Part 14 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Stonewall Jackson 5.
Okay, the name probably gives it away—but we’ll go ahead and just say it: this is a really fun beer. It was fun to brew, and it’s darn fun to drink!
This Double Red Wheat was the first beer we brewed on our new Pico system (more on that in an upcoming post!). But that’s not the only reason it’s a landmark of sorts. Brian pushed the Hef yeast strain almost into the 9% range, which makes Stonewall Jackson 5 come across almost as though it’s been oaked.
The aroma alone will knock your socks off: mild sweet cherry, hints of clove, caramel maltiness, and deep notes of raisin and prune make you eager for that first sip—and it doesn’t disappoint: malty caramel richness combines with bold bitterness, leading to a dry finish.
Not too heavy at 8.7% ABV and 50 IBU, Stonewall Jackson 5 was a sort of experiment for Valiant (hey, when have you ever seen a Double Red Wheat?), and we were excited that it came out so great. With a classic Hef malt bill (and 50% wheat to add a velvety, creamy texture), it has exciting esters that go well with the Golding and Vanguard noble hops added at the end.
So easy to drink, you’ll probably think it’s just a 4% beer—but Stonewall Jackson 5 is more like an aged port: rich with wheat and notes of cherry and raisin, it offers a bit of bitterness to round out the palate and finishes with classic Hef tartness.
The newest addition to our brewery… also represents the history of Valiant.
Way back when we realized we wanted to go pro with craft beer, there was still one big unknown: would we be a contract brewery? A nano brewery? A micro brewery?
Brian designed a system, the manufacturer’s price was right, and we took the plunge. The day we went out to pick up the equipment was huge! We were hauling a trailer of all this brewery equipment down the freeway, with people honking at us and waving.
That was when we started to feel really official!
Next step: Brian had to figure out how to hook up all the equipment. He started searching for parts on eBay, and even got a huge heat exchanger (since the Blichmann he had for his original homebrewing equipment was too inefficient for this 80-gallon system).
We set up in the garage. As we fine-tuned the business plan for our brewery, Brian got very familiar with his new system. And eventually, the business plan took a turn and we realized we were going to go big—very big!—with our brewery.
Back to the drawing board: Brian designed a new system (the one you see in the tasting room today), incorporating many of the parts we’d already gathered. And the rest is history!
Now that history has come full circle. Our smaller system is part of the big picture, allowing us to brew small batches of experimental beers (and—just as important, though slightly less exciting—to propagate yeast for our brews). Stonewall Jackson 5 was brewed on this system.
Before we set up the Pico system last month, it had been two years since Brian had brewed on it! It might be going overboard to say it felt like a homecoming… but we will admit that it’s awesome to have the flexibility to make sure our beer is the absolute best it can be, going out the door.
So next time you’re in the tasting room, admiring all the shiny equipment, make sure you spare a glance for our Pico. After all, it’s where Valiant got its start.
Part 13 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Tilt Shift.
As the name indicates, Tilt Shift is a departure for Valiant—and something new for craft beer fans, too. This Belgian IPA was a real challenge to brew, balancing Belgian characteristics with the hops (not just in the flavor, but in the aroma).
Brian studied up on hops and different IPA styles before cooking up this recipe. A Belgian golden strong yeast provides a lot of esters, giving Tilt Shift a fun aroma combining citrus and tropical fruits… and bubble gum.
The clean malty flavor expresses hop flavors of sweet spices and pineapple, with a refreshing bitterness (from Cascade, Zythos, and Opal hops) to balance everything out.
Small beer batches like Tilt Shift give us a chance to do some yeast propagation, too. So in the near future, watch for news about Valiant brewing a a Belgian golden strong . (Now that’s multi-tasking—brewing a cool, fun beer with a side of functionality!)
Easy-drinking at 7.1% ABV and 66 IBU, Tilt Shift is on tap until our four kegs run out. (At least, unless demand pushes us to keep it on year-round!)
Part 12 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Stentorian.
It’s a craft beer for the Coors crowd. As Brian says, we wanted to give Bud Light guys a chance to taste what it’s like on the craft beer side, where flavor and decent ABVs (6.5%, in this case) happily coexist.
Light in color, with the clean, malty backbone of lager yeast, Crescendo gets its flavor from three different hops. A thirst-quencher on a hot day, it’s light enough to pair successfully with chicken, salads, even a juicy cheeseburger. Or give it a try alongside a citrus tart or even an oatmeal raisin cookie with vanilla ice cream. (We know, we know—we give amazing food pairing suggestions!)
While Crescendo is going to be a mainstay of the Valiant beer list, it’s also the base of an exciting short-run beer that Brian brewed up. He took seven barrels of it and made an India Pale Lager out of this blonde lager—the same wort, but a different hop schedule from Crescendo. (In all modesty, we have to say it’s incredibly awesome.) He added seven types of hops, and came up with a 6.66% ABV beer with 62 IBU. It’s not on tap yet… but don’t worry: we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available in the tasting room!
