New Holland at Ashleys

I rarely have reason to go out to the bar in Ann Arbor, but when I read that several New Holland beers were going to be featured at Ashley’s last night, I couldn’t help but check it out. There were about 10 beers on tap, ranging from the ordinary (Poet Stout, which you can pick up at pretty much any grocery store in the state) to the ordinary-but-on-Firkin (Dragon’s Milk), to those I’d never seen before (Charkoota Rye).

Night Tripper

New Holland Night Tripper

New Holland Night Tripper

Imperial Stout (10.8% ABV) Tastes really strong, there’s plenty of alcohol in the flavor. Really roasty with some chocolate notes. Pretty darn malty sweet (as imperial stouts, especially Russian Impoerial Stouts, often are). I would almost say it could have been fermented a little more to a lower final gravity to dry it out a bit, but it’s already bordering on liquorbeer, so upping the alcohol content is unnecessary.

 

Dragon’s Milk Firkin

New Holland Dragon's Milk (Firkin)

New Holland Dragon's Milk (Firkin)

As beers served on firkin always are, this was warm, and it was flat as well. After the Night Tripper, it almost tastes bland (though it’s one of my favorite beers usually). I think the Firkin really damps a bit of the aroma, partially because there’s less carbonation maybe. Hardly get anything on the nose, very light on the vanilla, a nice roasty smell. Tastes a little hot in the back of the mouth, and you definitely get the barrel-aged flavor. Not necessarily bad, but I’m used to (loving) the beer as normally served.

Envious

New Holland Envious

New Holland Envious

Not what I expected. Ingredients listed as pears and raspberries, I was expecting something relatively light in color or even a wheat, but it had a nice deep mahogany (my apartment smells of it) color. A little fruit on the nose – all pear. In the flavor, mostly pear, but I definitely see where the “slumber on oak” with raspberries comes in. Not as tart as the description led me to believe there would be. The tartness reminded me of the tang from our cherry belgian, which comes mostly on the swallow, not in the mouth.

 

El Mole Ocho

New Holland El Mole Ocho

New Holland El Mole Ocho

I’ve already had (and loved) this beer, so it was the only thing I had that wasn’t “special” in some way. On the nose, it has a nice malty character, almost no hops with a hint of spiciness. The flavor, however, is full of hot pepper flavor, but honestly more well-balanced with malt than I remember. It’s not blistering hot like our second pepper porter, but reminds you the heat is there, along with the pepper flavor. I really like this beer.

 

Charkoota Rye

New Holland Charkoota Rye

New Holland Charkoota Rye

This tastes a lot like El Mole Ocho with smoke serving as the “special flavor” instead of pepper (although they’re very different beers in reality). Aroma is a slightly malty but mostly smoky. Taste is super heavy on the smoke up front, but if you let it linger a bit, you get much more maltiness, for a nice balanced beer. A solid Kolsch with delicious smoky flavor. This was a lot like what I was hoping the BOB Brewery BBQ Beer would be at Winter Beer Festival.

 

Imperial Hatter

New Holland Imperial Hatter

New Holland Imperial Hatter

Classic imperial IPA (can an imperial IPA be “classic?”). Nothing really distinct from other beers in the genre. Decent nose/body balance, some graperuit citrus and a lot of bitterness in the flavor.

Overall

Of course, if I had read a little more carefully before heading out, I would have seen that many of the beers weren’t going to be tapped until later in the night, and I wouldn’t have shown up at quarter-to-6… since I closed the place down, that’s more than 8 hours in the bar. Oops. Good times were certainly had by all.

 

Pepper Porter v2.0

We made a second running of the chili pepper beer, though there were a few changes to the recipe that made for some interesting new flavors. The majority of these changes were on the basis of ingredient availability.

Whereas last time, we used habanero peppers for heat and chipotle peppers to give a smoky flavor, the grocery store, unfortunately, was out of habaneros when I went to acquire ingredients to make another batch of our (outstanding) recipe. Instead, I picked up the peppers with the highest Scoville rating out of what the store had available, eventually settling on serrano huasteco. Unfortunately, they’re only 1/10th as hot as habaneros.

So, with the same number of chipotles, but replacing habaneros with serranos, to secondary we went. After a few days, we still weren’t getting the heat we wanted (oh, the glory of a spigoted ale pail), so it was back to the grocery store to purchase habaneros. We threw a couple of those bad boys in, and then waited a week or so.

Eventually, we tested again, and the beer had plenty of heat, but not the smoky flavor we wanted. Using a slotted spoon, we scooped out most of the hot peppers, but left the chipotles. I kegged five days later…

Tasting Notes

This edition is much hotter than the first, primarily since the peppers stayed in secondary longer. Whereas batch #1 would sneak up on you after a couple sips, this one isn’t hiding any heat. It also has a different flavor mix, with a bit more earthiness (from the serranos) to go along with the heat. Alas, the chipotle smokiness is covered up by the other things.

If we were to make this beer again (something I think is probably pretty likely), I would prefer to make it from the original recipe, with an emphasis on the smoky flavors, and just enough heat to complement that. Regardless, I’m good to relax and not worry…