The month of May was filled to the brim with new beers and new beer knowledge for me.
Seattle Beer Week can take full responsibility for rekindling my adoration for milk stouts (I’ve been a longtime fan of the Left Hand Milk Stout) – this year, Elysian produced a coffee milk stout commemorative beer for the week (Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout). Sweetness from lactose and the bitterness from chocolate malt and coffee marry nicely.
I attended the yearly Sour Beer Fest at Brouwer’s, and was happy to discover that I could try Cantillon’s Fou’Foune (apricot-y and gorgeous), and Iris. Iris happens to be a very interestingly hopped sour. Novelty is always good in a beer, especially when it delivers a pleasant flavor profile.
Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi gave a beer sensory analysis class at the end of the week that inspired me to learn more about flavor and how the brain creates it. In fact, I’m reading a fantastic book on the topic right now: Neurogastronomy : how the brain creates flavor and why it matters. I’m fascinated with the two ways humans use the sense of smell (inhaling vs. exhaling), and that the retronasal route (exhaling) has the biggest impact on the perception of flavor.
This dessert is a celebration of sugar and the fact that it can be used to create two opposing tastes: sweetness and bitterness. The custard is sweet from the strong malt backbone of this Scotch Ale (with a helpful boost of richness from cream and egg yolks), and the burned sugar on top sings with bitterness. Chocolate malt shortbread plays a similar melody – a sweet, rich cookie speckled with bitterness from roasty chocolate malt.
Bittersweet, as it were.