Beer: 10 Apple Stout
Brewery: Pöhjala (Tallinn, Estonia)
Style: Stout- Imperial / Double
12% ABV / N/A IBU
10 Apple Stout features 10 different varieties of apples (five Estonian and five Danish varietals) treated in 10 different ways and, for extra dramatic effect, aged in calvados (you guessed it) apple brandy barrels. It’s very much in keeping with the tenets of Estonian brewery Pöhjala’s “cellar series”: bold bases (porters, stouts, barleywines) with bold flavors and bold aging choices. This collaboration brew – conceived in early 2018 with representatives from the Copenhagen brew pub BRUS and Danish contract brewers To Øl – skirts the line between genius and madness.
For context, the distinct apple character in 10 Apple Stout doesn’t simply come from adding nectar or aging the stout on apple pulp to impart a sweet apple flavor. Instead, they started with introducing charcoal made from an apple tree and aged apples into the mash ton. Dried apple chips and apple juice were added during the fermentation phase, followed by transferring to the Calvados barrels and imparting applewood smoke. Once transferred to the barrels, the brewers added smoked apple sauce, mashed apples, Estonian apple blossoms, and apple pulp.
So can you taste 10 different varieties of apples? Well, no. But can you taste the difference between the Estonian and Danish apples? Also: no. But the miracle of 10 Apple Stout is that you can taste something other than artifacts of the barrel aging or smokiness – it has a pleasant aroma of apples and a faint undercurrent of sweet apple that balances out the booziness of calvados barrel aging and the bitterness of the malt. Once you go beyond 10% ABV, you’re in the danger zone of getting knocked flat on your ass with one beer, but for a 12% imperial stout, 10 Apple Stout is remarkably subtle and balanced.
More more info, check out Põhjala here.