Sunday, June 17, 2012

It takes 3 for Crabtree's Ménage à Trois

Crabtree Brewing Ménage à TroisSometimes it takes more than 2 to tango, and with Crabtree Brewing's latest offering, it took 3. Three different beers all blended together to make one tasty new beer. But not everyone will get a chance to try this and the vast majority of Crabtree Brewing's Ménage à Trois was going to their Beer Club members only.

On Saturday, June 16th around 4:15pm, Crabtree brewmaster Jeff Crabtree, his wife Stephanie and their team introduced their new beer Ménage à Trois to their Beer Club members. This beer had the honor of already winning to awards even before anyone in the general public had a chance to taste it.

Earlier this year, Ménage à Trois had won a Silver at the 2012 World Beer Cup in California in the Braggot category, and also a 1st place at the International Mazer Cup in Boulder, Colorado in the Bracket / Braggot category. That's saying a lot for a beer that hadn't been released yet. The Crabtree's had their awards on display at the time of the release. The label was designed in house and is decidedly a bit "racier" than normal, but given the name of the beer, it fit perfectly.

So what exactly is a Braggot?

According to the Home Brewing Wiki, "Braggot, sometimes called Bracket or brackett, is the traditional term for a fermented beverage made with malt as well as honey; it can be considered as a malt mead or a honey beer, depending on the relative amount of fermentables from each source. A mead may simply get some flavor from steeped specialty grains, or it may get, by some definitions, as much as 80% of its fermentables from malt. Braggot may be hopped or unhopped."

In this particular case, Jeff Crabtree told their Beer Club that their Braggot was actually a blending of three different beers. The first was their Boxcar Brown ale aged with homegrown plums in Merlot barrels. The second was an Oatmeal Stout aged in whiskey barrels. And the third started out as a Northern Colorado Wildflower honey mead (18% ABV) mixed with a dash of malt to create a braggot and blended with Boxcar Brown and aged further in Merlot barrels. Crabtree added that he had hand picked the plums from his own trees in Greeley, Colorado.

This beer almost didn't make it

Ménage à Trois descriptionJust after getting label approval from the TTB, Crabtree Brewing received a "Cease and Desist" letter from a California winery who apparently already had a claim to the name Ménage à Trois. But after Crabtree explained to them that this beer only had 60 cases made and was only to be sold to Beer Club members (and a couple of special accounts), they were given the OK that this beer could proceed under that name with the stipulation that they never use that name again.

Crabtree Brewing put up a nice appetizer table complete with cheeses, pretzel crackers, assorted fruit and a chocolate fountain for their Beer Club members to pair with their braggot. A sample glass of Ménage à Trois was then given out to all in attendance. Beer Club members were then given the opportunity to purchase individual 12oz bottles of Ménage à Trois for just under $6 a piece. A limited supply of this was on tap at the tasting room, but that wasn't expected to last long given the small batch size.

How did it taste?

While I do plan to give this a full review later, I can tell you that this beer was rusty red in color with a light tan head. It had a sweet aroma of honey, dark fruit, a hint of roasted malt and a touch of vanilla (from the oak barrels). The taste was nice and sweet and very smooth with a hint of darker malt. Weighing in around 8%, you could tell this brew was meant to be savored more slowly than other beers. I thoroughly enjoyed my sample and ordered a six-pack of this beer to take home with me. Granted, I paid just over $34 for a six-pack, something that I'd normally never do, but given how smooth and tasty this beer was, I felt it was worth every penny.

Crabtree stated that this beer would age well for up to 5 more years provided that it was kept at a cool temperature in a cellar.

This release was most likely the last one to take place at their current brewery site. Crabtree Brewing is in the process of moving their tasting room and eventually their entire brewery to a more centralized location in Greeley, Colorado in July. For more info on their upcoming plans see the article Crabtree Brewing hints at big plans for 2012.


Related articles:
- Crabtree Stephanie's Oatmeal Raisin Cookie review.
- Crabtree Eclipse Black IPA review.
- Crabtree Berliner Weisse Ale review.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com - a Colorado beer blog.
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