Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mal du Pays brewer Eric Brown of Brooklyn Brewery

Eric Brown was homesick. The Kentucky son longed for the blue grass, charred oak, and pastoral comforts of his Old Kentucky Home, all while climbing the ladder from the packaging line into the cellar as a Cellarman at the Brooklyn Brewery. (The packaging line is apparently in the sub-basement.)
Actually, the beer finished out at closer to 4.5% ABV, which was more in line with the traditional style.
So he brought the Kentucky to Williamsburg.
Brewmaster Garrett introduces Eric.
As the most recent inductee of the Worshipful Company of Brewers, a program that gives the capable brewing staff at Brooklyn Brewery a chance to create their own recipe, Eric chose to brew an old, nearly forgotten, and seldom brewed style of American beer called a Kentucky Common.
The man of the sour hour.
The Kentucky Common bears some similarity to the California Common, whereas a lager yeast is employed to ferment the wort a bit warmer, more in line with ale yeast temperatures. There is also an element of sourness, though it's not settled if, historically, the sourness was an intentional characteristic. It could well be that re-used cooperage provided an unintended inoculation of some souring agents. In this brew, half the batch was kettle-soured with a dose of lacto, and then blended with the other half to achieve a perfect balance.
Tim never bores of pours and pours.
Eric, a former Culinary Institute of America student and devoted home brewer, went to one of his old homebrew recipes to create Mal du Pays (meaning, roughly, homesickness), using 2-row, some 6-row, and some rye malt, along with flaked maize in the mash.  He also used sorghum molasses to help bring the color from pale gold to a deep dark brown, a hue similar to that of a Porter.

Having tasted the beer at the release and also six weeks later, it has developed from a relatively clean, mildly sour dark lager, into a beer that simultaneously has gotten more edgy with sourness, while more mellow with roundness. It's a wonderful creation, and is an example of how the Brooklyn Brewery has continued to remain interesting, compelling, and relevant, while growing with the flagship offerings on an international scale.
Garrett, Eric, and Steve Hindy.
You would do yourself a service to try this rare and delightful hybrid -- an anachronistic American lager -- if they still have a pint left in the tasting room at the Brooklyn Brewery. But if it's gone, maybe you'll have to settle for a 2011 Black Chocolate Stout, also recently seen on offer on the taps.

It's not a proper meeting of the Company without some fancy cheese.
B.R. knows where the kick ass parties are!

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