I managed a long-overdue but all-too-quick visit to Red Brick Station yesterday, and found a surprise awaiting me.
First, Percolator. Not a dopplebock, but instead a 6.5% hoppy ale named after all the hops percolating inside the brew kettle. (Also on draft at Mahaffey's as of Thursday night...).
Second, A-10 Warthog IPA, named for, and brewed in part for, the military aircraft that are tested at nearby Martin State Airport. It's an outrageously hoppy 6.5% IPA, perfect for hopheads fond of the thought of picking hop cones out of their teeth after drinking, full of fresh aromas and grapefruity hop bite. Brewer Mike McDonald explained it thus: "The test pilots at Martin converge here for lunch and drinks every test day that gets canceled because of inclement weather--and lately that's about one day a week. We brewed up the beer with them in mind, and when we named it after the plane, they gave us the picture now hanging on the wall there!" Another difference is the yeast: instead of the "house" Ringwood yeast, McDonald fermented the beer with a batch of "Chico" yeast, made to replicate Sierra Nevada's house strain, acquired from nearby DuClaw Brewing.
Winter Solstice Ale is just around the corner, a deeply roast porter that, in the premature sample from the aging tanks, had a lot of coffee notes, but is held to a drinkable 5.5%. It features 20 pounds of cocoa nibs, along with vanilla--"the vanilla is only a chocolate flavor enhancer, just like commercial milk chocolate," said McDonald. The finished product will probably have richer chocolate flavors but a dry finish.
McDonald said of an earlier batch of Highlander Heavy that was on draft a month or more ago: "That was a last keg that was sitting around in the back of the cooler. I haven't even gotten around to brewing this year's batch, but I have to tweak the recipe again." It seemed that last year's batch dramatically demonstrated the huge difference that different malt suppliers can make; a blend of the same malt specifications from a different malster produced a result not to McDonald's satisfaction, and one that didn't age well, either, if some reviews of that last keg are to be believed.
Range Bag Evolutions
14 hours ago