Corn -- A Worthy Ingredient!

At DuVig, we pride ourselves in brewing beer that is 'true to style'.  This is a statement we take seriously in all aspects of the brewing process.  "Brewing to Style” is a process that starts with the choice of ingredients for all our recipes.  Within the beer industry, hops seem to be the most talked about ingredient, but the grain bill is a much larger proportion of each beer recipe and is a large contributor to beer flavor and color and not to mention, the grain bill determines the amount of alcohol in the beer.     

It is fashionable among the craft beer industry to insist that adjuncts, including corn,  are unworthy ingredients in beer. Some of the dismissiveness may be due to the German law “Reinheitsgebot,” a purity law started  in the early 1500s that required beer be made with only water, malted barley and hops (the world had not yet discovered yeast, so it was not written into the law). However, adjuncts are (and were)  viewed differently around the world. Other regions of the world embraced the use of adjuncts,  especially corn as a way toproduce clean and flavorful beers.  Corn has also been used in many spirits throughout the world. It is a main fermentable in many types of whisky and moonshine.  Bourbon uses corn as its main fermentable.

The issue may have risen in the USAwhen macro breweries started using adjuncts such as rice and corn.  They used the ingredients and everyone loved the beers for over a hundred years. But the recent resurgence of craft breweries has created a particular backlash against the big breweries within the micro brew consumer.  It seems as though a love for your local micro brew causes an equal dislike for the macro breweries.  The macro breweries’ decision to use corn and rice in their recipes may have created an environment where micro breweries decided to avoid using these ingredients.

Corn is a distinct ingredient in DuVig's Cream Ale.   The corn makes up about 16% of the grain bill.  The corn is used in the mash along side the more commonly accepted ingredient of barley.  DuVig uses corn because it is a traditional ingredient in the Cream Ale and it is the corn that gives this beer its unique flavor.  Corn helps to dry out the beer and helps with beer clarity because it releases almost no protein in the beer.  DuVig uses corn because of its historical use in the styles and for its unique crisp flavor.  Let's finish with the following quote concerning adjuncts in brewing - In the “Handbook of Brewing,” a chapter on adjuncts written by Graham Stewart of Heriot-Watt University adds this: “Corn gives a fuller flavor than wheat, which imparts a certain dryness. Barley gives a strong, harsher flavor. Both wheat and barley adjuncts can considerably improve head retention. Rice will also give a very characteristic flavor to beer.” Adjuncts not only lend different flavors to home-brews but also improve mouth-feel, head retention and clarity. 

At DuVig, corn holds a place as a worthy ingredient!

Welcome to The Bine

Welcome to The Bine

Greetings, beer drinker! You're in good company here. The Bine is a place where we share information about our beers, brewery and brewing process. We also share information about events at the brewery or other places where you can find our beer. And finally, because it's interactive, we hope it becomes a place where you share your thoughts and ideas about craft beer in general and ours in particular. 

Proust!

December Beer Pairing Dinner

January Beer Dinner

Join us Thursday, January 5th for our next Beer Pairing Dinner. This month, we will partner with La Cucina Kitchen of North Branford to create a four-course beer dinner with the following pairings:

Cream Ale paired with Smoked Salmon on Potato Latke with Dill Creme Fraiche

Bock Lager paired with a Charcuterie plate of local cured meats and cheeses

Pale Ale paired with Angus Sliders on Brioche with Wisconsin Cheddar and Sage Pesto Mayo

Oatmeal Stout paired with Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

This month's dinner is $55, and all attendees will be able to purchase growler fills of the beers served at 20% off our normal fill prices. We'll be open at 5:30 pm the day of the dinner for happy hour (cash bar), the dinner starts at 6:30 and runs until 8ish. Click here to purchase tickets.

 

3rd Place Medal for our Cream Ale

3rd Place Medal for our Cream Ale

We are so pleased about the Third Place finish for our Cream Ale in the 20th Annual Great International Beer & Cider Competition held last week in Providence, Rhode Island. 

The competition evaluated 814 beers and ciders from 130 breweries and cideries from around the world. First, second and third place awards were presented in 58 categories of ales, lagers and ciders. The judges,  professional brewers, beer industry professionals (retail and distribution) and beer journalists, evaluated the beers in a blind tasting format and knew only the style and subcategory of each beer and cider.

