Who doesn’t love a Moscow Mule?
Zesty, sweet, bubbly, tart, spicy, aromatic — all in a gleaming copper mug — they’re terribly refreshing, thirst-quenching, and all-around fantastic.
Who wouldn’t want that in a beer?!?
Luckily, we’ve been doing exactly that for quite some time, usually as one-offs — kegs or firkins of an established brand to which we add new and exciting flavorings –, but now you can get it in 16-ounce cans!
Don’t miss Golden Mule!
“Moscow Mules are great,” says Lab Manager Lauren Appleman, ridiculously understating the case. “I really love the spicy ginger kick and the citrus from the lime is classic, but there are also so many variations that you can do. Other citrusy/tropical fruits will work great on a Mule with a twist.”
Typically a vodka drink, you muddle a lime, add one part vodka, one part ginger beer, and serve it all over ice in a copper mug — you’ve got a delicious cocktail.
And, like many of our one-offs, a great inspiration for our brewers.
“Doing pins or firkins of Core Brands is always a lot of fun because we get a chance to see what a slight variation or addition might do to a very well known brand,” says Special Projects and Production Planning Manager Brian Hink.
We’ve replicated a Moscow Mule several times, using our beloved Devil’s Reach as a base in The Devil Went to Moscow on a Mule, a one-off that’s made several appearances over the years.
“We started doing Devil’s Reach pins and firkins with ginger and lime many years ago and they just came out so perfectly,” Brian recalls. “It was bright, refreshing, even more deceptively drinkable than Devil’s Reach already is, and the ginger kick on the back end was just a delight.”
Brian no longer recalls when we did the first one, which, if Brian doesn’t remember, means it was a long, long time ago.
“But I remember being so pleased with the outcome that we started peppering them in pretty regularly for events all across the state.”
Regardless, this combination was always such a hit that we knew that, one day, we’d want to release it on a larger scale.
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen a regular one-off or firkin become a full-on release,” Brian says, “with Key Lime Corrosion being the most recent example. It most certainly won’t be the last.”
Yet, when it comes to one-offs, there’s seldom such a marriage between base beer and additives.
“I very rarely say this,” Lauren says, just this once, “but Devil’s is kind of the perfect beer for this situation.”
Lauren says that’s largely due to the French Saison yeast we use in Devil’s Reach.
“It just eats up all of the sugars available to it leaving the beer pretty dry,” she continues. “There isn’t a hop presence to compete with the flavors of the ginger or lime, but Devil’s does have a peppery, spicy quality to it on its own that is only heightened by the ginger.”
While Brian loves Devil’s Reach for those reasons, he also finds Devil’s to be a challenging beer to add adjuncts or flavorings.
“The yeast ester profile is so strong that you really need to add the right element to complement those characteristics,” he says, “otherwise it’s just competing with the yeast and that’s a tough flavor profile to overcome.”
Devil’s Reach is certainly wrong for an addition of hops — the odds that we ever come out with a DDH version of Devil’s is incredibly slim.
“Hops don’t work well in Devil’s Reach because you’d have to get up to the three-to-five pounds-per-barrel range to get anything noticeable,” he says, “but by that point, it doesn’t really work because the flavors will clash more often than not.”
Yet, spices, herbs, and citrus flavors work really well.
“The fruity esters and peppery phenolics the yeast exudes play perfectly with these extra elements,” he says. “These flavors work in harmony with each other, and that’s why Devil’s Reach is a perfect base for a Mule-inspired beer.”
Fans of Devil’s Reach may notice that we added a little more than ginger and lime for Golden Mule: we upped the fermentables to get Devil’s Reach’s ABV of 8.6% to a wintertime-appropriate 9.5% for Golden Mule.
“Devil’s Reach is already a beast of a beer,” Brian says, “but for this release — and specifically because it’s cocktail inspired –, we wanted to up the ABV a hair to push the cocktail influence a little more. And at the slightly higher ABV you get a touch more alcohol heat from the yeast, which helps mimic the heat you’d get from the vodka you’d use in making the actual cocktail.”
The result is simple yet elegant, intriguing, inviting, and approachable, with a fresh and crisp finish.
“It’s a fun beer!” Brian enthuses. “High ABV, supremely drinkable, crisp, zesty, refreshing, bright, unique — I think it came out lovely. Not something you’ll want to sit down and chug a bunch, but as a sipper, it’s a delightful beer to sit down and enjoy one or two.”
Brian suggests pairing Golden Mule with your next sushi feast or charcuterie board.
“With the spicy undertone of the Belgian yeast perfectly complemented by the ginger, this screams to be paired with either of those,” he says. “Add a sprig of mint to your glass to add an extra touch of brightness to it.”
And Lauren suggests serving it up just as our Russian forbears intend: in a copper mug.
“I would usually scoff at the idea of putting ice in a beer — seriously, there is no reason for it –, but I will make an exception for this one,” she says. “Nothing will compare to the classic Mule serving vessel of a copper mug that is filled with ice that quickly becomes painful to hold because it gets so cold.”
However you intend to enjoy it, Golden Mule is available this Friday, only in the Brewtique. Don’t miss it!