Collaborations have gained lots of traction in the world of craft beer-Dogfish Head worked with Legacy Recordings to honor the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, Brooklyn Brewery made a Comic Con beer named the Brooklyn Defender. Things are no different in Baltimore, where The Charmery peddles a Union Duckpin-flavored ice cream. But we're especially excited for Full Tilt's first collaboration beer: Berger Cookie Chocolate Stout, hitting draft lines Friday.
Full Tilt founders Nick Fertig and Dan Baumiller formulate all their recipes on a homebrew system at first. They cooked up at least two dozen versions of the chocolate stout before they perfected it and scaled up the recipe to be brewed at Peabody Heights Brewery, where they contract-brew. They worked closely with Charles DeBaufre Jr., whose bakery makes the Berger cookies and who hooked them up with the handmade confections.
It's no surprise that massive quantities of chocolate go into this; the fudge-laden shortbread cookies satisfy even the most insatiable chocophile. The beer's grain bill uses just enough dark malt to give it the right color, because they wanted to avoid any coffee tones, says Fertig. To get the full Berger-cookie experience, they "took their wafers separate from the fudge, and to a 90-hectoliter batch, we added 30 pounds of the wafers alone and then 300 pounds of fudge to that," and added that to the wort. (With this huge amount of solid additions going into the kettle, where the brew is in boiling-liquid form, the beer is exceptionally hard to make-and to clean up after.) They use lactose to thicken the beer's body. In secondary fermentation, they add cocoa nibs to enhance the stout's aroma. Vanilla extract, added right at the end of the fermentation process, balances out the chocolate bitterness.
The resultant beer drinks at first like a creamy milk stout, and its rich fudge flavor develops the most in the slightly bitter aftertaste. Beer drinkers will have the opportunity to try it for $5 in tandem with Berger cookie garnishes at the beer's official release party, this Friday, Nov. 15 at the Admiral's Cup.