Tiny Drink Umbrella: Imperial Smoothie Ale
If you Google “Imperial Smoothie Ale”, you’re not likely to find much. Yet, when we decided to head to Extreme Beer Fest at the beginning of February, we knew we needed an ace in the hole to make people sit up and take notice.
And they did.
“This is the best thing to come out of New Jersey since Bon Jovi!” enthused one attendee.
Well… it’s her life and we thank her for loving us, but, let’s face it, she’s livin’ on a prayer if she thinks Tiny Drink Umbrella: Imperial Smoothie Ale is better than Bon Jovi. It’s better than a bed of roses and we’ll never say goodbye to her, but it’s not much more than a damn good beer. Nonetheless, we thank her for keeping the faith.
Either way, we pulled a few kegs before we left and made sure we had enough left over to bring it to you, our faithful fans, in a limited release of 49 cases this Saturday.
“It was definitely our most well-received beer at the festival,” reports Innovation Director Brian Hink. “We had more people coming over to say, ‘Someone told me I had to try this!’ than any of our other brews.”
And for good reason. This is the third release in our Tiny Drink Umbrella series, and, you know what they say: the third time’s the charm. We learned a lot in the first two releases, and this is probably the best yet.
“All of the Tiny Drink Umbrellas are similar in concept and execution,” Brian says, “but I think this is the most drinkable and complete one yet: really, the sum is greater than its parts. Which is saying something, because these parts were all pretty awesome.”
Our Tiny Drink Umbrella: Imperial Smoothie Ale is packed with fruit flavors, this time with pomegranates, black currants, and dark cherries: a flavor combination perfect for these colder temperatures.
“Pomegranates are one of the more appropriately usable seasonal winter fruits,” Brian says, “so that became our starting point and focal fruit.”
As we did with Tiny Drink Umbrella: Passionfruit, Orange, and Guava, we selected the first fruit and decided what would play nicely off of it. Once pomegranates were decided upon, we looked for two other fruits to tie everything together.
“Black currants definitely seem like a dead-of-winter flavor,” Brian says, “and the dark cherries were picked to tie the whole room together, and I think it really came through as a lovely bouquet of flavors.”
Black currants aren’t terribly common in the US — much of the country was actually banned from growing them until earlier this century — but they’re big across the pond in Europe, where they’re commonly juiced. It has a sweet, earthy flavor with hints of passionfruit and raspberries, and is thoroughly unique.
However, when we brewed up Beer Name (Eminently Drinkable), we actually brewed up twice as much as we wanted with the intent of turning half into a Tiny Drink Umbrella.
“The beer was 13% that we then ‘fruited down’ — I just made this term up — to the 10% final ABV,” Brian says. “So it has all the ridiculously smooth, easy-drinking qualities of Beer Name but turned up to 11 because it’s sweet and fruity.”
So, the base beer is essentially the same as Beer Name, with Cashmere hops and a Kviek yeast.
“Tiny Drink Umbrella: Imperial Smoothie Ale is one of the better versions we have done,” says Lab Manager Lauren Appleman. “The fruits are dark and tart with a touch of sweet, and that complements the intense flavors and aromas from the Kviek yeast. The fruit comes together with the base beer to make TDU an extremely drinkable 10% ABV.”
It’s a little non-traditional to see a Kviek in a smoothie ale, but it works for this brew.
“This is probably the most bastardized usage of Kviek yeast ever conceived,” Brian says. “There must be generations of Norwegian farmhouse brewers turning in their graves over this.”
Tiny Drink Umbrella: Imperial Smoothie Ale releases at noon on Saturday, with only 49 cases available. Get there early!