Northern Pine Porter

What up all, it’s back. Blogging in style, hiding in the Dangerous Man basement as they racket upstairs. So let’s talk. Let’s talk beer and get on with it.

Porters have a long history in the English and American brewing world. They started out brown, they jumped to black, lost their name to stouts, found a popular reassurgance as the new kid in school but then we’re found to be less cool than their younger brother again. So what do we say about a style that really can’t find a way to explain itself in the modern world? We could wax on the past, but that really wouldn’t help explain the beer you’re caring to read about, the beer the Dangerous Man crew has brewed.

Northern Pine looking delicious!

Northern Pine looking delicious!

There is a distinctive shift in the brewing world of why a beer is made. Some are made for their flavor and the necessary profit generated off of them and some are made for a ulterior purpose than profitable return and these beers tend to be specially crafted. Their ideas are taken from popular culture, their ingredients from the strange, their styles link to their purpose, all for a goal. This is the pride and joy of brewing that goes above the happy rays that dance down on the brewing industry day in and out.

The Northern Pine Porter is one of these beers. Our brewers, Keigan, John, and Ramsey, combined their efforts with a Mr. John Buck who works with Northern Pine Longboards, a 100% skater-owned company of Minnesota. The idea was to create a beer that could be showcased in the Dangerous Man Taproom during a charity event put on by the Northern Pine Longboards company. This beer needed to have an edge, needed to feature wood, and needed to be held accountable to both companies high standards.

The Northern Pine Porter is a complex beer. It has notes of roast, oak, vanillins, an expressive and changing mouthfeel, and a crisp, fall finish. Oak chips were used during fermentation to lend their flavor and allow for a quick yeast flocculation. The yeast fermented quickly in this beer giving it a drier draw, which the oak steps in and adds plenty of body to. This provides a round, dry body which is not a common occurrence in the world of beer. Pine was considered for the beer but turned out to be to resinous of a wood to put into beer.

Poster

The charitable event will be held at Dangerous Man and will feature 8 local longboard craftsmen. 40% of each board sold will be donated to the individual’s choice charity. Two companies, Northern Pine run by Brian Williams and LongFellow Boards run by Jon Buck, will be featured at the event with their expert wares. Dangerous Man will also be donating a portion of every glass sold of Northern Pine Porter to a charity of their choice. Our first food truck, LuLu’s Cafe, will be out front selling food.

Dangerous Man will also feature several iterations of the Northern Pine Porter including our normal taps, Nitro taps, and infusion kegs dreamed up by our Head Brewer Keigan Knee. These infusion kegs feature a 4″ welded on port to regular 1/2 bbl kegs that make infusions easier and cleaner to do. The infusion will be Northern Pine Porter with oak chips infused with bourbon, which will be absolutely, withoutafirkingdoubt, delicious.

Life is good here at Dangerous Man. We’re happy to be blogging again.

Drink local, drink Dangerous!

Belgian Dark Strongs are an enigma of a style. They share certain characteristics with Belgian Quadruples while in many peoples minds they have a distinct separation. Traditional Trappist beer designations were based on initial gravity readings, for example, a gravity of 1.060 would be designated as 6, and a gravity of 1.080 would be designated as an 8. We can see these designations still with La Trappe Brewery’s beers. This helped to designate the stylings of Single, Dubbel, Tripel, and Quadruple. A Dubbel is twice the gravity of a single as, whereas a Triple is three times the gravity of a single. These days, a mix of secular and trappist breweries use these designations as well as their own, creating dynamic process of naming conventions.

American craft brewers have taken these styles and continued to expand their definitions. Belgian breweries tend to get locked into style and product and maintain those brew standards for the life of the brewery, changing only out of financial necessity. American breweries find themselves with a bit more freedom with their product, and regularly have seasonal varieties, one-offs, and generally special brews allowing them to play with flavor profiles and recipes. Designations such as Dubbel, Dark Strong, Tripels, etc. are often thrown into the mix and stretch the definitions of styles already set in place. This “stretching” then streches customer and expert expectations of styles creating the dynamic definition process beer is constantly undergoing. One very popular product tends to change defined styles, which is something that can often be seen in the beer world.

