To continue with the punch, maybe I should compare the beer making and punch making processes, and see if I can find parallels.
My rough understanding of the beer making process:
1) Grains are malted, which means they are allowed to sprout and begin to transform complex carbohydrates into sugars for use by the growing plant.
2) Malted Grains are dried and milled.
3) Malted Grains are slowly cooked in water to form a sweet solution (aka Wort).
4) Solids are removed from the solution, and the boil is continued. Hops, or other flavoring agents, may also be added to this solution at various points, for flavor and alleged preservative qualities.
4) Microorganisms (typically yeast) are introduced to the solution.
5) Microorganisms consume the sugars producing flavor, Carbon Dioxide, and, more importantly, alcohol.
6) The solution is racked off, maybe fined or filtered, and bottled in sealed containers, where it continues to ferment and produce alcohol, flavors and now most importantly, Carbon Dioxide. The Carbon Dioxide, with nowhere else to go, pressurized the containers and dissolves in the beer producing carbonation.
Pop the top! I’m thirsty!
Anyway, the whole Malting, Milling, and filtering off solids process is too much of a pain for most home brewers and many commercial brewers. They instead buy “Malt Extract” or “Malt Syrup” and start at step 4.
Punch Making Process:
1) A sweet flavored solution, also known as sherbet, is created by macerating and steeping flavoring agents in sugar and hot water.
2) The sherbet is combined with booze and citrus and allowed to mingle for a period.
2a) If this is a Milk Punch, the combined booze, sherbet, and citrus mixture will be fined by adding warm milk to the solution. The milk solidifies into curd, which is then removed, leaving the elements of the milk whey behind in the punch.
3) The punch solution is chilled.
4) The punch solution is diluted with water, soda, or champagne and served over ice.
As I mentioned, my e-quaintance Rob DeNunzio had previously experimented with making what he hoped would be a cocktail-like beer.
In addition, the theme of the upcoming dinner is “Italian Modernist” brewers. Italian brewers who are re-inventing what might be considered beer by many folks. Chestnut flavored beer, beers made with flowers and herbs, beers that nearly resemble negronis in their flavor profiles.
When Alex pestered me about making punch for the dinner, I think he just wanted some serious booze at a very beery party.
But when I started thinking about it, what could I do that would be in fitting with the theme? Stretch the idea of punch?
What if I went about it from the other direction?
Starting from my Bernal Heights Milk Punch I made some beer-like substitutions.
First I’m going to infuse (dry hop) the booze with hops. I’m also going to replace the tea in the sweetening syrup with hops. I’ll replace a portion of the sweetener with Barley Malt. Last, I’ll skew the flavoring spices towards those often used in some Belgian beers.
Cali-Belgique Pisco Punch. (with apologies to Stone Brewing)
750ml Marion Farms Biodynamic Pisco Style Brandy.
750ml Barbancourt White Rhum.
375ml Batavia Arrack.
1 Pineapple, chopped
6 lemons, peeled and juiced.
1 Quart Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.
1 Pint Water.
8 teaspoons Cascade Hops.
4 pieces dried Clemetine Peel.
20 Whole Coriander Seeds, crushed.
8 Whole Cloves, crushed.
1/2 stick Cassia Cinnamon, crushed.
1/2 Pound Sugar.
1/4 Pound Malted Barley Syrup.
Place lemon peels in sealed container with rum and batavia arrack. Infuse for 48 hours.
Place pineapple in sealed container with Pisco and juice 4 lemons. Infuse for 24 hours.
Add 4 teaspoon hops to pineapple mixture and shake. Infuse for another 24 hours.
Boil water to a simmer and pour over 4 teaspoons hops, dried clementine peels, cloves, and cinnamon. Dissolve sugar and barley syrup in spiced solution. Cool and allow to stand for 24 hours.
Bring milk to 140-150 degrees F. Pour Pisco off of pineapple, attempting to squeeze as much juice/booze out of the fruit as possible. Pour warm milk into flavored Pisco, cover, and allow to stand for a half an hour or so.
Disturbing curd as little as possible, pour milk and pisco through a fine sieve.
At this point it will look kind of like “louched” absinthe. Filter again through a double layer of cheesecloth.
Remove peels from rum mixture and pour into pisco. Pour flavored syrup through fine sieve into mixture.
Pour all off into clean sealable containers and allow to stand at least 24 hours.
Rack punch off of any settled milk solids and filter through coffee filter or similar.
Bottle in clean sealable containers and chill.
Serve over ice or with a splash of soda.
About half way through this process, it occurred to me that I was making a compounded, flavored malt and alcohol beverage. Oh wait, isn’t that what Zima was?
I mentioned this to Rob and his reply was, “And just think? If it does turn out like Zima, you’ll be filling the sad vacuum it left behind.”
Well, it doesn’t taste like Zima, that’s for sure.
The longer steep time for the spices put those out front. A slight underestimation of the sweetening power of Malted Barley tips this punch towards the sweet side. The use of lighter alcohol makes this seem like, “wait, does it actually have any alcohol?” I could have sworn I put some in…
Oh right, the legendary dangerously drinkable Pisco Punch. See you next week.