By Greg Carlson
“About the Beer” is a blog series about the vision and design behind our beers, and the techniques we used to bring them to life.
Why did we brew a dry Irish stout -- a relatively restrained, uncomplicated iteration of stouts?
Was it to push back against a sugar-glazed world gone mad? To stare down an unstoppable rolling tide of bourbon barrels destined to consume all stouts and, eventually, us?
Nope! It’s because they’re fun as hell to brew and drink!
We envisioned Blackstone, like all our year-round beers, to be full-flavored, approachable, and drunk properly - pint by pint, round by round.
To do that, we designed Blackstone as a bit of a balancing act. It’s roasty - with big coffee and dark chocolate notes - yet incredibly smooth. And while it’s a low-gravity beer with a crisp finish, it’s remarkably creamy throughout.
Here’s how we did it. (Warning: nerdy shit ahead)
To start, we used two types of heavily roasted barley malts to impart those coffee and chocolate flavors, as well as a subtle nutty and toasty undertones. These are the major flavor drivers in the beer (so you can turn back now if you like).
To keep the beer soft and smooth, we used kid gloves with the mash, keeping an eye on mash thickness and pH level. This helps ensure that tannins -- which can give beer a sort of bitter or astringent quality -- stay in the mash tun and out of the beer.
We also go fairly low on the mash temperature, which favors the creation of the simpler malt sugars that yeast can gobble right up (and believe me, our ale yeast can tear ass through them sugars, which helps). Less sugar in the finished beer = a lighter, drier mouthfeel.
Finally, we serve Blackstone on a nitrogen tap, which gives it the nice creamy mouthfeel. Rather than fully carbonate the beer with, well, carbon dioxide (which makes most other styles of beer pleasantly fizzy), we only lightly carbonate the beer, and then force it through the taps with a high dose of a nitrogen/carbon dioxide blend. This imparts the beer with lots of super-fine bubbles -- giving it a nice creamy head and beautiful cascading effect as it settles.
Drink this beer with gusto! Bottoms up, embrace that foamy mustache, and enjoy the rings that stick to the glass and mark each sip. Sláinte!