The Belgian Dark Strong style generally indicates that it is stronger in alcohol content than Tripels and is darker than the typical golden color. It is definitely a sibling with the Belgian Golden Strong, both of which are very similar to their counterparts, the Tripel and the Quadrupel. The alcohol content of Belgian Dark Strongs are generally over 8% and they have large fig, plum, and dried cherry fruit notes. Spicey phenols from the Belgian yeasts compliment the sweeter malt flavors. A slight alcohol warmth should be present, but generally blends into the malt bill.

Dangerous Man’s Belgian Dark Strong is dark russet in color, and has pleasant toffee, caramel, and rye spice on the nose. It’s draw is a little over medium-bodied and the sweet malt tones are clipped by the bittering hop presence. Notes of toffee, caramel, plums, and figs are present in this beer, as well as a dry, spicey note. As the beer warms, new flavors emerge for a increasingly complex beer.

Smoked Porter

Dangerous Man’s Smoked Porter has come online!

All malts used to be smoked. Green malt, after it’s been soaked in water and begins to germinate, is kilned to stop the germination process and to add specific flavor components. In old times this kilning had to be accomplished through wood fires. Until the invention of coke, a fuel source created from coals and petroleum products that has a high carbon content, wood fires were all that was to dry malt besides sunlight, which took much longer and did allow for some barley to germinate ultimately losing part of the grain yield. So all malt used to be smoked, leading to a smoke presence in just about every beer up until the 1600’s with the patent of coke in Great Britain.

Today, smoked malts tend to be regional and highlight specific wood qualities or styles. Weyermann is known for the oaked-smoked malts, as well as Baird’s and Simpson’s for their peated malts. There are relatively few commercial providers of smoked malt, limiting many brewery options to the malts available. This is in no way diminishes a brewer’s creativity with beer, as these malts can be paired with many styles and other grains for new flavor dynamics– from bold and smoky, to subtle and enhancing.

Wood consists of three polymers: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. When burned, these different polymers are released as volatiles, each with specific flavor compounds that they can imbue onto the product being smoked. It is claimed that lignin is where the best flavor compounds are found and is generally reached when the burn temperature is around 400 degrees Celsius. Wood smoke is generally placed on top of coals or another fuel source to reduce large flames and control temperature, thus giving the malt consistent flavors. The flavor compounds stick to the water on the malt and are absorbed into the grain itself. When the water evaporates off it also takes along with it other volatile compounds, such as acetic acid (vinegar), that would produce off-flavors in the beer.

Smoking malts, or fish or sausage or even… hops!, is a relatively simple process. To smoke anything you need to use hardwoods, as softwoods such as pines and firs release an ugly tasting gases called terpenes. The dried hardwood, either wetted or left dry based on preference and intent, is palced over a fuel source, begins to smolder, and releases smoke. This smoke is directed towards a bed where the malt is resting, after having passed through several screens to catch any ash traveling along with it. This description is generally for a homebrewer or commercial brewer smoking their own malts, larger maltsters use their specific woods to dry green malt completely and make ready for sale, whereas the description above is to be used on already dried malt purchased from a distributor. Either way, the process and intent are very similar, to give the beer a delightful and delicious smoky presence.

Dangerous Man’s Smoked Porter is a blend of the rustic and the delicate. The aroma is sweet and smokey, reminiscent of Midwest campfires and bitter chocolate nibs. Full bodied, this porter is a balance of chocolate, roast, and beechwood-smoke which adds hints of vanillins to the flavor; a savory and thoughtful pint.

Vienna IPA

Dangerous Man is happy to present it’s Vienna IPA!

This amalgamation beer can be broken down into several segments so that we can figure out the intention of each ingredient. Unlike a lot of American IPAs, Dangerous Man’s Vienna IPA has a forward and complex malt bill that interacts and compliments the hops, instead of only bringing the hops forward. We’ll start with the base malt, move to the adjuncts, move to the other adjuncts, and then round this out with the hops.