We placed third in a LIGHT ALE category, after first place winner Nerd Alert from Monday Night Brewing (Georgia) and 7 Hills (Massachusetts). Since the competition began in 1997, over 2000 beers and ciders have been judged. The awards were presented during the afternoon session of the beer festival, announced by Yankee Brew News Editor-in-Chief Gregg Glaser. A PDF with a list of the full results is posted here.

You can try our award-winning Cream Ale at our brewery tasting room this weekend (we're open Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Or you can try it in many bars and restaurants around the New Haven area including our newest on-premise account, Pepe's Pizza in New Haven. 

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Bock is Back!

Bock is Back

Most beer styles are marked by a signature characteristic (or two) that shape their profile. When it comes to bock beer, the personality can be boiled down to a single trait that is easily identifiable:  malt. Lots and lots of malt.

The roots of bock beer trace back to the northern German city of Einbeck in the Middle Ages. During the 14th century, Einbeck was a major European trade center whose beers were highly regarded throughout Europe. Several factors contributed to the quality of Einbeck beer: it was located in one of the earliest hop growing regions in Europe, it was brewed with the palest malt available making for a more delicate than usual beverage and, at that time, it was brewed only in winter thus stored cold, making it cleaner and less prone to infection.

When compared to the generally murky, darker brews of the day, it’s no wonder that those of Einbeck won so many fans. And little wonder the town of Einbeck came to be known for bock beer. These strong, hearty lagers, ranging from 5.5 to 7.5 ABV, come in several substyles beyond traditional bock―the stronger doppelbock, the paler, springtime helles/maibock, and the fortified eisbock. While born in Germany, the style can now be found in exquisite examples brewed in Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Canada, The Netherlands and the United States.

These days, owing to its popularity, bock beer is brewed throughout the year especially for special occasions. It is very popular for the beer to be consumed around Christian holidays like Christmas and  Easter, possibly tracing back to the tradition of medieval monks consuming it during Lenten fasts.  There is another German beer tradition where the Marzen is consumed in the spring and the Oktoberfest is consumed in the fall and these beers are made from the same grain.  

Here at DuVig, we view bock as a great autumn beer. Ours is a Traditional Bock; a rich malty lager of fairly high strength at 6.2% ABV. This range of alcohol is appropriate for a bock but is considered high for most other lagers. The beer is brewed with a complex grain bill including many sweet malts that carry through to the finished beer.

While the beer is not cloying, the rich malt has some caramel and toasted bread flavors. The fermentation is kept clean with a lager yeast so there are no fruit flavors and no detectable hops. The pleasant bite on the palette comes from dark roasted malts. The beer is best consumed at cellar temperatures of 45- 50 degrees.

Leetes Island Amber Ale

Leetes Island Amber Ale

One of the best things about brewing craft beer in a place like Connecticut is the wonderful agrarian ecosystem we have at our disposal. A byproduct of the local beer brewing boom here in the Nutmeg State is that farmers are starting to grow hops again. The state is encouraging it, and we couldn't be happier.

Our latest release is a direct result of this dynamic.  The DuVig Leetes Island Amber Ale is brewed primarily with Cascade, Chinook and Centennial hops a local farmer in Guilford grew on his farm. While there is some ambiguity about the name of this style (it is referred to as a Red Ale in some regions), we've designated it an Amber Ale because it is a gentler, more malt-focused beer with an even balance of malt and hops. This style exists between two beer worlds:  a pale ale and a brown ale.

As far as taste goes, the rich malt flavors have a pronounced caramel flavor laced with rich, dark grain flavorings that are refreshing but not sweet. The malt body is gently accented with a light bitterness and just a touch of citrus that finishes crisp and clean. We brewed it to be a little darker than a typical amber so the fresh hops could be accented with dark autumn flavors. It can be consumed as a thirst-quencher at cold temperatures (35-38F) or as a rich sipping beer at warmer temperatures (45-50F). ABV is 5.0%.

We're looking forward to creating more brews with local hops next season. If you know of a hop grower - put them in touch with us! Proust.

