One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.
Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.
However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…
With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.
Ninkasi Total Domination IPA & Salers Aperitif
Usually, when creating drinks, you strive for balance. Something not too sweet, not too sour, not too bitter. Sometimes, however, it is interesting to layer flavors. I think of Cajun or Chinese Food, where the cooks sometimes layer different types of spice or heat, some from black pepper or Szechuan peppercorns, some from chiles, some from Ginger, and some from freshly cut onions, to create layered flavor sensations in a single dish.
I like many West Coast hoppy beers, as long as they aren’t too extreme, (Moylan’s Hopsickle, I am looking at you,) and was mulling over how to feature one in this series of drinks. Thinking about them, Gentian came to mind. Both hops and Gentian have a sharp bitterness, but the Hops are sharp higher flavors, where Gentian comes in with lower notes and earthiness. Not only that, but it ties in with an ancient style of beer, Purl, which was a sort of morning-after tonic beer, brewed with Gentian or wormwood, spices, and bitter oranges.
I like most things that Ninkasi brews, even their comically named, heavy metal themed Holiday beer, Sleigher.
Total Domination IPA
First Brewed: 2006
Starting Gravity: 1067
Bitterness: 65 IBUs
Alcohol %: 6.7
Malt: 2 Row Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Carahell Malt
Hops: Summit, Amarillo, Crystal
On the bottle:
Multiple hops collide in balanced perfection, dominating the senses, achieving total satisfaction. From the Pacific Northwest, birthplace of the modern IPA, comes a beer whose name says it all.
Total Domination has a citrusy, floral hop aroma, and big hop flavor balanced with a richness imparted by Carahell and Munich malts. This beer is a big flavorful Northwest IPA that maintains its drinkability, and as such has garnered great admiration from the novice craft drinker and the seasoned hop head alike.
I had a beer, what about a Gentian Aperitif? My favorite of the two or three that are currently avaiable is Salers. It doesn’t use adjunct flavorings or colorings to the extent that Suze does and it strikes me as slightly more interesting than Aveze.
One of the most classic of French aperitifs is a pour of gentiane liqueur on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon. Salers is today the oldest of the producers and also from the Massif Central, birthplace to this style of product. Unlike the large corporate producers that today add artificial colorant, Salers is all natural, with a drier and rustic character that has historically defined this drink. True to its roots, Salers sources its gentiane solely from the Auvergne. Enjoy in a traditional manner with ice and lemon, or in a variety of mixed drinks.
METHOD: Pour a beer into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in a half shot (2cl) of Salers Aperitif.
The combination of Pacific Northwest IPA and Gentian Aperitif may not be for everyone, but it certainly perked up my taste buds enough to have two glasses. Definitely a tonic of sorts.