From the Brewer: 2015 Yule

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It is about tradition… not style.

Christmas beer is a long standing tradition among breweries large and small in that wonderfully quirky little country. A tradition that is, rather than a style, in a country where beer is taken as seriously as its fine cuisine.

In the town of Essen near Antwerp in the North, there is even a special beer festival held annually specifically to showcase the beers brewed for the holiday season. In 2014, over 190 holiday beers were represented at that festival. As I mentioned before, this type of beer is a tradition rather than a style. Some are dark, some are blond. ABV can range from 7% to well above 10%. One interesting side fact…the famous Trappist brewery Chimay once brewed a Christmas beer. After its initial release, it was in such demand that the monastery decided to make it available year round so they gave it a new name so today we know it as Grand Reserve (the one with the Blue Label).

Although the tradition of the holiday brew does not dictate any necessary recipe guidelines, there are some general tendencies. The majority tend to be higher in alcohol. They tend to be darker. Many have holiday type spices and some have fruit.

In effort to showcase the tradition, our Yule has many of these qualities. It is rich and dark. I have always used holiday spices, but very lightly so. To acknowledge the fact that there is a wide spectrum of interpretation in recipe formulation, I have changed the fruit from year to year. Our first Yule was in 2012 and was made with tart cherries. In 2013 I used Italian plums and 2014 was fermented with black current which gave a nicely tart edge to the big, dark and bold 13% ABV beer.

That brings us up to this year, 2015 Yule. The story begins with a word or two on cellaring. Most beer is intended to be consumed fresh. Filtered and artificially carbonated beers are very vulnerable to oxidation, which is exposed to the liquid at bottling time. I am a passionate advocate for one particular element in the Belgian tradition of brewing and that is 100% natural, re-fermentation in the bottle. This means that at bottling time, a little bit of fermentable sugar is added to the beer allowing the yeast in the unfiltered beer to undergo a final fermentation in the bottle, once the bottle is sealed. Belgian brewers refer to it as “Living Beer”. The advantage is that this process consumes the oxygen in the headspace of the bottle making beer inside very shelf-stable.  The beer is now able to mature just like fine wine and without risk of oxidation.

All that being said, earlier this year we opened a bottle of our very first Yule which was more than 3 years old. Its flavor development over time was incredible. With cellaring in mind, we brewed this year’s Yule about four months ago and allowed it to mature a slight bit ahead of time for you. I also went back to that original recipe which used tart cherries. We made a bit more this time than we did on that first batch, now 4 years ago so you can grab an extra bottle or two and lay it down for years to come. Happy Holidays and Happy Yule!

Prost!!!

Yule will be available at the Friday, Nov. 6th taproom release party at 6PM. Join us at 2014 Washington Ave N., Minneapolis, MN 55411.

2015 Yule Release Party

Stellar in the Cellar: Belgian Strong Ale Fermented with Tart Cherries

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For the fourth year running, Boom Island Brewing Company is pleased announce the release of its Yule, the dark Belgian strong holiday ale fermented with tart cherries, with subtle nuances of holiday spices.

There seems to be two major camps when it comes to celebrating the holidays. The first follow the department store model and decorate and start counting down the days weeks before Halloween has arrived. The other group is less sentimental and can’t be bothered to get into the spirit until a few days before the holiday.

Boom Island Brewing Company falls somewhere in between the two camps: the taproom Yule Release Party is scheduled for Friday, November 6th and will be sold in stores throughout the region starting the week of November 9. Yule 2015, fermented with tart cherries will be available on tap and in 750 ml bottles for the holiday season while supplies last. Pours from an oak cask, as well as bottles of the 2014 Yule, which was fermented with black currant, will also be available for purchase during this event.

As an added bonus, the Bill Patten Trio will be playing a set at 7pm and the New Bohemia food truck will be on site as well.

Cellaring craft beer has become more in vogue, and Yule is a perfect candidate for aging. As it ages and ferments the beer becomes more complex and special, worthy of any special occasion.

YULE 2015: 11.5% ABV Dark Belgian Strong Holiday Ale
COLOR: Deep Mahogany with a Sandy Brown Colored Head
FLAVOR: Tart Cherry with Subtle Holiday Spice, Fruity and Sour

YULE 2014: 13% ABV Dark Belgian Holiday Ale, Aged One Full Year
COLOR: Deep Mahogany with an Espresso Colored Head
FLAVOR: Black Currant with Holiday Spice, Rich and Tart

© Heather Hanson Photography LLC
© Heather Hanson Photography LLC

So grab bottles to share, gift, and enjoy for yourself!

Figgy Yule Cookies paired with Yule

Now bring us some figgy pudding! We’re sure Yule love this holiday tradition in cookie form!

Figgy Yule Cookies paired with Yule, photo by Heather Hanson
Figgy Yule Cookies paired with Yule, photo by Heather Hanson

 

Recipe adpated from Food 52 by Samantha Haddow

Yields about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 8-10 large dried Turkish figs, diced
  • 1 cup Yule
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks) softened
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest

For the icing

  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Yule
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Preparation

  • In a small saucepan, simmer the figs and Yule until the figs are soft, about 15 minutes. Strain figs and set aside.
  • Mix together the flour, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Fold in the strained figs and orange zest.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets by lining in parchment paper.
  • On a well floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/8” thick. Cut into 2” rounds. Arrange on baking sheets about 1” apart.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown along the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • In a small saucepan over medium low heat, whisk together the powdered sugar, Yule, butter and vanilla extract. Simmer, stirring frequently, until smooth and well combined.
  • Drizzle icing onto cooled cookies
  • ENJOY!

*Prepared and Taste-Tested by Samantha Haddow

Limited Release: 2014 Yule

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Now available for a limited release: 2014 Yule!

“You’re about to discover what holiday cheer tastes like. With a robust combination of rich, toasted malts and a hint of black currant, this 13% bottle-conditioned ale is a hearty thank you for your support this year. We hope Yule love sharing it with your family and friends.”

Released this November, this perfect gift item is only available for a limited time! Visit the Boom Room** or your favorite beer store to get it before it’s gone!

**As of December 3rd, only 6 Bottles of Yule remain at the Taproom!!!!

Photo by Heather Hanson Photography LLC