Allagash Brewing Company’s internal naming system offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Maine brewery’s newest release.
“Figgy Pudding” didn’t make it onto the labels, but for months it’s how Allagash employees referred to Hibernal Fluxus, a holiday stout released by the brewery in November. The beer — which is indeed brewed with figs, as well as oats and roasted barley — started out as the homebrewing project of one of the company’s bottling line operators.
“It’s a pretty rich and full flavored stout,” says Allagash brewmaster Jason Perkins. “But I wouldn’t put it into the category of super-heavy roast or super-high alcohol. As far as stouts go, it’s a little more approachable.”
Hibernal Fluxus follows in the footsteps of Fluxus, a beer with an evolving recipe released by Allagash each June to celebrate the brewery’s anniversary. Perkins says the idea to create a second Fluxus was born of a desire for a blank canvas, allowing them to release something new and to dive into heavier territory than they might in the summer.
“I drink dark beers year round, but not everybody does,” says Perkins.
This year’s debut version of Hibernal Fluxus checks in at 8 percent alcohol by volume and is buoyed by two additions of figs, one while the grain is mashing and one during the whirlpool, chopped up and wrapped in mesh, like steeping a tea bag. Allagash’s Belgian yeast adds flavors of dark fruit to the brew, while the malt expresses bitter baking chocolate and a hint of smokiness. Poured into a glass, the beer has a mocha-colored head that looks like the froth on top of a cappuccino.
“The big fig contribution is in the texture,” says Perkins. “It’s got this chewiness but without feeling full, which is what I really love about it.”
Perkins is pleased with Hibernal Fluxus’s winter debut — and says he’s looking forward to more experimentation.
“They’re totally different every year,” Perkins says of the Fluxus beers. “There’s no scaffold around them.”
Allagash will donate a portion of the proceeds from Hibernal Fluxus to Window Dressers, a nonprofit with a mission of helping Maine residents reduce heating costs and fuel consumption. The beer is currently available on draft and in 750 ml bottles.