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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mill Street Launches Schleimhammer Roggenbier

I'd never had a Roggenbier until Tuesday night. And it wasn't a German produced one either. Or an American. It was a beer produced by Mill Street and they launched it before a good crowd at the Victory Cafe in Mirvish Village.

"A traditional German style rye beer that typically contains very large portions of rye. Expect a very pronounced spiciness and sour-like rye character, malty flavor, and a clean hop character. Often unfiltered and bottle-conditioned, Roggenbiers tend to be rather turbid and foamy." BeerAdvocate

Joel Manning, Mill Street's Brewmaster, had mentioned months ago that he was planning on brewing this and I was immediately intrigued. From Manning: "The Roggenbier has 30% rye malt, 20% wheat malt and 50% barley malt. Of the barley malt it has pale 2-row, caramel and chocolate malt. The hops are German Magnum variety and it is fermented with a German Hefeweizen yeast. What I like the best about the Roggenbier is that for a beer with as much complexity as this, it is still "table beer" and has a simplicity that makes it sessionable. Good 15th century peasant fare!"

The launch kicked off at 7pm as the upstairs loft was busy with a number of Mill Street sales representatives, LCBO employees, and some other pub owners; many people also sampling this style for the first time. Each individual was provided with two drink tickets and one food ticket that provided a huge ass pork schnitzel that went with some nice potato salad. The beer and the schnitzel together was pretty awesome.

My thoughts on the beer: Poured a lovely deep auburn leaning more towards brown with a dense tan head that hung around for a while. I got a lot on the nose right off the bat. Peat smoked moss, earthy barnyard like notes from the rye, and a slight charred smokiness, and a variety of sweet spicing. That peat smoked moss came out in the taste too and was joined by some fruity notes that I equated to green pears. The more I drank, the more it came out. A slight sourness, yet the malt helped balance it out. It all finished with a variety of sweet spices ending in a nice dry finish with a good amount of carbonation. Easily quaffable and good for a session, this 5.2% Roggenbier is not bad!

Manning shared some funny stories with us about the challenges they faced when they first attempted to brew it. "The mash was so heavy and thick that we couldn't mash it properly. We used the mashing paddle and it got stuck in all the goo. Rye goo, almost like a gelatin." After figuring out what to do the next time, Manning and brewing team experienced another situation when they went to empty the spent material from the lauter tun. "All the rye, wheat, and barley wouldn't budge. But when it did it cam flying out and made a terrible mess on the brewhouse floor (much to the entertainment of some patrons sitting near the windows that encompass the tanks).

This is yet another solid offering from Mill Street, and an extremely rare style for the brewer to try, and Joel and team pulled it off again. I'm really pleased with everything these guys have been doing lately.

Also brought up in conversation last night was Mill Street's future plans for seasonal releases. Coming up in mid-December will be a 7.5% Weizenbock to compliment their '09 Barley Wine and in February Manning will release his Imperial Stout that will use chocolate from SOMA, their next door neighbour in the Distillery District. The Scotch Ale will be back again, as will the Betelguese. The Milk Stout will not however be produced next year.

I can't say enough good things about what Mill Street is trying to accomplish with these seasonals. Yes, having the brewpub to experiment with is key, but it's almost as if the business has two seperate business plans: 1. to build up the core five brands and sell the hell out of them across Canada, and 2. to play around with beers like these that don't necessary make them a bunch of money, yet they keep the curious beer drinker happy.

The Roggenbier is available at the Mill Street brewpub and will be available at select Toronto pubs. Growlers will also be available down at the brewpub retail store. Also, the seasonal sampler will start hitting LCBO shelves tomorrow.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I found this neat overview of roggenbiers (because I didn't really know what they were before Tuesday either):

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