Rhythm and Harmony
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been the exclusive beer sponsor for the Exit Zero Jazz Festival for seven years.
Jazz Fest is technically two separate festivals — one in the spring and one in the autumn. For each of those festivals, we’ve brewed a special beer — Sophisticated Lady in the spring, and King Porter Stomp in the autumn.
As far as this year’s Jazz Fest is concerned, it’s time for Sophisticated Lady to take her exit cue.
There’s a new tune making her debut in this festival: Harmonic Rhythm.
“As much as we loved Sophisticated Lady, sometimes it’s time for a change,” says Head Brewer Brian Hink, “and this year, it just felt right to change things up! So, when trying to decide what kind of beer would replace Sophisticated Lady, it just made sense to go down the cocktail route.”
And jazz and cocktails is a combination that seems to make a lot of sense.
“We’ve been talking about doing a cocktail-inspired beer for a while now,” says CMBC Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm, “and doing one for a classy time like the Exit Zero Jazz Festival seemed like the perfect fit!”
We explored quite a few different cocktails before deciding upon which one to use.
“We explored the more traditional Margaritas and Mojitos, to more abstract Aviators or Zombies,” Brian says. “We found a bunch of good inspiration — definitely filed away some ideas for future projects!”
And these guys landed on a goooooood cocktail! Moscow Mules are refreshing and delicious! Vodka, muddled lime, a good ginger ale (like what you might find on tap at CMBC), and a sprig of mint combine to create one of the most refreshing and delicious cocktails known to man.
“We wanted to do a cocktail that was well-known,” Jimmy says, “and after brainstorming a few ideas and trying out some various cocktails, we decided that in beer-form the Moscow Mule would be the best bet.”
We’d previously done one-offs around this concept: Devil’s Reach Went to Moscow on a Mule has always been one of our more popular one-offs. The guys decided to build on this success and with a Belgian-style base beer.
“It works great with the phenolic spiciness of Devil’s Reach,” Jimmy says, “so that was our starting point.”
Unlike Devil’s Reach Went to Moscow on a Mule, Harmonic Rhythm isn’t quite as much of a mouthful: either in the name or in the ABV. Clocking in at a mild 5.0%, this is the perfect spring sipper as you take in some of the great acts at Jazz Fest.
“Devil’s Reach is a beast of a beer, coming in at 8.6%,” Brian says, “so the first thing we changed was the alcohol. This beer is the perfect summer crusher — refreshing and snappy, bright, easy going, really a unique and interesting beer — so bringing it in around 5% made perfect sense.”
We used freshly-minced ginger in Harmonic Rhythm — “[Head Chef] JP spent a good half of his day chopping ginger for this beer,” Brian reports — and added it to the boil, plus a little more after fermentation for good measure. This was the first time we’d used ginger in the boil, and the guys had a good time brewing it.
The grain and hop bills are relatively similar to Devil’s Reach, and we used our house Saison yeast. Its peppery phenic profile plays well with the ginger undertones and even mimics the one thing we couldn’t replicate from a traditional Moscow Mule: the copper mug.
We added the lemon, lime, and mint after fermentation.
“The reason for this is because, during fermentation, many of the more volatile flavor compounds can be lost with the CO2 as it bubbles off the beer and out the tank,” Jimmy explains. “So for many of these fruit additions we like to add them after fermentation has all but finished.”
And the process seems to have worked. With all of the huge acts at Jazz Fest this year, we expect Harmonic Rhythm to steal the show.
“It’s nice and refreshing, clean, and has that subtle ginger burn to it,” says Brewer Mark Graves. “It’ll be great for Jazz Fest. Jazz has a specific rhythm to it with bits of improvisation built in. I think it’s got a good amount of flavor — it seems like a calculated beer, but then there’s a little bit o’this and a little bit o’that. It’s refreshing, but it’s got a little bit of that improvisational nature to it.”
“It’s got a great fluidity to it,” he says. “It really grooves right along, so it’s perfect for getting down on some smooth jazz and funk.”
Jimmy thinks it’s a great beer for any time, but for Jazz Fest, “it’ll be particularly good.
“It’s going to be quite different from many other beers, it’s not a pale lager or an IPA, so anyone in that crowd that thinks they don’t like beer should really give this a try, and any beer geeks there will also be very intrigued.”
So, whether you a jazz fan, a beer fan, or somewhere in between, Harmonic Rhythm is sure to please.
You can find it at any of the club venues of the festival, or on tap beginning Friday in the Tasting Room. Be sure to check it out!