Sierra Nevada & Goose Island brew with Crisp Chevallier Heritage Malt

English Mild mash at Goose Island – photo courtesy Goose Island

Earlier this year, Crisp Malting Group introduced a very limited amount of Chevallier Heritage Malt (about 4 tons) to be distributed by BSG CraftBrewing to various customers. Chevallier was the first true malting barley variety first selected in the 1820’s and has been brought back to commercial production by Crisp Malting Group.

The goal was, and continues to be, to gauge the brewhouse performance, flavor characteristics and overall viability of this malt for brewers. So far, the results have been very promising!

Both Goose Island and Sierra Nevada have brewed beers already, and Tributary Brewing and The Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille are set to brew their own recipes soon as well.

Upon receiving the malt, each brewery has been faced with the question, “what should we brew?” Not surprisingly, traditional English styles were up for consideration right away as everyone thought that traditional English style beers would be a great way to test, and showcase, the qualities of this heirloom variety of malt.

At Goose Island, Mike Siegel, head of Brewing Innovation, decided the malt would be a great candidate to be showcased via their new two-barrel system at their Fulton Street Brewery in Chicago IL.  This beer and brew-day would also have special significance, as it would be first of several beers brewed with Goose Island Alums.

Goose Island’s English Dark Mild made with Chevallier Heritage Malt – photo courtesy of Goose Island

This particular beer was brewed with former Goose Island Brewmaster Greg Hall.  Greg decided to brew an English Dark Mild, as a nod to the first beer he ever made as the Brewmaster at Goose Island. 

At 3.7% ABV, the beer showed off the malt character, and was true to tradition and style; making it a great showcase for Chevallier.

Abe Kabakoff, Head Pilot Brewer, milling Chevallier Heritage Malt – photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada (Isaiah Mangold)

Many miles away, the team at Sierra Nevada also settled on an English style - ESB.  According to Sierra Nevada’s Head Pilot Brewer, Abe Kabakoff, the brew-day went well and they’re excited about the finished beer. They also performed a 100% Chevallier congress mash, and their findings revealed aromas of mild sweetness, chocolate milk, honey, and other pleasant attributes along with tastes that mirrored some of the aromas with an overall mellow sweetness.

Isaiah Mangold, Pilot Brewer, examines the wort – photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada (Abe Kabakoff).

So what’s next?  Brew more beers with Chevallier, and see what happens of course. Tributary Brewing will be brewing two recipes soon, a 19th century Old Ale and a Baltic Porter trading ale from the same period. Noted beer author and brewer Horst Dornbusch will team up with brewmaster Rik Marley of The Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille in New London, NH to brew a 19th-century Munich Helles with 92% Chevallier. Their goal is to showcase the versatility of this heirloom malt also for classic German beers. The Munich Helles, incidentally, was first released on March 21, 1894, during the heyday of Chevallier popularity in brew houses all around the world. As results keep coming in from the various breweries, we’ll share the information.

There will be far more than 4 tons of Chevallier Heritage malt with the 2015 crop, and the plan is to increase the availability year after year.  As brewers are looking to play with new ingredients, sometimes the old becomes “the new”.  For malt that was a primary ingredient in 19th Century English beers, there must be good reason for Chevallier’s past popularity; because of this, there is palpable excitement about what Chevallier can contribute not only to traditional beer styles, but also to innovative ideas and recipes.

As always, American brewers are melding past and present to create an exciting future for beer.

Cheers!