I'm guilty of letting things getting a little dusty over the end of the winter months here on the blog, but I hope to make better strides in the future. So after getting emails about some of the beers we've tapped in the last couple months and unfortunately I haven't posted much information about them...so here goes.
Batch 500- Wanting to make something unique for our 500th batch I really pulled from a lot of different influences. This beer started with pale malt (88%), special aromatic malt ( 11%) and crystal -120 malt (1%). The goal was to make a rich amber colored hue with a little malt in the background. Sugar was also added to the kettle to lighten the body and increase the gravity. German grown Tettnanger hops were used at 60 minutes and 5 minutes before "flame out" as well as bitter & sweet orange peel,lemon peel,coriander and chamomile flowers. These spice/floral additions were made in very small amounts as to not become noticeable in the finished product other than adding some depth and complexity. During the kettle whirlpool buckwheat honey was added which gave the wort additional sugars as well as further complexity.After fermentation, a secondary fermentation was sparked with the addition of Merlot grape must and blackberries. This addition not only raised the alcohol slightly but also gave the beer unique fruit note and some esters that would best be described as wine like. Finally the beer was then transferred onto medium toasted french oak where it sat for 30 days before serving.
Nelson Ha Ha- This beer was probably one of the biggest hits in my tenure here at Franklin's while being one of the simplest concepts. The Nelson Sauvin hop was developed,grown and first released in New Zealand in 2000. Descriptions of the hop's essential oils described it as “fresh crushed gooseberries” which is often used for the grape variety Sauvignon Blanc, thus where this hop variety got its name. The small production of this hop combined with demand of it in craft beer brewing community makes it really hard to attain. Our 11 pound box was result of a trade with Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont for which we are very thankful. The beer was designed to do one thing, show case the Nelson Sauvin hop, so with that in mind the grist bill was 100% Pilsner malt. This simple base allowed the hop to shine in all of its kiwi glory without being interfered with by rich toasty or sweet caramel malts which are often used in pale ales and I.P.A. styles. The Nelson Sauvin was divided up into three stages in the beer after a hop called Warrior provided the bittering hop addition. Nelson was added twice towards the end of the boil and then again as a "dry hop" after fermentation was complete. In the end we were left with a golden colored pale at 5.9% ABV which with its firm bitterness and distinctive hop character that showcases white wine like citrus and fresh tropical fruit rind. I've had a lot of requests to make more of this beer and/or to showcase this hop again in another beer, but until we can get our hands on more Nelson we'll just have to wait.
Hop Madness '11- This year's version was quite the improvement over last year in my opinion, simply from the fact that I didn't screw up the grain bill. There's people out there who believe you should never admit when you've done wrong and to never apologize. I'm not one of those people and because of that I can admit that the inaugural batch of Hop Madness that we released a year ago in March of 2010 was not what I had envisioned before making it. I made a mistake in reading printing on a bag of malt and accidentally added a very dark caramel malt to the beer and in proportions that added too much color, caramel sweetness and left it with too much body. So this year I felt the best way to ask forgiveness was to pay my penance with a more appropriate version of my original concept. Hop Madness '11 started out with the same pale malt,carapils,biscuit and Munich malts but did not included any of the caramel malt from last year. The result was a much better foundation to hold up to the copious amounts of Simcoe and Columbus hops that were used in this beer. Now that we're back on track with this recipe I look forward to the '12 release as I think there are a few ways we can make this an even better double I.P.A..
Hammer of The Gods- The first true lager that I've brewed since starting here and the first time I had ever attempted a Baltic-style Porter. This beer style is not extremely well known but has been steadily building ground in the craft beer community over the last few years. The first time I had ever tried a Baltic-style Porter was in 2004, Perkuno's Hammer, compliments of the now defunct Heavyweight Brewing Company of Ocean Township, New Jersey. A collaboration between owner/brewer Tom Baker (now of Earth Bread Brewery) and beer writer Lew Bryson. After that I discovered some imports of the style including Zywiec, Carnegie and Baltika, which have all been go to examples to this day when I'm craving this dark lagered beer.
97 Pound Weakling- Angelo Sicilano was born in Italy then after moving to the US and getting sand kicked into his face at the beach by a bully he transformed his scrawny 97 pound frame into his legendary muscled physique and changed his name to Charles Atlas. America has always taken inspiration from the world and made it its own. Barleywine is no different, originating in England as a high gravity ale then making its way to the States and transforming itself into an aggressively hopped strong ale. American ingenuity also brought us a new take on the American strong ale years later in the wheat wine which simply replaced a large percentage of the barley in the grist with wheat. Wheat lightens the body and adds a light tartness to the beer, but its liberally hopped in the kettle with Warrior and Liberty to provide an assertive bitterness and dry hopped with Cascade for a pleasant citrus and pine aroma. At 10.5% its deceptive in its strength as its light orange body coats the pallet with a touch of malt sweetness but reinforces hop dominance long after it dissipates.
We will reserve a small portion of 97 Pound Weakling for a future tasting to see how it ages.
The Hatchet Job- DC's National Cherry Blossom Festival brings people to the area to appreciate the beauty of nature and rouse the spirit of community. At Franklin's we feel the same way about community and what better way to celebrate nature than by drinking it. We've noticed that many area breweries brew a "cherry flavored" beer for this event so we chose to go against the grain (pun intended). Thanks to Greg Ouellette of Martha's Exchange Brewing Company in Nashua N.H. who without his vision this beer never would have come to fruition. Greg has made 2011 'the year of the wood" at Martha's as he's using various types of wood including cedar and Douglas fir. The Hatchet Job is a beer designed with one purpose in mind, to showcase wood,in this case cherry wood. Starting with a base of Maris Otter pale malt then adding touches of Vienna, Melanoidin,Oat Malt and De-husked Carafa III this beer leans towards a copper-brown color with complex and full malt flavor. Hopped to balance and allow the cherry wood to come through with subtle fruit and mellow tannin. Checking in at 6.1 % ABV The Hatchet Job takes charge with is toasted bread-like malt body, fruity wood notes and dry finish.