From the Beer Writer: Cue the lightning and thunder-claps then start the slow zoom toward the building housing the mad scientist’s laboratory. In this case, Dr. Frankenstein’s lair isn’t nestled within some mountaintop castle. It’s White Labs’ Miramar headquarters, which is on a street with a slight incline, but I digress. Playing the role of the quirkily ambitious doctor is Joe Kurowski, the fermentationist in charge of White Labs’ on-site 20-barrel brewhouse. He has stout wort cooled and transferred into tanks, awaiting the magic moment when yeast is added to transform that unfermented fluid’s sugars into alcohol. Being in the belly of the world’s foremost yeast-production beast, Kurowski could go in almost any direction—California Ale Yeast, Belgian Trappist Yeast, German Lager Yeast or the local-fave San Diego Super Yeast. Rather than choosing one, he does something truly…well…mad. Kurowski opts to ferment the beer using ninety-six different yeast strains, allowing them to battle it out like microscopic yet highly energetic gladiators vying for supremacy to the joyous glee of a spectating supreme. It’s a highly unorthodox method that seems fraught with peril, but when I tasted this 9.6% alcohol-by-volume beer, which is aptly named Frankenstout, there was no shriek of terror. Rather, a nod of interest and respect. The chocolate and roasted coffee notes one expects from an imperial stout are there, but so too are flavors of dark fruit, berries, bubble gum, fennel, lavender and so much more. It’s the yeast that’s responsible for all of those as well as an aroma that, were I blind-folded, would lead me to believe I was breathing in the bright bouquet of a Belgian witbier or tripel. Frankenstout is on tap at White Labs and will debut in bottles on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17 for the laymen) at the company’s tasting room during an event called “Frankenbash” from 5 to 9 p.m., benefitting diabetes charity JDRF.
From the Brewer: Frankenstout answers the burning question, ‘What would happen if we pitched 96 yeast straings into one beer?’ The answer is, well, complex. Each strain struggles for dominance, with twists and turns at every sip. The beer pours black with a thick brown head. Robust coffee and dark chocolate aromas and flavors abound. Belgian yeast strains are evident through spicy and clove-like notes. The beer finishes with a strong cherry oak finish. Frankenstout is a dark, complex beer that throws convention out the window to test the limits of science and defy industry standards. White Labs partnered with San Diego-based biotechnology companies Illumina and Synthetic Genomics to sequence and assemble the full genome of 96 of the company’s yeast strains. The collaboration is fueling ongoing scientific research in the area of genomics as well as pleasing the palates of thirsty craft beer enthusiasts throughout San Diego.