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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Purple Yam Porter

I stumbled across an interesting resource today, leading me to stumble upon an interesting Seattle brewery. The resource is a listing of current seasonal beers, offered by the Beertown folk. It's designed with the consumer in mind so that you can search by season, and filter it by what's available in your state. Looking through the list of winter seasonals purportedly available in Oregon, I'm not so sure. Apparently breweries enter the info themselves, and there are a few listed I've never heard of--but maybe they're prepped to debut. Either way, it's still cool.

As I was scrolling through the list, I came across a new brewery in Seattle called Laughing Buddha, which offers the intriguing Purple Yam Porter for winter. Clicking around, I discovered some ink on brewery, which apparently opened last summer:

What makes Laughing Buddha stand out is Chris and Joe's mission to focus on modern Asian-style beers, a wide range of styles incorporating Asian ingredients. After weather destroyed much of the hop crops in Slovenia and the Czech Republic and drought severely affected Australia's hop supply, a worldwide hop crisis hit in December 2007. Many small breweries had their supplies limited or were out-and-out denied. But since Laughing Buddha was brand-new, it wasn't beholden to hop-heavy styles.

Asian beer is synonymous with crisp, light lagers and pilsners, and Laughing Buddha pays homage to them with its Dragon King Lager. Brewed with rice amid the hops and malt, the beer has more flavor than a Japanese rice lager and more character than macro-brewed varieties. Like any lager, the Dragon King goes with everything as well as with nothing at all. The simplicity of this beer shows some talent, and the brewery's other beers show creativity and a food-friendly flavor profile that will soon have restaurants knocking in droves....

The mango purée added to Laughing Buddha's wheat beer, Mango Weizen, "is just enough to bring out the subtle mango and fruit notes that already come from the wheat after fermentation," Joe says. Brewed in the American wheat-beer style, their Mango Weizen is a rich gold with lively carbonation, bolder than German hefeweizens; it contains enough hops to keep it from finishing too sweet, achieving a Zen-like state between fruit and grain....

Made with ginger, galangal, and mandarin orange peel, Laughing Buddha's Ginger Pale Ale throws off the sweet scent of ginger immediately, but not the sharp scent you get from ginger ale or freshly grated ginger; it's subtle, more like the steam snaking off of a bowl of tom kha gai.

The Purple Yam Porter is made with Asian purple yams and vanilla beans. They also do a brown ale made with pandan leaves and palm sugar.

Anyone heard of this beer? Sounds interesting.


dr wort said...

Laughing Buddha BC has been making headlines for the past year and a half with their Asian Fusion brews. The time was coming for something new and different to the beer market and Laughing Buddha is laughing all the way to the bank. I have friends is other states that are clamouring for me to send them LB beers! Some beer geeks/snobs out there are getting a little restless and are looking for the next NEW thing in beer. For now, LB has the ticket.... Next month who knows.

BTW, they're not making Asian Style beers... Boring! They're making Asian Fusion beers. Beers that are infused with Asian ingredients. Kind of cool concept!

Rust never sleeps in the beer world.... Well, it takes naps in some locals. ;-}

Jeff, You wrote a couple months back about Beer Evolution; How we (society) evolves within the beer strata. You were 100% correct. Nationally, beer is evolving into new directions and flavors.

We went from British Ales and German Lagers, depending on your location in the US; Moved into our own national versions of these beers. Nationally, small breweries tweaking the traditional styles to make their own. Adding lots of hops doesn't really make new beer styles, it just tweaks the original styles. Of course, some could argue that an Imperial IPA is original to America, but I don't think that argument would last very long.... ;-}

The beer evolution has moved onward and upward since then, moving into more complex beer styles and processes.... Belgian beers, Barrel conditioned, exotic ingredients and blending. Belgian beers have on the beer evolutionary ladder for over 15 years now and some have even moved on from there...

Basically, Laughing Buddha is light years ahead of the average brewers in the NW.... Before I get hate mail, think about it! Is anyone else doing this kind of brewing? Using non traditional ingredients and brewing uncharted beer flavors.... Before someone says "Heather Ale," you better read your history books.... ;-}

As for brewing with Yams, Potatoes, Rice, beans, herbs, weird sugars, dates, etc. It's all sugar and starch! As long as you have a sugar or starch, you can make alcohol or beer...

