looks like something Barney would drink. Before sipping this beer for the first time, be sure to take a moment to inhale the beautiful blackberry aromas. When you first sip this fruity concoction the blackberry fruit is immediately evident with that acidic taste you get from bramble fruit. The aftertaste allows the wheat base beer to come through a bit before the aftertaste. That's the part I enjoy the most about this beer. Let it sit for a full minute. How does it feel? Does it feel like you just ate a real piece of blackberry fruit? Does it call you back for another sip? That's how it feels for me.

Last but not least, we all had some fun with the naming of this beer. I think it was Zac and Amy that finally coined the official name. Zac had recommended Blackberry Blast and Amy wanted something more fun. Some brainstorming went on, over a few sips of course, and then they had it along with a few laughs. It's a fun little tongue twister. Try saying it out loud three times fast if you want to have a few laughs with your server or your friends and family. After all it's the Christmas season and this time of year should be all about having fun with friends and family. We hope you enjoy our latest beer offering as much as Tom, Zac, and I enjoyed making it (and naming it!).

Finally from all of us here at the brewery, we want to wish a Merry Christmas to you and yours and thank you for being one of our Pals.