The base malt of this beer is Vienna malt, which has it’s origins in Vienna, Germany. It is a malt kilned at slightly higher temperatures than pilsner malt giving it a more caramel complexion and imbibes a slightly red hue to the beer. By kilning at a higher temperature, the diastatic power of the malt (the ability of the “diastase” enzymes, alpha and beta amalyase, to break down complex starches into simple sugars in the mash), is lessened, though only slightly. This makes it an excellent malt to make a complete malt bill out of, or just use to strengthen the body, color, or particular flavor qualities of a beer. Vienna malt offers nutty, bready, and slight caramel flavors to beer.

Vienna malt, and lager, has a very complex history that involves several breweries in Germany, Austria, and Denmark, missions to the UK to secure malting techniques, and the great work of Louis Pasteur in the now worldwide principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization. Anton Dreher used techniques learned and perfected in the UK to produce a lighter kilned malt that created a “bright” color in his lagers. After the isolation of pure-cultured, single-celled yeast was isolated at Carlsberg it began to be used all over Germany, helping to define that regions style and lagers all around the world. Vienna malt and yeast went hand-in-hand to create a very popular lager in its time. Unfortunately, the Vienna lager has fallen in disarray, and is often not produced in the region it hails from, but instead has transferred over Mexico with the immigration of Austrian brewers, and has a strong presence there still. For more information on this subject, read this post, “The Birth of Lager,” by famed beer expert Michael Jackson.

The Adjuncts 

The Vienna IPA also features the adjunct malts of Chateau CaraGold, Flaked Oats, and Golden Naked Oats. The Chateau CaraGold comes from Castle Malting of Belgium. It adds a striking golden color to the beer and emphasizes caramel flavors already present. This malt was used to enhance the color and visual depth of the Vienna IPA, giving it a pleasant appearance, as well as an impressionable malty quality.

Oats, in general, thicken the body of beer and create a creamy draw. Simpson’s golden naked oats act as a dehusked crystal malt that imparts a nutty flavor and thickens up the body of the beer. They are a unique malt and are similar to crystal rye and are often found in porters and stouts, though many American brewers find places for them in their beer. Generally, the golden naked oats are used on the lighter side as an adjunct because their dehusked nature can cause for a sticky and stuck mash, creating many headaches for brewers on brew days.

Okay dokey, part way through.

Grade B Maple Syrup 

Maple syrup was added during the boil of the Vienna IPA. Grade B maple syrup is harvested at the end of the harvest season, is generally located closer to the center of the tree, and has a darker color. It also has less sugary sweetness of typical Grade A maple syrup that we traditionally use for pancakes and every other breakfast food, and instead has a much stronger “maple tree” or “woody” punch. This flavor will blend in with the nutty notes of the Vienna base malt, and the berry and caramel notes from the Chateau CaraGold and Simpsons Golden Naked Oats, creating a beer with a very complex malt character whose subtleties lie in the interaction between grains and sugars.

Hops

We’ve reached the finish line of our Vienna IPA description: hops. This beer utilizes Warrior, Simcoe, Willamette, Crystal, and Chinook at various points in the boil, and some during dry hopping, to create a piney, earthy, and pungent aroma to this beer. These hops were chosen for their specific flavor and aroma qualities to best enhance the woody aspects of this beer.

Dangerous Man’s IPA  has a pronounced hop presence with distinctive earth and pine notes. Supported by a woodsy and woody malt nose, and very rounded draw. Wide, bitter, with a dry finish, this IPA is distinctive to Minnesota’s Midwestern roots and features.

Single Hop Series #4: Summit IPA

Dangerous Man is proud to released their fourth IPA in their Single Hop Series: the Summit IPA.

sip sip siparoo

sip sip siparoo

The single hop series is meant to showcase distinctive qualities of individual hops using beer as a control. The malt and yeast do not change, and the fermentation controls are kept as similar as possible, and the hop additions are kept at the same time to emphasize how different hops actually are. Differing oil contents, high or low alpha and beta acids, and crop year and harvest time all play a huge role in hop flavors that express themselves in beer. By making this single hops series, customers and brewers can get a better understanding of the hops that they are using.

