February 16, 2012

The Brewer's Secret Cocktail

The following appears in the most recent Food & Flourish Magazine

The Hot Scotchy
Nick Sofranac, used with permission.
There is an arcane ritual known almost exclusively by brewers and it involves a cocktail called the Hot Scotchy. There is no singular recipe as no two cocktails are ever the same. No one really has a grasp on when or where it started. It has never been served to the public in Arizona.  All of that will change on Monday, February 20 when Arizona Beer Week collides with Arizona Cocktail Week.

The Scotchy is made (perhaps clandestinely in professional circles) by collecting a pint of the hot unfermented concentrated malt sugar of a beer mash (wort) and topping it off with a few ounces of Scotch. This may seem like a simple arrangement until you recall the many varieties of Scotch. Multiply that number by the thousands of grain combinations that comprise the 90 beer styles recognized at the World Beer Cup and you begin to see the Scotchy’s unique potential. A brewer’s wort bill will change the flavor profile of the toddy – a delicate pale Kölsch-style Four Peaks Sunbru, a malty amber SanTan Epicenter and an inky-dark and roasty Sonoran Inebriator will create markedly different drinks. Brewer’s wort is sickly sweet and lacks a transition from mid palate to finish. The addition of Scotch pulls out the grain flavors and adds an electrifying richness to an already velvety hug.

Andy Ingram, Brewmaster at Four Peaks Brewing, has kept the Hot Scotchy tradition alive since the beginning days of the brewery. “We do a Hot Scotchy for every new beer that we make,” said Ingram, the most recent was born from a soon to be released Robust Porter. As to the origin of the cocktail, Ingram confirmed what I had always suspected. The Scotchy followed the brewing traditions of Europe, rode the free-wheeling US craft beer wave in the 90’s and passed down by word of mouth. “It’s an esoteric thing. We learned about it from Barry John, a career brewer for the Young’s Brewery in London.” Barry retired from Young’s after 35 years and took up residence in Scottsdale. He came down to the brewery for a day to give some brewery advice and stayed for 10 months." Similar oral traditions continued in other parts of the US. The most recent resurgence is led by bloggers, like Portland’s The New School and homebrewers that took a cue from a 1998 classic style book on Brown Ale by Ray Daniels.

Not everyone has access to a 7 barrel brewhouse mash, the precious mother of the beer business. Thankfully, homebrewers are famously oblivious to budgets, brewing timetables and are quick to popularize the obscure.

In Phoenix, on the Monday of Arizona Beer Week members of the Arizona Society of Homebrewers will be issuing Scotch ready wort for 2 select locations in the Valley. Should you find yourself at Moto or The Hungry Monk, know that you have found the rare beverage to combat a Sonoran desert night with warm comfort.

Brewer's Cocktail - The Hot Scotchy
Feb 20 | 6:30pm - 10:30pm

6845 North 16th Street
Phoenix, AZ, 85016
(602) 263-5444

1760 W Chandler Blvd # 2
Chandler, AZ, 85224
(480) 963-8000

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