Special Release: Cask Conditioned Wreck Alley Imperial Stout Infused With Mostra Fortissimo Espresso
Here at KARL, we’re always keeping busy. “Rest not on ye laurels”, said a smart person somewhere at some time, I think? In addition to our monthly Tank Tap series and our upcoming “12 Days of Christmas” Holiday Tripel, we also offer special release cask editions of our core lineup each week in our Brewery Restaurants and Tasting Room. Our brewers toil away to craft unique offerings using unconventional ingredients to add a twist to the beers you know and love. We want to highlight these fun creations from time to time here on the blog and get you the dirt on limited releases and one-off side projects that we’ve been brewin’ up.
For our weekly casks we’re always experimenting, but this one is special. We’ve partnered up with up-and-coming roasters Mostra Coffee to create a truly one of a kind version of our Wreck Alley Imperial Stout. Wreck Alley is traditionally brewed with a generous helping of locally sourced coffee, but we wanted to kick it up a notch. So, we cask conditioned it with a generous helping of artisanally roasted espresso from Mostra. This blend, known simply as “Fortissimo,” utilizes prized varietals from Sumatra, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Guatemala – creating a truly unique flavor profile that will further enhance Wreck Alley’s chocolate, toffee, and roasted malt flavors.
Mostra takes special care in the preparation of each and every bean they use:
“The Mostra “Fortissimo” espresso blend is made up of 4 origins and was almost 2 months in the making. Since each bean comes from a different part of the world, we felt that it was only fair to treat each origin as “individuals” instead of just roasting them all together to end at a specific temp like other roasters do, especially because each origin/bean comes from different climates, altitudes and contain varying moisture content, density, sizes etc. In order to bring out the best flavor profiles from each bean, we painstakingly profile roast each origin numerous times and at different starting/ending temps. We then “cup” (taste) every varying temp (sometimes 20+ cuppings per origin) in order to find the best cup that best represents the flavor profile from which the bean is known for.”
Yah, we know, this one’s going to be good.
You can get yourself a pint at any of our Brewery Restaurants both TONIGHT, Thursday 11/21 starting at 5 p.m. and tomorrow at our Tasting Room starting at 4 p.m.
Hi there, I’m Alyssa and I am the Marketing Programs Coordinator here at Karl Strauss. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver with the KARL team. The Great American Beer Festival is the largest collection of U.S. craft beer served and judged anywhere in the world. Medals awarded here are among the most coveted in the industry and this year there were 4,809 beers from 732 different breweries being tasted, judged and displayed. It was my first trip to GABF, so I had A LOT of tasting to do.
It always amazes me when a seemingly straightforward story takes on new life and becomes entirely more meaningful once we take the time to look beyond the surface. Such was the case with our Pro-Am winner, Tim Taylor, and the tale of how his chance visit to a Karl Strauss restaurant saw him go from casual home brewer to having his creation judged on one the largest competitive beer stages in the world, and the near tragedy that weighed heavy on his heart throughout.
Here at KARL, August has been declared an unofficial beer education month around the office. Each week during our round table meetings we have been enjoying a plethora of exciting beers and inviting employee’s to host their own beer and food pairings (which has lead to a full-on war of delicious one-upping). Our Friday growler fill codes all feature authors whose work takes a casual love of brew beyond the basics and expands the devotee’s understanding of the science behind the brewing process as well as the fundamentals of how our taste profiles react to the many varied styles of beer.
That being the case, a point of pride for our team is that we have a number of Certified Cicerones on board to help educate and answer any questions that arise regarding styles, glassware, pairings, etc.
Cicerone? What the heck is a cicerone, you ask?
As the days until we open the doors on our brand new tasting room dwindle down we are ready to begin sharing our excitement. Part of what makes this project so special for us, and by extension, for you, is that we have agonized over each detail to ensure that we can provide you with more than simply a place to enjoy our award-winning beers. We’ve taken every step to create a one-of-a-kind beer destination in the Pacific Beach neighborhood that will be a home for craft beer fans and a meeting place for friends to enjoy a great conversation over a tasty pint for years to come.
Guest Blog Appearance: Melissa Dombo, Creative Projects Manager here at Karl Strauss
So… I am managing the build out of the tasting room and beer garden here at the brewery. No, it’s not just a rumor. I am happy to announce we are almost there. The official Karl Strauss Brewing Company Tasting Room and Beer Garden construction is underway and we couldn’t be more excited to share the progress with you.
As of today, Urban Contracting and Public Architecture are working at an aggressive pace and getting sh*t done. We have gutted out the old makeshift offices, made way for a new and improved quality control lab, planned the space for the large concrete bar, sawed out a new front door, cleared out more space in the garden area to drink, frolic, stand, sit, eat, or whatever else you like to do at a brewery tasting room. The brewers are even working on some custom cask recipes while the racket of the construction is happening. (Our brewers deserve a beer or three for working around the clock to keep up with demand, all while construction goes on around them… you should hear what they are working through so we can have this tasting room.)