Anonymous said...

I live in Seattle and I've tried all of LB's beers, including the Purple Yam Porter. I think what they're doing is original and I wish them all the success in the world, but these are not beers I want to drink very often (and I drink beer every day). For me, they're try-once beers that I'm glad to have experienced and that's about it. Maybe I'm in the minority on this. I'm sure they have some devoted followers up here.

The Beer Retard

dr wort said...

I agree, Retard...

I can't see drinking these beers on a regular basis. That said, I don't drink ANY particular beer on a regular basis. ;-}

I see these beers accompanying food and possibly popular with Beer Foodies. I'm working on a Beer Foodie article for the Dr Wort sight. Keep your eyes open..

Also, I can see these beers being used in cooking and pairing. It's a different direction for beer and there's a lot of people who want to see beer bridge that gap of imbibment and cooking versatility... like wine. ;-}

Sustainable as a brewery? We'll have to wait and see...

aleconner said...

DW (and others), if you haven't already, check out Fal Allen's Archipelago Brewery. He's making use of some interesting ingredients there.

Anonymous said...

LB makes wonderful beer. I can personally attest to the greatness of their Ginger Pale Ale and the Dragon King Lager.

Most, if not all of their beers are available at By The Bottle in Vancouver, WA.


dr wort said...

Do we have to go to Singapore to try these beers? ;-}

Jeff Alworth said...

Where have you guys picked up Laughing Buddha? Is Vancouver the closest place?

ASG said...

I tried the LB Ginger beer last summer on a SEA weekend excursion, and I agree a great change from the norm...

On the Beer Pairing note, one of my guest posters (MCO) recently attended a Dogfish Head pairing dinner @ Cowboy Ciao (Wine Spectator award winner) in Phoenix, and I know that Full Sail had some weekly beer pairing dinners last summer....

I'm not sure I'm ready for beer to go completely wine on the pairings. I was not impressed by DogFish Head's Midas' Touch...but I guess everyone needs to strike out for something new...

dr wort said...

'By the Bottle' is where I acquired the brown ale...

Jeff Alworth said...

Well, I will say this: there's something damned interesting about purple yam porter. I haven't a clue whether I'd like it, but it intrigues. The other beers, too.

And, since I've been corrected on my brewing history of late (accurately, no question), I will point out to Dr Wort that Craig Nicholls was experimenting with adjuncts long before he got to the heather. His first experiment was Spring Rose Doppelbock, a wonderful idea perfectly executed. The softness of the rose petals went perfectly with the silky sweet doppel. He also did a sage beer and others.

Adjuncts are great to work with, but I like them best when they contribute accents rather than overwhelming a beer. I hope the Laughing Buddha beers are understated. Mango juice could overwhelm a beer, but mango essence could really accentuate a quality already present in a beer. I'm keen to see how it went.

Joe said...

This is my favorite forum for beer discussion and this post is a great reason why. I typically respect the opinions of regular posters (obviously you too Jeff) and find that more often than not they're right. I must admit, I've not bought LB beers while in Washington because I think what they brew is gimicky. But I'm certainly willing to give it a try.

dr wort said...

Funny, I didn't even mention Craig Nicholls name.... You must think you have psychic powers, Jeff.

I wasn't even thinking of him. I was just thinking Heather is a well known herb added to beer. I could have said Spruce too, but was typing on the fly..

Actually, there aren't many "things" that could be brewed into a beer that hasn't been done over the centuries. Roses, Juniper berries, date sugar, etc. Craig is NOT going to shock the world in regard to adding something NEW to a beer. Unless it's a modern made item, like a Twinkie, Ding Dong or Captain Crunch.... Oooops! Captian Crunch has been done before!

On second thought, might be better to have Craig talk with Larry Bell in Michigan of Bell's Brewery. I think Larry was putting strange "Things" in beer when Craig was still learning to walk...