Harvest Beer Dinner

Harvest Beer Dinner - October 27th

Thursday, October 27 marks the date of our first-ever Beer Dinner at the Brewery. We have partnered with Foe Foods of Branford to create a Harvest Beer Dinner pairing five of our beers with five special dishes Foe and Hollis, of Foe Foods, have created to pair with our beers.

The dinner will be held at our School Ground Road Brewery from 6:30 to 8 pm. The five-course menu for the evening has been set:

  • Crab & Corn cakes paired with Cream Ale
  • Roasted Eggplant & Goat Cheese Crostini paired with Dudley Farm Harvest Ale
  • Blood Orange-glazed Duck paired with India Pale Ale
  • Braised Short Ribs paired with Oktoberfest Lager
  • White & Dark Truffles paired with barrel-aged Oatmeal Stout

The price for the dinner is $59; a portion of which will be donated to The Dudley Farm Foundation. Click here for a ticket - we hope to see you there. 

Dudley Farm Harvest Ale

Our Dudley Farm Harvest Ale

A local hop grower was gracious enough to give us access to some Cascade and Newport hops he had been growing at The Dudley Farm, in Guilford, CT. We, along with family members and friends, picked these hops ourselves, took them back to the brewery and then brewed a very special pale ale we've named the Dudley Farm Harvest Ale.

The hops from the Dudley Farm amounted to approximately 15 pounds. We used 6.5 pounds of Newport hops, a direct descendent of Magnum hops, which have medium high alpha acids that create the potential for a bitter beer; they also provide earth and citrus flavors. Cascade hops, which have been around for a long time and were originally developed by the open pollination of Fuggle hops, are lower in alpha acids than Newport and provide a citrus, floral, and spice flavor profile. We used approximately 8.5 pounds of wet cascade hops in our Harvest Ale.

Typically, when a farm grows hops for commercial breweries, the hops are subjected to a laboratory test to give an estimate of certain parameters that help the brewer determine how the beer will taste based on specific brewing practices. Hops grown commercially are also dried and often pelletized.  We didn’t dry these hops; this beer was wet-hopped so we were brewing blind. We were dealing with an unknown moisture content and unknown alpha acid levels we had to consider when determining how much to use.  

After fermentation, we discovered that the Dudley hops blend we used did not provide the necessary flavor (as the hops were used in the boil for bittering) so we added extra Columbia and Summitt dry hops after fermentation to aid in aroma and flavor.  While the resulting beer does not have 100% local grown hops, under the circumstances, it is as close as can be.

The result? A crisp pale ale that delivers a forward citrus, spicy flavor with nice floral aromas, estimated IBUs of around 60 and a very clean finish. ABV is 4.8%

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest Lager

Beer enjoys a specific and celebrated role in the kick off of the fall season.  Any beer lover knows that fall brings many special seasonal styles that aren’t readily available during other times of the year.  The most popular of these ‘fall styles’ is the Oktoberfest.  This beer’s popularity can be traced back to October of 1810 when Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (crowned as King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildurghausen.  The wedding celebration was unique because the general public was invited to the celebration.  It was extremely rare for nobility to associate, never mind surround, themselves with the public.  The general public enthusiastically accepted the invitation when some 40,000 Bavarians attended the celebration in Munich.  The specific location of the celebration was in an area of Munich now known as Theresienwiese, or, the Teresa Meadow.  Every year since then, for about 200 years, the same celebration is held at the same location.  The event in Munich is held every year for 16 days starting in mid-September to the first Sunday in October.  This year’s event starts on September 19, 2015 at 12:00 noon.  Not by accident, DuVig Brewing Company will release this year’s Oktoberfest at the same date and time.

