My wife’s beer, “Golden Oak” nears completion. Inspired by Lange Estate Winery’s iconic, barrel-fermented Pinot Gris, Jesse Lange lent her a barrel to ferment her Belgian Golden Strong (read about the journey here). After two months it has absorbed all that magic Pinot Gris from the barrel. It looks clear and golden, smells sunny, fruity, yet tastes lightly grassy and mildly grainy, like a clean Belgian beer. The problem: it is flat.
Well, Willamette Week’s Fourth Annual Beer Pro/Am competition is this Saturday, October 15th in Portland, Oregon (tickets: here). So a few weeks ago, time called to keg and carbonate it. To avoid oxidation and awkward barrel-tipping, Tracy gets a pump:
With barrel hooked up to keg, she fills it with ease.
Belgian Golden Strong ales show best with a high level of carbonation. Her Golden Oak would seem too wine-like without fizz. So getting the CO2 level right will make or break this beer. Worried, she kept sampling it over the last few weeks.
Will it be good enough for the Pro/Am?
Then, by chance, John Maier, founding head brewer of Rogue Brewery came to town. Tracy has his wife try it, who then drags John over. Quietly, he smells it, tastes it, then drinks it.
He looks at her, serious, and asks when is Rogue bottling it. She explains it was a one off small batch just for the Pro/Am. John looks confused at why this isn’t one of Rogue’s production beers, finishes it, and smiles. It is very well balanced he says.
Whether Tracy wins at Willamette Week’s Pro/Am or not, getting the blessing from the father of Oregon craft beer is enough.