Port Jeff Brewing's Favorite Four Party Pours is a four-part series leading to the brewery's fourth-anniversary event on Saturday, October 17.
The birthday bash will feature more than 20 beers of Port Jeff's (most pouring from its tasting room's boat-shaped bar). We asked Mike Philbrick, owner and brewmaster, and Matt Gundrum, head brewer, to discuss their four favorites from the lineup.
Mike Philbrick: Cold North Wind was a complete accident. In 2009 I was habitually homebrewing and the night this beer was born there was a crazy snowstorm. I had planned on stopping at Kedco, my local homebrew supplier, to grab the grain I needed to brew a Scotch ale. I had already been feeding the yeast in a starter to pitch that night and also wanted to try out my newly purchased wort chiller. But the weather prevented me from getting there so I was left only with what I had in my house and my imagination. The only grain I had was the last bits of two large bags of base malt and a slew of specialty malts. Ultimately I threw eight different malts together—and thankfully wrote the recipe down—to brew out of boredom. After a few weeks when the beer was finished fermenting and I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised at how great it tasted; I figured I was just going to dump the batch. The Cold North Wind we make today at the brewery is basically the same as that recipe, only scaled up with some minor tweaks.
Cold North Wind is classified as an American barleywine simply because that's the category it best fits into. Typically when I develop a recipe I start out with a style, then use ingredients that are common in that style. But the making of Cold North Wind was basically reversed. The beer has a complex malt flavor that stems from the specialty hops and a perceived sweetness from the esters in the Scotch yeast. Its my go-to ale when the weather starts to turn toward winter.
We're pouring a keg from last year at this year's anniversary party and I'm excited to see how it has aged. Because of the beer's complex grain bill and alcohol percent, Cold North Wind ages extremely well. Our intentions are to someday do a big vertical but seeing as our 2015 version won't be out in time we would've only had a vertical with 2013 and 2014. Stay tuned for it at the fifth or sixth anniversary but hey, let's not get too ahead of things: We still have the third to enjoy!
Read Party Pours Part I: Overboard Russian Imperial Stout
Photo: Niko Krommydas