The Chicago Tribune just ran a story on what the author calls blending beers, but might more accurately be described as mixing beer cocktails.
In my mind brewers blend before beer is bottled. That’s a subject I wrote about for the current (November-December) Imbibe magazine. Customers also blend, but I prefer using the word mix in order to differentiate the two.
And, per usual, I might not know I am talking about. Discussions about favorite blends have broken out on several e-mail lists since the Tribune story appeared, with the favored word being “blends.” Jacob Leinekugel Brewing is promoting the idea, though bless their hearts without calling it blending, with a new “What’s your mix?” campaign. The brewery invites drinkers to come up with their own mixes, and its website features videos of the brothers Leinenkugel and their favorites.
I considered including beer cocktails in my story for Imbibe, but I used up my quota of words before getting to that. Since I discussed the idea with several brewers you get a few outtakes that didn’t make it into print.
“They are unintentional blends,” Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey said without being literal. “We work on the components individually and think about how they might come together.”
A drinker in a bar and working on a mix where you can ask a bartender for 90% of this and 10% of that leaves a lot less extra beer sitting around than when you start with bottles — begins with what is available.
“They are trying to create something different, something new,” said Firestone Walker Fine Ales brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “We have an opportunity to dial it in, but the concept is the same.”
Firestone blends most of its beers, even Humboldt Nectar IPA. My story focuses on Firestone 10, the anniversary beer released a year ago. That beer tasted somewhat different sitting in pitchers during a large group session that helped set the final blend than after it went into bottles. “Most of it was integration,” Brynildson said.
Firestone 10 is long gone, now fetching silly prices on eBay and at a few liquor stores in the Paso Robles area. Firestone 11 is in the works, an entirely new blend. Details soon (I hope).