23 May 2013

HBG Classics | Mr. Wizard Goes to Irvington

This post from Serious Eats recently came to our attention. Putting beer in a French press? Sounds like a great idea. Back in June 2009, we did some of our own experimenting with a French press and had a great time doing it. We thought you'd enjoy seeing the results of our experimentation. So courtesy of the Wayback Machine, here's our write-up of what happened when we tried combining beer and other stuff in a French press--

  Regular readers of this site will know that we aren't above tomfoolery. In fact, you might say that on occasion we can be downright buffoonish. I wouldn't have you believe for a second that we aren't aware that our wanton disrespect for common sense is anything more than a ploy to entertain ourselves and those reading.

Our experiments don't always start out with folly in mind - in some cases we're actually trying to prove something. But when a group of us gathers, the chance of hijinks is multiplied exponentially. It all started out like this:

Hey Jason,

I was wondering if you ever followed up on that coffee/beer infusion thing - I just read about a place doing an Oberon through blood oranges tapping and I'm thinking maybe a french press kinda thing might work... anyway... what did you do?


* * * * *

The short of the coffee beer is I took a french press, filled it with porter, and pushed coarse ground coffee through it. Turned beer (Wabash Cannonball Porter) into better beer.


* * * * *

I'd like to try that technique with a few other things, so if you'd like to make it into a longer experiment, let me know....

The result? A beer and food blending experiment of what some might consider epically stupid proportions. We just thought it was fun. And in a few cases, tasty.

We plopped down on Jason's porch in Irvington and lined up the following victims:

Wabash Valley Cannonball Porter vs. Kroger Private Selection Medium Dark Roast Coffee
Upland Wheat vs. Strawberries
Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen vs. Bananas
Brugge White vs. Oranges
Brugge Black vs. Cherries
Brugge Black vs. Red Stag Whiskey
Bell's Oberon vs. Blueberries
Founders Cerise vs. Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate
Bell's Expedition Stout vs. Bell's Double Cream Stout
Bell's Hopslam vs. Grapefruit
Erdinger Weissbier vs. Cucumber
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus vs. Whoppers Malted Milk Balls

One thing worth noting -- running beer through a French press might automatically make it worse. Every beer blend seemed to be under-carbonated - an effect that was either caused by the blending or the tools used. Since we didn't try any beer straight through the French press, we don't really know. So much for the scientific method.

The bad pairings:

Wabash Valley Cannonball Porter w/ Kroger Private Selection Medium Dark Roast Coffee - Tastes like the bottom of a day-old pot of decaf.

Jason's note: When I did this previously, I seemed to remember it tasting better. I think maybe fresher coffee would be good (this coffee was ground at least 3 months ago).

Upland Wheat w/ fresh strawberries - The most bizarre result. Smells and tastes like warm bologna. Disgusting.

Gina's note: I didn't get bologna out of the Upland Wheat/strawberry combination.

Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen w/ fresh bananas - Much worse than expected. Tastes like a banana that's been sitting on a shelf in the basement, gathering dust for a few weeks. We added fresh oranges to the mix later. No improvement. If anything, the mix tasted crappier with the oranges in it.

The "meh" pairings:

Mike's note: The Annoy Ted Division

Brugge White w/ fresh oranges - Disappointing, but not terrible. Tastes like a flat Belgian wit with a touch of orange juice.

Brugge Black w/ fresh cherries - Sort of chocolately with a little hint of cherry zip. Not great, but not bad.

Jason's note: I thought this was a winner of a combo. I suggest that Ted takes this idea and runs with it. Seriously. I also mixed the Black with a Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon. Better than any boilermaker I've ever had. Also, better than any Boilermaker ever to come out of Purdue (but that's not really saying much now is it?).

Bell's Oberon w/ fresh blueberries - The blueberries produce no effect. Tastes like a regular Oberon.

The good pairings:

Founders Cerise w/ Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate - Tastes like a chocolate-covered sour cherry. And the chocolate from the bottom of the French press tasted heavenly after being steeped in the beer.

Bell's Expedition Stout/Double Cream Stout Blend - We didn't do this in a French press; we simply mixed the two beers in a pitcher for a reprise of a blend that Bell's has done at beer festivals. Brown sugar, licorice, and pecans in the nose; hoppy and sweet flavor with chocolate, vanilla, and brown sugar notes. The blend nicely subdues the licorice whomp of the Expedition Stout. I may have to make this at home.

Bell's Hopslam w/ fresh grapefruit - Tartness of the grapefruit melds well with the piney/peachy hop character. If you mixed a DIPA with a Belgian sour ale, this is what it might taste like.

Gina's note: With all of the pairings, the carbonation of the beer disappeared almost completely in some cases, so it makes sense that the higher alcohol beers, like Hopslam, were able to stand up to the additions.

The bizarrely good pairing:

Erdinger Weissbier w/ fresh cucumber - Hey, it's beer gazpacho! Think of getting a buzz from a cucumber salad; that's what you have here.

Jason's note: A week after we did this, I was at a trade show where a booth had jars of ice water for our enjoyment. One had lemons in it. One had strawberries. And one had cucumbers. I love fresh cucumbers. And the flavor that the cucumbers add to beer or water is phenomenal. Is there a cucumber soda?

The grand champion:

Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Porter w/ Whoppers malted milk balls - Lovely. Tastes like a really sweet milk stout with a hoppy bite. Fizzed up like a nitro stout when we mixed the two.

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