The owners of Adroit Theory Brewing Co. are fond of following their musical inspirations when making beer. And that led to a beer called Black Celebration, which was born of a collaboration with New York-based DJ Dieselboy.
Dieselboy wasn’t really a “beer guy” but he’s a true foodie, having been profiled in several food magazines, explained Adroit Theory owner Mark Osborne during a salon at the SAVOR Craft Beer and Food Experience at the National Building Museum in DC on Friday. Even better, Dieselboy had introduced a cocktail called the Higgins.
“We reached out to him to make a beer that would taste like his cocktail,” Mark said.
The resulting Black Celebration, named after a song by Depeche Mode, is an Imperial porter aged in oak barrels, clocking in at 9.99% ABV. Adroit Theory likes their beers strong, and generally dark. The lowest ABV beer ever made at Adroit Theory is a powerful 7% ABV, and the lowest on tap right now at the brewery’s tasting room is 7.3%, Mark said. A range of 8-10% ABV is typical for Adroit Theory’s beers.
At SAVOR, Black Celebration was presented with a cheese pairing intended to augment its flavors. The beer was accompanied by cacao-infused goat cheese and molasses maple cherry gel with black lava salt and shaved dark chocolate.
Adroit Theory brews the Imperial porter with molasses, maple syrup, and black lava salt. So the cheese pairing directly corresponded to the beer flavors. The beer is aged in three different types of barrels: whiskey, rum, and oak barrels. On Friday, guests at the Adroit Theory salon sampled the variety aged in oak barrels.
“The beer itself is a really interesting beer. It’s a big, dark, roasty, chocolaty beer. But on the nose, you’re going to get salinity from the lava salt,” said Mark. That is followed by sweetness from the maple syrup; the oak barrel rounds it out with a dry finish a little bit of funk.
In addition to Black Celebration, the Adroit Theory salon showcased three other beers. First up: Two Headed Calf, a farmhouse saison at 9.3% ABV, which was paired with Grafton village cave-aged Vermont white cheddar along with “Two Headed Calf”-infused honey reduction, crispy farro, and a dehydrated lemon wheel. Beer drinkers also enjoyed Imagination Atrophy, a caramel macchiato milk stout aged in bourbon barrels (7.3% ABV), paired with gjetost and bourbon-vanilla “caviar,” espresso soil, black pepper, and an edible flower.
“Obviously we were inspired by Starbucks,” said Mark of the Imagination Atrophy, adding that milk stout, is a roasty and creamier version of a traditional stout. To brew the beer, Adroit Theory added caramel, vanilla beans, and espresso for the coffee finish. At SAVOR, guests sampled a version aged for two months in bourbon barrels, which brought forward the caramel. The non-barrel-aged version is very coffee forward, Mark said.
Finally, Mark presented Adroit Theory’s very first beer — B/A/Y/S, which also takes its name from a song. The acronym stands for “Black as Your Soul,” and in this case the beer is a lyric from “Head Like a Hole” by Nine-Inch Nails.
More importantly, the Imperial stout aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels (10% ABV) is delicious. Mark paired it with Comte and a bitter chocolate-cabernet reduction, roasted hazelnut, and sumac.
Of about 450 beers made by Adroit Theory to date, Mark remains very proud of the B/A/Y/S, and justifiably so. The stout tastes of roast and chocolate with tobacco notes and coffee flavors as well as hints of hazelnuts and cherries. It’s aged in rare, reclaimed American chestnut barrels. The chestnut imparts some earthiness to beer.
Adroit Theory Brewing Co. (404 Browning Ct., Unit C, Purcellville, Va.) generally hosts about 24 draft lines and one cask at its brewery. The cheese pairings at the SAVOR salon were second nature to Mark, who regularly makes recommendations for food, cheese, and cigar pairings for all Adroit Theory beers.
For more information on Adroit Theory, visit http://www.adroit-theory.com.