Summit hops are one of the few commercial semi-dwarf hops available. Dwarf hops are grown on low trellis systems, a system that has been played with by hop growers for a long period of time but which has gained momentum in that past 20 years. Instead of the tall maypole structures that hops are typically grown on, low trellis hops are grown on 9 ft. tall trellis’ that are often used in the wine and apple growing worlds. Low trellis systems are being studied as to whether they lower production costs without affecting quality standards of the hops.

According to a study done in Oregon on the utilization of conventional and dwarf hop varieties on low and tall trellises, low trellises cut down on labor during the hop season by cutting down stringing and training of the hops, cut the need to arch the hops, and required no handpicking during harvesting. Instead of being trained to follow the string upwards, conventional hops are instead “tricked” into growing along the horizontal path provided by the trellis. This is done by cutting of the very tip of the plant (apical meristem) which produces growth hormones and instead promotes lateral stem formation. It turned out the yield of conventional hops on the low trellis is lower than conventional hops on tall trellises to widely variable degree, some as high as 80% and some as low as 26%. It looks as if the effectiveness of low trellis systems on conventional hops is dependent on the hop variety and the place. Research is continuing to see if the reduction in cost makes up for the reduced yield of the conventional hops on the low trellis.

Dwarf hops, such as the Summit used in Dangerous Man’s IPA, were bred specifically to be grown on low trellis systems and act differently than conventional hops. They do not need to be trimmed on the top as conventional hops do, and they space themselves out to have more uniform hop growth from top to bottom. All true dwarf varieties are controlled by the English Hop Association as much of the initial research originated over in England, though private breeding from the American Dwarf Hop Association has been licensed and practiced within the United States. The Summit hops used in Dangerous Man’s Single Hop IPA was sourced from the American Dwarf Hops Association and grown in Yakima, Washington.

Summit hops have huge oil contents and a ridiculous amount of alpha acids. This makes them a unique hop for flavor and aroma, but very practical for bittering. The higher the alpha acid is on a hop, the less you need to utilize during the bittering addition to achieve similar affects. The high oil contents of the myrcene, humulene, caryophyllene create the powerful citrus fruit notes found in the nose, and produce a resinous quality in the draw of the beer itself. This hop is stated to be currently handpicked, though there is the possibility that the trellis picking equipment has been purchased and is being used, and for the only dwarf variety, low-trellis hop grown in Yakima, it is very popular!

Dangerous Man’s Single Hop Series #4: Summit IPA is distinct, bright, and earthy. Strong pine and earth notes come from the oily Summit hops as expressions of citrus and fur trees jump from the glass for a refreshing and earthly aroma. The draw is medium bodied that ends with a pleasant and lasting bitterness. An amazing example of how distinctly hops effect each individual brew.

Barrel-Aged Beer

Recently, Dangerous Man Brewing Company was offered the opportunity to barrel-age their Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout in a Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel. This beer was presented in the VIP tent of the Winter Beer Dabbler and made a definite impression. We thought we’d give you some background to barrel-aged beer, some history, some process, and in all honesty, some longing to a beer poured and gone.

Before the use of stainless steel tanks, most modern fermentations wine and beer took place in/on wood. When wet, wood expands and creates a water-tight seal making it the go to product for transporting or holding wet goods. Coopers, masters of barrel-making, cut the wood into staves of particular size and length, use heat to bend the staves, bind them with wooden or metal hoops, and fill them with water so that the wood expands to create a seal.  Barrels were very useful for holding a variety of goods in a world before pallets, shrink wrap, and complex metallurgy.

