In the few short months they’ve been around, Conquest has already left its mark on the Columbia craft beer scene. And with this blog, I’ve done what I can to promote their growing popularity. With as much time as I spend putting into spreading the word about Columbia’s only production brewery, I’ve had a lot of people ask – some jokingly, some seriously – the same thing: When will all this ass kissing get me my own collaboration beer?
The answer? Today.
For the past few weeks, Conquest co-owner Joseph Ackerman and I have been talking at length about collaborating on a beer both of us are proud to put our names on. Conquest has had some unique offerings so far in its existence – Bipolar High Roller was met with a lot of praise – and if I was going to put my reputation on the line, we felt as if we needed to continue that trend.
“I approached Nick and said, ‘Look, we need to do this right. We need to brew something no one’s ever had before and will likely never have again,'” said Ackerman.
And so we have. Later this week, Conquest will unveil Drink. Conquer. ReIPAt., a 10.4% imperial IPA brewed with a mountain of Simcoe, Centennial, Citra and proprietary hops; green and pink peppercorns; and Swiss cheese.
The hop varieties used in the beer impart those big, juicy tropical fruit flavors I love in a DIPA, but the addition of peppercorns add just enough bite to cut through the syrupy sweetness. And then there’s the Swiss cheese.
“With the addition of whole slices of locally made Swiss cheese into the mash, we in effect remove the possibility of agitating the process too early on. The holes help the cheese act as mini mash paddles, constantly stirring the grain and unleashing the flavors within,” said Ackerman.
With each addition of whole flower hops into the boil, we added both sliced and shredded Swiss cheese to amplify the flavors and calcium levels even more.
“Think of adding oysters into an oyster stout. The calcium in their shells imparts a really full, creamy mouthfeel and flavor. Now, imagine using cheese instead of oysters. Same thing,” said Ackerman.
We worried the addition of peppercorns would leave people thinking we used pepper jack cheese, but there’s no mistaking it: It’s Swiss.
Three varieties of the beer will be released exclusively this Thursday at World of Beer in The Vista as part of their southern brewery tap takeover. We’ll have a keg of the original version, a version dry-hopped with Simcoe and dry-cheesed with more Swiss, and then we’ll run the beer through a Randall of whole-cone Centennial hops and whole-sliced artisan Swiss.
“I’d never had a beer with Swiss cheese in it,” said Tyler Pawelkop, product manager of the local World of Beer. “I’m not sure I ever want to again after trying this.”
A Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 Year barrel-aged version will be released at next year’s Brewvival.
“We’ve never made anything like this before, and I don’t think we’ll ever make anything like it again,” said Ackerman. “That’s probably for the best.”