Your Strange Roots Are Showing!
Meet PA’s Most Underrated Brewer*
Try the World’s First Beer-Cheese-Wine Hybrid**
Tuesday, April 16 | 5 - 8pm | Tria Taproom
4 Strange Roots Beers for $5 each. Regular price $9
Try Gewurztria, the pioneering beer-cheese-wine combo
Meet Strange Roots founder-brewmaster, Dennis Hock
What’s Ancient Is New Again
Once upon a time all beer was brewed with wild yeast (gives complex rustic aromas) and bacteria (gives tartness) until humankind figured out just what yeast and bacteria were. Stainless steel replaced wood in the brewhouse. Beer became scientific, clean, and perfect. But what fun is perfect? A new generation of brewers has rediscovered the old ways of brewing. (They owe thanks to Belgium, where these methods never completely died.) Today’s brewers have the advantage of brewing science knowledge that the ancients never dreamed of. The neo-traditionalist brewers are brewing beers with complexity and character that clean beers can’t touch.
Of the new wave of neo-traditionalist brewers, we assert that diminutive Strange Roots Experimental Ales, just outside Pittsburgh, is one of the best. Not just in Pennsylvania, but in the world. Don’t take our word for it.
Emmaus-based Shangy’s-The Beer Authority is Pennsylvania’s master distributor for Strange Roots and boasts the world’s largest selection of beer. Owner Nima Hadian is a fanatical Strange Roots fan:
Strange Roots is the essence of artistry in brewing. It is the intersection of authenticity, creativity, and Old World brewing. Dennis Hock is an absolute genius when it comes to wild ales and sours. What can you say about a guy that brewed a beer using the yeast strain off a piece of furniture from 400 years ago? Or a beer brewed by fermenting ice cream? How about a blue cheese beer that tastes like the best Maytag blue you’ve ever had? This guy is part mad man much like Willy Wonka, part genius, and we are thrilled to call him our dear friend and partner.
Shangy’s and Tria are, of course, trying to sell this stuff, but the proof is in the tasting. Come to our Strange Roots happy hour, taste four Strange Roots beers at strangely low prices, and see for yourself. All four beers are spectacular, but the pièce de résistance is the beer that Strange Roots brewed for Tria.
Gewurztria - The World’s 1st Beer-Cheese-Wine Hybrid (Just for Tria)
The growing trend of beers with wine-like qualities is welcomed at Tria; we love both. But cheese? Hell yeah! Behold Gewurztria, made especially for and available only at Tria. (Until you drink it all.) Gewurztria started life as Strange Roots Grand Blu, a unique strong ale brewed with peaches and, get this: Penicillium roqueforti, the culture that gives great blue cheeses (Roquefort! Stilton! Gorgonzola! And more!) their characteristic aromas, flavors and blue veining. Using p. roqueforti in beer is a radical idea. For Gewurztria, Dennis took Grand Blu and re-fermented it on Gewürztraminer grapes, juice and must. (Gewürztraminer is a rich, fragrant white wine most prevalent in Alsace, France and Germany. It deserves greater popularity.) And thus Grand Blu blossomed into Gewurztria. Dennis shared with us his tasting notes:
Beautiful rich notes of white grape intermingle delicately with notes of blue cheese, apricot, candied pears, toasted oak and lychee.
In addition to Gewurztria, the happy hour will showcase these gems: Botanical Saison, Goedenacht, and Blackberry and Raspberry Sour. A full range of tastiness.
Dennis Hock: A Yeast Obsession from an Early Age
Dennis Hock started collecting wild yeast In Western Pennsylvania for fermentation experiments at 17, and started brewing to understand the local terroir. His mother let him brew beer, so long as he didn’t drink it. He claims he didn’t drink it.
Dennis served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan and learned about brewing while exploring Europe between deployments. Upon returning home, he continued to work with native critters (as he calls them), while attending school. He published as an undergraduate in herpetology, concentrating on biochemical alterations in venom development and evolutionary biochemistry. At that time he was primed for a career in academia, and almost accepted a scholarship at Johns Hopkins University to earn a PhD in herpetology. But his real love was beer. That was enough for him to walk away from higher learning and concentrate on his art.
Dennis established Draai Laag Brewing in 2011 with $800 in brewing equipment cobbled together from spare parts. He wisely kept his day job. As Draai Laag grew, he wanted to explore different styles. Although there are more reasons involved, he decided to change the name of the brewery in 2018, to Strange Roots Experimental Ales. After 20 years of working with the Western Pennsylvania terroir, Dennis and the Strange Roots team continue to push the envelope of beer but with the respect of tradition.
The thing to understand about Dennis is how freaking seriously he takes his critters. As stated in this excellent profile in beeradvocate.com:
“Draai Laag embraces airborne biodiversity, systematically hunting out new wild microorganisms, mapping local agriculture, topography, and wind patterns to identify prime spots to intercept wild critters. “Swabbing fruit is great, but you’re not going to get a lot of diversity,” Hock argues.”
The dude is a yeast hunter! There are countless brewers doing the wild thing today, but few with the passion, creativity and seriousness of purpose of Dennis Hock. It shows in the beer.
* We can’t prove this. But that’s our story and we’re sticking with it.
** We can’t prove this either, but we have seen no evidence to the contrary.