Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer Smoked Imperial Stout

It’s good to know that if vampires ever become a problem, the brewers at Clown Shoes Brewing have you covered. The Second Anniversary Ale Vampire Slayer Smoked Imperial Stout, is brewed with dark malt, holy water, and malt smoked with hickory, beechwood, and vampire killing stakes (I’m hoping these stakes are made of oak, but the fact that it is brewed with holy water makes me feel safer…). Clown Shoes Brewing’s story is an interesting one. They were founded by Jesse Dooley, Gregg Berman, and former Head Brewer Dan Lipke of Ipswich Ale Brewery. Ultimately Jesse Dooley was a manager at a liquor store owned by Gregg Berman. As Jesse began successfully integrating more and more microbrewed beer into the shop, Gregg took notice. They started mulling the idea of creating their own beers to stock in the store with their distributing license. Once they found Dan a brewery was born. They’ve got some great beers (an overall average of 3.9 on Beer Advocate) and some great marketing. Best of luck to these guys!

Infusing Hops with Liquor

Hops and beer go together like peas and carrots, but hops and liquor? I was a little surprised when my friend Zac said that he was drinking hop infused vodka the other day. New Holland Brewing makes an un-aged whisky infused with hops (Hopquila) that is turning into a top seller for the brewery/distillery. Oregon based McMenamin’s Edgefield Distillery makes a mean dry hopped whiskey (Monkey Puzzle) that I’d love to try (Haha, please contact me if you’d like to send samples). So why not make your own hop infused spirits?  The idea is pretty simple, mix hops with distilled alcohol to break down hop oils and make a hop elixir. There are several techniques I’ve found as I’ve been digging around, and also several suggested recipes. My inclination is that a dry hopped whisky would be awesome, but I’ve also found that vodka infused with Centennial hops would also be pretty good. Here’s what you’ll need to start experimenting…

1) Vodka or Whiskey (pick your poison)
2) A french press or a container/funnel/strainer/coffee filter (haha, which is easier?).
3) 1/2oz of Medium alpha acid hops (Centennial would be a good choice, but I’ve heard of people using Cascade or Amarillo as well)

I’ve found a great wiki for making vodka infused with hops on Bob Stempski’s blog here. In this wiki he used water to “sparge” the extracted hop resin, and then froze the end result. After the elixir had frozen, he inverted the mixture allowing the hop infused vodka to pour out before the water melted (this actually looks like the ice may also help filter out any remaining hop particles). He also mentions that you can add hop vodka to underdeveloped beer to bring up the abv and add some hop flavor. I’ll be giving this a shot here soon to let you know the results!