When we open (in less than 2 months from now) you will be greeted by 20 taps, exclusive releases, custom casks, windows into the brewery, windows into the bottling line, beer coolers, custom furniture made of locally sourced woods, growler racks, aging barrels, sweet new Karl merch, and a roll up door leading to a lush garden filled with native plants and maybe even some birds chirping. The smell of the beer brewing never gets old—they should make a candle that resembles the scent. The handshake or just the subtle nod from our brewers working away like umpa lumpas will be well worth the trip (I can’t promise they will break out in song.). We can’t wait for you to stop by, grab a bite to eat from a local food truck, and sample or quaff some pints. Let’s plan it. Maybe you can buy me a pint.
Opening our doors to the public soon…
5985 Santa Fe Street, San Diego
Whether you’re a card-carrying member of the über craft beer geek brigade or a casual fan of barley-based beverages, you probably think you know a thing or two about beer. If anything, you’ve undoubtedly picked-up a few fun facts from TV commercials. And surely the trusted producers of your favorite frost-brewed refreshments wouldn’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars misleading you… or would they? If you’ve ever wondered what “triple hops brewed” or “cold-filtered” really means, check out our infographic – it may change the way you view the beer aisle.
Monday, May 13th marks the start of the 7th Annual American Craft Beer Week, and with that comes the release of our annual American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA. Brewed each year at the end of April, this draught-only offering combines the piquant spice of malted rye with the zesty citrus hop character of American-grown Cascade and Ahtanum hops. The result is a more full-bodied San Diego-style India Pale Ale with a depth of flavor that pairs especially well with spicier fare. And with grilling season already upon us, we figured we’d share our recipe for Tōgarashi Surf & Turf Kebabs to pair with our limited release American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA.
Tōgarashi seasoning is a staple condiment in Japanese cuisine that combines an array of savory and aromatic ingredients, ranging from dried orange peel to nori to Szechuan peppercorns. There are many different preparations but the key ingredients are listed in the DIY recipe below. Of course, if you’re short on time, you can always pick-up pre-made tōgarashi at your local gourmet food store or Japanese grocer.
2 tbsp. Szechuan Peppercorns
1 tbsp. Dried Orange or Tangerine Peel
1 tbsp. Shredded Nori
1 tbsp. Dried Red Chilies
1 tsp. White Sesame Seeds
1 tsp. Black Sesame Seeds
1 tsp. Poppy Seeds
1 tsp. Powdered Ginger
Step 1: Gently toast peppercorns and sesame seeds in a small sauce pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Step 2: Using a clean coffee grinder or small food processor, grind peppercorns, citrus peel, nori, chili pepper, and sesame seeds until well-ground but not powdered.
Step 3: Combine ground spices with poppy seeds and ginger and store until ready to use.
Tōgarashi Surf & Turf Kebabs
1 lb Beef Tenderloin, cut into 1 ½’ cubes
10-12 Large Sea Scallops
Wooden Skewers, soaked in Red Trolley Ale
2 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 tbsp. Tōgarashi Seasoning
½ tsp. Sea Salt
Preparation: Combine oil, tōgarashi, salt, and steak in a small mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to skewer and grill.
Tōgarashi Beer Butter
½ c. Butter, softened
2 tbsp. Red Trolley Ale, warm
1 tbsp. Tōgarashi Seasoning
Preparation: Using a small food processor or whisk, combine butter, Red Trolley Ale, and tōgarashi and blend until smooth. Do not refrigerate.
Steak Kebabs: Using your beer-soaked wooden skewers, build your steak kebabs alternating between meat and pearl onions. 1lb of tenderloin should yield about three full steak kebabs. Grill over hot coals until medium rare. Cooking times will vary depending on your grill.
Scallop Kebabs: Pat scallops dry and carefully skewer 5 or 6 per stick. Generously coat both sides in tōgarashi beer butter and grill over high heat for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes per side. Baste scallops in beer butter once after turning and once before removing from the grill.
Veggie Kebabs: Skewer Japanese eggplant, onions, and sweet peppers to your liking. They’ll cook much faster than the steak and a little slower than the scallops, so it’s best to keep them separate. Grill over high heat until peppers are lightly charred on both sides.
Beer Pairing: The combination of dried citrus peel and Szechuan peppercorns in the tōgarashi seasoning will really punctuate the citrus and floral hop flavors in an American IPA or Pale Ale, while the beer’s hop bitterness is assertive enough to stand up to the complex spiciness. We suggest trying this recipe with either our American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA or Tower 10 IPA.
I’m sick and tired of beer and bacon… said no one ever.
Yes, it seems America’s fixation with barley-based beverages and salty pig parts is one that will continue to transcend even the most radical epicurean trends, and that’s fine with us. So to celebrate our affinity for suds and swine, we put together a few pairings to go with our hoppy Coastal Reserve IPA’s.
