Friday, April 26, 2013

Local Series: VT – Peak Organic Brewing Company

            It has been a while since I interviewed Jon Cadoux, co-founder of Peak Organic Brewing Company.  During the interview, he mentioned a local series that they run, highlighting ingredients from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, or New York.  The concept is a simple one, brew an American Pale Ale with the same recipe four times using the same malt and hop bills, but change the source of the ingredients for each beer.  Ideally, this could help identify which hop and grain producers can give you the flavors you are looking for in every beer you brew.  Terroir is everything in wine, coffee, chocolate and tea; the Local series is a subtle statement that it also impacts the flavors of the base ingredients in a beer, and therefore effects the final beer.

            Here in Wisconsin we are unable to get many of the Peak Organic beers, and are only rarely lucky to get a few of their special releases.  Fortunately, having family in Vermont has its perks and I was able to obtain a bottle of the Vermont Local Series beer.  Speaking with Jon about it last July, and drinking a few of his other beers really made me excited to try Vermont, so as soon as I got the bottle I chilled it and opened it.  On to the review!

On Beeradvocate, Vermont has a score of 82.  At ratebeer, it does not have enough reviews for a score.

They Say:
Website Description

            This series is a celebration of tasty local ingredients and distinctive terroir. We brewed four beers, each with barley and hops from one particular state (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York). Each beer in the series was brewed according to a similar recipe, to achieve an ale that is assertively-hopped and dry-hopped, but also bold in its malt character. Since the recipe is consistent, the flavor difference in each beer results from the distinctive local terroir. Working with skilled farmers to craft this series has been an exceptional experience for us. We hope you enjoy the result.
Abv:  6.9%  IBU 67

From the Bottle:

            This series is a celebration of tasty local ingredients. The Local VT is an assertively hopped ale, brewed with organic Vermont barley and Vermont hops. A generous dry hopping highlights the engaging aromas from these local hops. Each beer in the Local Series is brewed with ingredients from a different state. The recipe stays consistent, so the flavor differences in each beer in the series result directly from the local terroir. Working with the skilled local farmers to craft this series has been an exceptional experience for us. We hope you enoy the result.

From my Past Interview with Jon:

The big focus was on the hop side with Nugget hops.  We found that the Nugget hops from each state had a ton of variability.  The Maine hops for example had a robust citrus component; whereas the Vermont hops had a much more spicy character.

I Say:

            Vermont pours a very clear amber with a thick, creamy, white head that holds moderate retention and leaves thick lacing on the edges of the glass.  The aroma has caramel, and slightly bready malts with grapefruit and spicy hop notes, with a hint of raisins. 

The flavor is bready and slightly earthy with pronounced grapefruit and spicy hops.  The raisiny notes that present in the aroma are noticeably absent in the flavor.  The finish is smooth and mellow with a citrusy caramel aftertaste and a moderate, lingering hop bitterness.  Vermont is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level.

The Local Series Vermont is an interesting and complex beer that remains very approachable for most craft beer drinkers.  It is a good, solid American Pale Ale with a strong malt backbone, and an assertive, Nugget focused hop bill.  It was amazing to experience the usually floral and piney Nugget express a citrusy and spicy character due to the local growing conditions in Vermont.  Not having had the other Local Series beers, I am now more interested than ever in tasting the differences in each.

            This is an excellent beer, and I applaud Jon and everyone else at Peak Organic for showing how the terroir of the ingredients effects the final beer.  A word of warning though, Peak Organic beers are bottle conditioned, which means there will be a layer of yeast on the bottom.  When drinking a beer with yeast, it is important to try to pour the beer subtly enough to not stir up the yeast (at least for most styles).  That said, go out and buy a bottle of Peak Organic beer, just be careful when you pour it.

            That’s all for today, check back next week for another post!

            Happy Drinking!

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