For the most part, the barrel world was reserved for spirits and fermenting wine, while much of the beer world was using large foedres to ferment and wooden firkins or casks to distribute and carbonate. Because of the short carbonation times on the beers in the casks and firkins, they are and were consumed quite quickly, lending slight wood flavors to the beer and most likely just increasing the thickness of the beer’s draw. Much of the strong wood flavors that we often associate with wines, such as oaked chardonnay, were not present in the beer world as carbonation was hard to hold, and I don’t think there’s a person in the world who enjoys flat beer.

Barrel-aging seems to be a relatively new trend in the beer world, as stronger stouts, porters, and barley wines find pleasant aging and oxidation when sitting on barrels. Barrel aging helps to lend tannins and vanillins to beers, both drying them out and adding distinctive vanilla tones. Because each barrel is charred on the inside, to sanitize the barrel and insure a huge amount of the liquid inside isn’t soaked into the wood, there are often elements of toasted wood imparted into the beers. Large alcohol beers are put into barrels as over time alcohol and water evaporate out of the barrel in process dubbed, “the angel’s share.” Through time and evaporation, beers that started out with large alcohol contents and are quite hot to consume, mellow out, become softer, more-rounded, and become more complex in flavor.

Virgin barrels are rarely used in the beer world, as they are more expensive and tend to give too much “woody” flavors. Instead, whiskey, wine, and other spirit barrels, are re-purposed as beer aging barrels. This creates unique taste blends of the original beer, the unique flavor of the woods itself, and remnants of whatever liquid was previously held in the barrel. If you search in the beer world today, you’ll find beer aged on whiskey, port, wine, tequila, Tabasco, brandy, and any other sort barrel that has held spirit to age on. Beer is made for the barrel, so different styles of beer are now being made dependent on what kind of barrel the brewery has purchased. You’ll often find sours in wine barrels, stouts in whiskey and brandy barrels, belgians in liqueur barrels, and weird amalgamations in just about everything else.

Often barrels are used for several years before they become inoculated with wild yeasts and bacteria, such as brettanomyces and lactobacillus. Once a barrel is infected there is nothing you can do to remove these somewhat problem yeasts. Instead, brewers can purposefully sour and funk their beer by aging them in these barrels and allowing the bacteria and yeast to consumer whatever leftover sugars are left in the beer. The bacteria and yeast can consume sugars typical beer yeast can’t, allowing beers to gain more alcohol content, become drying, and gain a flavor complexity that can’t be found when fermenting with a typical brewer’s yeast. Sour programs are starting up all over the country, and have become one of the more popular styles in the beer world.

Dangerous Man’s Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout (ICMS) aged on Wild Turkey oak barrel, was fanatastic! The large chocolate additions in the ICMS became balanced by the rich vanilla and bourbon flavors imparted by the wood and whiskey, respectively. Further additions of cocao nibs were added to the barrel to round out the original chocolate flavor. Due to the angel’s share and the natural oxidative nature of wood, the beer gained a rounder, fuller draw than it’s original style and mellowed out the heat of the huge ABV beer. This was a very limited run beer, and we’re sad to have seen it gone, but we hoped to give you an idea of what it was all about. Included below are some pictures of us filling and maintaining this barrel, with fingers crossed, hopefully we’ll see another one soon!

Check out some pictures of Keigan and John preparing the barrel below!

Keigan flushing and filling the barrel with water to ensure that it seals.

Keigan flushing and filling the barrel with water to ensure that it seals.

Keigan and John adding cacao nibs to the barrel for further chocolate flavor.

Keigan and John adding cacao nibs to the barrel for further chocolate flavor.

Keigan hammering the bung into place.

Keigan pounding on that bung.

The barrel carbonating. This purges out any leftover oxygen in the barrel.

The barrel carbonating. This purges out any leftover oxygen in the barrel.

The barrels resting place; tucked quietly away with the firkins.

The barrel’s resting place; tucked quietly away with the firkins.

Peated Scottish Ale

Try to miss this!

Try to miss this!

