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Better Beer Through Blending

Photo courtesy Andrew Ironmonger

Photo courtesy Andrew Ironmonger

In a brewery, sometimes stuff (use whichever synonym for that you wish) happens. The question is what you do with it. In the case of Lacombe’s Blindman Brewing had to answer that very question a little while ago.

When brewing what was supposed to be a Cascadian Dark Ale, a brewing assistant accidentally misread the recipe and added significantly more Midnight Wheat (a very dark yet soft flavoured malt) than called for. I have heard two different versions – that they added 10x the amount (22 kg vs. 2.2. kg) or 4x as the label says.

Let’s just say either way that was a problem. They scrambled to do what they could with the brew (adding more base malt, re-calibrating IBUs, etc.) but after fermentation declared it far too roasty and sharp. One option would have been to dump the beer and be done with it. Instead they decided to get creative.

They decided to blend the accidental creation with some of their other offerings to see what the could do with it. After testing a variety of options they settled in on 40% Mistake Beer/40% Session Ale/20% Longshadows IPA (CHECK %). The resulting beer reminded them of a hoppy brown ale.

And thus their one-time American Brown Ale was born!

I could cite sayings that include pig’s ears and silk purses or lemons and lemonade, but I am pretty sure you get the point. Instead let’s give the beer a try and see how it worked out.

The beer pours dark mahogany brown with a slight haze. The head is tightly formed, bubbly and light tan. In the aroma I get soft chocolate, nuts, a bit of a cola sweetness and a dark fruit character lingering in background. I also pick up a some fresh citrusy hop aroma lurking menacingly ready to pounce on your tastebuds.

The front flavour starts with a chocolate and nut sweetness along with some some cola sharpness that I can’t quite work out. The middle brings out a light roast note but just enough to sharpen the profile. At that point we also start the hop ascent. It starts lightly grassy and grows as the beer moves back until it becomes more noticeably grapefruit and pine. The linger has a strong, pleasant hop flavour, but with a touch of rough roastiness lurking in the background.

Not bad for fixing a mistake. I would say this honestly fits into the American Brown style. For me the hop character is the highlight, bright and citrusy. However, I find the  flavours don’t really meld properly. There is a lingering, underlying sharpness and astringency that refuses to go away and distracts from what the beer is trying to do. As a result it is not as smooth as I would like.

I don’t think this should be seen as a criticism. It was salvaging a mistake. When considering that context, they did a pretty damned good job of it. They created a very drinkable beer out of ingenuity, stubbornness and a good palate.

2 comments to Better Beer Through Blending

  • Old Coyote

    Tried the beer myself, it is a bad blend, they should have dumped it. I have tried all of Blindman’s products and this is the first real disappointment. A bad brew can sink a craft brewery, I hope they recover.

    • Adam Campbell

      Sorry, this beer is no longer available, all sold out.
      Hope all those (un)happy customers don’t walk away … with more beer.

      Thanks for the comment, its the thought that counts, I guess.

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