Catching Rays on the Celestial Shore

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This week we release Celestial Shore on draft. We're calling this a TartShake IPA brewed with peaches, lactose, vanilla beans, and Citra and Amarillo hops. This is a super exciting beer for us because milkshake IPAs are a heady, relatively new style with a lot of room for exploration and we're eager to dig in. This will also mark our entry into cans. 

If you've had Stray Radiant, our sour, hazy strawberry IPA with lactose and vanilla beans, you have a sense of where we're headed with this. I learned a few things from making and drinking that beer, and decided to soften any rough edges by omitting hot-side hops entirely and slightly reducing the acidity, and to supplement the body and mouthfeel with an even higher mash temperature and the addition of raw wheat. 

The result is a peaches-and-cream, Bellini, cobbler-esque beverage that marries the mango, tangerine, and apricot flavors of Citra and Amarillo hops with a nearly ridiculous amount of peach puree added during fermentation. Half of the batch was lightly kettle-soured for brightness, structure, and balance without making this beer what you might consider sour. I find that a touch of lactic acid really helps support fruit flavors from the hops and puree. We double-dry-hopped this beer, then conditioned it on real Madagascar vanilla beans. The vanilla adds a perceived sweetness and combines with the lush, creamy mouthfeel for a cake-batter-like experience.

This will also be the first beer we put into cans. We pride ourselves on being the best brewpub we can be: offering modern, bright beers and elevated, scratch--but un-fussy--pub food in a warm, comfortable space with on-point, relaxed service. That part is intimate, and really all on our terms. But we want our beer to walk beyond our doors and into yours: your beer fridge, your buddy's bottle share, your first kayak outing of the season, maybe in your thermos at your kid's soccer game. Hey, who knows? We're not here to judge. To make that egalitarian offering possible, packaging in cans is a no-brainer.

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If you've seen the brewery space at 3705 Butler, you know it's tight down there underneath the restaurant. We found just enough room to move a few things around and wedge in a small manual canning line from the exceptionally polite and mechanically expert people at Cask Brewing Systems in Calgary, Alberta. I worked on a Cask line at Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville, Illinois, where we were putting out over a thousand cases per week while I was there. Our volumes at Cinderlands will be much, much smaller, and the work will be a lot more manual, but pulling wrenches on this seamer sure will feel like coming home. We anticipate a release of sixteen-ounce four-packs of Celestial Shore on Saturday, May 12th, barring any complications in getting our new equipment up and running. Those details are still pending, so keep up with us on Instagram for details. We hope to follow that up with a monthly-or-so offering of typically hazy, hoppy beer, but I'd honestly love to augment that with easy-drinkers like k├Âlsch, cream ale, helles, and pilsner. Drop us a comment or a mention if you would show up for those!

We've got to tip the hat to the folks at Tired Hands, Omnipollo, and Hudson Valley for their frontiersmanship in this foggy realm, for getting weird with adjuncts, acidity, and testing the limits of mouthfeel, memory, and intricate flavor combinations. The beer world is a more interesting place because of the merging of the milkshake and sour IPAs they've invented and popularized. 

I don't do any beer trading, so when I started talking to our Managing Partner, Jamie, about the wacky Tired Hands stuff he was following and sometimes pulling in, I wanted to get a taste of what that was all about. I was still at Solemn Oath and living outside of Chicago, so I collaborated with my friends at Werk Force Brewing to make Farm Juice, what we called a kettle-soured NE Farmhouse IPA with peaches, apricots, lime juice, lime zest, lactose, and Motueka and Mosaic hops. It was a weird, beautiful beer. It drank something like a margarita smoothie. It had me intrigued about what else beer like this could be, so I put together Stray Radiant at Cinderlands. Then I started hearing about Hudson Valley's sour IPAs and their sour milkshake beers they call brunch-style IPAs. I had a chance to try a few of those and--damn, they're tasty. Grist House has since put out a few excellent sour IPAs with fruit that I love drinking too. I feel like the local scene might not be fully ready to embrace beers like Celestial Shore, but I'll be damned if we don't paddle out and wait for this one to roll in.