What We’re Reading: Malt, Samuel Adams Whiskey, Most Influential Cocktails, Jack Daniel’s Original Recipe and more
AT 8:30 one Monday evening, Christian Stanley pulled on his jacket. His 7-year-old daughter, who was reluctantly headed up to bed, asked, “Where are you going, Daddy?” His reply: “To the malt house.”
Since they founded Valley Malt in 2010, the malt house has become a little like a fourth child for Mr. Stanley, a mechanical engineer, and his wife and business partner, Andrea. It needs round-the-clock attention and even wakes them up occasionally with text messages on its progress.
On this evening, Mr. Stanley, 35, drove four blocks through his quiet residential neighborhood to a small garage crammed with equipment: a forklift, a grain auger, a Shop-Vac, two big sacks of wheat and a stainless-steel tank connected to a jumble of ductwork. He stripped off his jacket, pulled on a pair of rubber boots and opened the hinged top of his malt vessel, which looks something like a rocket ship. Grabbing a battered shovel, he leapt into the tank and began stirring 1,850 pounds of steamy New Hampshire wheat — a workout, but well worth the effort.
“Without malt,” he said, “there’d be no beer.”
As humble and jerry-built as the setup looks, this garage is on the cutting edge of the craft brewing movement. Driven by a growing awareness that the only thing local in most “local” beers is the water, microbrewers all over the country have begun using regional hops, fruits and honey. Now, many are taking the next logical step and snapping up local grains.
But brewing with homegrown barley or estate-grown wheat involves another process that has been overlooked for much of the last century: malt-making.
Boston Beer is diving into a multiyear pact to supply two of its craft beers to a Massachusetts-based distiller, which will turn them into whiskeys.
The plan underscores the growing popularity of the craft distillery movement, which has grown exponentially the past five years, following in the footsteps of craft beer 25 years ago.
Berkshire Mountain Distillers Inc., which was founded in 2007, is buying thousands of gallons of Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Cinder Bock to be distilled in wooden oak barrels and eventually hit shelves by 2015.
Berkshire will receive all profits from the sale of the whiskeys produced in this venture, and the initial products will be branded by Berkshire, though the Samuel Adams name will be indicated on the label.
All whiskeys begin as a beer but the beer used to make whiskeys usually isn’t meant for initial consumption.
Boston Beer founder and Chairman Jim Koch said the craft distilling movement comes as consumers seek niche products that aren’t made by huge companies. The whiskeys will likely command premium prices as the distillation process is more expensive when using a craft brew. Retail prices haven’t yet been set Berkshire, which already produces six different spirits sold in 19 states.
Berkshire founder Chris Weld said when he began as a craft distiller in 2007, there were roughly 30 individuals working in the niche industry domestically. That figure has since jumped to around 300, Mr. Weld said.
The Samuel Adams whiskeys batch will initially be small—producing 1,000 to 1,500 nine-liter cases, though more batches can be developed along the way. Mr. Weld said the Samuel Adams whiskeys will taste different from each other, as Boston Lager is a lighter beer and should highlight sweet, fruity aromas during the distillation process, while Cinder Bock is heartier and smoky.
Boston Beer mostly operates in the craft-beer industry, which makes up a small percentage of the U.S. beer business though demand in the higher-priced segment is growing rapidly as seasonal blends and other new flavors appeal to more consumers. Boston Beer also sells Angry Orchard ciders and Twisted Tea, broadening the company’s slate of alcoholic beverages.
Industry observers and distillers say consumers in recent years have shown a greater interest in moving on from vodka, considered by some to be relatively tasteless, to richer-flavored spirits like whiskey and rum. That trend can help broaden the appeal of Samuel Adams whiskeys and other new brown spirits hitting shelves.
Analysts have lauded the resurgence of brown spirits as alcohol companies like Brown-Forman Corp. BFB -0.08% launch new flavors such as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey that have become a hit with consumers. Total domestic whiskey volume grew 1.8% last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of America, besting the performance of rum, gin, and brandy and cognac.
Other craft beer makers have moved into distilling. Oregon-based Rogue Ales began distilling spirits in 2003. “For us, it was quite logical,” said Rogue President Brett Joyce. “We thought there is no reason why craft brewing is any different than craft distilling.”
Mr. Joyce and other craft distillers say consumers are responding to the artisan nature of the products they are cultivating, often from locally sourced products that result in more varied spirits than what the mainstream players sell.
A lot of the cocktails you find in high-end bars today are based on the classics. But whether or not a single drink has been the most influential is almost impossible to say. There is a lot to consider when determining which drinks influenced the cocktail lists of today.
First you have to look at all of the popular drink families like the sours, Old Fashioneds and so on. If you take just the sour family alone, then a margarita would fit the bill — as would the daiquiri, white lady or sidecar. They’re all really important well-known drinks. But we’re not taking this family-by-family. That would be easy. Below are the seven most influential cocktails inspiring today’s drinks. Period.
Out of the seven classics below, there is not one that I feel has been distinctly more influential than another. That said, there are a number of drinks that I have come across in the last ten years that perfectly embody the spirit of the classics but have that contemporary edge like The Brambleby Dick Bradsell, The Gin Mule, The Old Cuban by Audrey Saunders, The Elder Fashioned by Phil Ward, The Gin Blossom by Julie Reiner and The Penicillin by Sammy Ross to name a few.
Jack Daniel’s Original Recipe: Man Claims To Have Found Original Formula – Guardian
A Welsh man claims that he has discovered the original recipe for Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Mark Evans, 54, was doing some family history research when he found a book of herbal remedies that belonged to his great-great grandmother.
The recipe, was written in 1853, around the same time her brother-in-law moved to Lynchburg, Tennessee, where the famous distillery was founded three years later. Her brother-in-law’s name? John “Jack the lad” Daniels.
The Jack Daniel’s website says that the founder was one of 13 children, though there are no birth records. According to the book “Blood and Whiskey: The Life And Times Of Jack Daniel,” Daniel wasn’t born until 1849, and was born in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
A spokesperson from the company has expressed interest in seeing the book and recipe.
Cold brew is key to a coffee cocktail
Historically, coffee and booze played nice in mug-worthy drinks. But hot beverages are hardly appropriate during the year’s sweatiest months.
Coffee lovers have long buzzed about the cold-brew method, dubbing it the ideal process for iced coffee. Now, distillers and bartenders are catching on, too: A spate of new, delicious coffee liqueurs have joined the trailblazers, and each uses cold-brewing to extract optimum flavor.
The generally excellent distillers at House Spirits in Portland, Oregon, have released an excellent liqueur–made with Stumptown beans, natch. And neighboring New Deal Distillery has two coffee liqueurs–each made from a different roast.
The process is simple to replicate at home with the Toddy Cold Brew system. Substitute high-proof vodka or rum for water, and add sugar to the final product for a liqueur that matches beautifully with everything from bourbon to ice cream.
And caffeinated booze is getting play among bartenders as well: In the coming weeks in New York, bartenders are pairing with baristas in a competition.