Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grimm Artisanal Ale

Interview with Joe & Lauren Grimm (Flash version)
  Non-Flash podcast 

Grimm Artisanal Ales is a husband and wife brewing company that approaches the art of brewing as... well, an art! They are brewers without a brewery -- nomadic brewers, gypsy brewers, however you term it. And they are among a growing young breed of modern brewers who put creativity before commerce, and variety before conformity. Rather than be tied down by the crushing financial obligations and limitations of owning bricks and stainless steel, they simply create a recipe, order the raw materials and brew their creations at other breweries that have surplus capacity.
 B.R., Bob, Lauren, Joe (Photo: Gillian Charlotte.)
Mikkeller, Evil Twin, Stillwater, Pretty Things, 8 Wired, Yeastie Boys, and now Grimm -- the list of these unfettered, unanchored, unrestricted craft brewers continues to grow. Some gypsy brewers simply contract with a brewery, giving them the specs, recipe, label artwork, etc., and then buy the end product from the brewery at wholesale cost, which they then sell to distributors. Others, like Grimm, see the process through from start to finish, hands on, at the brewery.

Photo: Gillian Charlotte.
Grimm recently released their third beer, a rye abbey ale called Going Awry. It's very similar to their 2nd beer, the Bees in the Trappe, though without the honey, and using Danko rye malt, a rare northern European rye that has a less spicy and more bread-like character than traditional rye malt. They used the same Belgian yeast strain for both beers. We got to talk to brewers Lauren and Joe Grimm at The Sampler, a fantastic new growler/bottle shop and bar in Bushwick which hosted the release party for the beer.
The couple has been homebrewing since 2005. but prior to that started experimenting with other fermentables, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, mead, kvas. It didn't occur to them to get into fermenting beer until discovering the vast varieties of Belgian beer styles. They say that they still brew at home constantly, as they experiment, research and plan for future commercial batches. They've brewed all three of their initial beers on the 20bbl system at Paper City, located in Massachusetts, which is where Pretty Things brewed for many years. Currently about 75% of the beer is sold in keg, with the balance going into 22oz bottles.
Made with 300lbs of NY State wildflower honey.
Like fellow upstart brewers Big Alice in Long Island City, Grimm brews a different batch each time, and doesn't plan on ever repeating a recipe. They liken their project to record label, with the brewers being the songwriters and musicians and the brewery as the recording studio. That's an apt analogy, since Joe has performed in a slew of indie rock bands over time. Loren and illustrator Gretta Johnson collaborate on the artwork for the labels. Grimm plans on brewing a new batch of unique beer every six weeks.
The first offering from Grimm.
Photo: Gillian Charlotte.
Photo: Gillian Charlotte.
 From their website:

ABV: 8% SRM: 15
IBU’S: 25

Brewed for the autumn season, our GOING AWRY abbey ale pours a rich orange-amber color topped with a sticky, lacy white head. We brewed it with an organic, heirloom rye grown at Thor Oechsner Farm in Newfield, NY, and malted by Andrea Stanley at Valley Malt — the East Coast’s only artisanal micro-malthouse! This exceptional rye contributes a rustic, spicy element that complements the phenolic flavors of our favorite Trappist ale yeast. A touch of caramelized Belgian beet sugar adds a subtle range of dried cherry and toffee flavors dancing in the background, while boosting the ABV and maintaining dryness and drinkability.

Best served in a tulip glass between 45 and 50 degrees, GOING AWRY pairs well with stewed and braised meats, roasted root vegetables, caramelized onions, mushrooms risotto, aged gouda and washed-rind abbey cheeses, as well as apple pie and tiramisu.
Photo: Gillian Charlotte.