By Mark Tichenor
It started with a box of pink peppercorns.
Jules Suplicki, General Manager of Rochester pub The Old Toad, tossed the peppercorns to Custom Brewcrafters brewer Bruce Lish and asked “What can we do with this?”
The resulting Pink Peppercorn IPA was good enough to launch a line of specialty seasonal beers, one-offs, and staples brewed just for The Toad (including the classic OT-20 Double IPA, brewed for the bar’s 20th anniversary and kept in production because it sells like gangbusters and it’s freakin’ delicious).
The latest seasonal just hit the taps, and it’s a great fit for a warm summer afternoon. The concept: a sour ale brewed with stone fruit. The name: Old Toad Jus D’Amour.
“We wanted to do something in keeping with the season, and we wanted to do a sour,” says Suplicki, But that wild yeast can infect other beers in a brewery, so we had to find another way to make it tart.”
“I really wanted to do a stonefruit sour. I love the taste of apricots and peaches in particular, and I think they go really well with tartness.” Those fruits, along with cherries to mellow things out, went into the recipe she co-formulated with Lish.
The straw-gold Jus D’Amour boasts an aroma that blasts out of the glass at you with citrus, apricot and bubblegum. It’s rewarding enough just to hold the glass under your nose for a while, but the taste is an explosion as well.
Although the ingredient list suggests a sweet, fruity brew, most of the stone fruits’ sugar fermented out in the tank. As a result, the apricot and peach essence plays a supporting role to the beer’s unapologetic tartness. The beer is light on the palate, and the tartness dissolves to a clean finish that leaves coy hints of peach on the back of the tongue.
Lish achieved that seductively sour flavor by using acidulated malt. That along with a hefty dose of spelt and the stone fruits’ natural acidity created a flavor that he characterizes as unique.
Like all of The Old Toad’s seasonals, Jus D’Amour was made with lots of input from the bar’s management and staff. Suplicki had a hand in the actual creation of the recipe, and much of the actual brewing work was done at CB’ s by Old Toad staffers under Lish’s supervision.
This is an arrangement Suplicki finds very beneficial. “I think it’s very important that they know how their product is made,” she says. “If you’re pouring a house beer and you can tell the customer “Hey, I cleaned out the mash tun for this beer, it’s a more personal feeling.”
The British students that comprise the majority of the Toad’s staff hauled enough grain and dumped enough hops for a 19-barrel batch, which should keep Jus D’Amour on tap for the entirety of the season. For Suplicki and her crew, Jus D’Amour is truly a labor of love.
Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at beercraft.wordpress.com. Find him on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to email@example.com.