Particular Ingredient: Marzipan | Craft Beer & Brewing

I hadn’t tasted marzipan till I used to be an grownup, the primary time I visited Germany. I hadn’t encountered it earlier than then. The Germans go nuts for the gently candy, toothsome, clay-like paste constituted of almonds—and so does most of Europe, the place it is nearly ubiquitous, particularly across the holidays.

Nonetheless, marzipan is not particularly well-liked in North America. It is not that we do not prefer it—as a result of until you might have a nut allergy, who would not like marzipan?—it is simply that we do not eat it a lot. Usually, we simply promote it as an ingredient known as “almond paste,” which strikes me as useful and missing in romance. Nonetheless, our paste exists on a marzipan spectrum that features French pate d’amande and numerous variations with barely completely different substances world wide.

No matter you name it, our North American traditions usually do not embrace it.

Possibly it is time to begin new traditions—as a result of here is a cool factor about marzipan: Stealthily, it’s extremely American. It is largely almonds, and the overwhelming majority of these are grown within the Unites States—primarily California. Almond groves are such an enormous endeavor there, in line with one report, that greater than half of US honeybees are employed of their pollination. (Notably, honey can be a typical ingredient in marzipan.) Europe will get the majority of its almonds for marzipan immediately from america.

So, if we will unfold the Gospel of Marzipan on these shores, I feel everyone knows a very good medium for it: beer. Marzipan’s comforting taste—candy, nutty, and nearly cherry-like with that deep almond character—evokes festive muffins, cookies, and pastries. It is easy to think about its compatibility with malt-forward beers—and particularly with stout and porter.

Certainly, a number of brewers in each Europe and North America have launched “marzipan” beers. Nonetheless, they’re typically utilizing toasted almonds or flavors extracts to simulate its taste, somewhat than including precise marzipan through the brewing course of. For instance, 3 Nations in Carrollton, Texas, brews a marzipan model of its Religious Imperial Golden Stout; it consists of almond extract and low. At The Bruery in Placentia, California, for the barrel-aged imperial stout Marzipandemonium, they add “almond character” plus vanilla “to imitate the candy, nutty notes present in marzipan.”

Whereas these outcomes could also be scrumptious, we’re extra inquisitive about tips on how to use marzipan itself as an ingredient.

For ideas we flip to Brian Rooney, cofounder of BKS Artisan Ales in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. Rooney has been experimenting with completely different almond-paste merchandise, in addition to how and when so as to add them. That culminated just lately in Holstein: Chocolate Marzipan, a variation on their Holstein milk stout. Due to its wealthy malt invoice, Holstein has extra heft than its 6 p.c ABV would recommend. Rooney says the beer started as a “blissful accident” and have become one thing like a “session imperial stout.”

The thought so as to add marzipan got here naturally to Rooney. “My mother is 100% Swedish,” he says, “and in Swedish tradition, marzipan is a fairly well-liked candy that is on the market. So I grew to become fairly acquainted with it.”

The product that Rooney settled on is solely labeled “almond paste,” and it consists of almonds and sugar in addition to bitter almond oil. That final ingredient apparently provides the product an fragrant efficiency that may manifest within the beer as cherry-like almond, just like amaretto. Rooney’s recommendation to fellow brewers when selecting a product: “Have a look at the substances which can be in it and select properly.”

For instance, you could account for the sugar, which will not add taste however will have an effect on fermentation, relying on whenever you add it. Have a look at how a lot precise almond is in there versus sugar and different substances, he says. The almond oil or extract that is within the marzipan may additionally have a surprisingly potent impact, Rooney says, so begin small and go from there.

“The flavour that comes with it’s extremely highly effective, so train some warning with it,” he says. He recommends attempting about one ounce per gallon (or 7.5 grams per liter) to begin, if including on the chilly facet, throughout or after fermentation. From there, you may regulate quantity and call time to get the depth you need. Placing the marzipan in a muslin bag can be a good suggestion—it should maintain a lot of the solids from moving into suspension, whereas nonetheless giving the beer entry to the oils and aromatics.

Another choice: Add the marzipan to the kettle on the recent facet, maybe at flameout. In that case, Rooney suggests doubling or tripling the amount to realize an identical degree of aroma. Benefits embrace instantly sterilizing the marzipan, simply to be on the secure facet, and the simplicity of giving its sugars to the yeast in main fermentation.

Everytime you add it, Rooney suggests treating it the identical means as one other fragrant ingredient: “Consider cacao nibs, as a result of that is the way in which it carries,” Rooney says. “As a result of there’s really almond oil in it, very concentrated.”

Talking of cacao: Take into account pairing the marzipan with some high quality nibs for a lift of taste. With Holstein: Chocolate Marzipan, Rooney selected nibs from Produits Des Iles SA (PISA), a cacao processor and exporter in Haiti, through Kansas Metropolis chocolatier Christopher Elbow. He says these Haitian nibs have their very own fruity and nutty character that reminds him of cherry and almond. “I believed that if we used this cacao, it would give that impression of a extremely good marzipan,” he says. “I used to be completely blown away by how a lot nutty cherry character we get out of it.” Working with several types of cacao, he provides, “opens up an entire completely different world of pastry expressions.”

Lastly, some security recommendation: As with every sugary ingredient, do not add marzipan and instantly package deal it, or chances are you’ll be creating an explosive through refermentation. Additionally, make it clear to any potential drinkers that your marzipan beer incorporates nuts—these allergy symptoms aren’t any joke.

In the meantime, I am considering a marzipan stout could also be simply the yuletide deal with to share with family and friends subsequent season. And if I occur to purchase only a tad extra marzipan than I would like for the beer, effectively, I needn’t share that with anybody.

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