Belmont Breeze Brewing Challenge

stretch of belmont stakes

A friend of mine is REALLY into horse racing. She emailed me yesterday to see if I’d be interested in brewing a beer for her Belmont Stakes party. Her hopes were that the beer could evoke the official drink of the event: the Belmont Breeze. Not one to back down from a challenge, I plan to accept.

Here’s what we’re looking at for the drink’s recipe:

  • 1 1/2 ounces of a good American blended whiskey
  • 3/4 ounces Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
  • 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce of simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 1 ounce 7-Up
  • 1 ounce Club Soda

Shake first six ingredients with ice, then top with 7-Up and club soda. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wedge.

I don’t know about you folks, but we had a name for drinks like this in college: Jungle Juice. Even the New York Times went as far as to describe the drink as tasting like “a refined trashcan punch.

So the question becomes: how do I brew a beer that’s similar to a Belmont Breeze while still making it a palatable beer? My thinking so far is to brew a light saison with some citrusy hops (Citra & Sorachi Ace?), add some orange peel and cranberries late in the boil to get some aroma off them, and then briefly age the beer on a light oak, half that’s been soaked in sherry and the other in a bourbon.

This would have been a hell of a lot easier if it was a Kentucky Derby party. A mint julep kölsch could be delicious.

What do you guys think? Let me know your ideas in the comments!

About Nick Nunns

Nick loves two things above all others: Beer and heavy metal. He's the owner and brewer at the soon-to-open TRVE Brewing Company. If you get him drunk enough, he will probably raise a toast to a Norse god.

  • Jake

    A couple thoughts:

    1. Your idea for a recipe sounds pretty awesome. How long
    until the race? I would expect a beer with that much stuff going on to take a good 6 months or so to mellow and blend. Saison was actually what first popped into my mind as well. I think that a lightly hopped saison could be great, to give it that citrus-y character.

    2. Another style that could possibly be interesting to try would be to brew a Belgian wit with a saison yeast… then you get the earthy notes of the yeast, and the coriander and orange peel (and lemon peel) would be a natural fit. That whole sherry/bourbon/cranberry thing is rather perplexing though.

    Would a saison stand up to oak aging? It would have to be a very quick stay on the oak, I’d be afraid that the soft notes you would get from the cranberry and lemon in the boil would be lost to the assertiveness wood can lend to beer. Especially with the sherry and bourbon… I do think that bourbon-soaked wood chips would be fantastic though, since you can really control how much exposure the beer has to it…

    Maybe sit down with a glass of Harveys and really pick apart the flavors, and see if there isn’t a way to “deconstruct” the flavors into beer ingredients? What an adventure. I’ve never had it, but says:
    “clean, fresh and tangy dried fruit aromas, fruity grape flavours and creamy velvet, smooth, mellow, woody nutty and earthy flavors and finish.”
    What about…… aging on dried cranberries, and soaking with Riesling-soaked chips (along with bourbon-soaked) to give it a sweet grape flavor with the oak? From the description, I think the Saison yeast will provide the “woody nutty and earthy flavors.”

    Wow… this is getting crazy.

    Sounds like a blast, please let us know what you end up brewing!!

  • jlo

    Would love to try what ever you come up with. The cocktail is actually an old with most older cocktails, undoubtedly concocted as a reviver and a bracer, because straight booze was too much to stomach in the AM. Revive from the revelry of the night before, and brace for the coming adventures. Almost always these recipes are stiff, and for a reason. That first jolt of booze is essential – revive, and the taste had to be pleasing, and usually sweet with citrus, enough to get the first few rough ones down the ol’ gullet. Unlike the Jungle Juice and Trash can punch of today, these cocktails were not designed to put people out of commission, just to get them on there way to a good time.