Green Tea Meets Ginger Meets Beer–Happiness Ensues: Tasting Ineeka’s Organic Green Tea Bier

June 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm (Beer, Current Events, Geek, Our Favorite Things, Special Events, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , , )

by Rachael Thompson

I have to admit to being a little perplexed when we got our first batch
of Ineeka beer in at Lush–I knew Ineeka as  the locally based company whose tea we
sell in the shop– now they were making beer? My confusion grew when I saw
“Product of Holland” stamped on the beer bottles–so Ineeka
was making Dutch beer? Was Ineeka Dutch? Had they always been Dutch? Eeek! Confusions!

Everything started to fall in to place once I
chatted with Sarah from Ineeka about the beer
and about the release party taking place at Lush West Town  (psst, June 4th aka TOMORROW, ahem, free, treats from
Koval, Swim Cafe and more, hint, hint). I was intrigued when Sarah told
me the beer is brewed by a tiny, family-run brewery in Holland that was
super-excited to make an organic beer. The story behind this beer turns out to be simultaneously local and international in a very unique way (resisting the impulse to forge some silly new word
merging local and international….oohhhhhh…resisted!).

Ineeka, a Chicago-based tea
company, that owns farms in the Himalayas where they grow their own organic teas,  sent a whole
bunch of their green tea over to Holland, where this tiny, local,
brewery used it to
brew a Belgian-style, certified organic beer. With the collaboration of a 3-star Michelin chef, who prefers to keep his name veiled in mystery, they came up with what they hoped would be a very food-friendly and refreshing beer.

Of course being a total dork when it comes to beer and not even a tiny bit immune to the appeal
of cool ingredients and fun, funky collaborations, I was dying to
try this beer once I learned all of these tantalizing facts.  Just as quickly as I could get home with the beer Sarah
had given me, I grabbed a glass and poured. In an attempt to be a responsible
beverage professional I went through the usual evaluative steps and took
notes along the way even though I mostly just wanted to take a swig ASAP! Appearance? Okay let’s see, that would be a pleasant coppery color
with a nice thick, just off-white head. Aroma? Toasty, subdued ginger
notes on the nose, –green tea not particularly evident….okay can i
taste it yet?!  What impressed me most once I finally got beer to mouth
was its balance and restraint: no one element outshines or overpowers
any other. On the palate the ginger shows up as a refreshing
tingle, the green tea makes itself known ever so very delicately towards
the end, and the overall finish of the beer is quite clean. Malt and
hops are totally and completely balanced. I found it to be a lovely,
refreshing glass–perfect for summer. There are a number of stages at which a  brewer can add
adjuncts (the good kind) to a beer–if the extra ingredients are added
at the end during conditioning, those aromas tend to show up more
prominently in the final product. The brewers in this case had decided to add the green tea and ginger towards the beginning of the
process, in the brew kettle. As a result, those notes
are more subtle, a flavor profile that should, I thought, work out nicely for an all-around food beer. Which leads to…….the next step–I had to try the beer with food! I’d already finished the beer I had that night, so the food/beer pairing had to wait for another evening. A perfect occasion presented itself last week. When I got home from the shop,  I
happened to have half of a Ginger-Tofu Bahn Mi left over from lunch  (I could wax oh
so poetic about this Bahn Mi from one of my most favorite little
Vietnamese places in the whole wide world, but that can wait for another
time). Aha! Ginger-tofu Bahn Mi, ginger-green tea beer, should work out pretty well, right? I had my first sniff and sip of the beer before biting into the
sandwich. Yes, just as a I remembered: light, toasty ginger notes on the
nose–nothing too overpowering–leading to a light, refreshing,
balanced palate. Now I was ready for sandwich and beer to meet. As I anticipated, the ginger on the sandwich made the ginger
in the beer pop. All of a sudden it went from “subtle notes of ginger”
to “gingergingerginger oh my goodness! ginger!” But not at all in an
unpleasant way. I tend to douse my Bahn Mi with LOTS of sambal chili
paste and on this particular occasion I’d gone way overboard. So what
came as a bit of a surprise was just how quenching the beer was on my
over-spiced palate even with the ginger flavor jumping out of the glass– I
wound up with lots of palate-dousing gingery goodness. The verdict? Bahn Mi and Ineeka Organic Green Tea Bier equals succcess! Although, I think a sandwich in which ginger didn’t already play such a prominent role might be an even better pairing, just to keep that nice balance where no one flavor overpowers any other.  Next I want to
experiment and see if eating say, green tea ice cream with the beer will
bring out its green tea notes–which really are quite subdued. A great
place to try that out will be tomorrow’s event at West Town where Nice
Cream and Swim Cafe will be making treats infused with Ineeka
teas, yum! It will be interesting (and delicious) to try out the beer with
each one. The moral of the story: Ineeka has pulled off a delightfully refreshing summer beer with a unique backstory and an easy way with food–win!

(Taste it for yourself, tomorrow, June 4th, 5-8pm @ Lush West Town, 1412 W. Chicago Ave, 312.666.6900; Ineeka-infused treats from Swim Cafe, Koval Distillery, Nice Cream and Star Lounge, plus, BEER (BIER); totally FREE, bring a friend; or, buy the beer at any of the Lushes)
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