Sunday, February 26, 2017

Guilty Pleasure: Juice Dumping Behind Closed Doors

My father used to say... and he still does, "Fruit doesn't belong in beer, son." He's the type of dude that will halt a bartender about to put a lime in a Corona like a robber caught red-handed. And I get it. And I understand a lot of beer purists think the Eastcoast juice-bomb IPA trend is trash. And there is suspicion around some breweries, that they dump juice in their beer post-brewing. But as an Oregonian that started my craft beer drinking adventures disinterested in bitter Westcoast IPAs, and what I thought at the time was how all IPAs tasted. Flash forward to living in Brooklyn, NY during the N.E. IPA boom, in a city making some of the best of this style in the country. Flash forward again-- I move to Seattle, WA where a legit Eastcoast IPA is pretty hard to come by. My current mindset is: juice dumping? Hell yeah juice me, gimme the juice, I need the juice.

So I started doing some research-- which beer styles made the best bases to add juice to, and which juices blended best to compliment each style. After what felt like attending an in-home beer festival, I found an exceptional pairing for 6 craft beers ideal for juice-blending and their perfect juicy match.

Pairing 1: Toppling Goliath - PseudoSue (Pale Ale) blended with Welch's Grape Juice. 
Anticipating that this was going to amount to nothing more than sacrificing one of the best Pale Ales in the country to the drain pour gods-- I was ecstatic to discover, after finding the proper ratio of Welch's grape juice that it turned out fantastic.  In-fact almost comparable to Other Half Grape Contemplate. For whatever reason most breweries have strayed from grape flavors sans wine grapes like Pinot Noir. Perhaps because there aren't many hop varieties that manifest grape juice notes on their own.  Grape and Pale Ales are a match made in heaven due to the Pale's typically soft hop bitterness, and grape being one of the most interesting of the uncommonly brewed but easily accessible juice flavors to blend at home. 

Pairing 2: Stillwater Nu-Tropic (IPA brewed with Mango & Passion-fruit) blended with Kern's Guava Nectar. 
This super soft juice-bomb is a tropical fruit paradise as is. But just wait until you add Guava. If there was a beer cocktail made for every state in the U.S. then this combo would be a keen representative for Hawaii.

Pairing 3: Belching Beaver Deftones Phantom Bride (Westcoast IPA) blended with ICEE Slush Fruit Punch. 
I'll wait for you to finish laughing... This combination is actually quite magical. Keep the ratio of Fruit Punch low, like around 10-15% of the blend-- it's potent stuff. Revive your inner 8-year-old self, Fruit Punch is basically just sweet sugary nostaglia in the form of a squeezably fun juice-pouch. 

Pairing 4: Voodoo KillaPilz (Pilsner) blended with Kern's Peach Nectar. 
Peach has become semi-common place within IPAs and Sours, but peach and fruit in general have been pretty neglected from the Pilsner style. A crisp pils with a strong malt backbone and a hoppy finish such as KillaPilz makes an ideal home for the succulent summer stone-fruit. 

Pairing 5: Grist Berliner Weisse blended with Kern's Apricot. 
No Pimpin' isn't being sponsored by Kern's...  After tasting tons of juices I concluded that they make some of the best in the affordable and easily accessible juice on the market.  Sure straight from the farmer's market or fresh squeezed at home would be ideal but those aren't always very convenient options.  Grist makes this traditional style Berliner Weisse with the intent of having the drinker add syrup or juice to it themselves. The Apricot's sweet-tartness is a divine supplement to the Grist's wheat-bodied sourness. 

Pairing 6: Bridgeport Cream Ale blended with ICEE Slush Cherry Frost.
Cherry is used a lot in beer but the Cream Ale is a beautiful untapped vessel for the sweet dark fruit. Cherry Cream, It even sounds delicious, and it is. Just like the Fruit Punch I would recommend adding the Cherry Frost sparingly, its sweetness is pretty intense. About 10% worth and you'll have a frothy cherry dessert treat fit to substitute in place of your favorite cherry-vanilla soda fountain cream soda.