Helm's Brewing Co: Moulin 'Range
ABV: 7.8 percent
Pair with: Pesto pizza
This beer is big and full of complex flavors. It features notes of orange, coriander, fennel and banana, with a strong Belgian backbone. It's traditional in its base, but the addition of fresh orange fruit, orange peel and cracked coriander make for a variety of different tastes all squeezed into one unique tripel. This brew is dangerously easy to drink for a 7.8 percent beer and is highly recommended if you're itching for a smooth, yet strong pick.
Moulin 'Range comes to us from Daniel Lawrence, brewer at Helm's Brewing Co. Lawrence, a native of Washington, D.C., started brewing in Baltimore in 2012. He then made the jump, moved to San Diego and soon after signed as a brewer at Helm's.
In San Diego, we see all styles of beer; however, it isn't standard to see a tripel on the lineup most of the time. Lawrence said that he wanted to brew this beer because it's strong, but still summery.
"One of the things we really look for as a smaller brewery is variety," Lawrence said. "We have the opportunity to go more outside of the lines. We can do almost anything we want within reason. We try to experiment with all sorts of styles. This beer is great for the tail end of summer in San Diego, which goes until late October here. It's high in alcohol and a big, flavorful craft beer that's dry and dangerously sessionable, I think."
The texture of this beer is almost like a champagne. It's dry when it hits your throat but then, more flavor begins to appear. At first sip, you'll taste the citrus notes, the banana from the Belgian yeast and then the dryness. Suddenly, flavors of coriander, fennel and spice back the upfront fruit. It's quite complex and requires a bit of work, Lawrence explained.
"This one has so many different flavors combined, so I was really interested in hitting all the different aspects. This beer starts as a fairly simple malt build, light crystals, a little bit of wheat and a base of a pilsner malt. Once we get the high alcohol up, in the boil I added -- man, I'd say about 13 pounds of navel oranges. I personally zested all of them and separated the fruit from the rind," he said. "In the boil, I added a little bit of Belgian candi sugar to increase the alcohol, and it also gives it a dry but light, candy sweetness in the background. I then added in orange fruits to give the full, orange fruit flavor, and the rinds to increase the aroma and bitterness," he said.
Lawrence also added fresh coriander seeds that he crushed up to complete the flavor profile, hitting each of the possible notes in this brew perfectly. While it may be an easy-drinking beer, it's not easy being the only brewer at a small craft brewery here in San Diego, which Lawrence knows all too well. Although, let's be honest, you really can't beat the craft beer scene in America's Finest City.
"It is stressful, but it's really fun. I may b or complain a little bit when I'm in there, but every night when I go home, I'm excited to get back in the next morning. I could never imagine myself doing it any other way. I have an amazing amount of freedom that our company has given me and an amazing amount of trust that very few brewers get to experience," he said. "When I talk to my other friends, they brew the same five beers every day for years. I get to brew a new style of beer a couple times a month. If something goes wrong, there's only one person to blame, but I wouldn't want it any other way."
This stellar craft creation got its name from what you may have thought the beer's name was upon first reading -- Moulin Rouge.
"I took it from Moulin Rouge. I got a very bohemian feel from it; it tastes very classic to me too. It reminds me of that old-school Paris feel," Lawrence said.
This beer is currently available on tap at all Helm's Brewing Co. locations. Get it while it's cold!
5640 Kearny Mesa Road, or 4896 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach. helmsbrewingco.com