Some things are simply inevitable in this life,
and our collaboration beer with Bucharest-based Oriel Beer was definitely one of them!
Last weekend, while attending the Bucharest Craft Beer Festival 2018 yours truly has managed to sneak out for a day to Laurențiu and Ioana’s brewery, and brew a beer that was over three years in the making. Yep, we have a backstory to our collaboration and I’ll gladly tell you all about it!
It all started back in 2015 when me and my beloved wife first met Laurențiu and Ioana on our trip to Bucharest. That was the very start of Sunstone Alehouse when we were overly enthusiastic and naive in equal measure. Back then Laur and Ioana were also part of the local homebrewing scene with aspirations of opening their own brewery one day, just like us. We had plenty of beers and great time together, and met each other on consequent trips as well. Not to mention that we’ve competed with each other at local and regional homebrew competitions, which they had smashing success with.
Fast forward a few years to now, Ioana and Laurențiu have nearly a dozen medals from various homebrew competitions under their collective belt, spanning Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia. And most importantly, they have managed to build their own brewery, which opened its doors in late 2017. What’s even more exciting about the fact is that they’ve kept the concept of their beers intact since the days we first met – their focus is set firmly on Belgian-style ales.
So, we’ve started talking about a full-fledged commercial collaboration beer probably rigth after the very first batches of Oriel Blond and Dubbel had hit the shelves in pubs all around Bucharest. And it was a really fun and creative challenge because we wanted to keep their Belgian integrity intact but also make a beer that would be different from what their usual lineup has to offer. With beers like Wild Blond fermented with Brettanomyces or Quadrupel Barrel Aged in Jack Daniel’s Barrels it was no mean feat, really. But after a series of lengthy discussions that even involved the idea of smuggling a Moldovan white wine barrel across the border, we’ve settled on a recipe that now seems like the most natural option for our two brands: Quadrupel IPA.
Let me be honest with you – there’s a certain degree of spite in this beer. But not the bad kind, more of a good positive kind, even if that sounds like an oxymoron at first. There’s a bit of backstory to this particular aspect as well. In many ways this beer was inspired by what Oriel and Sunstone tend to do best in their respective niches – Belgian-style and hop-forward beers respectively. However, after tasting the wonderful Triple IPA brewed by Romanian craft beer pioneers Ground Zero it was like “fuck this is good, I have to try and top that!”. And that’s the good kind of spite I was talking about – tasting a beer so good that you actually get inspired to do something even better, to take it from there and push the boundary even further. Don’t you just love craft beer?
But what is a Quadrupel IPA anyway? Well, obviously there are two equally legit approaches to interpreting this fictional style. First, you can take the logic of Double IPAs and push the recipe as far as the yeast will allow you, focusing on neutral yeast flavor and a proper balance between malts and hops. Second, you take a classic Belgian Quadrupel and hop the hell out of it. Guess which path we’ve taken with this beer!
Despite being a hefty beer both in terms of grain bill and hop schedule, this was one of the most laid back and enjoyable brewdays I ever had. Surely, goofing around with friends is part of the charm. And brewing in an awesome new brewery that feels almost like home definitely adds to the experience. Still, the entire session had a really laid back flow to it that reminded me of the good old homebrewing days. Moreover, we were also joined by Stas from Elvis brewery in Puhoi, Moldova that turned it into a fun brewer get-together over some really tasty beers. Yep, we had beers while brewing, boo on us!
As I’m writing this post, the beer is already undergoing primary fermentation, falling from greasy 22°Plato to single-digit readings and lots of alcohol. The launch date us tentatively set for the second part of October, when it will be sufficiently matured and dry-hopped, and I think it’s just the perfect time to get obliterated by a massive Quadrupel IPA. Because on a chill October evening you want a warm boozy hug and a hoppy smack on your lips, and we’re happy to give you just that!
But enough with the writing, let’s see some pictures with witty comments!