Brendan had a notion for a new beer - and that’s usually a good thing. He was interested in using a local plant that grown in abundance in the immediate area of the brewery: CHICORY (or as we’ve mutated the spelling to help make the pun, "chicoree"). It’s that purple flower that pops up on vacant lots, and in our part of town, we’ve got lots of vacancy.
So, he dug up some roots, cleaned them up, roasted them, and immediately upon closer inspection, decided the were definitely NOT something he’d be putting into a nice fresh batch of carefully brewed beer. A double-batch in fact, in hopes of it lasting a little longer. Instead he sourced some commercially available chicory, and off we go.
If you’ve heard of it before, it’s probably in the form of an additive to coffee that was popular 20-30 years ago (based on my personal experience, and a wild-ass guess), but among true coffee folk, it’s pretty frowned upon. (Worse than people who salt -their beer to make it "more fizzy".) But I’d never tasted it before, and neither had Brendan. So this was definitely new territory...
I was expecting something somewhat tannic and sharp - akin to what we can see in our Heather Ale when this kind of woody shrubbery is used. But this is different. Very different. The flavor is a little woody, but it’s full and smooth. More like what you’d expect from a root, I suppose? And there’s just enough in there to know you’ve got something, but you can’t quite say what it is... or tell where the spice ends and the flavor of the beer begins. Which I consider to be about the perfect balance.
The base beer is a Red Ale, which I think Brendan chose exclusively to for the purpose of making a nice dyslexic regional beverage pun. (It didn’t take him very long to get with the program here!) So yes, we’re calling it CHICOREE RED, in honor of the cherry soda pop that was once so much more common in PA and Ohio in the days of our youth. (It’s also the name of the Pittsburgh Paint color reported to be favored by Frank Loyd Wright, but I just discovered that a moment ago.)
Nate (3531) - Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA - AUG 25, 2011
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 13/20
From growler. Herbal, sassafras, earthy tones over some mild roasted sweet malty character. Light hop presence, some brown sugar. Dark amber, not quite coppery, with light haze, topped with thin foamy lacing head. Medium body with medium-high carbonation. Starts mild and sweet, nice roasty character, brown sugar and biscuit, mild carbonic tang. Big ol’ hit of chicory, like roasted sassafras and a bit of rubbery character. Bit of chocolate malted. Pretty clean finish, low bitterness, and just a bit of lingering herbal-spicy in the after. Don’t think I’ve had chicory in a beer before. Nice.
lithy (2996) - Capital of Appalachia, Pennsylvania, USA - AUG 21, 2011
3.3 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
A solid red, beige cover. Aroma is toasted malt, light caramels, candied apples, then chicory. Taste is much the same, I’m not a big fan of the chicory, but the beer is solid.
Beerman6686 (3796) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - AUG 11, 2011
3.1 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
This poured a lighter red color with a beige head. Aroma was of lightly toasted malts, some chicoree there, and and light yeast. Flavor was yeasty and dusty with some light burnt caramel sweetness and light chicoree.
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