Beer Man

Ska Brewing's next two seasonal canned stouts will focus on mint, orange blossom honey

Some people are going to hate Ska Brewing's Vernal Minthe Stout, a new canned beer made with spearmint, peppermint, vanilla beans and coco nibs. And some people are going to absolutely love the minty brew, the third in Ska's series of seasonal canned stouts, which will hit liquor-store shelves this week during the spring equinox.

"We're not going to get everybody with this beer, but we've known that throughout this whole program," says Ska co-owner Dave Thibodeau. "Some people may like some of them and some may like others, and some people may not like any of them."

See also: - Ska Brewing battles Maryland's DuClaw over trademark for Euphoria - Fifteen new Colorado beer labels you'll be seeing in early 2013 - Ska Brewing will debut a new series of seasonal canned stouts

Ska debuted the series last fall with Autumnal Mole Stout, made with spices and three kinds of chile peppers, and followed up on the winter solstice with Hibernal Vinifera Stout, which was brewed with Malbec grape juice and aged on oak.

Vernal Minthe was brewed with dried spearmint and peppermint (no extract); that combination is key to the flavor.

"We threw around a lot of ideas over the past few years of different types of stouts, and mint, early on, was unique. None of us had tasted anything like it," Thibodeau explains. "We kept working on it on the pilot system, switching it around, and discovered that adding both spearmint and peppermint -- somehow that was the secret to making it good."

In addition to cans, Vernal Minthe is also available at some places around Denver this week during Colorado Craft Beer Week.

The Minthe will be in stores for three months and will be followed this summer by Estival Cream Stout, the fourth and final beer in the series. The Estival will be made with orange blossom honey and aged on oak and dried orange peels.

"This is the firs timet we've used orange blossom honey since we made Big Shikes in 2011," Thibodeau says, referring to Big Shikes Orange Blossom Imperial Pilsner, the best beer Ska has ever brewed. "It's a cream stout and it's not over the top orangey."

One of the goals of the seasonal stout program, aside from focusing on seasonal ingredients, is to test how the beers age in cans, Thibodeau adds. "We are trying to learn about how spices and herbs and fresher ingredients will change. My guess is that some of them will dissipate like fresh hops over time. That may give some of these beers subtle edges rather than corners and make them even more smooth and drinkable."

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes