When you get two brewers who are somewhat notorious for erring on the side of eccentric ingredients, you get conversations like the following that lead to SOBA Winter Ale Fest collabs and beers like Kinot Noir, an Imperial Dark Saison with Pinot Noir Grape Must and Kina Roe.
Kerry [Gray of Choice Bros Brewery fame]: “Hey, Kelly, got a cool idea for a collaboration for Winter Ales. You keen?”
Kelly: “Hey, bro! Your name is just like mine but has two Rs instead of two Ls!”
Kelly: “I’m hungry. Might get a feed of Kina.”
Kerry: “You’re weird.”
Kelly: “Let’s brew. What are your thoughts?”
Kerry: “I can get some sweet as Pinot Noir Grape Must!”
Kelly: “This is possibly the best thing ever. Let’s cogitate…”
The concept was to take a Belgian – Style Dark Ale fermented predominantly with Brettanomyces bruxellensis and the Fork Saison strain and combine this with a dual fermented blend of Imperial Stout wort and fresh Pinot Noir Grape Must.
The Kina was used to give a salty, rich, umami character to the beer as well as a hint of bitterness, as the roe can tend towards bitterness at certain times of the year. This allowed us to use no hops in the Saison brew. The Stout wort was bittered to around 80 IBU, but cut back with the grape must and subsequent dilution with the Saison brew.
“At blending, we looked at a few things,” says Kelly.
“The Saison-esque ester and phenol profile, the acidity provided by the grape must and the alcoholic character. The Stout/Grape Must batch finished at 12% alcohol, whereas the Saison hit 7.1%.
“We had thought that 9% would prove a good balance point and upon blending, realised we were right.”
The final step looked at varying amounts of the Pinot Must as an addition to temper the slight dryness of the beer and act as a balance point for the higher alcohols and boozy character. Playing around with 2, 3 and 4% additions was pretty interesting, with a marked difference between the three.
“We decided on a 4% grape must addition, allowing the beer to hit exactly 9% alcohol and give a wonderful complexity. The subtlest sweetness, a hint of savoury and brine, alcoholic richness, yeast-derived esters and phenols and great interplay between the grape’s natural acidity and the bitterness from dark malts, Kina and American hops,” says Kelly.
Try Kinot Noir at the Soba Winter Ale Festival on Saturday, 11 June – but be quick: there’s only 30L!
Other links: Beertown.nz covers Kinot Noir
Kinot Noir Tasting Notes
Style: Imperial Dark Saison with Pinot Noir Grape Must and Kina Roe
Malts: Medium Crystal, Dark Crystal, Caramalt, Wheat Malt, Ale Malt, Rolled Oats, Flaked Barley, Roasted Wheat, Pilsener Malt, Flaked Rye.
Hops: Columbus, Simcoe
Yeast: Brettanomyces bruxellensis and Belle Saison
Other: Chatham Islands Kina (Sea Urchin) Roe
ABV – 9.0%
IBU – 25
Kerry’s descriptors were: Silky Grape, Smooth Chocolate and Phenolic Saison Character.
Kelly’s descriptors were: Spicy alcohol, Chocolate Berry Smoke and Clean Acidity.