PB&M contributor Jim Bonomo recently got the chance to preview Burnside Brewing's new seasonal release and dig up some interesting information. Here's the report:
Burnside Brewing will be premiering a new version of their popular Grätzer seasonal this Thursday, both at the tap room and as their official entry to the Oregon Brewers Festival. This uncommon style is a historical one, pulling its roots from traditional Polish brewing. McAdam and company hand-smoke their wheat malt using modified hotel pans in small, labor-intensive batches, limiting the Grätzer’s availability to that of a small-batch seasonal. Despite McAdam’s self-professed dislike of standard rauchbiers, he’s managed to craft one which will please both die-hard smokeheads and the casual beer-pairing foodie.
The biggest technical shift with the summer 2011 version of Burnside’s Grätzer is the addition of Mesquite to the wood bill. The finished beer certainly shares a comforting aromatic sense-memory with a plate of slow-smoked, chargrilled meat. The flavor, however, is gentler; the full-bodied yet refreshing creaminess usually found in a German hefeweizen is there, and the zing of wheat and light fruit from the Kolsch yeast take prominence over the smoke on the palate. This happy confluence creates both a complex and poundable brew, well-suited for mass consumption at a beer geek cookout.
McAdam tweaks the basic historical recipe to facilitate a drinkability, allowing the finished beer to pair well with some of his brewpub’s summery, smoky cuisine. Traditional wheat totality and intense smoke are scaled back to minimize conflict with recommended menu items including bratwurst burgers, duck confit with sous vide duck eggs, and pastrami with apples and mustard.
In addition to the upcoming Grätzer, McAdam and crew have some other interesting projects fermenting away in the deep recesses of their Burnside Avenue location. Chief among them is a bacon bourbon stout, crafted with unique techniques and ballsy ambition. As I understand it, a bacon gas has being created by allowing CO2-preserved bacon to break down and absorb back into the gas. That gas will eventually be used to push a bourbon stout from its keg into your glass, creating a bacon note without the bacon ever touching the beer. This ‘molecular zymurgy’ approach is sure to excite the inner-nerd, and if it works, should open up a world of possibilities for Burnside Brewing and the brewing world in general.
Besides the bacon experiment, McAdam teased an imperial version of Burnside's Sweet Heat, amped up to an 8% "wheat wine" with some brewery bugs added for a complimentary tartness. Fans of the 'Heat' will also be able to sample a Sweet Heat ice cream (complete with candied scotch bonnet peppers) made by the Salt & Straw folks at the Hawthorne Street Fair on August 28th. 22oz bottles of Stock Ale, IPA, and Oatmeal Pale are slated for a fall release, and Burnside is planning 24oz cans to follow the initial bottle release. Exciting things indeed for the future of Burnside Brewing.