By Andrew Rudansky
For the brewers of Southampton Publick House, a beer is not just another beverage, but rather a sudsy art form to be perfected over years of extensive trial and error. At the Publick House they take their beer as seriously as a vintner takes his wine, spending hours at the drawing board in a search for that ultimate brew.
Last year, Publick House Brewmaster Phil Markowski and Lead Brewer Evan Addario collaborated on four new beer recipes to be released to the general public. All of these new creations will be showcased this Saturday, January 28, during the fifth annual Russian Imperial Stout Release Party at the Publick House.
Over the years this annual release party has gained quite a following, using the limited quantity and creativity of their beer recipes to draw enthusiasts from as far away as Maine and Alabama.
“People want this beer,” said Addario. “People will travel for these beers, it sells itself for sure.”
Now sold in 20 states, the Southampton Publick House brewery has gained a reputation for creating unique and award winning beer.
The new beers this year, the Southampton Uberliner, the Southampton Black Raspberry Lambic, the Southampton 15th Anniversary Ale and the Southampton Russian Imperial Stout 2012 will be released to the general public in a limited supply, only 650 bottles in total for all four of the beers.
“The Russian Imperial Stout is the big draw,” said Addario, “it is the whole point of the whole party…people go crazy for it.”
Made every year for the release party, the stout is a thick, dark beer with a high alcoholic content of around 11 percent. Lovingly called the “Black Juice of the Devil” by some patrons of the Publick House, the Russian Imperial Stout has become a fan favorite for a large number of beer enthusiasts.
“It is pitch black, you can’t see through it,” said Addario about the stout. “It has a lot of roastyness to it, a bit of coffee to it, and a little bit of chocolate.”
Addario said that every year he and Markowski change the recipe for the Russian Imperial Stout, “We say, ‘What did we like about last year’s, what didn’t we like about last year’s?’ So we tweak the recipe; nothing major but a little bit.”
This year the Publick House is also releasing two sour beers for the release party, the Southampton Uberliner and the Southampton Black Raspberry Lambic. The “souring” of beer occurs when bacteria is added in the brewing process which eats away at the sugar, giving it a distinct sour taste.
The Southampton Uberliner, a new beer that the Publick House is debuting for the first time, is a berliner weisse German sour wheat beer with an alcohol content of 6 percent.
In order to make the Southampton Black raspberry Lambic, the brewers put the beer in chardonnay wine barrels to ferment for 21 months. Addario said that this lengthy process gives the beer a distinct taste of wine and oak.
“People who are sour fans really go crazy over those two styles of beer,” said Addario.
For the less adventurous drinker, Addario recommends the Southampton 15th Anniversary Ale, a beer that combines ingredients from Germany, Britain, the United States, Belgium and France.
“There is a lot of things going on there,” he said, “so there is definitely a flavor profile they will pick out of there that they will enjoy.”
The brewers at the Publick House call themselves “beer nerds,” a title they proudly boast.
“When you look at beer it’s the whole package,” said Addario, “it’s the color, it’s the clarity, it’s the smell, and then it’s the flavor. It’s not just slamming a beer.”
Much like a wine connoisseur, the brewers at Publick House mull over every aspect of their beer.
“The only difference is we don’t spit,” he said.
Doors for the Russian Imperial Stout Release Party open at 11 a.m. In order to deal with increased demand, the Publick House, located at 40 Bowden Square, Southampton, is putting a limit of one case per customer. In addition to selling 750 ml bottles of each brew at $15 apiece, all four the beers will be on tap at the bar all day.