DAM’s BLOOM BRU is available at BRU handbuilt ales & eats through October 11.
When I first spoke with the Denver Art Museum about helping bring to life In Bloom: Painting Flowers in the Age of Impressionism through one of our ales I was immediately giddy. Our vision at BRU has always been about combining our craft of cuisine with the art of the bottle, and what better way to do this then create an artfully delicious beer inspired by flowers and floral still lives by world-renowned artists like Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh.
History of Flowers in Beer
While some may think that having flowers in beer is a crazy concept, what they probably don’t realize is that hops, the main bittering and aroma component in most beers, are flowers. In addition, the use of flowers (other than hops) is as old as beer itself. In fact the first recorded use of hops in beer wasn't until around 800-900 BC, but beer, or some sort of fermented malted cereal grain beverage, is as old as human civilization, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia. While beer (as well as wine, cider, mead, and distilled spirits) offered a potable water source and allowed humans to travel farther away from drinking water, (bacterial contamination in water has been a problem for humans forever, no harmful bacteria can live in the pH range of beer hence its importance to our evolution) it was also sweet and susceptible to spoilage (off/bad flavors).
Flowers offered some preservative/antibacterial properties along with some level of bittering to balance the sweetness. Gruit, before beer as we know it, was a malt beverage that was bittered with a variety of herbs and flowers—yarrow, dandelion, horehound, ground ivy, marigold, and heather, to name a few. Eventually by the 1000-1200s those were phased out and the sole use of hops as the main bittering/preservative flower took ahold of Europe. Since then, hops have become the main flower we use in beer. Still a flower, but not as varied as it once was.
Inspired by In Bloom
As you can see, flowers and beer actually do go hand in hand and thus designing a beer for the Denver Art Museum’s new exhibition was much more natural than some may have expected. As I stared intently at the beautiful paintings that would soon hang on the walls of the Denver Art Museum I begin designing the recipe for DAM's BLOOM BRU. Much like these artists who let the natural beauty of the flowers influence their art pieces, I wanted to use flowers to bring out the natural flavors of the style we were brewing.
Chamomile, Passion Flower, Orange Blossom & Rose Hips
Kölsch is a low-hop, low-alcohol German ale that is clean and perfumy. By using orange blossom and rose hips I could bring out the perfume aspect of the beer, and chamomile and passion flower would build on the subtle floral aspects. All while leaving the base beer style recognizable and working in harmony with the floral ingredients. What blossomed was exactly that, a Kölsch hand-built with chamomile, passion flower, orange blossom, and rose hips that works in harmony with the flowers without letting them overpower the beer style.
We hope you enjoy our art, and as you take a sip, ponder if Vincent van Gogh may have been inspired by a fine ale with beautiful floral additions as he painted his Vase of Flowers.