Just as grape growers and wine lovers obsess over the differences in crops due to geographical location, soil composition, microclimate, etc. (collectively referred to as ‘terroir’), beer makers have long known that hops and barley from specific growers can be very different. We’ve been anxious to explore this idea for quite some time and have finally had the opportunity to, with some friends from Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, North Carolina and Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia sending us a few sacks of grain to play with. We brewed up five one-off beers and have a number of others in the pipeline. Here are the standouts so far:
Virginia Special IPA: A single malt (Virginia Special Pale Malt from Copper Fox Distillery, Sperryville, VA), single hop (Citra) IPA coming in at 40IBU and 7%ABV. While this beer was relatively low IBU, we hop bursted at 180F for 10 minutes with 8oz Citra pellets per 5 gallons and the resulting hop profile was outstanding. More interesting (because at the moment we’re all such huge Citra fans that anything you put it in we will probably like) was the malt backbone. The malt used is essentially two-row from a different source, but the flavor was outstanding, lending strong nutty flavors to the beer that you might associate with Munich or Vienna malts.
Rauchkolsch: our classic kolsch, brewed with 10% applewood/cherrywood-smoked malt from Copper Fox. We landed three smoked malts from Copper Fox (mesquite, apple/cherry, and peachwood-smoked), and the applewood/cherrywood was by far the most interesting, having a light and fragrant and very delicate smokiness with very little biting or savory quality. For a couple of us, the aroma of the beer had the pleasantly evocative aroma of a jacket worn at some beachside campfire.
In short, we loved the smoked malt and want to put it in everything. Next up to brew is a set of three saisons and three kolsches, one each with our three different types of smoked malt for a real A/B/C comparison. Cheers to Charley Wise of Copper Fox for sending this malt, and if anyone out there gets a chance, swing by Magnolia, where they’re pouring a pale ale brewed with the applewood/cherrywood smoked barley.