Phases of Fla­vor

For Melvin Brewing Co­founder Jeremy Tofte, Bel­gian-style beers played a for­ma­tive role in his early life, but you’ll only find one of them in his dream 6-pack that leans heav­ily to­ward IPAS and im­pe­rial stouts. By Jamie Bogner

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Pick Six -

“I STARTED WORK­ING IN

a beer dis­trib­u­tor­ship in high school, and I soon dis­cov­ered that I could steal all the dust-cov­ered Chi­may bot­tles from the dark re­cesses of the ware­house, and ab­so­lutely no­body no­ticed,” says Melvin Brewing Co­founder Jeremy Tofte.

“I was young, drink­ing Chi­may, not even know­ing what I had. I was just think­ing, ‘This is my jam right here.’ ” Then a cou­ple of ex­tended trips to Bel­gium in my twen­ties and thir­ties made it sink in even deeper.”

Tofte doesn’t pull punches, and as a self-pro­claimed “re­cov­er­ing bar­tender,” he doesn’t order sam­plers. But this fan of the Wu-tang Clan who lives to surf, moun­tain bike, and snow­board is in­tro­spec­tive about how his own taste in beer has de­vel­oped over time. De­spite the for­ma­tive role Bel­gian beers played in his (very) early life, to­day he’s drawn more to other fla­vors.

“We brew a lot of Bel­gian-style beers on the pilot sys­tem at Melvin, and we have for a while. I find my­self not nec­es­sar­ily phas­ing out of Bel­gians but ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a palate change along with ev­ery­one else’s. We’re go­ing through these phases of fla­vor, and right now my fa­vorite fla­vors have been a lot of IPAS and a lot of im­pe­rial stouts.”

With that said, here are the six beers that Tofte would put in his 6-pack to­day.

To­gether Bel­gian Dubbel

Wan­der Brewing (Belling­ham, Washington) One of my fa­vorite Bel­gian-style beers right now is from Wan­der Brewing. It’s moist and raisiny, with just a bit of nut­ti­ness to it. They popped up on my radar when we started to dis­trib­ute into Belling­ham a few years ago, and they have a great se­lec­tion of bar­rel-aged beers and a sta­ble of Bel­gians in 750s, so I’m al­ways able to get it when I’m up that way. The first time I ever tried their dubbel, I called them up, in­tro­duced my­self, and said, “You have to en­ter this beer in the NABA (North Amer­i­can Beer Awards).” They did, and sure enough, they got sil­ver. So I felt pretty spe­cial, and that makes me think that maybe I have some kind of gift and peo­ple should send me beer. I’ll tell them whether or not they’ll medal.

Poor Man’s Dou­ble IPA

Pizza Port Brewing Com­pany (Carls­bad, Cal­i­for­nia) The first time I tried Poor Man’s, it blew me away. My friend Hu­bert was liv­ing down in Carls­bad, and I just hap­pened upon the Pizza Port Carls­bad fa­cil­ity. I’ve been go­ing to brew­eries my whole life, so I was just like, “Oh, it’s a brew­ery—i’ll just go by.” That had to be what…early 2000s? And when I first had Poor Man’s, I knew it would for­ever have a place in my beer belly’s heart. So much fruit, so much go­ing on in that beer. It’s so de­ceiv­ingly light, you could think it’s a [reg­u­lar] IPA, but it’s 10 per­cent al­co­hol. At that time there was noth­ing else in the world like it. It ended up win­ning back-to-back Al­pha King awards, which only a cou­ple brew­eries have done. When Kirk and I

“All these IPAS that I’m try­ing these days—these guys just don’t re­al­ize they’re mak­ing nineties IPAS be­cause they haven’t been in the game that long and they think they’ve come out with a new style, but they’re re­ally just nineties IPAS.”

opened up our three-bar­rel sys­tem, Poor Man’s was the kind of beer we wanted to drink at the time. We just wanted to keep on mak­ing these West Coast IPAS that peo­ple didn’t un­der­stand in Wy­oming. I’m in San Diego now for 2×4 Day, and I’ll be stop­ping by Pizza Port to­day for a Poor Man’s—hope­fully, it’s on tap!

