For centuries, beer has been an important part of the European diet, providing a reliable source of nutrition, a safe beverage during times of pestilence, and a stable way to preserve grain. Not to mention a friendly little buzz.
But in some circles, beer took on more significance. Across the continent, Catholic monasteries incorporated brewing into their sacred duty to care for the poor. They brewed beer as a provision for weary travelers, treating their work as an act of worship, and striving to produce the finest beer possible. These beers gained such a reputation that some monasteries were even able to sell their beer outside the abbey to fund their philanthropic work.
This winter we brew our homage to this reverent approach to beer.
Solitary Series: Winter 2017 is a mashup of various monastic brewing traditions. We start with a blend of pilsner, pale ale, and Vienna malts, then add Belgian candi sugar, popular in that country's Trappist beers. The dark, caramelized syrup adds layers of intense flavor ranging from dark fruits like date, plum and raisin, to burnt caramel and a light roast note. Yet the traditional syrup doesn't add the expected sweetness as the yeast devours the simple sugars, producing a dry, light bodied beer relative to the high ABV.
We pair the Belgian elements with a German ale yeast, producing a cleaner expression of these intriguing ingredients. That clean fermentation is reminiscent of the lager yeasts once used in the German abbeys, and the end result evokes the balance of German doppelbock.