Beer blending: What’s out there and what do brewers think?
Every brewery we visited in Durango had a number of mixed beers customers regularly ask for. We had to try some while seeing what the brewers had to say of the practice.
Ska Brewing Co.
Sampled mix: Decablonde – 50 percent True Blonde Ale (ABV: 5.3 percent; IBUs: 20) and 50 percent Decadent Imperial IPA (ABV: 10 percent; IBUs: 80). Notes: Hops up the Blonde while lessening the ABV of the Decadent. Reminds of the True Blonde Dubbel, an 8 percent ABV Belgian strong pale ale.
Other mixed incarnations: Decadent double IPA with Mexican Logger; Sexy Mexi (half True Blonde, half Mexican Logger)
Brewer’s take: [Pauses] “You know, I couldn’t say one way or the other. Me personally, I just like beer. I like to try different beers that are brewed, like one-offs or different flavors mixed in.” – Head Brewer Kurt RandallCarver Brewing Co.
Sampled mix: Silly Rabbit – 80-85 percent Jack Rabbit Pale Ale (ABV: 5.7 percent; IBUs: 33) and 15-20 percent Raspberry Wheat Ale (ABV: 5.2 percent; IBUs: 20). Notes: If you’re a steady Jackrabbit drinker, a splash of raspberry is a refreshing treat. However, the ratio is important, with no less than 80 percent Jackrabbit. “You’re just drinking a raspberry otherwise,” said beertender Brendan Lantzy.
Other mixed incarnations: Bikelberry (Big Bike Double IPA with Raspberry Wheat Ale); stout with Lightner Creek Lager or Raspberry Wheat Ale
Brewer’s take: “[I’m OK with] certain ones, some combinations – people have been doing that forever: Black and Tan – come on, classic mix right there. Or the Priest Collar, which is cider and stout. I don’t know. Some of them I’m not a fan of – double IPA and anything. For me, if I’m going to drink a double IPA, I want to taste a double IPA. I don’t need fruity beer in there. If I want a fruit beer, I’ll drink a fruit beer or mix that with the stout. I don’t like big, hoppy beers with other beers in general.” – Head Brewer Patrick JoseSteamworks Brewing Co.
Sampled mix: Train Smoke – 60 percent Conductor (ABV: 8.9 percent; IBUs: 81.8) and 40 percent Backside Stout (ABV: 6.2 percent; IBUs: 28). Notes: Perfect if you’re after a tasty combo of hops and malt. The gasses have to be consistent, both should be nitro or CO2, but not one of each.
Other mixed incarnations: Red Eye (Third Eye P.A. and Lizard Head Red); Chili Stout (Backside Stout and Prescribed Burn)
Brewer’s take: “The whole idea of our beers as brewers is that it’s supposed to be our representation. So whether it’s on the verge of that style, or whether it’s what a lot of American brewers are doing, creating new styles. We here at Steamworks are a little more traditional. We don’t get pulled into trends, like hazy IPAs, we’re not going to do that. Some of that is directed by the consumer. A lot of people are demanding it. So we try to stick true to our styles and not blend – I don’t want to say ‘bastardize styles,’ but that’s kind of what it is, a deprecation of what the true origin should be.” – Brewer Chad QuinnDurango Brewing Co.
Sampled mix: 60 percent Irish Red (ABV: 4.8 percent; IBUs: unavailable) and 40 percent India Pale Ale (ABV: 7.3 percent; IBUs: unavailable). Notes: A perfect blend. In fact, the layperson would be hard-pressed to even tell they were mixed.
Other mixed incarnations: Black and Blue (Blueberry Wheat and Dark Lager); Douchebag (Derail Ale and Blueberry Wheat)
Brewer’s take: “Nowadays, they’re going crazy – barrel-aging, blending. But customers at the bar doing it, it’s an interesting one. I don’t mind it, honestly. If they want to do it, they can. The customer can do whatever they want. We definitely don’t design them to be mixed ... It’s one of those things where the community controls it more than us. I think the more open to change we are, the better. That’s craft brewing in America: Be innovative.” – Brewer Troy SliterDavid Holub