IPA

Odell Brewing Co (Fort Collins, Colorado) When I started what is prob­a­bly Wy­oming’s first beer bar, I wanted only the spe­cial beers. We needed beers that would blow the minds of the four beer nerds in Jack­son Hole and set us apart from the other bars that were all serv­ing the same six beers. And now, look­ing back, I was that guy who would go to my rep and say, “Give me the stuff—i’ve got to have the spe­cial stuff.” Fi­nally, my Odell rep broke it down to me af­ter I didn’t get a keg of Tree Shaker [peach DIPA] one year. He said, “We can’t. You’re just not sup­port­ing the brand con­sis­tently. That goes to the peo­ple who sup­port us.” And so I started get­ting Odell IPA on tap as a per­ma­nent han­dle, and lo and be­hold, what do you know? It’s the best IPA in the Rock­ies. It’s still my go-to beer. You know ex­actly what you’re get­ting when you order. It’s got the clas­sic pine and cit­rus mix, a lit­tle hint of caramel malt, and of course, since the Odell brewers are to­tal pros, they re­mem­ber the fifth in­gre­di­ent—the CO2. I learned my les­son—some­thing that you think isn’t su­per spe­cial could be right in front of you the whole time. The beer is not brand new, and so many of to­day’s drinkers just want that new thing, but I have no re­grets buy­ing a six-pack of it ev­ery time I go to the store.

Mai Tai P.A.

Al­varado Street (Mon­terey, Cal­i­for­nia) This bad boy has been on my list for a few years now. It’s just got so much of that mad flo­ral aroma and fruity trop­i­cal taste. It’s one of those beers where peo­ple would as­sume that fruit has been added, too. It’s some­what hazy in ap­pear­ance, and says, “Yeah, I’ve got a chill haze, and I’m proud of it, but I’m not go­ing to cross the line.” I used to only be able to get it at the brew­ery, but now I can get it in cans. The best thing about that beer is the bal­ance—they’ve fig­ured it out. That’s be­come in­creas­ingly hard to find in this ever-ex­pand­ing IPA mar­ket. All these IPAS that I’m try­ing these days—these guys just don’t re­al­ize they’re mak­ing nineties IPAS be­cause they haven’t been in the game that long and they think they’ve come out with a new style, but they’re re­ally just nineties IPAS. But Al­varado Street just gets it—it’s a big, fruity hops bomb, and just what I’m look­ing for. If you’re un­der 60, there are not re­ally a lot of rea­sons to go to Mon­ter­rey, but Al­varado Street is one of them.

Big Bad Bap­tist

Epic Brewing Com­pany (Salt Lake City, Utah) I’ve been groov­ing on Epic’s im­pe­rial stouts for years, and now I have a bunch of Big Bad Bap­tist sit­ting in my fridge and also in the cel­lar to see how they hold up over the years. It’s got those cof­fee and choco­late fla­vors to start you out, then the sweet, yummy resid­ual sugar starts to coat your tongue and re­ally gives you some­thing to pon­der. You’re sit­ting there with the de­li­cious fla­vors of the Big Bad Bap­tist ask­ing, “Who am I? Why are we here? How the hell could this beer come from Utah?”

I al­ways like to say that Utah is a state filled with Death Cab For Cu­tie brew­eries. Then Epic strove for great­ness out­side their state, like Melvin did, and asked, “Why do we have to limit our­selves to our bor­ders? It’s a big world out there.” Salt Lake City is the clos­est big city to Jack­son Hole—it’s only 4½ hours—so we used to go down there all the time and grab 22s from the cooler on our way to Snow­bird or Moab. It was part of the pil­grim­age.

Bar­rel Aged Choco­late Yeti

Great Di­vide Brewing Com­pany (Den­ver, Colorado) I don’t know whether Great Di­vide makes Bar­rel Aged Choco­late Yeti any­more. [Ed Note: only one bar­rel of Strana­han Bar­rel Aged Choco­late Yeti was made and re­leased in 2012]. I like it be­cause the fla­vors aren’t sub­tle at all, but they’re also not in your face, not wrestling to dom­i­nate. It has ev­ery­thing you want in an age­able stand­alone beer. It has the bal­ance. The oak­i­ness be­comes al­most smok­i­ness. I be­lieve they put it in Strana­han bar­rels, but I’ve never had Strana­han’s Colorado Whiskey, so that’s in­ter­est­ing to make it seem like a pair­ing that should hap­pen. I don’t know how long they bar­rel age it, but I haven’t been able to find a way to get our bar­rel-aged beer to taste like that. If I were to guess, I’d say it must be more than a year. A lot of brewers say that af­ter three to six months the bar­rels aren’t go­ing to im­part any more fla­vor, but Great Di­vide is do­ing some­thing that they’re not telling the rest of the world.

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