30 Aug Double Thai Day 2017 At Bare Hands Brewery: Twice As Nice
If a little bit is good, then a lot must be better. This adage isn’t always true, like with in-law visits or tax forms, but as it applies to the Thai.P.A. from Bare Hands Brewery in Granger (and soon to be South Bend), more is a good thing. This might mean getting a four pack instead of a single can of Thai.P.A., but it also means that Double Thai.P.A. is even more fantastic than the single IPA version.
In celebration of this realization, Bare Hands threw a party last Saturday to commemorate the 2017 release of Double Thai.P.A. This was the 3rd iteration of the release party, and the first to be held at the soon to be realized South Bend location of Bare Hands. The former Gates automobile service center will be a wonderful production brewery and taproom. The openness of the building, with its many garage doors, will allow for easy movement of equipment and will provide the taproom space with a three season feel. There is ample parking and the gorgeous St. Patrick Catholic Church is a nice background item.
The Bare Hands folks are shooting for an early 2018 opening for the South Bend taproom. It will start out as a bare bones taproom and a production brewery and then expand over time. Bare Hands isn’t even sure how many taps will be on at the new place, and however many there are, it will probably increase over time. The major advantage to moving into South Bend is that the expanded production will allow Chris and the others to return to the days of small batch experiments to extend their innovation, and to allow for equipment that could safely be used to initiate a wild fermentation program. I can’t wait for that.
I wrote to Eric Foust from Bare Hands about Thai and Double Thai. He was so into the subject that he drank Thai.P.A.(s) while he responded to my questions. I cleaned the answers up a bit (beer never helps spelling) but I could tell he was enthusiastic about the subject of Double Thai Day. Eric said the original Thai.P.A. ending up being so popular that they couldn’t keep it on tap at the brewery taproom before the expansion in 2014.
Thai.P.A. is the mega-successful hop forward beer with the Asian flair that was one of the first releases from Bare Hands in 2011. The copious hops are accentuated and played off against the kaffir lime leaves, Thai ginger, and lemongrass in the beer, and the recipe hasn’t really changed from day one. But Chris Gerard realized there was more to mine in the Thai.P.A. field, so it wasn’t too long after Thai.P.A. made its debut that Double Thai came into being. Unfortunately, with the effort to make enough Thai.P.A., they all decided that it might be better to limit the Double Thai to a single release per year, but to throw a blowout party to help alleviate the pain of only being able to get it on a limited basis.
I want each and every one you reading this article – all five of you, to realize just how magnanimous Bare Hands is in offering Thai.P.A. and Double Thai to us alcoholics, er, hobbyists, at a reasonable price. The ingredients for these exotic beers are sourced from local Asian markets, but the amounts and changing availability make these beers expensive to brew. To make sure that we can all afford to purchase them, Bare Hands takes a lower profit on Thai and Double Thai on our behalf. Remember that when tipping your server and when deciding on whether those Bare Hands T-shirt and snifter are worth it. They’re thinking of you, so you should be thinking of them.
The difficulty in putting these beers out makes it all the more amazing that so many variants were offered for the Double Thai.P.A. this year. The tickets for the party included different options for variant bottles, the number of bottles in your allotment was based on the ticket you purchased. The tickets ran the gamut from GA, in which case you received no bottles of Double Thai or its variants, all the way to a nine bottle ticket in which the holder received four bottles of Double Thai, and one bomber of each of five variants.
I understand the ticketing issue; a brewery wants to make sure that their investment in these bombers will payoff, and that the variants will be sold as well. This is why bombers of Double Thai and the variants were not sold on the day of the release. If they had been available, who would have paid for the bottle allotments, and in turn, how would they have any clue as to how much might be needed. On the other hand, they knew that they were going to have many bottles, just in case sales went through the roof.
You never plan on having the exact number of bottles you anticipate needing. Therefore, Bare Hands had extras of Double Thai and all the variants – it would have been nice if those could have been put up for sale later during the party. I say this strictly from a self-serving point of view; our beer geek nephew arrives in a couple of days as he and his new bride move from San Diego to Boston. It would have been nice to have a bottle of Double Thai to send to the east coast with them. Walter and I are all about spreading the Indiana craft beer love across the country.
The bottles were there for pick up, but there were ample Bare Hands beer on tap during the release party for the rest of us, including the Thai.P.A., the Double Thai.P.A. and all its variants. Walter and I began with the Thai.P.A. just as an homage to the beer that started it all, and then moved on to the Double Thai. Let’s just say that “double” is an understatement. There was definitely more hop there, but the definite increase was in Asian flavors – the lemongrass, lime, and ginger.
Double IPAs traditionally come from the idea that they have double the hops, but that is a vast generality. More malts are also used, so DIPAs can run the gamut from hop bombs to very balanced beers that mimic American barleywines. The first DIPA was brewed about 23 years ago at Blind Pig Brewing in Temecula, CA, but this was closely followed by the I2PA from Rogue, which is still made to this day.
DIPAs are also called Imperial IPAs, as a tip of the hat to Russian Imperial stouts, the higher ABV version of the stout. This is only partly true though, since DIPAs or IIPAs usually have slightly higher ABVs as compared to IPAs, but certainly not double the ABV or even as big as most Russian Imperials.
The flavors of the Double Thai really won the day; it was like a drinking a nice meal, but also paired extremely well with the barbecue and other foods available Saturday. Surprisingly, it paired unusually well with the cornbread waffle with spicy chili from the Waffle Wagon. However, the spice award for the day was awarded to the Thai Peanut variant of Double Thai. The peanut butter was there, but the Thai bird chilies gave this beer a zing that I wasn’t expecting to be so strong.
Of the variants, Walter liked the Double Dry Hopped Double Thai. This was a great variant because it kept the best aspects of the Double Thai, but added the hop aroma from the dry hop. Other variants were good or interesting, but hid the several aspects of the Double Thai. This was most apparent in the Thai Milkshake DIPA, although it isn’t a straight variant of the base beer. The Thai Haze was interesting as well, but how you would make an ostensibly NE DIPA with Mosaic and Citra to give the fruit flavor and juiciness you would expect without losing the Thai spice is beyond me. The result was a hazy Double Thai without a lot of the aspects of the NE, but it was still dang good.
Even better, the Double Thai beers weren’t the only choices for the day. The Bare Hands Belgian golden strong was quite the find for me. Man! Was this beer good – it is exactly what I look for in a BGS, with some sweetness, some funk and fruit, and a good ethanol kick. It was every bit as good as the Muse from Daredevil, yet I had never had it before. The day was a success based on that find alone, but there were other beers to try as well. Bare hands offered more than 24 beers in total, including the Mail Order Bride and the very subtle blueberry version of that same beer, while the guest taps included the Folie a Deux from Heavenly Goat in Granger, the Tahitian Treat from Hope Lore in Leesburg.
The live music was almost continuous and was great, and the food trucks offered wonderful items, including a pulled pork sandwich from One Fourteen that was bigger than your head. But in the end, this day was about Double Thai and rejoicing in the fact that seeing it again means that we have cheated death for yet another year. Staying alive is one thing, but staying alive for a good reason is another, and I can’t think of a better reason (facetiously) than seeing the Double Thai come back into our lives for a short time.
A special shout out to Jessica Leonard and Chad Childers of Inklin Customs for my new avatar image. See them for all your Magic: The Gathering custom work – some of their acrylic custom cards are made by Anthony Noel of Zwybie’s Custom Works. See this article about his tap handles, flight boards, and other craft beer paraphernalia.
Walter’s Words of Wisdom (welcome back Twenty Tap edition) – There’s nothing better than homemade pickles.