“Sumac Summer” Release Pt 2: Dinner with Craftsman Brewmaster, Mark Jilg – Sunday August 11th
As Mark will be in town to help kick off the release of “Sumac Summer” we at St. Vincent figured we’d be missing out on a huge opportunity if we did not provide a platform for Mr. Jilg to showcase more of his extraordinary catalog with all of you. On the evening of Sunday August 11th St Vincent Chef Bill Niles will be putting forth a special menu composed around five of Craftsman’s most remarkable creations.
Reception “Sumac Summer,” Tart Belgian-Style Wheat Beer with Sumac and Coriander
1) Fried Okra, with pot marjoram, preserved meyer lemon and fenugreek
paired with -“1903,” Pre-Prohibition American Style Lager
2) Beef Culotte, with early girl tomato, lobster mushroom, and fermented diable
paired with - “Cabernale,” Ale aged on Cabernet Sauvignon grapes
3) A selection of American Farmhouse Cheese and accompaniments
paired with “Triple White Sage (Special Cuvee)” Belgian Style Tripel with hand-harvested aromatic white sage, partially aged in steel for 12 months
4) Black Cardamon Soda Bread Pudding, with caramel cream, and blackberry
paired with “Cave Art” Sour Dark Stock Ale
“Sumac Summer” is the 4.5 % ABV Belgian Style Wheat (Not White) Beer I was honored to have collaborated on with Mark. After primary fermentation Mark transferred the beer to a large oak tank where it was conditioned for roughly 2 months in the presence of native brettanomyces. With that short of an exposure the wild yeast merely increases the volume on the already tart flavor of Sumac and emboldens some of the fruit in the nose.
*”Sumac Summer” will be making its debut to the world at St. Vincent on the weekend of 7/27
“1903″ is my personal favorite American-brewed, “Just Gimme A… Beer” on the planet. Gorgeous in its 5.8% ABV, ego-less simplicity this beer is as much a time machine as it is a delicious beverage. Prior to Prohibition and rail-car distribution all of the beer we drank was brewed locally in small batches and in-turn consumed fresh. At this time many Eastern European ex-pats were attempting to re-create the beers of their homeland by brewing small-batch simple clean lagers with American ingredients like corn, six-row barley and more expressive domestic hop varietals. “1903″ takes up this tradition today when most of the craft brewing scene seems content to cede the brewing of such beers to macro-brewers. Sadly these national brands have destroyed the style by brewing in enormous batches, using the cheapest possible ingredients, watering down their strength and pasteurizing the final product. Tasting “1903″ is a poignant illustration of what we lost by letting this happen. There is no reason every town should not have a brewery cranking out a beer like “1903.”
“Cabernale” is one of Craftsman most talked about and sought after seasonal releases. More than any other traditionally fermented ale I have ever encountered this beer showcases the nuanced contribution that fruit can add to a beer. Upon harvest, crushed and de-stemmed 2012 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were introduced to fermented beer – skins and all. The blend was then allowed to condition together for five months in steel. The end result is a 8.6% purplish red ale/wine hybrid with genuine tannin and fruit character.
*Our dinner will constitute the first time this year’s batch of “Cabernale” will be poured in the Bay Area
“Triple White Sage” is Craftsman’s most talked about and sought after seasonal release. It also the beer that brought the Craftsman brewery to my attention almost a decade ago. My first taste of “TWS” was a palate-expanding light-bulb moment for me that served to expand my definition of great beer. True to established Tripel brewing tradition “Triple White Sage” is brewed from a grist of only Pilsen malt and candi sugar. From there “TWS” parts from tradition by combining the characteristically expressive esters of warm, Belgian-style fermentation with the very distinct aroma of Southern, CA’s wild white sage. In lieu of aroma hops the final minutes of the boil see the introduction of copious amounts of hand-harvested white sage foraged from the hills east of LA. The result is one of the most aromatically dazzling beverages I have ever put my nose in.
“Triple White Sage (Special Cuvee)” is a blend of the 2012 and 2013 batches of “TWS” that Mark will be producing for the first time this year
*Our dinner will be the first opportunity on planet earth to taste “Special Cuvee”
“Cave Art” is an Imperial Dark Stock Ale, not totally divergent from the sour Old Ales traditional London area breweries and pubs might have blended into mild Porters and Small Beers to create what was called “The Entire Butt.” The beer is over 10% ABV and absolutely bone-dry. It has acquired an intense tart character from spending 14 months in a large oak tank with a variety of wild yeasts and bacteria.
*We are proud to say that St. Vincent reamins the only place in the Bay Area that has ever poured “Cave Art”
The cost of this dinner is $79 and includes gratuity
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As Beer Director at St. Vincent Tavern and Wine Merchant in San Francisco, CA I could not possibly be more honored and excited to announce the release of Craftsman Brewing Company’s “Sumac Summer Ale.” This beer is a slightly tart and funky 4.5% Belgian Style Wheat (not white) Beer brewed with Sumac and Coriander. It was conceived and subsequently brewed as a collaboration between Craftsman Brewing Company in Pasadena, CA and St. Vincent.
Those of you who follow me or the restaurant closely should know what a huge part Craftsman has played in our beer program. In our 15 months of operation we have never dedicated less than 25% of our draft list to Craftsman brews.
This past March I was invited to do a week long stage at Craftsman as part of my continued study for the Master Cicerone Exam, which I will be taking this October. As we were planning my visit Craftsman Owner/Brewmaster, Mark Jilg asked if I had any particular style I would like to explore. I mentioned that I had always wanted to brew a Belgian Style Witbier with Sumac.
Sumac is an essential ingredient in Arabic cooking, often used in instances where another culture might use lemon, tamarind or vinegar. I was introduced to the spice by Chef Hoss Zare in preparation for a beer vs. wine event we did together several years ago. Sumac is technically a berry and I was struck by the almost cherry-like, high-toned juicy character it carried along with its puckering tartness. Ever since that first taste I have toyed with the idea of using Sumac in a summer beer. My hope was that replacing a witbier’s traditional spices (curacao and grains of paradise) with Sumac would result in a summer beer that reads a bit more fruity and tangy or tart than fruity and spicy.
When I told all this to Mark he immediately got the joke. I recited my imaginary recipe to Mark over the phone and we both got to tasting sumac samples. The recipe evolved over a serious of e-mails and a tasting of several tangy to fully-sour wheat beers already in the market.
About two weeks after that initial conversation I traveled to Pasadena and sat in on four consecutive brew days at Craftsman. On the final day we brewed the beer would become “Sumac Summer Ale.” All of the recipe decisions we made were in the name of making the beer as refreshing as possible for a height of summertime release. The gravity was kept low, the beer is 4.5% ABV. We used a 60% wheat malt grist and added hand-ground sumac and coriander to the last five minutes of the wort boil. The wort was then hopped post-boil with Mt. Hood, an American grown hop that tends to mimic the spicy aroma of German noble hops, and sent off to primary fermentation on a blend of two different Belgian yeast strains.
While I have messed around in breweries before “Sumac Summer” represents the first time I have ever worked on a beer that will actually be distributed widely and offered to the general public. It was a special honor and an extraordinary learning experience to work on a wheat beer with the brewery that I believe to be producing the best wheat beers in the US. I am super grateful to the whole team at St. Vincent for allowing me the time to due this and showing the faith to co-sign our brew. I know I speak for all of us at St. Vincent and Craftsman entire crew in saying that we cannot wait to share this beer with you.