When it comes to brewing with herbs, roots, sugars and the like; The world drank beers bittered (hopped) with herbs and the like for over 4000 years before hops were ever used. That beer was called Gruit. ....and Yes, Jeff, I know Craig makes a Kolsch Gruit... ;-} Of course, that's an oxymoron. If it's a Kolsch it has hops and if it's gruit it does not... That's like saying you've made a Dark Wit or something like that... ;-}

Actually, I've heard that Roots Kolsch gruit (or whatever he wants to call it) is pretty good. I guess it's time I go for my forth round of tasting at Roots... maybe, it'll be impressed for the first time... One never knows! :-}

Rose Dopplebock! Sounds intriging! Did he use Rose petals, Rose Hips or Rose essence? It would take an aweful lot to beg for attention through a Dopplebock, but it would be very tasty!

Speaking of strange adjunts.... Anybody know why Alemeda BC stopped putting Juniper Berries in their Juniper Porter?? AND! Why do they still keep calling it Juniper Porter if there's not any Juniper in it???


dr wort said...

Here's an old HBing recipe Larry Bell passed out to crowd at an AHA Conference in the early 90's. Kind of based on his notorious Eccentric ales he used to make every year.... Now this is funky!:

Dr. Bell's Stout

4 lbs. Briess 2-Row Malt
.75 lb. Black Patent Malt
.5 lb. Hugh Baird 90-L Crystal Malt
.5 lb. Rye Flakes
4 lbs. Alexanders Dark extract
4 lbs. Alexanders Pale Extract
5 lbs. Alexanders Wheat Extract
.5 lb. Maple Syrup
.25 lb. Light brown Sugar
A dollop of Molasses

3 ozs. Bullion Hops (60 Min)
2 oz. Northern Brewer (30 Min)
1 oz. Bramling Cross (45 Min)
2 oz. Goldings (15 Min)
2 oz. Northdown Hops (5 Min)

At 15 mins add one, some or all of the following:



OSG = 1.101
FSG = 1.022

iggir said...

"maybe, it'll be impressed for the first time"...gawds.

aleconner said...

If my memory serves me well, rose petals were added to the Alameda Spring Rose Dopplebock during secondary fermentation, a la 'dry hop' style. I don't recall whether there was a pronounced rose aroma or flavor, but I do remember really liking it.

Alameda's Juniper Porter was originally made with whole juniper boughs, not just the berries. It's a real shame they stopped doing so -- it used to be a delicious and _unique_ porter, now it is just average.

As regards Dr. Bells Stout: Yoicks!!! That sounds like real witches brew. Where's the eye of newt?

dr wort said...

Two points:

I don't mean to so harsh on Roots BC. I have tasted some fairly good brews from them. It's just some of there beers try to hard to be interesting and end up tasting disjointed and very unbalanced on the flavor scale. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. ;-}

The Bell's Stout was an OLD HB recipe. I don't even know how old it is! It may date back from Larry Bell's HBing years. I'm not promoting that this recipe is GOOD, just that he was dabbling in exotic ingredients long before many others considered it.

I'm sure Larry would (and maybe did) put some eye of newt into a brew! He once made is annual and ever changing Eccentric Ale with a different uses every letter from the alphabet. I wish I had the recipe to share. ;-}

Randy Mosher is another long time mad beer brewer who has used many strange ingredients. His "Radical Brewing" book is worth a look or check out of the library. There's also a book on using herbs and spice on beer which is very fun and interesting.

I never got that into weird mad experimental brewing, although, I've done my share. Some of note that are in my beer recipe library:

TOMB Beer (Toasted Oatmeal Molasses brown)

TORA Beer (Toasted Oatmeal Rye Ale)

BALLS Beer (Baked Anise, Lemon grass, Lavender with Sarsaparilla)

Whiskey Stout with actual Whiskey and aged with French Oak. I made this in 1998, long before barrel beers were widely made.

Black Licorice Lager

Smoked Scotch Wee Heavy

Serrano Chili Hefe Weizen

Espresso Chocolate Stout

Wild Rice Harvest ale

Anybody interested in any of these recipes let me know. They're collecting dust in some old files on my computer.... ;-}

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