Captain Midnight: Not your average beer. Not your average hero.

The second installment of the Chef Collaboration Series beers between myself and Bull & Bush Brewery is a hero of a different hue.  Being a Chef and being inspired by food and the potential for beer to be seen as food has always been enticing to me.  That is why my mission is to create beers that can bridge the gap between these two worlds that so long to be together.  I needed to enlist the help of brave souls who’s own experiences in brewing could have prepared them for such a perilous adventure. Along with the twisted and fearless minds of Gabe Moline and Erik Peterson of the Bull & Bush Brewery we were able to see this Frankensteinian (ya, I know that’s not a real word) hero come to life.  He is Captain Midnight!

Brewing a beer that is creative and unique without being too “look at me, look at me” is a difficult task.  We wanted Captain Midnight (CM) to be daring yet approachable, to be nuisanced yet subtle.  CM is a Black Saison (Belgian Farmhouse Ale) flavored with nearly every black food ingredient that we could get our grubby paws on.  The list is as follows:

  • Brewed with Black Patent Malt and Roasted Barley
  • Delicately Hopped and Spiced up with:
    • Black Garlic
    • Black Tellicherry Peppercorns
    • Black Licorice
    • Black Anise
    • Black Cardamom
  • Also in the pool:
    • Black Tasmanian Pepperberries, Black Lampong Peppercorns, Black Sesame Seed, Black Caraway, Black Cumin, Black Pasilla Chiles, Black Cherries, Blackberries, Black Mission Figs,  Dark Candi Sugar, Black Sugar… whew
  • Finished with Champagne yeast to help this brew finish dry.
  • ABV 7%

If that wasn’t enough we threw this witches brew with everything in it except eye of newt into Sonoma Curtrer Chardonnay barrels to age for a month.

When faced with Captain Midnight, do not be too bold and drink it with reckless abandon, but also do not let him put doubt or fear into your mind.  Rather, embrace and savor the balance of strength and finesse.  Let it linger on your palate and roam free in your glass.  As this elixir warms the savory notes come out of their shell.  The black garlic dances on your mid-palate; the black anise pricks your tongue; the black cardamom perfumes into your nostrils.

Sorry, I got carried away… nothing a cold shower can’t remedy.  Don’t listen to me, I’m biased, so don’t take my word for it.  Trust only what you put in your mouth (whatever that means).  Try Captain Midnight and enjoy it for what it is and for what it isn’t… or ask the bartender for something less weird.

You can find Captain Midnight currently on tap at the Bull & Bush.  Look for a couple of kegs to make an appearance around GABF, but that’s another story for another day.

Pairing Notes:

  • Contrast and balance the savory anise notes of CM with sweet and bright flavors with foods such as sashimi or fresh fish tartare with a hint of citrus (i.e. Big Eye Tuna Sashimi with clementines, caramelized cipollini onions and jalapeno mignonette)
  • Mellow the umami characteristic in CM by satiating the taste receptors with a dish of braised meats and mushrooms with very little sweetness (i.e. Soy Braised Veal Cheeks with shiitake mushroom duxelles, tomato confit and watercress pesto
  • Compliment the fragrant finish of CM with soft round aromatic flavors with root vegetable purees and spices such as cardamom, allspice, vanilla and clove (i.e. Olive Oil Poached Alaskan Halibut with vanilla sunchoke puree, fava bean succotash, spiced butter)
  • Play on the sweet and savory balance for dessert with rich chocolate dessert with sweeter sauces and a salty component such as salted brittle or salted ice cream (i.e. Bitter Chocolate Bombe with agave crème anglaise, pine nut brittle and salted toffee ice cream)

About Jensen Cummings

Jensen Cummings (@JensenDCummings) is the Executive Chef at Row 14 in downtown Denver. He calls his food "Pangean Cuisine" and his teaching style "Fortune Cookie Philosophy" so you know he's a little off his rocker! His side passion project is to collaborate with brewers on chef/food inspired beers meant to be paired with high end cuisine. Jensen is an avid beer collector, student of spirits, soon to be Certified Cicerone and a sommelier in training. Basically, he is just really into adult beverages and super geeky!