In case you aren’t hardcore into cocktails, it’s officially Negroni Week. June 6-12 are dedicated to the Negroni cocktail, made of just three ingredients – Campari, Gin, and Vermouth. (Despite celebrating booze, the week has great charitable intentions around the U.S.) New Belgium Negroni Beer, a new beer designed to taste like the cocktail, is making appearances this week as well.
Making a beer taste like a Negroni takes a little finesse. Gin is very herbal, Vermouth is a fortified wine infused with botanicals, campari follows suit. A beer to match that profile took a little more than hops and malts.
The base of New Belgium Negroni Beer starts simple, with pale malt and Nugget hops. From there, it’s gets weird/good. A host of ingredients are added, including Seville orange peel, mandarin orange juice, licorice, Indian coriander. That’s the end of list of things you might have heard of.
Next there’s horehound, an herb used in natural cough drops, Birchwood bark, which gives drinks like Birch Beer it’s herbal flavor, quassia root apparently tastes a bit like licorice and used for bitters, and cochineal. Cochineal is an insect. Yes, a bug. A creepy crawly.
Cochineal has historically been used to dye fabrics. The bug gives this beer a reddish tint. (Also, it’s basically harmless, alive, dead or drunk off it’s legs in your beer. ) All those ingredients help recreate gin and campari flavors.
From there, the beer is blended with New Belgium Blackberry Barleywine, and infused with toasted oak spirals in order to recreate the vermouth flavor.
New Belgium Negroni Beer is a draft only offering this week in select cities. Best best on finding this concoction? Check with your favorite cocktail spot.
Style: Herb/Spice Beer (w/ Orange Peel, Licorice, Coriander, Quassa Root, Cochineal, Birchwood Bark, Oak Aged.)
Availability: Draft only. Select cities
Release: Week of June 6th, 2016
6% ABV, 7 IBUs
Jester King Vulgar Affection, a nearly one year old farmhouse ale, releases today.
Like all of the brewery’s offerings, Jester King Vulgar Affection has a unique story. The love of foraging local ingredients for their beer, and Fantome’s Pissenlit beer, brought this beer into focus.
In summer of 2014, Jester King took lemon beebalm wildflowers from a field nearby, and dried the leaves and flowers. In September, head brewer Garett Crowell dried fresh horehound and made tea using all the dried ingredients. That tea was added to the end of the boil.
Vulgar Affection spent six months fermenting in stainless steel tanks, and four months bottle conditioning (bottled in April, 2015).
Jester King Vulgar Affection will be available in the tap room August 7th, at 4 pm. $12 bottle, 3 bottle limit per day.
Release: 8/7/15, First Release
5% ABV, 38 IBUS
Images via Jester King
A long time ago, before hops became widely available in brewing, spices were used to bitter beer. A mixture called fruit, was the bittering agent, a mix of spices such as juniper berries, ginger, aniseed, sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow & more. The use of gruit was mostly phased out by the 16th century.
New Belgium Brewing’s upcoming Lips of Faith release revisits a time where gruit was used to bitter. For Gruit, the brewery used a mixture of bog myrtle, horehound, yarrow, wormwood and elderflowers.
Just to brush you up on the spices, horehound has been used in cough drops for hundreds of years. (Black horehound is a sedative. Let’s assume it’s not in Gruit.) Yarrow and bog myrtle have been been used for both culinary and medicinal uses. Have you ever heard of absinthe? A big flavoring ingredient in that “green fairy” drink is wormwood.
Look for Gruit in 22oz bottles, and draft. Official New Belgium announcement coming soon.
Read more: Lips of Faith Series