Thursday, March 4, 2010

Czech pils pilot brew by Climax

A bit of déjà vu for Climax Brewing owner and brewmaster Dave Hoffmann. An eight-barrel batch of Czech pilsner lagering at his Roselle Park brewery was made with hopped malt extract.

"I'm making beer out of extract," Dave said, laughing and standing just off his brewhouse, amid 50-pound bags of malted barley he would normally brew with to produce his beers under the Climax and Hoffmann brands. "I'm going backward in time, going back to my beginning homebrew days."

But it's not nostalgia for The Brewmeister, the Cranford homebrew supply shop he owned before starting Climax Brewing 14 years ago, that has Dave skipping the mash. A couple of months ago, a Czech company hired Dave to produce a pilot brew for test marketing at bars in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. (One of the locations could be Barcade in Brooklyn, where Dave's doppelbock, helles and a cask version of his IPA are on tap.)

The company supplied the hopped, double-decoction-produced extract for the brew. "It's really good malt. It's not like the brewing malt extract you buy here," Dave said. (He added some Saaz hops at the end of the boil for a slight hop signature.)

Dave showed off the still young beer during a mid-February visit to his brewery. "When I made it, the wort tasted like an extract beer. Now that it's fermented out, it tastes like a good Czech pilsner," Dave said. "It's a little darker in color than what you might think a Czech pilsner would look like because it's extract. But it's a decent-tasting beer."

On Wednesday, Dave said the beer had rounded out more, tasting like Krusovice. "It's a bit caramel-ish up front and golden, slightly amber."

The beer is targeted for release just before St. Patrick's Day. Plans call for surveying bar patrons about the beer, providing them questionnaires on coasters to be completed and returned.

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