Our dearly beloved Slouch Sixpack sent me a link the other day that he suggested would make an interesting Conundrum topic. I hope that, by now, you can imagine my surprise when it turned out to actually be a tenable idea.
In this day and age, it seems like new beer styles are being invented almost daily. New ingredients, new technology, and the incessant demand for novelty from Aleheads the world over have created an unprecedented culture of innovation in the brewing world.
But, of course, not all roads have been traveled as of yet. There are still uncharted waters and unexplored frontiers when it comes to beer styles. So I ask the Aleheads…if you owned your own ale factory and had no restrictions:
What new or tweaked beer style would you like to see created?*
*Note: Just putting Imperial in front of something doesn’t count.
BROTHER BARLEY MCHOPS
I suppose the easy answer is “Imperial Red Ale” like the Port Shark Attack or “Imperial Brown Ale” like Wild Heaven’s Ode to Mercy. While those styles are fairly well-accepted amongst Alehead Nation, they’re not officially sanctioned styles in the BJCP Guidelines. Beers that “should” fall into those categories tend to get scattered in the Imperial IPA or Strong Ale styles.
While I’d love to see those styles recognized, that’s not really the purpose of this Conundrum. Beerford wants us to develop a wholly “new” style…or at least a style that is so woefully under-represented that it could reasonably be considered new.
There are a couple of approaches one could take…either mash-up two (or three…or four) existing styles into an epic, new hybrid, or tweak an existing style into something bold and exciting. I’m taking the latter approach and begging American ale factories to take a stab at producing a kick-ass…Ryewine.
While rye beers were produced centuries ago in Denmark and Germany, they were all but forgotten when the Bavarian Purity Laws stated that barley was the only suitable grain for making beer. It has only been in recent years, predominantly in the US, that rye has made a significant comeback in the world of brewing. One of my favorite ale factories, the Terrapin Beer Company, has a rye beer as their flagship. The Bruery’s Rugbrod is a dense, chewy, killer brew. And if there’s an Alehead who claims they don’t love Founder’s Red’s Rye PA, it’s only because they haven’t tried it yet.
But for all the success American breweries have had with rye beers, they haven’t really kicked them up a notch…yet. Sure, there are a couple of well-regarded, high-octane rye beers like Terrapin’s Rye Squared (an Imperialized version of their Rye Ale) and Boulevard’s Rye-on-Rye (an 11% monster)…but such rye-based behemoths are few and far between. I, for one, think it’s high time American breweries combined our love of malted rye with our love of making extreme versions of everything.
So American brewers…I’m throwing the gauntlet down! Give me a 12% ABV beer filled to the rafters with rye malt and with a hop profile so mammoth it brings tears to your eyes. The Aleheads ask…nay…demand Ryewine! And whoever names their first Ryewine, Rye Hard With a Vengeance* gets the official Brother Barley seal of approval. Get to it!
*Beerford’s Note: Rye Hard With a Vengeance must only be served in unmarked five-gallon growlers, filled to exactly four gallons (no more, no less). You must pour the beer yourself. You may use a three-gallon growler to assist in the pouring, but no other container. If you leave the brewery with the five gallon jug filled with more or less than four gallons it will explode, breaching the dam of a nearby reservoir and releasing a flood of water. You will survive this.
The female flowers of Hops, or Humulus Lupulus, are the essential flavoring agent in beer. Resin and oils stored in the Lupulin glands such as Myrcene, Humulene, and Caryophyllene contain the alpha acids that give our favorite beers those wonderful bitter flavors and aromas such as “floral”, “citrus”, “earthy”, “piney”, and “grassy”. Hops belong to the family Cannabaceae.
This family also includes Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica; the female flowers of which possess some unique and exciting qualities. They contain the same oils as those found in the Lupulin glands of Hops, plus some others such as Cannabinoids that produce a range of euphoric and psychoactive effects, and have been shown to reduce pain and anxiety in college students. Despite the obvious similarities between the two plants, the role of Cannabis in the brewing process has been severely retarded based upon its current unfortunate classification as a Schedule 1 Federally Controlled Substance. The government’s views regarding the plant were shaped in 1930 with the formation of the Bureau of Narcotics, at the same time that we as a society were making some bone-headed and far-reaching decisions about how to regulate alcohol and drugs in this country.