That is probably more history about the party than is necessary, but the information helps to put the excitement about the event in perspective.  Although the party/celebration was established in 1810, the association of the event with beer didn’t start to take shape until a few years later with the introduction of beer and food stands.  The traditional Oktoberfest beer commonly served at the event is roughly 4.5% ABV (DuVig’s Oktoberfest is 4.5% ABV), is a copper lager with a very mild hops flavor and is frequently referred to as Bavarian Marzenbier.  As with many beer styles, the exact origin of the style is lost in history, but the beer most likely was first brewed hundreds of years ago; long before refrigeration, and before the first Oktoberfestbier.  Most beers were brewed during winter (summer brewing was almost impossible because of the damaging heat) and stored cold in cellars or caves to keep them cool and fresh.  The beer to be saved was brewed to have a slightly higher alcohol content so that it would last longer and be able to resist spoiling.  Soon, the last beer brewed in the late spring was referred to Marzen (March) and was consumed over the summer months while the beer in cold storage waited for fall.  So, if you follow the logic, the Marzen and Oktoberfest styles are essentially the same beer, except for alcohol content.  Since the Munich event is taking place in the late summer/early fall the beer being consumed is referred to as the Oktobertfestbier and has a slightly higher alcohol content than a Marzen.

DuVig Brewing Company takes all beer styles to heart.  We follow traditional beer style guidelines and brew our beers as expected.  The Oktoberfest we brew is no different.  The beer contains all German malts (Pilsner, Munich, and Vienna), German hops (Hallertau), and we ferment with a traditional lager yeast at 55F.  This produces a rich malty beer with a slight spicy backbone that comes from the Vienna malt and the hops.  The flavors are caramel, bread and toasty grains with a mild and pleasant spice in the background.  The beer finishes clean and dry with no lingering sweetness.

Understanding Hop Bitterness and IBUs

 

Understanding Hop Bitterness and IBUs

The main ingredients in beer are water, grain (wheat, barley, corn, oats, etc.), yeast, and hops.  The hop flower (cone) is taken only from the female plant (humulus lupulus).  Hops have a female and male component that allows for the creation of new hops without disturbing mother nature through genetic manipulation.  Much of the funding for public hop-breeding programs comes from an organization called the Hop Research Council. It consists of six very large brewing companies: Anheuser-Busch, Adolph Coors, The Stroh Brewery Co., Suntory (Japan), Heineken (The Netherlands), and Labatt (Canada).  Although hops are now used in almost every beer produced commercially, they were not the first ingredient used to produce bitterness and spicy flavors in beer.  Hops were eventually settled on as a major ingredient in beer because of their bittering qualities, the variety of other flavors, and their antimicrobial qualities that favor brewers yeast but not the less desirable organisms.

Hops are used in beer to produce a bitterness that will adjust the final flavor profile on the drinker’s (you) palette.  A beer without hops would be very sweet and cloying.  It is important to realize that the amount of bitterness measured in the beer is not the same as the perceived bitterness as the beer is consumed.  The way a beer is brewed has an impact on the flavor profile because the brewer can intentionally leave sweetness in the final beer that will compete with bitterness.  A beer that was brewed to be sweet/malty will take more hop bitterness before the drinker can perceive/taste the bitterness; sweetness and bitterness compete with each other.  Sweetness can be left in beer during the mash, or added with the choice of yeast and with hops.  Hops that are used late in the boil process can produce other flavors like citrus, spice, earth, melon, etc., which will offset bitterness.

The brewer has many options in the brewing process that effect the final bitterness of the beer.  The mash schedule used and choice of yeast have an impact on the final perceived bitterness of the beer just as the variety of hops used, and how they are introduced to the boil effect the bitterness profile.  Brewers use a calculation to determine the bitterness of beer known as International Bittering Units (IBU).  There are other calculations (scales), but IBU is the most widely used scale.  Not all beers with 60 IBUs will have the same amount of perceived bitterness.  The DuVig IPA, which was released a couple weeks ago, has a measured IBU of 85, but the beer has very little bitterness bite, and lots of hop flavors.  If the beer was brewed to be drier, or if late addition hops had not been used, the perceived bitterness bite would be much stronger.  This does not mean the bitterness is not there, it just means your palette perceives the flavors in a balanced way.  When you hear a beer drinker state, ‘this is a well balanced beer’, they are usually talking about the balance between sweetness and bitterness (and to some extent, ABV).