Behold: a Jericho BOTTLE LABEL.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: does this mean that Valiant is bottling beer??
Short answer: Not yet–but soon! We have to run the label by the TTB and the ABC and then we get to play with our beautiful BOTTLING MACHINE. (Seriously, take a look at these pix and tell us it’s not beautiful! We double-dog dare ya!)
And don’t worry–you’ll be the first to know when Valiant bottled beer is available!
Part 11 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Stentorian.
It’s the beer you’ve all been waiting for: STENTORIAN, Valiant’s English barleywine!
Considered the strongest ale offered by breweries, our English barleywine is all about sophistication.
Deep copper and bronze, Stentorian is hazy enough that you can’t see through it. The aroma offers immediate hints of dried fruit, like plum, date, and rich raisin. The overtone of caramel sweetness combines with a deep malty aroma, while a slight presence of oak helps balance out the complex floral notes from the late-addition Goldings hops.
This full-bodied beer is fairly high on alcohol (13% ABV), but your first impression will be the intense caramel and toffee flavors that result from the multi-layered complexity of our selection of malts (and long kettle caramelizing). Moderately sweet, Stentorian’s hop bitterness is perfectly balanced; the flavor is quite fruity. (Oak-aged versions yield even more depth of character with a slight hint of vanilla obtained during the aging process.)
Mark your calendars: STENTORIAN Release Party August 31 in the tasting room!
In fact, Stentorian’s intense character can make it challenging to pair with main dishes. It’s the ideal partner for desserts (try it with hazlenut torte or caramel cheesecake) or strong cheeses, like Stilton.
Though we pour Stentorian when it’s ready to drink, it can get even better with age. Given the right storage conditions (upright, in a dry dark area no warmer than 50°F), it’s possible that you could age Stentorian for more than 10 years—and at that point, it will have picked up sherry-like qualities. The biggest challenge will be waiting that long to enjoy drinking it!
On July 20, our man Jack took our barrel-aged OCTAVE Belgian pale ale and our FIELDS ABLAZE Saison out to Corona to pour at TAPS Craft Beer Festival. We knew it would be a good time because, back in April, we poured our VERANDA Biere de Garde and 31 KINGS IPA at the first annual TAPS Craft Beer Festival in Brea.
And we were we right: this was a blast.
About 500 people flooded the Corona TAPS to sample beers from about three dozen SoCal craft breweries. The crowd was friendly, and Jack had a great time connecting with brewers from and owners of Valiant’s neighboring breweries. (A few of them were newer breweries, so it was exciting to talk about what they’re bringing to the local craft beer scene.) Lots of them were from outside OC, of course, but Noble, Tustin Brewing Co., and Old Orange were pouring at the beer festival, too.
Out in the Inland Empire, the name Valiant is not too familiar to too many people–so we were excited to get the word out! (After all, it’s not THAT long a craft beer commute to Orange!) Plus Jack blew a few minds with our OCTAVE. A lot of the guests had never encountered a low-alcohol barrel-aged beer before, so when they tasted OCTAVE… and then learned that it’s only 6.7% ABV… they were absolutely amazed.
Another highlight–for Jack, as well as for the guests–was the delicious (and free) food TAPS served. (Jack’s fave: the deep-fried cheese sticks. “I would fight anyone to the death for another one,” he says. You’ve been warned.)
Put it all together, and this was one awesome event. In fact, Jack ranks it in the Top 3 Most Fun Beerfests we’ve attended so far. (Guess we know who we’re sending to pour next year!)
Yesterday, we told you about the search for the perfect coffee for our Imperial Black Espresso Saison. Today, we’ll tell you the rest of the story.
Yes, “Mounds of Grounds” is a somewhat odd beer name for Valiant to use—but it definitely matches the style of beer we were going after: Imperial Dark Espresso Saison! The name is a departure for us—and that’s perfect, because this time around we were stepping into uncharted grounds (no pun intended) with respects to beer style and approach. “Mounds of Grounds” contains a fair amount of coffee grounds to liven it up just a little bit—and we’re sure the 9.6% ABV will be fun to enjoy as well!
The whole idea of crafting an Imperial Dark Espresso Saison was really a challenge to us: could we pull it off? In today’s craft beer world, there are no limits on what can be put into beer. However, not everything is meant to be put into beer—and, ultimately, the beer still has to represent beer!
The base style of the beer is Saison. We simply love this style of beer, both for its complexity and for its drinkability. We have several years’ experience with our house French-style yeast strain, and know the boundaries within which we can work with it. The key takeaway is that Saisons are usually very dry in the finish and usually have a complex nose resulting in spicy and citrus esters, which are mainly dependent on fermentation temperature.
