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Quasitraditional mixing

This month’s Session topic is “Traditional beer mixes” and comes to us courtesy of Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog:

sessionIn his 1976 book Beer and Skittles early beer writer Richard Boston lists several:

  • Lightplater – bitter and light ale.
  • Mother-in-law — old and bitter.
  • Granny — old and mild.
  • Boilermaker — brown and mild.
  • Blacksmith –stout and barley wine.
  • Half-and-half – bitter and stout, or bitter and mild.

We’d like you to drink one or more from that list and write about it on Friday 6 June… and that’s it.

I had a problem: I was at the brewery, and wouldn’t have time to go to the store for beer before the Session was due. I’d have to make do with our beer as approximations of the styles above. As a benefit: you can make these yourself! We can’t pour pints at the brewery, of course, and I don’t think we can split growlers due to it muddling with the taxes, but you can get a half growler of each beer and go to town! Here are the translations I’m using:

  • Frank: bitter
  • Whale: brown/stout
  • The IPA: (not used)
  • De Maas: mild
  • Rutherford B. Haze: light

really wanted to try the mother in law (old and bitter) but, alas, we have no old ale. If we had bottled some Heatrays this year, maybe. Oh well. Let’s start the tasting!

(for science’s sake: each of these were roughly half and half mixes)

Lightplater (bitter and light)

The lightplater

The lightplater

I like how light and refreshing this beer tastes, but in the end I don’t think it has an identity. I enjoyed the increased body from the “bitter” (Frank), but many of the hops have been stripped away. They reappear in the aftertaste, but past their time. The curtains have been drawn, the show over. I’m not saying I dislike it: not by any means! As a summer beer with a bit more heft, a tad more stature, it does well. In the end, though, I think it might suffer as a jack of all trades, master of none.

I also learned to hold back a bit on the pours. I did an eight count from the tap for each beer, which gave me just far too much if I plan to make it through all of these.

Boilermaker (brown and mild)

The Boilermaker

The Boilermaker

Here we go.

The roast from The Whale remains, but with the nuttiness enhanced. I certainly wouldn’t call it a brown or a stout anymore, but now I don’t know where I’d go. This beer has broken down style guidelines and replaced them with anarchism. Delicious anarchism.

Now I almost detect smoke alongside what I want to call tobacco, having only had tobacco a small handful of times in my life. It probably doesn’t taste like tobacco ((Tobacco. Had to say it one more time.)). I think some of the phenols from De Maas show through more. This beer works. It really, really does.

Half and half 1 (bitter and stout)

The Half & Half 1

The Half & Half 1

Unlike the other beers I tried for this post, I’ve made this blend — which we call “Frankenwhale” — a few times since we opened.

This combination works too, though not as well as the Boilermaker, which surprised me with the degree of my delight. A little light, a little roast, a little hops. I don’t think I prefer it to either beer individually, but as an occasional treat, something different, I enjoy it.

I taste two types of bitterness at play here: hops from the Frank and roast/malt from The Whale. They seem to amplify each other, making a more bitter beer than either on their own but supported by the malt in each.

Half and half 2 (bitter and mild)

The Half & Half 2

The Half & Half 2

This blend’s color looks practically orange, a little darker than The Double IPA. I know that we don’t classify De Maas a mild (we go with “Belgian style amber”), nor would anyone else, but it definitely acts as a milding agent here, taking the edge off of Frank. In that regard it finds itself similar to the Lightplater, becoming a muddy amalgamation with no real identity.

From a different angle, though, it knows its identity exactly: De Maas, but a little lighter in flavor (ditching its Belgian yeast characteristics) and with a little more hop presence. Not enough for me to call it “hoppy,” exactly, but De Maas doesn’t have any discernible hop bitterness at all. It usually tastes of fruit and spice and yeast, and this has echoes of that mixed with the light and bitter characteristics of Frank. It works. Not all the time, maybe not ever again, but for right now, right here, it works. It tastes like a hoppier De Maas, or a Frank with a little something extra.

To conclude

Thanks to Boak & Bailey for the suggestion. This has been fun, and wouldn’t be something I would have thought of doing. I’ve mixed our beers before: the aforementioned Frankenwhale, and Frank/The IPA (a good approximation of our occasional IPFrank offering), but I never would have thought of The Whale and De Maas, which I’m definitely going to be trying again.

Mmm, CBW Boilermaker.

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