Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mocha mash-up

Brewery neighbors Iron Hill and Flying Fish will pour a firkin of two blended stouts on Saturday (note the word firkin, limited quantity) in a union they've dubbed as a Jersey's Finest moment.

The collaboration finds IH's Luca Brasi Coffee Stout blended with FF's Exit 13 Chocolate Stout and parked on some whole vanilla beans and cocoa nibs for a month or so.

On his blog, IH brewer Chris LaPierre says the idea for a coffee-chocolate stout struck him during a swing over to Flying Fish in Cherry Hill to pick up some yeast in November.

While there, Chris sampled to the soon-to-be-released Exit 13, FF's most recent Exit Series brew, and immediately thought it would combine quite well with the coffee stout he shepherded through the brewing process with Scott Davi and Jim Carruthers, the winners of the homebrew contest IH sponsored last year.

The resulting mash-up brew first went public at an event Philadelphia in December, and now comes to Iron Hill's Maple Shade location for a noon tapping.

But, thanks to some fridge overstocking on our part – a leftover growler of Luca Brasi from Nov. 9 (the first day it went on tap at IH) and a bottle of Exit 13 – we can tell you what this brew will taste like, approximately anyway.

Made with cold press coffee and whole coffee beans kept in the serving tank, Luca Brasi (4-plus percent ABV) has a smooth, robust java signature, with a bouquet that's as inviting as fresh pot of joe on a Sunday morning.

Brewed with a boatload of Belgian chocolate, Exit 13 (7.5 percent ABV), in the words of FF brewer Casey Hughes, is like drinking a chocolate bar.

Taken together (in our case, blended in a pitcher*), you get a very pleasant nose of coffee, a stout flavor, a chocolate ganache and a sweet finish that answers the coffee taste that heartily peeks around the edges.

But you judge for yourself.

*Special thanks to Tim Kelly of the Tun Tavern in Atlantic City, Gretchen Schmidhausler of Basil T's in Red Bank and Mark Haynie of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News for helping out with the Luca-13 tasting last week. Speaking of the Tun and Basil's, stay tuned for their collaboration brew.

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