Anyone that's interested with the craft beer industry in Ontario know that one of the places to go to get 'up to the minute' information is the Bar Towel website. The public forums are a great way to share information with a network of people who share the same passion for beer. It was on one of these forums that a homebrewer by the name of Derek Hyde posted one of his recipes - a Doppelbock recipe, after he found out he didn't win the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) contest to be a brewer for the day.
You see, last year the OCB ran a contest where individuals submitted their names for a chance to win an opportunity to help an OCB member brew for a day. The winning recipient wouldn't be creating anything new, they would just be assisting, and watching the brewmaster work his/her magic, learning about the whole process.
As I mentioned, Hyde didn't win. Instead, in September, he went to Bar Towel and created a topic called "If you won the craft brewer for a day...." and let everyone know what he would have liked to have done if his name was pulled from the ballot box. Little did Hyde know that Amsterdam Brewmaster Jamie Mistry was looking to do a new seasonal for the spring months (as Amsterdam recently added 480hls of fermentation capacity, giving them more flexibility to do more seasonals and test brews). The recipe caught the attention of Mistry, prompting him to send a message to Hyde inquiring if it would be fine to use his recipe at the brewery. *Just to note, Amsterdam is no longer a OCB member*
Hyde meanwhile was thrilled to have a commercial brewery interested in one of his recipes and had no objections to Amsterdam doing this what-so-ever. "I put the recipe together according to my taste, so I'm thrilled that Amsterdam brewed it and that other people are enjoying it," stated an excited Hyde after the beer was released at the Amsterdam retail store. "I didn't get involved in the brewing process though, but Jamie was great. He didn't just take the recipe and run with it, he was interested in all of the technical details of how I did the decoction mash (temperatures and rest times), as well as the specific hop additions during the boil. He really did try to reproduce the brew, without making any compromises."
"What interested me was that he (Hyde's recipe) attempted a triple decoction and it sounded like fun," stated Mistry early two weeks ago. " The three brewers and myself really enjoyed it, especially the decocation part. The brewery will definitely make more beers with this method."
The beer, which was released back in early March and called Amsterdam Strong Spring Bock (aka - Dehydrator), pours a very deep mahogany with hints of ruby red, and produces a wavy tan head with lingering retention. Each sip leaves behind rich lacing on the pint glass. Dark fruitiness with some noticeable peppery notes, sweet caramel, and a small touch of alcohol, which is masked very nicely, stands out in the aroma. The tongue picks up a bit of spicing up front, peppery (very subtle mind you), slight smoky-burnt caramel, sweet dark fruit, cherries, honey, a touch of dark chocolate, and a slightly warming alcohol burn. The Doppelbock is fairly bitter, medium to full bodied, medium level of carbonation, with a dry finish. Easily drinkable, and nice to share with friends.
When Amsterdam hired Mistry back in the summer of 2008 I went down to the brewery to talk to him and plant manager Andre Klinker, and both men stated that they would be tweaking the Amsterdam general products while incorporating some new brews into their line-up. This is the first of a number of seasonals that Mistry plans on brewing. He mentioned that they would like to produce a Schwarzbier and a Porter that would most likely only be available by heading down to the brewery for a six pack.
What a great story. It shows that a brewery is listening to the beer enthusiasts' out there. Not only are they listening, but Amsterdam actually did something to prove that they understand the market is changing. They took a risk that captured the attention of Toronto beer geeks and the venture has proved to be successful. Go for Amsterdam.
And Hyde, well, he is back at it, he recently started a new thread on Bar Towel titled "Ontario Craft Brewer Challenge" where he is asking other homebrewers to submit recipes in the chance another craft brewer might decide to incorporate it into their production. Who knows, we might start seeing a new trend in the industry. As for seeing his recipe in bottles at the retail store, Hyde thinks it's "really cool."
Available at the Amsterdam Retail Store $14.95 six pack
21 Bathurst Street
Monday - Saturday 11am - 11pm
Sunday - 11am - 6pm