In early 2010, I conducted two interviews for a website called “Know Your Brewer”. This website has since gone the way of the dodo, and I wanted to preserve these interviews. This is the first in the series.
Like many craft brewers, Jason Perkins, brewmaster at Allagash Brewing in Portland Maine has his roots in homebrewing. Jason was always a fan of cooking and grew up on a small farm where they grew and slaughtered a lot of the food they consumed as a family. He loved beer and had a natural attraction to making it himself. Once he started working for the brewery he was buying ingredients from, there was no turning back.
Jason began brewing at KettleHouse brewing in Missoula, MT. He learned countless lessons at hist first brewing job – a big jump from the homebrewing ranks. He later moved to Gritty McDuff’s in Freeport Maine. There, he had the opportunity to work with open fermentation – a very hands on and enjoyable expereince.
Now the brewmaster at Allagash Brewing, he spends most of his days putting out (and occasionally starting) fires. Each day’s activities provide a variety of tasks, including a mix of ordering, scheduling, and managing crew and production tasks. Jason tries to spend as much time in the brewhouse and cellars as possible so that he can keep in touch with the beer.
Jason has two favorite pieces of equipment at Allagash. Their mash tun is an old piece of dairy equipment that they have slowly added improvements to over the years. He has seen it transform – like watching a child grow. They have added major improvements in its operation, but it still remains very much a hands-on experience. Lastly, the mash tun is of course where the base flavor of all beer begins.
Jason’s second favorite piece of equipment is their Coolship. A very old traditional piece of equipment that, when in use, is a very mystical experience.
Jason had a very difficult time picking his favorite beer at Allagash, and equated it to being asked who your favorite child is. He eventually yielded to name Interlude, with the caveat that like all of us, our favorite brew often varies from season to season. Interlude starts as a Saison that is finished with their house brettanomyces, and a portion aged in French Oak Wine barrels – a process that takes about 10 months.
Interlude is brewed with Belgian Pilsner Malt, Caramel Malt and Wheat Malt, hopped with Tettnang and Strisselspalt hops, as well as a small amount of black pepper. Allagash Interlude is fermented with a combination of a Saison yeast strain and Brettanomyces. It is an extremely versatile beer that can be paired with a wide array of food.
In the fall, Jason recalls a great experience with a classic Thanksgiving Day feast. The richness of the poultry and fixins were tempered by the dry tartness of the Interlude, and the dry character helped to keep the appetite going.
When asked to share his favorite recipe involving Allagash Brewing products, Jason revealed a home recipe that he has been working on. This recipe makes use of “Vinegash”, a brewery made malt vinegar.
Custard Style Ice Cream with “Vinegash” reduction
4 egg yolks
1/2 pint (250ml) milk
1/2 pint (250ml) double/heavy cream
4 oz (100g) sugar or caster sugar
2 Cups “Vinegash”
1/2-1 cups Sugar
In a bowl, beat and mix together the egg yolks and sugar until thick. Pour the milk into the mixture of egg yolks and sugar whilst stirring. Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat gently, stirring until the custard thickens – DO NOT BOIL . When you can see a film form over the back of your spoon it’s time to remove the saucepan from the heat. Leave to cool. When the custard base is cold stir in the cream. Put in Refrigerator for at least 3 hours to cool. Transfer the whole mixture into an Homemade ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions. When the ice cream base is finished in the mixer, but before it goes to the freezer for finishing, pour the Vinegash and sugar (can substitute a very high end Malt Vinegar) into a small fry pan. Heat at medium high heat, constantly stirring until mixture thickens to a thick syrup. Allow the mixture to cool to the point where you can touch it with your finger. Add the reduction to your ice cream while mixing slowly, to provide a swirling effect in the ice cream. The exact amount of this reduction to add is up to you.