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February 28, 2011

Beertography of the Week

This week's submission comes to us from Adam Boscarino and is quite the unique entry. This beer is Cambridge Brewing Company's "Banryu Ichi" which is a beer/sake hybrid. Check out the official description:
There is an old saying in Japan, “There are ten thousand ways to make sake.” CBC is very proud to introduce number ten thousand and one. 
Banryu Ichi (10,001 ways in Japanese) is an experimental brew that straddles the line between beer and sake. Produced in collaboration with our good friend and masterful sake home-brewer, Todd Bellomy, this has been one of the most interesting and labor-intensive beers ever to come out of CBC.
We began last December by spending many cold, windy days in the alley behind the brewery, steaming rice in small batches to brew what became almost fifty gallons of pure sake. Sake is produced by multiple parallel fermentation: polished rice is converted to sugar by a fungus called Koji (Aspergillus oryzae) and fermentation is taken care of by sake yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae kyokai). After several weeks of fermentation this batch of sake (possibly the largest batch of sake ever made in New England) was destined to become the starter for our beer.
Just after Christmas, Todd joined us again to brew a mere six barrels of the craziest beer wort ever. Pale barley malt and flaked rice went into the mash, and after extracting only the first runnings we added a significant amount of brown rice syrup. This yielded a wort of 31*P / 1.124 SG, or in other words, some really thick, sticky stuff! The wort was sent to the fermenter and then, with fingers crossed, we pumped over the entire batch of sake including the yeast, Koji, and lots of rice slurry. Fermentation was slow and low at 50*F for six weeks, followed by cold-conditioning until it reached more than 15% abv!
Incredibly complex aromas and flavors abound, including sweet rice, fresh apples and grapes, hints of earth and mushroom from the koji, and as it warms further notes of fennel, herbs, and an almost Belgian-yeast spiciness. Brilliant copper-colored, it is full in body despite its very dry finish. This is one to be sipped, savored, and contemplated. Banryu Ichi is a truly unique beverage, served with intentionally very low carbonation in a 5oz. glass set inside aMasu, a traditional cedar sake cup.
Wow, this just sounds insanely interesting. The 1.124 OG of the beer alone is enough to gasp at, let alone the fact that it was blended with sake! Adam reports "it's sweet with a nice fruity, grape-like flavor, and despite the high ABV, it's very drinkable." Anyone else out there had this one?

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