We use a small (67 gallon), computer-controlled system to brew our beer. As we brew often, we have the opportunity to brew many different beers, not just huge batches of the same-old, same-old. Consequently, we have a hug variety of recipes we work through, more than 160 since we opened. Over time, a number of recipes have bubbled up to the top of the demand list, and have become worthy of their own brand recognition. Here are a few of those recipes, along with their story.
VB Illuminati IPA (6.0% ABV, 64 IBUs, 7 SRM)
This is our flagship IPA. It started out as an experiment in American IPAs, specifically an East Coast style recipe (more balance between the malt and hops.) We blend four different malts (including a Pale male from Pioneer Malt crafted right here in Rochester) to achieve the malty backbone worthy of lots of hops. Then we add 3 different varieties of high alpha-acid hops (all grown locally by Bluebell Hopyard here in Victor!) throughout the boil to extract the perfect balance of bitterness, flavor and aroma.
This was also our first experiment with the process required to reduce the gluten content of beer. It turns out making beer (mostly) gluten-free is pretty easy. The really hard part is convincing both Federal and State governments to allow you to label and sell it as a reduced gluten product. It only took us 12 months to figure out the arcane process, get the required lab testing and results, and push the paperwork through the system.
Initially, we called this VB American IPA, which is a sucky name for a great beer. One of our customers suggested that the hops sneak up on you, and the reduced-gluten aspect of the beer is totally secretive, and we should call the beer Illuminati IPA. We took Charlie’s suggestion, and we’ve been using this name ever since.
We brew a lot of this beer, and still have trouble keeping up with demand. Our wholesale customers get priority on available kegs, so we don’t always have it on tap. Keep an eye on our beer menu, or subscribe to us on Untappd to get notifications when it goes on tap in the tasting room.
Up Yer Kilt Ale (6.4% ABV, 17 IBUs, 14 SRM)
Having lived in Rochester for many years, we’ve long been fans of the Scotch Ale style. This is malty recipe, with lots of residual sugar to provide sweetness and body. The hops are a subtle, but important contribution to the overall flavor profile, providing a slight bite to offset the malt profile. The relatively high alcohol content also helps cut through the sweetness. The result is a wonderful, sublime drinking experience. This recipe is named in honor of our daughter’s boyfriend who was born and raised in Scotland. The name comes from discussions started at our niece’s wedding where Alan wore his full Scottish Regalia, and got us all wondering.
Willamette Dammit Ale (5.1%ABV, 17 IBUs, 4 SRM)
When we first opened, we brewed a series of beers we called HopSMaSH. We had a pale ale version, an IPA version, and a cream ale version. Each one featured a single variety of malt, and a single variety of hops (thus the acronym SMaSH for Single Malt and Single Hop). A number of the recipes were stand-out, but only the pale ale version with Willamette hops is still brewed. This beer has been really popular, appealing to almost every palette. When we describe this beer to customers, the discussion always comes around to the pronunciation of the name of the hop “Willamette”. Most of us north-easters pronounce the word “will-ya–mette”. However, residents of the Pacific northwest know the pronunciation is “will-ayh-mette”, rhyming with the word “dammit”. The pronunciation debate always ended with the phrase “it’s Willamette, dammit!”. So we officially renamed the beer accordingly.