Monday, April 16, 2007

Kilobrew: The Brewmaster’s Reserve

This is where the sidewalk ends for session brews and you start thinking about beer as a dessert companion.

Deep, rich and full, Joe Saia’s Batch 1,000 Brewmaster’s Reserve Imperial Stout could be a great aperitif. But Saia thinks it just may be the perfect partner to chocolate raspberry cheesecake.

You’ll be able to make that call yourself very soon.

Sometime this month Saia, brewmaster at Long Valley Pub and Brewery, will put a round of the beer on tap to mark the 12-year-old Morris County brewpub’s 1,000th brew.

Exactly when it goes on tap, well, Saia is leaving that news to break on Long Valley’s website, so keep checking.

Is he being cagey? Not at all. The touch of mystery is just the way things are with a Russian style stout that stirs great expectations and gets some royal pampering.

Brewed earlier this year in the pub’s seven-barrel system (217 gallons) and clocking in at 9% ABV, the stout hit the fermenter two months ago.

Right now, three barrels-worth (93 gallons) are cold-conditioning at 32 degrees. The rest of the batch -- destined for some classy table-side presentation -- is enjoying an extended stay at slightly warmer temperatures in white oak bourbon barrels that Saia picked up from the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The charred oak that autographed the Kentucky whiskey’s flavor profile will do similar magic for Saia, imparting some caramel and vanilla notes in the stout (brewed with Warrior, a Pacific Northwest hop, at the lower hopping rate you’d expect for a stout), not to mention a hint of bourbon flavor.

And the word reserve in the stout’s name … Well, that’s not just talk. Saia does plan to methodically portion out this beer that’s rich enough for a czar and looms large like the domes at St. Basil's.

The oak-aged portion will go into 1-liter bottles for ordering not unlike a bottle of wine brought to your restaurant table. Look for that to start happening after mid-June. (Remember, this is New Jersey, and Long Valley is a brewpub, so you can only get the beer at the brewpub.)

The cold-conditioned portion of the batch will get rotated onto the bar taps in between the pub’s seasonal brews, so its availability will be a little longer.

Royal treatment. Indeed.

About Long Valley Pub and Brewery
Nestled in a bucolic part of Morris County at the foot of Schooley's Mountain, the brewery and restaurant are housed in a restored two-century-old barn constructed from fieldstone. (Settled by German Protestants in the 1700s, Long Valley -- part of Washington Township -- was once known as German Valley, so named because the scenic surroundings reminded its inhabitants of their ancestral home.)

The brewpub is a top tourist draw in Washington Township, where the craft beer takes its place beside artisanal foods, antiques stores and art shops.

Beers: Saia brews an array of English style ales, including German Valley Amber Ale, Long Valley’s Best Bitter, Long Valley Nut Brown Ale and Lazy Jake Porter. The latter two charmed the judges at the Great American Beer Festival, winning gold medals in 2005. Saia’s seasonal beer offering includes an Irish stout poured under nitrogen (kudos for that) and brewed with a Guinness touch to give it a signature tang.

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