Would you care for kimchi beer?
NEW YORK ― Like kimchi? Love beer? Why not mix the two and brew up a kimchi beer? That’s exactly what some brewers in the U.S. and Canada did to spice up classic ales.
Are you curious to know what it tastes like? Just like how you’d imagine.
``Intense nose of spice and herbs, hopped palate and a chili spice that sneaks up on you. It’s awesome,’’ describes Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Ontario, Canada, which recently introduced kimchi beer at a local beer festival.
Down south in the U.S., one person who tried the version created by Barry’s Homebrew Outlet put it more simply.
``The same [taste] you get from a post-pepper burp,’’ said Jimmy McMillan, co-owner of the brewery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who assured that the comment was a compliment.
Both breweries coincidentally took on the same experiment with kimchi earlier this month, but for McMillan, it was more of a spontaneous idea.
``I love eating Korean barbeque. A few nights before I decided to make the kimchi beer, we had a Korean style barbeque night in the store,’’ recalled McMillan. ``After walking by the refrigerator, I noticed about a pound of kimchi was left, along with a few bags of rice crackers.’’
At that moment, he decided to toss the leftovers directly in the mash, one of the first processes in beer brewing.
``I proceeded to brew in a normal style and added some Sriracha hot sauce during the last five minutes of the boil for a final kick,’’ said McMillan. ``Then I cooled the wort, pitched the yeast and hoped for the best. Three weeks later, it was complete and almost everyone loved it.’’
The finished product was presented at an annual homebrew beer festival, where most first-time tasters asked for seconds.
Over at Beau’s, kimchi was added in portions throughout a longer period of the brewing process.
Beau’s brewer Andrew Bartle says using Sticke Alt Bier, a darker beer with higher alcohol (6.8 percent alcohol content) was his secret to enabling the beer to hold the heat and spices of kimchi.
``It was a beer first with all of the rich malt flavors, followed by the same lingering flavors that come with kimchi, the spices, garlic and pickled nature of the product,’’ he said. ``The beer was the first flavor on the palate and as it crossed the tongue, it hit every sense and turned into something really special.’’
``Kimchi and beer are both fermented products,’’ added Bartle, ``so it made sense to add these things together,’’
While Barry’s Homebrew Outlet, a homebrew supply store, doesn’t create beer for sale, Beau’s does and thinks that there may be a future for kimchi beer.
``Kimchi beer was an experimental batch brew for us, but I believe that there is s a market for it,’’ says Bartle. ``If you notice around the world, there are many hot and spicy beers using hot peppers and spices that craft beer drinkers really enjoy.’’
He did say kimchi beer isn’t something to be drunk in large quantities, but to be savored and enjoyed as an aperitif or compliment to any meal ― just like the way kimchi is served in or with other Korean dishes.