While 2018 will probably be remembered around here as the Year of the Collaboration, we’ve still got one up our sleeve that was begun last year and finally coming to fruition this weekend.
When Nauti Spirits Distillery opened up the street in 2017, everyone around the brewery was really excited to welcome them to the Cape May County beverage family. We’ve got a good number of breweries and wineries, but only a few distilleries.
And we were even more excited when we gave them a taste and learned that they were making some really good liquors. Their vodka is fantastic and their gin is unparalleled. However, it’s their rum that’s had us enamored.
An idea was born….
“We knew we wanted to get some of their freshly dumped rum barrels to play around with,” says Innovation Director Brian Hink. “In one of our early Innovation meetings, Courtney mentioned really wanting to do something for Mardi Gras, and with New Orleans’ ubiquitous cocktail The Hurricane being a fun inspiration, that was our jumping off point.”
If you visit New Orleans and leave without having had a Hurricane, you’ve done something wrong — turn around, go back, and visit Pat O’Brien’s bar in the middle of the French Quarter. Tropical, fruity, and filled with two types of rum, it’s been contributing to Fat Tuesday’s revelry since it debuted in its eponymous glass at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
However, The Hurricane is a rum drink and we’re not allowed to add rum to a beer. And, since we don’t make rum, we wouldn’t really want to. But we’re definitely allowed to age our brews in whatever vessel we want.
“Being so Rum heavy, we knew we needed to age beer in rum barrels to get the rum character,” Brian says, “and Andrew immediately thought of reaching out to Nauti Spirits about using some of their rum barrels.”
This is Nauti Spirit’s first collaboration of this sort.
“Being open now for just shy of two years, this marks our first collaboration,” says Veronica Townsend of Nauti Spirits. “We’re very excited that we were able to do it with Cape May Brewery, and we’re looking forward to other projects we can do together. We think it’s awesome that we have these two incredible facilities down the road from each other, and we can’t wait to try the final beer!”
A few members of the Brew Crew had been by Nauti before this, and we were thrilled about the prospect of a collaboration.
“Andrew and I went up there to chat about a game plan, tour their facility, and get to know them a little better,” Brian says, “and a few weeks later I dropped by to grab a couple of freshly-emptied rum barrels.”
Freshly-emptied is a bit of an understatement. The barrels were still very wet with rum, so we filled them immediately. They imparted a lot of character in a short period of time — we were able to age it to our specs in three short months.
We filled those bad boys with a medium-bodied cream ale with Bravo and lactose. The lactose lends a bit of body and sweetness to the brew, and the Bravo is barely perceptible: just a hint of bitterness. We played it close to the chest with the base in order to allow the rum character and the fruit to shine.
Again, we went back to the drawing board to determine the fruits.
“Making the classic Hurricane cocktail,” Brian explains, “the fruit juices are two parts passionfruit, one part orange juice, and a splash of grenadine.”
Grenadine is a great, utilitarian syrup behind the bar. You’ll find it in everything from Shirley Temples to Tequila Sunrises, but it isn’t much more than high fructose corn syrup, red dye, and a bit of pomegranate juice.
“We didn’t want to add simple syrup to it, and we sure as hell didn’t want to add red food coloring,” Brian says, “so I opted for Dark Sweet Cherry juice for a tinge of color, hint of sweetness, and obviously for a cherry note, instead of pomegranate juice that would’ve made the beer more on the tart end.”
Ultimately, this was a great recipe to lay down in some rum barrels. The first few sips will throw your palate through some hoops, but the beer comes together nicely.
“It’s got tons of sweet, boozy, rummy character on the nose with a hint of citrus, with the passionfruit and orange really coming through up front on your palate before finishing with a sweet, fruity, cherry-like touch,” Brian tells us. “The rum is more apparent on the nose and in the finish, but kinda washes away to the fruit in the middle. It’s super unique and I really liked how it came out.”
We’re loving this brew, and we’re glad to get it to you before Fat Tuesday.
“I probably won’t be in a drunken stupor for Fat Tuesday,” Brian says, “so I’ll probably enjoy sipping on one as a dessert beer.”
We’ll be releasing Storm’s Brewin’ from the Brewtique on Saturday at noon. We have an extremely small amount — there’s a three 4-pack limit per person and there’s not even enough to put it on tap in the Tasting Room — so get there early. See you then!