Festivus - Dark Lager
It’s always nice when an origin story is tidy, direct, and the pieces easily fit together. Just like your classic modern superhero movie. But as with most things in real life, this is rarely the case. Such is the story of the Deeds Winter Lager.
In mid-February of 2019, I sat down with Pat and Dave to discuss the specialty release calendar. Essentially, we were to compose a list of beers that we wanted to release throughout the year and beyond. It was to be a discussion of where to focus, direct resources, and flex the old creative muscle. Our production staff provided input, the sales staff, management, administration, even our warehouse guys gave some input because at the end of the day, the primary goal is to brew beer that we all want to drink.
So the list began to take shape, with the likes of an Imperial Stout, a Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, a DDH DIPA inspired by Indiana Jones, a grand ambition for our sour program, Ice Cream Pales, collaborations with various friends, Breakfast NEIPA’s, pastry stouts, etc etc. And when it came to the June and July period, I remember saying, “We should make a winter lager.”
Let’s say the eyebrows cocked a bit and it was followed with a “Uh? What?” . And my only response was, “You know a lager for winter.” A more in depth explanation was necessary.
Back in 2007, I moved from the United States to the second largest city in Slovakia on the eastern side near the Ukrainian border. I lived in Europe for three years, and one of my favourite times of year was winter, not just for the skiing, but for the quintessential European winter markets. Little wooden stands selling everything from handmade decorations and wooden toys to sweet treats, savoury treats, everything you can imagine to make it feel like Christmas.
One of the best things available was something called a Gluhwein. A hot spiced red wine with notes of cinnamon, clove, ginger, citrus. I have never before had a drink that fought the elements as well. -5C temperatures, wind, snowy, ice. It was like the ultimate shield against this intense time of year. My second favourite beverage being a Bombardino from Italy – a warm egg based liquor drink served on the slopes of the Dolomiti mountains – alas I haven’t figured out how to turn that into a beer yet. I developed a big love for Gluhwein and each winter in Europe I not only looked forward to hitting the markets in Austria, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, etc., I also looked forward to making it myself at home.
The inspiration to take these flavours and put them in a beer goes even further back. 2001. I was in university at Penn State and was each year two breweries would release winter packs / mixed cartons etc. Saranac did a great one with 12 different beers in a box. Working in production now, I appreciate how much of a pain that must have been. The other winter pack was released by Sam Adams. And one of the beers they used to release in that pack was a Winter Lager. If I remember correctly, which is hard as my memory is a bit hazy, much like the IPAs the kids are drinking these days, it was lightly spiced with bitter orange and ginger, and definitely kept you warm during the winter months. I probably haven’t had one in 15 years, but the taste and that experience of sitting inside during those winter months sipping back on that lager have always stuck with me. Friends, Family, Good Times.
So flash forward to 2019 in Melbourne. Winter has come. Sales have dipped. Dark beers are popping up everywhere. This is not the time to release a lager. I can tell you that. But a winter lager, is it not the perfect time?
Pale Malt, Wheat Malt, Dark Munich, and a dash of Caramunich give this bock-style lager its amazing malt character and deep colour. It was hopped with Mandarina Bavaria to give it the citrus edge and cinnamon, bitter orange, and ginger are added to emulate the hot wines served across Europe.
Deeds Festivus Winter Lager is a dedication to those Christmas markets in Europe as well as a those saavy drinkers in the cool winter months that put down that stout or porter and grab a Lager. Festivus for the Rest of Us!!!
Drink Fresh and Stay Warm!