Scotland has a very intense and long tradition of brewing, and as with their accent, it is muddled, convoluted, and might be the most beautiful thing in the world. Evidence of brewing has been found in Scotland as early as the 4th millenium BC, and as new groups moved into, conquered, and established cultures in the British Isles, especially Scotland, brewing practices and ingredients have become more varied and complex. This established cultural styles and brews, including ales using heather, bog myrtle, and other local ingredients particular to Scotland. These ingredients were used before the advent of hops and their utilization in the brewing industry. 

Most of the Scottish ales we think of today are throwbacks to styles that have fallen out of popularity due to the influx of pale lagers, industry conglomeration, and lack of popular demand. Scottish ales are maltier than their English equivalents, and as some have speculated, this is because of the lack of hop growing fields in Scotland proper, due to the cooler weather. Hops had to be imported in Scotland and as the rise of Industrialization and the wars that followed, hops became very expensive to bring over.

There was a trade-off to the cooler, northern climate, as Scottish brewers were able to brew year-round in the days before refrigeration and temperature control. England’s summer would be too warm to ferment properly, so they would import Scottish ales. The individualistic breweries of Scotland became world renowned and were a large inspiration to the individualistic stylings of Belgian breweries we’ve become familiar with today.  With the creation of proper refrigeration, England’s brewing practices could continue year-round, and with their hop fields, they could hop their beer to a cheaper and larger degree thus preserving it longer as it traveled around the world. This was a huge loss to Scotland, whose breweries never seem to recover and have waned down to a handful in the entire nation. 

As of the 20th Century, Scottish Ales have been designated by their cost per barrel which is a general indicator of alcohol content. 60-, 70-, 80-, 90-, and 100-shilling are all popular designations of Scotch and Scottish ales and are indicative of their strength, and sometimes their color, though this fashion seems to have disappeared, or at least ignored in the United States. Within the more recent beer guidelines there is a designation between Scottish and Scotch ales, the former being lighter in alcohol while the latter generally applies to style dubbed as “wee heavy”. Wee Heavy’s are barleywine-esque in style and have recieved the name of “Scotch” to differentiate them from other Scottish ale styles. In general for Scotch ales, the lower the alcohol content, the darker the beer. This most likely came from using larger amounts of caramel or colored malts to give the beer flavor and some sweetness while the sugar-rich base malts were scaled back to control alcohol content.

Breweries could also have used first runnings for base malts (generally pale malts such as Golden Promise, grown in Scotland) for larger alcohol beers, topped off the mash with caramel malts for flavor and used the second-runnings, or sparge, as their lower alcohol content beers. This would create stronger, lighter beers and milder, darker beers.

There is often confusion surrounding the presence of peat, or peat flavor, in Scottish style ales. Peat is a mass of partially decayed vegetation that is used as a fuel source around the world, and in particular Scotland, Ireland, and the Britain. Scotch whiskys, especially Islays, often have a peat presence from peat-kilned malts as Scotland is rich in peat bogs and peat-rich moors. Peat, as a flavor in Scottish ales, is typically restrained and generally not from peated malts themselves, but rather from water sources running from peat-rich areas, from flavors thrown off from the cold-fermenting ale yeast, and from Maillard reactions from longer boils in the kettle which the Scottish. Longer boils can add a richer color to the beer without adding further caramel malts.

That being said, it is very hard for American brewers to have water sources running through peat, and it is often the wandering day dream of Scotland and their wonderful moors and purple-heather hills that has us use peated malt to fulfill our highland fantasies.

Dangerous Man Brewing is more than excited to present our Peated Scottish Ale! Soft, toffee-brown in color, this beer is malt forward and features the Scottish grown malt, Golden Promise. Body and Caramel malts help to thicken the draw of this beer and give a rounded caramel and toffee sweetness. There is undertone of peat on both the nose and in the flavor that plays with the East Kent Goldings and Fuggles hop bitterness and earthiness. A cold-fermenting Scottish Ale yeast rounds out this Scottish-inspired brew by emphasizing malt flavors over ale yeast esters, creating a sweetness rather than a pronounced fruitiness that characterizes their English beer counterparts.

Hoist to the heavens, and be free of Kings.

Drink local, drink Dangerous!