Now I am no scientist- I’m not even a brewer. I’m just a beer drinker who wants America to pull the mash paddle out of its ass and make some reasoned, rational legislation about growing plants and making beer. Please, for the love of your false God, we’re all grownups here…let us do what we want with the short time we have left on this Earth. And what I want is the best brewmasters across the country to let their freak flag fly and whip up some of my favorite new style: Cannabeer.
If we can clone visiting government dignitaries and put a man on Venus, we can do this.
Slouch Sixpack: For whatever reason, Brother Barley, call it… fate, call it luck, call it karma, I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe that we were destined to get thrown outta this bar.
Barley McHops: For what purpose?
Slouch Sixpack: To go into business for ourselves. [Takes a swig of Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale]
Barley McHops: This brewery and hydroponic unit that we’re talking about is going to take a load of bread to capitalize. Where are we going to get the money?
Slouch Sixpack: [Takes another swig] I don’t know, Barley. I don’t know.
DR. RIPPED VAN DRINKALE, III
Hmm…Where to start. Like Barley, I want to take the easy way out and just pick a hybrid style that could actually work. Over-hopping a traditional malty Brown Ale seems to be the way I’d want to go. Anyone that’s had a Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale already knows this hybrid works, regardless of the fact that it doesn’t really fit into the traditional Brown Ale style. If I’m going to create a new style I might as well reach for the stars. And if I’m reaching, why not grab something from both sides of the aisle and really mash things up. Well, I wonder what would happen if an the most powerful of Ales, an Imperial IPA, crossed paths with the most powerful of Lagers, an Eisbock? While Egon Spengler might discourage the crossing of such streams, I think it would work (assuming every rule of brewing is thrown out the window).
You might be asking yourself, how would one cross an Ale and a Lager together? I can’t answer that. I suppose you could go Kölsch style and simply lager an Imperial IPA for many months in a dark cave and hope for the best. Maybe you just use the malt bill of an Eisbock, ferment with an Ale yeast, freeze the shit out of it until you get your high-octane Eisbock strength, then dry hop it. I really have no idea and won’t pretend to fool anyone into believing this will work. If it’s worth making, I’m sure some nerd will figure out the details.
This is one of those cases where I don’t think one aspect of either style will necessarily make the other style better, but taken as a whole it should be great. When you think Imperial IPA, you see the original IPA base and see how the brewer amped things up with a heavy hand of hops and a weightier malt bill to bring out more booze. With an Eisbock, you can see where the brewer started out with a traditional German Bock and added to the body and potency by freezing off the boring parts and leaving the concentrated goodness for your enjoyment. With the Imperial IPA/Eisbock hybrid, you’ll get a boozy, hoppy, syrupy, fruity, piney, blast of flavor that will either blow your mind or the entire contents of your stomach. Either way, you’re golden.
Sadly, if this hybrid is ever created it will probably be called an Imperial Eisbock, which is pretty lame. Maybe Imperial Indian Red Lager would fit better (Imperial IRL). Yeah, that’s confusing enough, I think we’ll go with that.
KID CARBOY, JR.
Get this–one more level. “Extra special rarified” bitter. That’s ESRB for short.
Of course, I fully expect this suggestion to cause frothing rage among English Aleheads, who will direly predict fire and brimstone raining from the sky. Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!
Did I say “tenable”? I meant “tenuous”…as in the Aleheads grip on reality. Seriously…three extreme beers and one brewed with weed? The fictional breweries that the Aleheads work in will be going out of business in weeks. Me? I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results. I’m picking something commercially viable…Beer Zero.
Dissolve a metric ton of Splenda in water. Add the hops. Pitch the yeast. Wait a few weeks, and BAM…zero-calorie beer for folks who can’t handle the overwhelming flavor of a Bud Select 55. Sound disgusting? So is your face, fatty.