A couple of nights ago, my hubby set down two glasses of beer for us to taste. One was Kostritzer Schwarzbier, my favorite German black beer, and the other was Kostritzer mixed with specific proportions of Murphy’s Irish Stout and Spaten Optimator. The purpose of the mixing was an attempt to improve the quality and longevity of the foam without altering the flavor of the original beer too much.
Some people might think it’s strange or wrong to mix beer. I mean isn’t a finished beer a work of art that should be kept pure? Hmmm… I agree that there are many beers that are so darn good that it would feel like a crime to change them, but then you aren’t really changing the beer so much as creating a new beer. And sometimes a mixed beer is the perfect one for the occasion.
The classic mixed beer would be the Black & Tan, traditionally made with Bass Ale and Guinness; so there are situations where mixing is widely accepted. Mixing is done all the time in wine, so what are the possibilities if you allow that flexibility for beer? For that, let’s take a trip to Firestone Brewery and look at Brewmaster Matt Brynildson’s “10” Beer released in 2006 and his 2007 release of Firestone “Eleven”.
Firestone “10” was brewed for the brewery’s 10th anniversary and is a blend of 10 different beers. Matt brought in several winemakers in the area to help determine the proper proportions of each beer in the blend. In Firestone “Eleven” Matt continued the project for a second year, since the “10” beer was so well received.
Mixing is often done in knitting as well, by creating an aran cable pattern sweater with a fair isle panel or a gansey style with cables and perhaps a multi-color feature. Mixing of styles does not disrespect the original. It allows the creation of something new by combining the best qualities of two separate styles. Mixing is a creative tool that should not be shunned.
There is a time for purity and a time for adventure. Both have value. Mix on!