Pretty Things and Boulevard Brewing have teamed up to brew a collaboration beer called “Stingo.” Great! Now what’s a Stingo?
A Stingo is a style of beer that is rarely brewed today. In the only other known example, Samuel Smith releases a Yorkshire Stingo every year on Aug. 1, England’s Yorkshire Day. According to the description of that beer, a Stingo is a traditional strong ale originating in the north of England. Boulevard’s Jeremy Danner talks about the style in a blog post on the brewery’s website:
“We hope to create a beer that displays a rich, malty character derived from the exclusive use of English malts that’s balanced by deft additions of English Goldings and Fuggle hops,” Danner writes. “The historical aspect comes through in that primary fermentation took place on oak and the beer has a pronounced sourness from the use of lactic acid producing microbes. In the time that this beer was originally produced, it’s likely that this sourness was part of the flavor profile, so Stingo was nicknamed due to the sting your mouth felt from the acidity in the flavor.”
A little back story. The idea for brewing a Stingo came from Pretty Things brewers Dann Paquette and Martha Holley-Paquette. Paquette met Danner and Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels last year at the Cambridge bar Lord Hobo when Pauwels was in town for Beer Advocate’s American Craft Beer Festival. When Pauwels asked Paquette if he’d like to collaborate on a beer together, Paquette knew he needed to come up with something different. Boulevard, a 150-barrel brewery and the 10th largest brewery in the country, had only collaborated on two other beers. Pretty Things, with just four employees, had never done a collaboration beer.
“For us it was a little like having the Rolling Stones come to your gig at the VFW hall and Mick Jagger inviting you to open for them at Wembley,” Paquette writes. “Yes it was. Anyway, you can’t open for the Stones playing Stones covers — which is pretty much like what it would be proposing a Belgian beer style to a Belgian brewmaster.”
Holley-Paquette is from Yorkshire, and after doing some research, Paquette decided trying to revive the Stingo style was the way to go.
“The idea of a sour English style that goes back this far really ignited excitement for me,” he writes.
I was lucky enough to get a bottle recently. The beer pours a dark hazelnut with a big, thick head. Put your nose in the glass and you get plums, brown sugar, and butterscotch. The brewers used 100 percent Thomas Fawcett malt, milled in bag-by-bag. Normally, Boulevard would use a silo. When a big brewery collaborates with a smaller brewery, both must leave their comfort zones. Out of change often comes exceptional beer.
The beer tastes like a dry, brown ale. It’s nutty and sweet. You get a little of the sour “sting” upon sipping, but it finishes dry and balanced. Paquette says he played around quite a bit with the final blend, making sure the sour didn’t overpower the malt and vice versa. The result is a complex beer that you’d have a hard time pinning at its 8.5 percent ABV.
The beer is starting to hit shelves already. I found some in South Boston.
The Cellar grows
Craft Beer Cellar, “the little beer store” in Belmont, has announced plans to expand and open three more stores by the end of 2013. The store, founded in 2010 by Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow, has quickly become a go-to destination for craft beer fans in Boston. Their selection of some 1,100 beers from 300-plus craft brewers is anything but small.
The plans to franchise the store will center around Lowell, Swampscott, Chelsea, and Needham, Schalow writes in a press release. If all goes well, Craft Beer Cellar could expand to other parts of New England or other parts of the country.
Gary Dzen writes about craft beer for the Globe when he’s not covering the Celtics for Boston.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter @GlobeGaryDzen.