Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ode to a Russian Shipwright, Olvalde Farm and Brewing Compay

This is an Imperial Stout Porter from Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company (Rollingstone, MN)
"Ale brewed with spruce tips. Lightly hopped, unfiltered, refermented in the bottle".

This is the second release from Olvalde's hard-working brewer/owner Joe Pond. Many beer geeks will know him from various beer events around town and the much acclaimed "Auroch's Horn" that debuted early 2011. Really nice guy,very impressed with his historical research and use of ancient beer recipes, maybe he should do a collaboration beer with Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head (incidentally I found out that Dogfish Head released a spruce beer that they named "Spruce Willis" - funny stuff)!! Heard Joe got his training with Goose Island in Chicago (but I won't hold that against him)!

Before Olvalde I had never heard of Rollingstone, MN. I have the feeling I'm not alone. For the record it's a town in Winona County that had a population of 664 people in the 2010 census (Lucan, home of Brau Brothers, has 220 residents in comparison, assuming anyone cares).

750ml swing-top bottle poured into a Lion Stout snifter. Midnight black with a creamy mocha head.
Visually, an impressive looking beer. Here's a better look :

Curious, slighty trepidated to see what the addition of spruce tips would add to a beer. I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised - I found the stout to be fruity and refreshing. Creamy medium mouthfeel with a slight spiciness. Reminded me of a Dubbel or even a cherry stout. No noticeable tartness.  A hint of over-carbonization but not a major gripe. Enjoyable. Light. Thirst quenching. Retails for around $10 and is extremely limited - an estimated 130 cases. Spruce tips used for brewing all sourced from trees on the farm. Very cool.


Imperial? Nah. No noticeable buzz from alcohol. I would have guessed an ABV of 7-8% (it's not listed on the bottle but further research turned up a figure of 7.5% which seems just about right).

Giles Approves!

I'd like to commend Olvalde on great presentation and professionalism with the bottle - I could easily see this being used for olive oil and selling for at least five bucks at a "Crate and Barrell" or "Kitchen Window". Plus how cool is it that such a small craft brewery has a "QR" code on the label?! I've only seen these on  the big boy brewers (New Belgium springs to mind and just recently Schell's) and on some major wine labels. For those that don't know "QR" stands for Quick Response Code. Originally developed for inventory purposes in the auto-parts industry back in 1994. The matrix barcode allows for fast readibility and has a large storage capacity. If you scan the QR code on the bottle it brings up a link to the Olvalde website (I used a free Iphone app. called QR Reader - try it, all sorts of geeky fun)!

QR Code

From the brewer :

Ode to a Russian Shipwright

Ode to a Russian Shipwright is my tribute to the brewing legacy of Peter the Great. I use rye and spruce, ingredients that were important to the Baltic region and sailors, to create a porter honoring the time and tastes of Peter. And true to legend, I've brewed it strong enough to survive a cold winter voyage (from the brewery to the house).
Tasting Notes:
Rye, spruce, and roast highlight the nose and flavor, with complementary fruit and spice emerging as you drink. The flavor is malty and balanced, with a slightly sticky mouthfeel.
Serving Suggestions:
Ode to a Russian Shipwright is designed to be served at cellar temperatures, 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour with or without the lees; a good way to distribute the lees is by pouring the first half of the bottle, gently swirling the bottle, and then finishing the pour.

About the brewery:

Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company
16557 County Road 25
Rollingstone MN 55969
'PH: (507) 205-4969

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