Then there’s the Imperial aspect of the beer. Going after a Imperial Saison intrigued us—and we thought it would be a great way to leverage off the drinkability aspect of our yeast in having a high-ABV Saison. For the most part, however, the higher ABV will help balance out all the different flavors; think of it as giving each flavor a bridge to connect with every other component. In obtaining this higher-than-usual ABV, we have taken the grain bill and have twisted it to the point that the overall flavor should impart a nice caramel/ toffee flavor while still not being too up-front. The pilsner base malt still allows the slight graininess to carry the flavor to the front of the palate.
All this now rolls into the dark aspect of the beer, by far the most important. When you see this beer being poured into your glass, you may be shocked just how dark it is. (You literally cannot see through it.) Going this black on the color allowed us to play with perception a little bit. You might expect a dark beer to taste heavy and have the flavor components that match a classic stout. No so here! In fact, the flavor profile is the opposite, and the dark color actually combines perfectly with the aroma of our selected craft coffee! Besides all that, let’s face it: a black Saison really has some interesting facets that just make you want to try it.
Earthy tones blanket the majority of the aroma followed by green chili-like notes and mild tangerine citrus highlights. Spiciness is attributed to the combination of the yeast and coffee aroma. The flavors move into a completely different direction: mild caramel, bready and toasty. Additionally, rich chocolate fades into slight roasty/charcoal flavors. Mounds of Grounds is low on bitterness and ends fairly dry.
The search for the perfect coffee was where we focused very heavily for this beer (after all, the brewing side is something that we know very well!). We knew that our coffee selection could make or break the brew. The wrong amount, type, or brewing technique could really put the beer into another category (making it something other than beer!). We wanted to do something different than other area breweries, so we headed up to Jones Coffee, a family-owned and -operated coffee roaster and shop in Pasadena.
Like Valiant, Jones Coffee is located in a commercial industrial building. Once you’re inside, you feel like you’re in a whole new world—all relating to the fine craftsmanship of roasting and creating coffee drinks. Owner Chuck Jones has spent 18 years in the coffee business (in fact his family owns a plantation in Guatemala, and some of the coffee beans used come from there).
The next step was the fun part: narrowing down the selection of coffees we thought would be the perfect fit for Mounds of Grounds. Like Brian with his beers, Chuck has a detailed temperature printout for each roast. The guys studied them to understand what influenced what with respects to temperature inside the roaster.
After learning about all the coffee roasts, we went through a selection of narrowed-down coffee beans by means of smelling. Now, it’s important to understand that the aroma will change on these beams depending on how you steep them—whether in cold, hot, or very hot water. Therefore, the artistic side has to come out and narrow down the selection.
It was really fun to watch Chuck brew our coffee. He showed Brian handling techniques that he’d never seen before. You can tell that Chuck has been doing this for some time! Finally we got to sample the brews.
We finished going through all the different kinds of roasts and found the roast we thought would fit for our Saison. With a final recap and a confirmation that we about to head out the door with 15lb of coffee, we had one last recap of everything learned by Chuck.
We thank Jones Coffee so much for their time that day! We are extremely excited about other opportunities for creating more concoctions for the craft brew world using Chuck’s coffee. This whole experience really shows why this industry is so much fun: these little tiny business really make a big impact!
Part 9 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Pathos.
When we set out to make a chocolate porter, we kept a few things in mind.
First, there are a number of great chocolate porters already out there. We’re not competing with them—we’re doing something different.
Next: there’s a fine line between a porter and a stout—and we wanted to push that line. Hard. But without crossing it.
On top of that, we wanted to emphasize the chocolate in our chocolate porter… but without adding any chocolate to it.
The result? Pathos, our 9.2%ABV Imperial Chocolate Porter.
Pathos may remind you of a Baltic porter (a lager). The rich complexity of the malt bill means you won’t pick up any acidic kick from dark grains. In fact, Pathos uses more than double the typical amount of chocolate malts to infuse a deep chocolaty flavor (other chocolate porters may include actual chocolate in the recipe). That’s the Valiant way: brewing barley, yeast, and hops in order to pull all the wonderful flavors and aromas out of them—before adding other ingredients.
Classic noble bittering hops were added later in the boil to add aroma (but not bitterness; Pathos comes in at a smooth 38 IBU).
We’re excited to add Pathos to the Valiant lineup—and not only because it’s a great beer on its own. It’s also a great constitution for other new beers. Brian will be bringing some of his Cornelius keg collection to the brewery to finish 5-gallon batches of Pathos with some exciting flavors—like caramel, vanilla, coffee, chai, orange, hazelnut, and chipotle (maybe even curry!). One bourbon barrel is already filled with Pathos. Stay tuned for release dates!