Monday, August 24, 2009
The Beer That Tastes Like a Manhattan
Last week, I took Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver up on a long-standing invitation to tour the Williamsburg brewery.
I chose a good time to visit. As many have read recently, Oliver—inspired by the bartender Don Lee's bacon-infused bourbon Manhattan at PDT—is in the process of trying a create a bacon-infused beer. Like Lee, he is employing the ballyhooed bacon of Allan Benton. So, when I arrived, the entire brewery on 11th Street smelled of breakfast. Oliver allowed me a whiff of the special, smokey-smelling malt he's using for the beer, as well as the Benton's derived bacon fat, explaining that the two, put together, will create the illusion of bacon.
I'm hoping to tasted some of this Frankenstein creation when it's ready, but that may be a long shot. Oliver explained that he's only making 25 cases and it won't likely be made available to the consumer.
But, that's OK. Oliver is constantly inventing new potions, and many are available to the thirsty masses. The rate of creation is due mainly to the Brewmaster's Reserve series. Oliver comes up with a new beer every two months (that's six times a year), which is released in limited qualities in keg form and available at select bars.
Oliver is apparently currently obsessed with making beers taste like things that they are not, because the next Brewmaster's Reserve, called The Manhattan Project and due out on Sept. 15, is being made to taste like a Manhattan Cocktail.
Let's say that again. It's a beer that tastes like a Manhattan Cocktail.
Oliver said this is the first time he's used a cocktail (his favorite cocktail, FYI) as a model for a beer. (Cocktail expert David Wondrich is providing some counsel and advice.) Here's the plan. Thirty percent of the mash will be rye. Thirty percent of the beer will be aged in rye barrels from Rittenhouse. The wash will also be infused with a variety of herbs commonly found in vermouth. Also, some cherry juice many be involved in there somewhere.
Sounds delicious to me.