Thursday, February 4, 2016

Stone Grainiac (review)

Beer Review #93

I've been on a bit of a beer-reviewing rampage recently, but with the spring trail racing season quickly approaching I need to start paying more attention to my training, so expect the frequency of reviews here to diminish somewhat and occasionally be replaced by race reports, gear reviews and other such nonsense. But for today, at least, let the daily deluge of crafty beer analysis and debauchery continue with Grainiac, the "multigrain ale dry-hopped with Cascade and Centennial" (and with Columbus and Chinook) hops from the ever dependable brew masters at Stone . This beer was released on November 23, 2015 and I am drinking a 22 ounce bottle from that brewing, albeit a few months after the fact. It is unclear whether they plan to brew it again.

As if it isn't apparent yet, from the description and name above (they jokingly almost called it Colon Blow), what is intended to separate this beer from most other modern brews is the use of a whopping 9 different grains. Barley malt is king in beer, while wheat is utilized pretty frequently, along with oats, and rye a bit less so, but in addition to these better known grains, Grainiac also includes triticale, malted millet and malted buckwheat.

Grainiac pours deep amber red with a reasonable head of pale tan foam. Despite dry hopping with Cascade and Centennial hops, the aroma remains extremely malt-forward bready-sweet, which is as it should be in an experimental malt beer such as this. In a blind taste test I suspect most of us would predict they were about to taste a barleywine.

At  8.5%ABV this is a weaker beer than your typical barleywine, but shares the same syrupy, coating, mouth-feel. Hints of raisin, fig and date, and a bit of raw grain (as if you were holding a handful to your nose before tossing it into the brew kettle). 60 IBU, according to the website, which is adequately bitter to cut the sweetness.

Beyond barley, wheat, oats and rye and I don't much have experience with the other grains used here, nor do I know at what percentages they were added to the grain bill, so I cannot say for sure what characteristics (if any) they lend to the beer, though honestly I think the same results would have likely been achieved with barley, wheat and rye. That said, I'm absolutely thrilled by the concept of a multi-grain beer, or any brewer attempting to brew with different kinds of grain. Humans are (chemically) confirmed to have been brewing beer since at least 3500BC, but the fixation on barley wasn't really codified until Reinheitsgebot in the 16th century. Today, with factory farming, its a no-brainer, but I have to think that indigenous people would have been brewing their family beer with whatever ancient grains  that were available to them for thousands of years. The American craft beer revolution has largely been driven by hop varieties, and to a lesser extent yeast/bacteria. Grain just might be the next frontier.

Musical Pairing: Slavsia, Rus by Arkona

 Twin Tiers Beer Trail:
-Twin Tiers Craft Beer Club (Sayre)
The Jolly Farmer, Waverly (Waverly)
Bluestone Brewing Company (Sayre)
- Diversion Brewing Co. (Chemung)
River Barge Brewing (Wyalusing)
Waverly Discount Beverage (Waverly)
Soprano's Italian Market (Waverly)
The Grille at the Train Station (Sayre)

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