Earthbound’s quintessential brunch beer, ‘Chicken & Waffle Blonde is back

Beer Of The Week

Earthbound’s quintessential brunch beer, ‘Chicken & Waffle Blonde is back

Let’s get something straight – weird beer is awesome.

Weird beer made in the shadow of the world’s largest Lager brewery, Anheuser-Busch, is even awesomer.

Weird beer is what fans affectionately call what’s brewed down on Cherokee Street at Earthbound Beer. And don’t think we’re being harsh, they think their beer is weird too. But somehow, Stuart Keating and his team, continue to amaze by consistently pushing the envelope of brewing creativity.

For many, chicken and waffles have become a go-to brunch item. Listed on nearly every restaurant’s menu, in some variation, it seems like this southern and soul food classic is here to stay. Now, get ready for the return of Chicken & Waffle Blonde.

 

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The Back Story

The legend that will be the story of Chicken & Waffle Blonde dates back 7 years, to the spring of 2014 when head brewer Stuart Keating and brewery VP of operations, Jeff Siddons were busy writing their business plan for Earthbound.

“I was teaching him the basics of homebrewing and we started talking about different recipes and adjuncts and ended up smelling our way through my spice cabinet,” said Keating. “We wrote the recipe for Cardamom Pepper Tea Blonde and Thai Basil IPA that day and as I recall Jeff asked “Could you brew a chicken and waffles beer?” The recipe clicked pretty immediately in my head, and we’ve only had to do some minor tinkering with it to perfect it.”

The Beer

The result is a very unique flavor profile that allows the different ingredients to coalesce into the flavor of chicken and waffles–it’s not overwhelming or overstated. What you’ll get is a malt-forward blonde ale with plenty of toasty biscuit malt and some rye mixed in for spiciness and body. But how do you represent chicken flavor in the beer?

“We used smoked paprika to emulate the fried chicken, and fenugreek to emulate the flavor of maple syrup,” said Keating. “Fenugreek has several benefits over maple syrup – it’s non-fermentable, which means you don’t have to deal with ABV changes; it’s more aroma stable than maple syrup, which is nice for packaging beer and it’s much cheaper.”

To make the flavors pop Keating adds a small amount of sea salt to the boil kettle. The salt isn’t enough to register as salty in the beverage (it’s like 2oz for 7 barrels of wort), but it enhances the richness of the malt flavor and gives the smoked paprika a nice savory character.  “We use the sub-threshold salt trick in only a couple of beers, but it’s always dynamite,” said Keating.

The Label Art

Robin Johnson of Galactic Media does all the label art for Earthbound Beer. He’s a phenomenal artist and brings a lot of color and vitality to the cans.

“We wanted to avoid packaging for our beers that looked traditional or pretentious because we do not take ourselves very seriously and we don’t want others to do so either,” said Keating. “The label art is a chicken carrying waffles, also the chicken has a blonde wig on.  The pose of the chicken is based on the Mexican flag.  Originally we had topo lines on all our cans but we decided it cluttered them up too much and dropped to a simple bright triangle for contrast behind the artwork.”

Tasting Notes

  • ABV: 6%
  • Visual:  Slightly more golden than a traditional blonde ale, thanks to the smoked paprika.  It’s basically the color of a perfect waffle. Clear, with a dense head.
  • Aroma:  Savory smoke, toasted grain, maple syrup.
  • Flavor:  Sweet maltiness with a spicy rye note, offset with a savory and slightly smoky note. Maple finish.
  • Mouthfeel:  Slightly heavier mouthfeel than a traditional blonde ale, not effervescent.
  • Body:  Rich and full.


Ingredients:

  • Yeast:  US-05 American ale (as homebrewers we used London ESB yeast)
    Hops:  Columbus hops at the start of the boil.  We use 14.4 oz at 7bbl so in a 5-gallon batch you’re looking at maybe a half ounce?  It’s not a linear scale. I think we started out with EKG.
    Malt: Biscuit malt (12%)  and rye malt (8%) do most of the heavy lifting.  If you want to get extra fancy you can sub out the base grain (80%) for Maris Otter or Ashburne Mild.
    Other: I mentioned salt at the beginning of the boil, You’re probably using somewhere between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon of salt for a 5-gallon batch. That goes in at the beginning of the boil, along with the hops.  Fenugreek goes in 20 minutes before the end of the boil, you don’t have to grind it.  You can also toast it at 350 for ten minutes. We’ve tried all sorts of times for boil addition and they all work pretty well towards the end of the boil.  We use 32 oz at 7 bbl so you probably want 3/4 oz to 1 oz. You could probably go up to 2 oz, We add smoked paprika at 5 minutes before the end of the boil, For 7 bbl we use 4 oz, which means you probably want 1 or 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika for a 5-gallon batch.

Here’s the actual recipe:

Chicken and Waffles Blonde, 5 gal

8.0 lbs base malt
1.2 lbs biscuit malt
0.8 lbs rye malt
mash at 154-156 for 60 minutes, vorlauf til clear

60-minute boil

  • At start of boil, add .5 oz Columbus hops (9 or 10% AA) or 1 oz EKG/Fuggles/etc (4%-5% AA) and 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 40 minutes into boil, add .75oz fenugreek. You can toast it beforehand or grind it if you want. You can also up the dosage to 1.5 or 2 oz but I suggest starting with an ounce or less.
  • 45 minutes into boil, add Irish moss, per your usual dosage and process
  • 55 minutes into boil, add 1 tsp of smoked paprika. Or 2 tsp, if you want to live mas.

Ferment with Wyeast ESB or London Ale I at room temperature.  You want something malt-forward without pronounced stonefruit esters.

Food Pairings:
Cuisine:  Obviously you should pair it with Chicken and Waffles.  Also pairs well with Indian food, fenugreek is used in a lot of Indian cooking and it will totally make the beer taste different. Also good with a grilled cheese sandwich!

Availability:
Available in distribution and at the taproom.

Format:
Cans, bottles, on tap?  16 oz cans and on draft.

Glassware:
If you have a tall glass like a willi becher or a Kolsch glass I’d use those but anything is fine.

Serving Temp:
Serve at fridge temp but drink it slow–it’s a malt forward beer and warms up nicely.

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