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Sunday, don’t be surprised if half the office comes down with a sudden case of the bottle flu Monday morning. And while we’ll never quite understand the appeal of chasing Irish car bombs with bright green lager, celebrating St. Paddy’s Day with local beer and traditional Irish fare is definitely something we can get behind. So, rather than drown this year’s corned beef in Guinness, try this recipe using our award-winning Irish Red, Red Trolley Ale. If you can’t get your hands on Red Trolley, the LA Times has a great list of craft brewed Stouts and Irish Reds to experiment with.
What is corned beef?
Corned beef is a brisket that has been brined or pickled with salt and spices for 7-10 days. Because curing your own brisket is time consuming, head down to your local butcher or market and pick-up a pre-cured brisket. For this recipe, we used a 3.5lb Harris Ranch Corned Beef Brisket- Mild Cure.
Red Trolley Ale Corned Beef
What You’ll Need:
1 3-4lb Corned Beef Brisket
1 8qt Stock Pot or Dutch Oven
4 Cups Red Trolley Ale
4-5 Cups Water
1 Tbs. Black Pepper Corns
1 Tbs. Mustard Seeds
1 Tbs. Coriander Seeds
1 Tbs. Red Chili Flake
1 Tsp. Fennel Seeds
1 Tsp. Whole Cloves
1 Tsp. Ground Ginger
½ Tsp. Ground All Spice
1 Whole Cinnamon Stick, Crushed
4-5 Bay Leaves
1 Large Yellow Onion, Chopped
6 Large Garlic Cloves, Crushed
3 Large Celery Stocks, 2” Chop
5 Large Carrots, 2” Chop
1 Large Head Green Cabbage, Cut into 4-6 Wedges
8-10 Medium-sized White Potatoes
Step one: Remove pre-cured brisket from package, rinse under cold water, and trim away excess fat.
Step 2: (Optional) To reduce sodium content, place beef brisket in a large stock pot, cover with an inch of water, and bring to a boil. Simmer brisket over low heat for 30 minutes and drain water.
Step 3: Return pot to the stove. Add seasoning mix, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, water and Red Trolley Ale and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and boil for 2 hours.
Step 4: After 2 hours have passed, add cabbage and potatoes, increase heat to high, and return to a rolling bowl. Cover, reduce heat back to low, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Step 5: Remove brisket from pot and thinly slice against the grain. Serve with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and a Red Trolley Ale.
Behind the Beer: Wreck Alley Imperial Stout
It was around this time last year when we were making the final tweaks to a beer that would become Wreck Alley, our Imperial Stout brewed with cocoa nibs and coffee beans. And as we look forward to releasing our first barrel-aged version of Wreck Alley on March 1st, we thought we’d share the story behind the original beer, or at the very least some of the interesting details that wouldn’t fit on the label.
Finding the right coffee…
In our search for the perfect coffee beans, we were certain about two things; first, we wanted a roast that would complement the dark chocolate flavors of the beer without adding bitterness, and second, we wanted to work with a local roaster. Fortunately, the folks at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters were not only willing to supply us with their award-winning coffee, but even offered to create a special roast for Wreck Alley Imperial Stout. After plenty of sampling, we landed on lightly roasted beans from Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. The flavors were delicate, and when cold-steeped, the coffee had a nutty, roasted, and toffee-like character.
What the heck are cocao nibs, why do I keep hearing about them, and what are they doing in a beer?
Simply put, cocoa nibs are cocoa beans that have been roasted, de-husked, and crushed into pieces– basically chocolate in its rawest form. In brewing, the addition of cocoa nibs will add to and accentuate the dark chocolate flavors in porters and stouts. The Peruvian cocoa nibs used in Wreck Alley are roasted and prepared by Tcho Chocolate Company on Pier 17 in San Francisco, CA.
Where does the coffee and cocoa come into play in the brewing process?
This step is what all the test batches were for. We use coffee and cocoa nibs in Wreck Alley to lend their individual flavors to the beer, while complementing the flavors of the malts. Because both coffee beans and cocoa nibs can be bitter and acidic, we use a cold-steeping process where both ingredients are added to the conditioning tank after fermentation. This technique allows Wreck Alley to extract the flavors and aromas of the coffee and cocoa without adding bitterness or acidity.
San Francisco Beer Week kicks-off today and we couldn’t be more excited to participate in the Bay Area’s annual craft beer celebration for the first time. When we expanded beer distribution into Northern California last year, we missed San Francisco Beer Week by about six-months. This year however, we have a handful of events planned in San Francisco and San Jose that will feature San Diego favorites like Red Trolley Ale and Tower 10 IPA, as well as harder to find special releases like our 24th Anniversary Flanders-style Red Ale and Barrel-aged Wreck Alley Imperial Stout. So, if you’re interested in dropping by for a pint and chatting up our motley crew of Karl Strauss reps, check out our event schedule below.