Thursday, February 23, 2012
An Interview with Stillwater Artisan Ales' Brian Strumke
Over on DCBeer.com I have a post up that's an interview with Brian Strumke, the brewer/owner/sole employee of Stillwater, a "gypsy" brewing outfit loosely based out of Baltimore. Every beer brewed by Stillwater is made with a farmhouse-style strain of yeast, commonly associated with saisons and biers de garde. Strumke, however, blurs and blends styles, to great effect. The end result is often a series of yeast-dominant beers, an interesting contrast with more common hop-forward styles, like Pale Ales, India and otherwise, and malt-forward ones like brown ales and bocks.
His most recent creation is Stillwater Premium, a beer that doubles as an inside joke since it's based on ingredients used in macro lagers like flaked rice and corn, and hops like Cluster, Northern Brewer, and Saaz. Instead of a lager, however, he's made an ale, and he's used two wild yeast strains in addition to a farmhouse strain to ferment the beer. The result is something like "dirty Bud," or Stella Artois if it was good and not skunked, as has been the case the last few times I've had that beer. Also, at 4.5% alcohol by volume, you can drink a lot of it, if, you know, you're into that sort of thing.
Also also, he used to be a DJ, and so of course I ask him about Skrillex. He's an interesting guy, and his thoughts on beer are worth a read.
I paired the beer with a semi-reasonable approximation of congee, a Chinese rice porridge. The flaked rice in the beer compliments the rice in the dish, and the dryness of the beer on the back end, due to two strains of wild yeast, or Brettanomycnes, kept me coming back for more broth. I also dropped an egg into that bowl, so the slight acidity of the beer plays against that richness.