Hop Bitterness vs. Hop Flavor

Hop Bitterness vs. Hop Flavor

With the introduction of DuVig’s first IPA, it seems like an appropriate time to write about hops.  Hops, which are an important ingredient in beer, are a frequent conversation piece in the DuVig tasting room.  Quite often, the discussion of hops will turn into hop flavor versus hop bitterness.  It has become a common phrase in the craft beer world to describe certain beers as; ‘this beer is hoppy’, or ‘this beer is not too hoppy’.  The phraseology has an error point that is worth discussing because the natural tendency is to use these phrases to explain that you, the beer drinker, taste the beer as bitter, or not too bitter.  Hops provide a great deal of flavor to the beer that is not bitter, so the issue arises when a beer drinker states that a beer is hoppy to explain the level of bitterness.

DuVig uses Citra hops (which was developed by the Hop Breeding Company in 2007) in several of the beers brewed.  Citra is an extremely strong and flavorful hop that has the following official description: Strong citrus and tropical tones of grapefruit, melon, lime, gooseberry, passion fruit and lychee.  These flavors are produced by oils (Co-Humulone, Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Humulene, farnesene) that naturally occur in the plant and then released in the boil during the brewing process through isomerization of the oils.  Another major component of hops that is extremely important to the brewer is the Alpha Acid level.  The alpha acid level predicts the amount of bitterness, measured in International Bittering Units (IBU), the final beer will have based on the alpha acid amount and the length of time the hops are in the boil.  Citra has an alpha acid level of 11-13% which indicates a relatively high alpha acid level that has the potential to create of highly bitter beer.  When DuVig brews the Pale Ale, Citra hops are used in the process.

DuVig has made a decision to brew the Pale Ale with a great deal of hops flavor without a high level of bitterness.  This is accomplished by introducing the hops later in the boil so more of the flavors remain in the beer with less bitterness.  The flavors in the DuVig Pale Ale come from the hops used, including Citra; melon, fruit, citrus, etc.  At the DuVig tasting room we describe the Pale Ale as hoppy, without a lot of bitterness.  It is appropriate to describe the beer as hoppy since all the most pronounced flavors come from the hops.  DuVig understands that the common lexicon of craft beer drinkers is to say a beer is hoppy when it has a strong level of bitterness; but, DuVig is attempting a tiny step in changing this terminology to account for hoppy flavors that are not bitter.  If you hear someone in the DuVig tasting room talk about the ‘hoppy Pale Ale’ they are describing hop flavors, not hop bitterness.

Next Up: Understanding Bitterness and IBUs

Brewing 'True to Style'

Brewing 'True to Style'

DuVig Brewing Company opened with three beers that are still in the permanent lineup of the brewery; Cream Ale, Pale Ale, and Brown Ale.  These beers are brewed to style and follow the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) style guidelines.  It is our philosophy that beers brewed at DuVig will be brewed to style within the clearly defined parameters of the guidelines; and DuVig has brewed a beer from almost every style category.

This philosophy was born out of the belief that in the hundreds of years of their existence, beer guidelines have become a natural extension of what beer drinkers enjoy.  The guidelines provide benchmarks for all the things that make up beer; color, mouthfeel, head retention, ABV, hop bitterness and flavor, and explains which ingredients to use that will create a brewed to style beer.  When viewed this way, the owners of DuVig came to the realization that beer can be enjoyed in a way that has lasted for hundreds of years, and all that history can’t be wrong.  By brewing to style, DuVig has predefined for the customer what the beer will taste like, which is why each DuVig beer is named for the style, as the flavors of the beer are in the style name. 

To the average beer drinker, this ‘brew to style’ philosophy may seem like a simple way to run a brewery, but in reality, DuVig has a challenge with each new brew.  We must live up to the idea that the beer will be brewed as the style dictates in order to taste as expected.   We accomplish this by building a water profile, creating a grain bill, calculating a hop addition schedule, and determining a yeast pitch that will create the proper beer.

A great deal of the beers brewed by DuVig are ‘session beers’ (~5% ABV or less), but brewing session beers is not the deciding factor of how the beer will be brewed by DuVig and how we want it to taste.  We do not take traditional beers and make them into session beers.  Several of the beers we have brewed are over 5% ABV: Moxie 5.2%, Bock 6.2%, and the soon to be released IPA will be 6.2%.  The vast majority of beer styles fall within the session range, so a great deal of DuVig’s beers automatically become session beers.

In the next write-up; Hop Bitterness vs. Hop Flavor