It was during one of his regular evenings out on the search for the perfect cocktail that our brewer Ben got hit with a bit of inspiration for our newest beer release. A beer lover, maker, and drinker, Ben is also a bit of a cocktail aficionado (with very high standards, we should add). This cocktail really spoke to him as it combined a blend of whiskeys served on a slate tray with smoldering cedar and orange peel. Its warmth and aromatic characteristics inspired Ben to decide to make a whiskey centered beer for Bandit’s winter beer lineup.
Our first (and only) experience brewing a Rye beer was with the Roggen, a special release for Bandit Oktoberfest 2016; a beer that proved to be a hit with our regulars due to its “easy-drinking” qualities and its ability to pair nicely with a variety of foods. This new Imperial Rye Ale shares a similar base with the Roggen but has a healthy addition of beechwood and peat smoked malts, which gives this beer an extra punch. This new beer comes in just north of 10% ABV and has a more complex caramel, molasses, and barrel character from its time aging in two French oak wine barrels.
Our Metamorphoses (Imperial Rye Ale, 10.22%) is the first official bottle release of our Fall/Winter beer lineup- most of which will be high gravity barrel aged beers, but the smoke and peat elements make this beer stand out from our other beer release plans. The peat smoke malt is used to give scotch and other whiskeys their distinctive taste, and here, it was used to bring forward the desired Islay or Highland element in the beer. The beechwood smoked malt gives it a more traditional wood-smoke aroma and helps to soften and round out the smoke element. A healthy amount of Caramunich malts is what brings forward the amber colour and the caramel sweetness. After three months of aging in the barrels, the beer continued to ferment, clarify, and impart the subtle oak character. Overall, the process has to be slightly slowed down compared to the way we brew other beers since rye can be a bit tricky to work with. Its high protein content can quickly turn the mash into a sticky, glue-like consistency, so we have to be extra careful when brewing with it.
We asked Ben, the brewer at the helm of this beer, to share with us what his experience brewing this extra-special Winter release was like: “Brewing it was the easy part. The fun part was trying it out of the barrel and watching it change every time; as it became stronger, drier, and with more oak character. It’s a firm reminder that beer is living, and sometimes the most fun you can have is watching to see what it will do when given the right amount of time.”
Our Metamorphoses (Imperial Rye Ale, 10.2%) will be available exclusively in our bottle shop as of Friday, November 17th.