Imbibe’s mission is to celebrate the best of liquid culture, and that means we’re always exploring all realms of the drinks world, so this year for Negroni Week, we wanted to think of a way to merge our love for Negronis with our love for beer. Hence, a Negroni Beer! To make this idea a reality we reached out to our 2016 Beer Person of the Year, Lauren Salazar, the blending and barrel maestro at New Belgium Brewing.
“The second we put the two words together: Negroni and Beer, my mind reeled!” she says. “What a fantastic challenge. The recipe formulation process started with us at Social (cocktail bar in Ft. Collins, Colorado) to drink a few Negronis and talk flavor profiles, the overall flavor profile and then pick flavors out and ID the corresponding ingredient so we could build our Negroni Beer.”
To begin, Salazar and her team brewed a beer modeled after the flavors of gin and Campari using a variety of herbs, spices, fruit and, of course, hops. Then, to bring in a sweet vermouth character, they infused medium toast oak spirals into an aged blackberry barleywine from their December Lips of Faith release. The two batches were blended together, and a Negroni beer is born! “There are about 30 raw materials in total, but my favorite are the vivid orange/red-giving cochineal bugs!” says Salazar. “When we submitted the recipe to the TTB, this is the legal statement we got back: Ale brewed with herb, plant, bark, fruit, vegetable, root and bugs. How great is that?”
The finished beer is a gorgeous red color, and it’s meant to be served with an orange twist, a signature of the Negroni cocktail. “The orange garnish is KEY!” says Salazar. “It finishes the overall citrus character.”
This year, the Negroni Beer will be on draft only in select cities around the country, so keep an eye out soon for a list of these locations.