I think back to those Muslim alchemists of yesteryear. The discoveries they made by mixing various elements to create the groundwork for what would become the science of chemistry. Alchemy though, was part science and part magic.
And on days like yesterday, I’m convinced that there still are a few alchemists out there. My friend Matt Long is one.
The Big Sky head brewer called me into his office during a recent visit and told me he wanted me to try something. Now many people know Matt for producing some of Montana’s most well-known beers in Moose Drool, Trout Slayer, Scape Goat and Summer Honey. What many don’t know is that Matt likes to tinker with some brilliant new brewing ideas.
Take his wine-barrel aged Belgian Tripel for instance. Blended magic is what I call it.
Well, Matt even dazzled our resident wine writer, Kate Murphy, who is admittedly anti beer, with his newest creation.
Toying around with some of his Smoove Cherry Ale, Matt stored some in Grand Cru wine barrel for a while. He bottled some off, then, down there in the dregs of the barrel, where cherries mingled with beer and red wine, he found a little gem of a drink. Bottled and stored for a while, Matt popped one open for us to try.
Like cherry brandy or maybe an appassimento-style wine like Amarone, the cherries come off like rich leather and dried fruit with a silky smokiness to them. The beer, which mingles way beyond its traditional characteristics into the world of big red wines, is one-of-a-kind, and for now, it’ll have to stay that way. Matt’s not producing enough to sell.
However, if I can convince him of his genius, maybe we can talk him into brewing a big batch that we can all get our hands on.
Matt also stored some Smoove Cherry Ale in a port cask from Lake Missoula Cellars. While much richer and with darker, heavier characteristics traditionally associated with the port, this beer definitely had it’s own merits. The consensus was that the Smoove Cherry Grand Cru was tops.
Beer cans offer an entirely new world of marketing possibilities for craft breweries. Some are going with simplistic designs that recall the cans of yesteryear, while others are going with more sophisticated designs, like those above. Check out more Ramm ND designs here. Pretty creative stuff.
Now, beer is merited on the taste, so this would have to be pretty amazing beer to get it past the gatekeeper at my house.