We have a new "Now In Bloom!" beer to announce: Ever-Green! An Imperial Juniper American Brown Ale. This beer pairs the piney and resinous notes of American-type Hops, with the similarly woodsy and citrusy notes of Juniper berries! Rounding out the flavor profile is dark malts (which have been cold-steeped to extract the most gentle coffee & cocoa notes possible) and higher-alcohol (which adds a drying decadence, and contributes to overall balance).
The risk with American-Style dark or brown hoppy-beers of any type (from American Brown, to American Porter/Stout, Cascadian Dark, Black IPA, what have you...) is that by using a combination of dark malts and bold American-type hops, you can achieve a pretty unpleasant clash between the hop character, and the burnt and astringent malts. At its worst, it can seem extremely harsh... at least to me. The cold steeping/sparging process was our way around this issue!
Of course, the rest of the mash was warm-steeped and hot-sparged in the typical fashion. The grain bill was 100 kilos of Pale Ale Malt, 75 kilos of Vienna, and 5 kilos of Brown.
As usual for this series of brews, we made our own label image by carving a relief print! This time, we used an actual piece of wood:
This was the last woodblock that I had hanging around from a trip to Japan many, many years ago. You don't go to Japan, and not visit at least one art supplies shop, not if you're me at least! I've been out of the art game for so long, I've been able to coast off of the fumes of these old supplies for awhile! Now that they're finally all used up, I have an excuse to go spend some time and money at our local independent Art Store here in Hamilton: Mixed Media. It's always nice to indulge in some lovely art things without feeling too guilty about it, yes?
This was a simple, but fun, one to carve. It wasn't extremely challenging, but I hadn't carved an actual wooden block in some time, and had forgotten how the grain does pose a bit of a challenge! Still, it all went very quickly.
After carving and printing the image I experimented with many different colors, but eventually settled on a brown background, because I think it reflected the actual beer best. You can see below the three leading colour choices, and if you think I was wrong to settle on brown, then I might just agree!
The beer itself came out very nicely! It has a firm backbone of bready-toasty malts which supports a dark-roasted oily-coffee character, with notes of sharp dark chocolate! These flavours are decidedly present, but do not clash with the Hopping/Juniper. The beer was hopped to 22 IBUs via a small first-wort hopping of Magnum, and an extended whirlpool hopping of a mix of hops; including equal amounts of Amarillo, Citra, Northern Brewer, Willamette, and the interesting Huell Melon. It was then dry-hopped with a generous amount of Citra, Amarillo, and Juniper Berries. On the pilot batch the Juniper Berries were a bit too subtle, so we increased the amount, and instead of just lightly crushing them, we completely pulverized them in a blender. We essentially made a Juniper Berry puree!
The Hops and Juniper were added loose to the fermentor, and allowed to sit warm for about a week, before we cold-crashed and filtered the beer to sparkling clarity!
The final product is pretty delightful, with neither Hops nor Juniper overwhelming, but both making a firm presence felt. The Juniper comes across subtly at first, with a woodsy character that builds, so that by the time you are finished your pint you have a robust and resinous flavour in your mouth. The Juniper appears to be cumulative in that way, so it is probably a good thing that is rather gentle to start. I believe that all of the flavours work quite harmoniously together, and provide a unique take on the flavour profile of an American Brown Ale- with higher alcohol serving to unify and compliment the dark chocolaty Malt, piney Hops, and woodsy Juniper. I hope you agree, and enjoy this beer as much as I do...