Drink this: The Companion

How do you make a beer about a book? With the Companion, brewmaster Garrett Oliver provides a tasty answer.

Brooklyn Brewery Companion Ale

Brooklyn Brewery Companion Ale Photograph: Christopher Lehault; idrunkthat.com

Some books are destined for the silver screen, but it seems only fitting that The Oxford Companion to Beer should have its second life in a beer glass. To devise a quaffable accompaniment to the weighty tome, brewmaster Garrett Oliver teamed up with the book's associate editor Horst Dornbusch and German malt expert Thomas Kraus-Weyermann to re-create an old-fashioned wheat wine—a strong ale similar to barley wine but dosed with a significant amount of wheat malt. For the occasion, Kraus-Weyermann produced the floor-malted wheat in his Bamberg, Germany, facility, sprouting and drying the grains through a traditional, painstaking process that's practically defunct among modern brewers. "I wanted to brew something that would obviously taste nice, but would also give people a window into this [artisanal technique] and a flavor profile they simply would not have seen before," says Oliver. The hard work pays off in the lush, slightly cloudy Companion ale, which serves as the latest installment in Brooklyn Brewery's limited-release Brewmaster's Reserve series. While barley wines can be divisive, walloping drinkers over the head with boozy sweetness, the wheat mellows the beer's bold edges, adding a smooth backbone of grain and citrus while allowing the soft, orange-tinged fruitiness of the house yeast to shine through. At 9.1 percent ABV, it's gentle yet formidable—ideal for savoring while falling down the rabbit hole
of beer history. Available at Blind Tiger Ale House, 281 Bleecker St at Jones St (212-462-4682). $6.50.

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