What is a party beer? I'd say it depends on the party.
Some parties are lavish tasting affairs, with barrel aged bitters complimenting pungent cheeses. Parties under great sunshine & humid heat call for an army of kegged Pilsners & plastic cups.
Mardi Gras is entirely different. New Orleans is a city where stout faucets are far fewer than slushie machines filled with Margaritas, though beer is still very much a part of the last party before Lent.
My travels found my fiance & me in a less than sultry Big Easy during the first week of an unusually cold & wet Louisiana February. Of course, we were undeterred! A lateral trek across the country to escape a far more frigid Minnesota winter, let alone the ruckus associated with Super Bowl victory revelry, carried us into New Orleans with a taste for some soul warming lager, Cajun style.
We were lucky to find a new friendly brew from a local micro, Abita Brewing. These hospitable brewers of the south have a seasonal Bock, for every season. February found us stocking our hotel room with their Mardi Gras Bock. Our tongues found it to be a far lighter brew than the hammers of malt we could order back home, and I knew I had found the brew that would be my return to hobby upon our homecoming!
When we toured at Abita I wasn't able to get any recipe clues, for it was the day before the Super Bowl & their brewers were working a Saturday in anticipation of the following Monday's less than ample employee attendance. So the lady & I made the plan ourselves... Our clone would be a smaller Bock than BJCP style. We would use a single bittering addition of Perle for minty drinkability, balanced by a meld of German Vienna & Pilsener base with Munich & Caramunich rounding out the act. Since style wasn't an issue (and we lack lagering facilities), we would cellar-ferment with Y1007 German Ale yeast at close to 55 degrees, followed by bottle conditioning in the fridge for maximum party portability to come.
The result of our Fat Tuesday brew session was a deep red beauty of a brew that filled the house with the smell of pure German/Creole soul & enticed us towards the fermentation that kicked up its heels some thirty minutes after aeration & pitching!
The recipe follows. Make sure you treat the wort with Wyeast Brewer's Choice nutrient blend, so the low temp. fermentation starts strong & lasts through five weeks of bottle conditioning. Lassiez les buon temps roulez!
Mardi Gras Bock
- OG: 1.050
- FG: 1.010
- Batch Size: 5.5 gallons
- Boil Volume: 7 gallons
- 5# German Vienna
- 3# German Pilsener
- 1.5# German Munich
- 1.5# Belgian Caramunich
Single Infusion Mash @ 151 degrees F.
60 min. boil 1 oz. Perle @ 60 min.
Whirlfloc, Wyeast Brewer's Choice Nutrient @ 10 min.
Cool to 60 degrees F. & pitch two packs of Y1007, German Ale yeast (or make a starter), ferment for 2 weeks @ 55 degrees F., bottle condition @ 36 degrees F. for 5 weeks & enjoy!