If you were at the 930 Club, The Anthem, or Merriweather Post Pavilion this weekend, you may have noticed two new beers from DC Brau, exclusive to these venues. I.M.Pilsner and I.M.P.A. are only available on draft at I.M.P. concert venues, and they’ll also be poured at The Atlantis when it opens later in May.
“When we decided we wanted to offer ‘our own’ beers at our venues, the logical brewer that came to mind was DC Brau. We had hosted an event at their brewery as part of the Foo Fighters’ 2015 RFK festival, and a bond was formed,” said Donna Westmoreland, COO of I.M.P., in a press release. “They share our ethos and independence, and they mean a lot to the DC community. At the first meeting they embraced our ideas with great enthusiasm and when we tasted the beers that resulted, they had nailed it. It’s the perfect partnership.”
I.M.P.A. contains “notes of peach, melon, tangerine, and orange with a delicate stone fruit impression, rounded out by soft and grainy malt. The I.M.P.A. is low in bitterness, with a bright fruit juice character and a smooth and lightly creamy body,” per that same press release, but we’re more interested in the I.M.Pilsner, a 4.3% alcohol by volume Czech-style pale lager that also happens to be the first solo recipe from DC Brau Head Brewer Alex Spencer. We chatted with him via email about the collaboration and the brewing process.
“We’d never done a Czech Pils at Brau (at least not on any sizable scale), so I suggested the idea of doing a Czech Pils specifically for them. It’s a style of beer I love (as do many of our production staff), so we were all stoked at the opportunity to make one,” Spencer told us.
Recent forays into Czech-style lager from American breweries have increasingly tried to hew to authentic recipes, including the use of floor-malted barley from Bohemia, all-Czech hops like Saaz, and brewing techniques such as decoction–pulling some wort into a separate vessel for further heating and then blending it back in–and step mashing–progressively raising the temperature of the wort with intervals of rest. Brau is using some of these measures, but not others.
“The grain bill is all North American, though the pilsner malt we use we think can run with the best of the European maltsters (determined after many many blind trials in our sensory panel), with a base of pilsner malt, a bit of munich malt, a bit of carapils, and a light touch of honey malt to give it the melanoidin note that’s a hallmark of Czech lagers. The hopping is predominantly Czech Saaz, with a little bit of Hallertau Tradition blended in for some depth,” writes Spencer. While the beer isn’t decocted he did design the grain bill to bring out a similar character. The beer is step mashed, as are many Brau lagers.
There are no plans to can the beer, though that may change for I.M.P. venues that would prefer to serve cans, and we might not even see stray kegs of either beer on tap at DC Brau. We, like everyone else we know, struck out on tickets for shows at The Atlantis, so if you’re there, crack a Brau-I.M.P. collaboration beer and consider yourselves doubly lucky.
For the rest of us, we can console ourselves with Penn Quarter Porter, which just won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup, or Brau Kellerpils for the lager fans out there.