Ancestry brews up something special for Holiday Ale Festival
It's a milestone of sorts for Ancestry Brewing, which opened its doors at 115th Avenue and Tualatin-Sherwood Road just last spring: The brewery will have a beer on tap at the Holiday Ale Festival in Portland next week.
Head brewer Brian Engdahl said what he and his team were going for in creating Ancestry's Horchata Winter Stout was a beer that would be festive but subtle. Beer festivals like the Holiday Ale Festival will often feature some unorthodox offerings that can be described as "experimental" — or, less generously, as gimmicks. The Horchata Winter Stout is not one of those.
"We definitely wanted to make a very good beer with a horchata twist," said Engdahl.The beer, which has been specially brewed for the Holiday Ale Festival, is a milk stout with the added flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. The milk stout style is a somewhat sweeter, smooth-drinking variant on the traditional stout; it keeps the dark color, robust body, and often chocolatey or coffee-like flavors of the more typical stout while also containing lactose, or milk sugar, for some additional sweetness.
"It's really smooth," Engdahl said of the Ancestry beer.
Though that smoothness means you wouldn't know by drinking it, the Horchata Winter Stout weighs in at a respectable 8 percent in alcohol by volume. That fits in well with the other brews — more than 50 of them — that will be available at the Holiday Ale Festival, Engdahl said.
"I think that was kind of what that festival's for — it's kind of awesome. You go there, have a bunch of those high-alcohol beers and have a good time," he said.
Notes of vanilla are readily apparent in the stout, although they don't overpower it. The cinnamon is very delicate on the palette, showing up more in the finish than up front.
There is no artifice to that subtle horchata flavor, either. Ancestry sourced whole vanilla beans and Korintje cinnamon powder for use in the stout from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. They were added to the mix during the whirlpool stage of brewing, in which the hops and other solid ingredients are separated from the wort.
"We were excited about it," Engdahl said. "We didn't want to use just 'normal, go to the store or go to Costco, get some stuff.' We wanted to do something nice and special."The idea of a horchata stout at Ancestry originated with Karl Brown, the restaurant and brewery's floor manager. Brown said he doesn't remember what inspired it, but it was something that came into his head that he wanted to see Ancestry try.
"I was talking to our previous head brewer about it for a while, but it was not during the right season," Brown said. "When this gentleman (Engdahl) stepped in, we were coming close to winter, so he took the idea and ran with it. Made a great beer."
Engdahl was quick to give Brown credit for the concept and said he was pleased to make it a reality.
"We like to get ideas from all angles of the company," Engdahl said, adding of Brown that he has "been really excited about this beer for a long time."Participating in the Holiday Ale Festival is big for Engdahl and Ancestry.
"Holiday Ale Fest is awesome," Engdahl said. "I'm super-excited, because it's one of my favorite festivals, favorite seasons, and that style of beer that comes out is one of my favorites as well. And everything's festive, you know — we tried to make something kind of festive."
The Holiday Ale Festival opens next Wednesday, Nov. 29, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 3, under heated tent cover at Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 N.W. Sixth Ave. in Portland. General admission is $35. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the festival website.
For those not planning to make their way to downtown Portland for the festival, the Horchata Winter Stout can also be found at Ancestry Brewing, 20585 S.W. 115th Ave. in Tualatin.
"We won't be releasing it front of house until the ale fest, so that's going to be the first place you can get it — which is exciting, in a way," Engdahl said, adding, "We'll have it on tap as soon as the ale fest happens."
A full list of beers, ciders and meads on tap at the Holiday Ale Festival this year can be viewed as a Google Doc.