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Spring is fast approaching and for beer geeks this often means a switch from the brooding stouts to something lively and brisk.
A traditional saison that is light and refreshing is a good bet as the weather warms. Made to quench the thirst of farm workers, the style is typically low in alcohol and carries hints of lemon zest with a little peppery kick. But what happens when two Long Island brewers combine their shared love craft beer and heavy metal? You get the type of saison that cranks up those tasting notes.
Paul Komsic, head brewer for Patchogue’s Brickhouse Brewery and Peter Barraud, head brewer and co-owner of Riverhead’s North Fork Brewing Company, partnered to create a saison inspired by the metal band Between the Buried and Me.
Named “Between the Bourbon and We,” this brew is a blood orange and peppercorn saison aged with whiskey barrel staves.
The idea was born as Barraud and Komsic, board members for the Long Island Brewers Guild, bonded over multiple pints and a common fondness for heavy metal. Both are great music fans overall but leaned towards harder, more raucous stuff as their muse for the beer.
“Metal and hard rock are on both breweries’ playlists when we’re working,” Barraud said. “[The band] Between the Buried and Me… it’s a blend of totally cool ideas that come together for a very unique sound.”
This layering of sounds inspired the layering of flavors in the beer. A blend of black, white and pink peppercorns were added at specific intervals to create a distinct profile.
“[It’s] just like how a chef will use pepper [while creating] a dish to build the profile throughout,” Komsic said.
Saisons have a natural pepper note, particularly in the finish, which is a byproduct of the fermentation activity. The duo hopes the strategic application of actual peppercorn will give that note a boost.
Additionally, the ale is conditioned with oak barrel staves that once contained bourbon. Keeping it local, the barrels are sourced from nearby Long Island Spirits, the North Fork distillery best known for LiV, a potato-based vodka, and its Rough Rider series of whiskeys. Doing so adds oak nuances perhaps not normally present in traditional saisons, they said.
“The sweetness [of the blood orange] is a great counterpoint to the aromatics and flavor from the pepper,” Barraud said. “All these ingredients work as a team to create a balanced effect.”
By adding a twist to the standard saison recipe, Barraud and Komsic seek to pay homage to a traditional style while pushing the envelope a bit; a common chord with brewers.
“Blood orange [is noted up] front with a transition to light peppercorn and a finish of warmth and sweetness,” Barraud said. “I would pair this beer with pork belly marinated in teriyaki over a bed of rice… something fatty with a salty component.”
Or perhaps fresh oysters and mignonette, seared scallops and asparagus, a funky cheese board or, in keeping with Barraud’s suggestion, a rack of lamb with new potatoes.
Hitting the stage March 26, “Between The Bourbon and We” will be available at both The Brickhouse and North Fork Brewing Company’s tasting rooms. This a small batch release so make sure to try some before it’s all gone.