We do this thing at Imminent. If you’ve been there and sat on the north side of the bar, you no doubt have read the board where we post what beers are coming soon (what’s “on deck” and what’s “in the hole.”) Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of quizzical looks, followed very quickly by someone asking, “What’s a Norstralian Ale?”
To answer that question, one must first look into the mind of Stephen Vander Wal. I know, I know, that’s not the most attractive thought, but I work with the guy an awful lot, so allow me to be your guide.
For those of you who don’t know, Stephen is one of our bartenders at Imminent Brewing. He’s the guy with the longish hair and beard who isn’t Abe.
Yeah, that guy
Anyway, a journey into Steph’s mind can be cluttered with dad jokes, engineering designs and the kind of harmless cynicism endemic to the (nearly) middle-aged male mind. You’ll also find an encyclopedic knowledge of beer. Stephen has been brewing his own beer for decades and can talk to you about ales, stouts, lagers and pilsners longer than any human being should be able to hold interest. That kind of knowledge combined with his engineer’s sensibilities can lend itself to some startling creativity. For example, he was messing around with an Australian Ale one day, and realized that he could incorporate some specialty grains he’d gotten from Imminent to create something unique.
“I was starting to play around with this stuff and thinking of where it would fit,” he said, “and an Australian Ale has a light, effervescent body. It came out of old Colonial Australia where they would use English ingredients. So, I had this yeast that would fit the bill for an English beer, but it was Norwegian.”
Steph’s love of playing with the English language immediately came into play here, and the Norstralian Sparkling Ale was born.
But, what sets the Norwegian yeast apart from other kinds of yeast?
“You can ferment it at 90°, which is kind of ridiculous for other yeast. The advantage being you can do a beer in about two days. This is what they would make for funerals back in the day. You found out somebody died, went to make the beer and had a party three days later.”
Understand that, for Stephen, everything is a party.
Anyway, the Norstralian Sparkling Ale is the first Imminent offering to come from Stephen’s unique mind, and one of the few that wasn’t originally concocted by our ownership team. And it’s going to be a great beer to have on tap as the temperatures start to climb.
“I always bring beer in to share with the folks around here,” he said. “After I brewed this three or four times, we started playing around with the idea of making it bigger and having it here for the summer. It’s just a good patio beer.”
And at 5.2%, it comes in just slightly stronger than a session beer (“Session Plus,” said Stephen). So, while you can’t necessarily drink this all day long, you can certainly have a couple before you have to worry about turning your keys over to someone else.
The light, effervescent body and slightly sweet taste do make it a perfect beer for a hot day. We’ve been in need of something on tap that wouldn’t be even remotely heavy for the warmer months. This will be one of those beers I will offer to the people who don’t want a beer that tastes “overly beery.”*
It’s light. It’s refreshing. It’s mighty tasty. As Stephen puts it, “It’s summer in a pint glass.”
*Something someone asked me for just last weekend.