A friend tried to shock me by mentioning an unusual beer he’d heard about on tv. He’d seen it on the Food Network, and “you’re not going to believe it but it was donut flavored beer”.
Chocolate Donut Stout? Dude, I used to make it.
I was working at my first professional brewing job at Shenandoah Brewing Co in Alexandria, Virginia. SBC is a brewery, a pub, and a brew-your-own. Some customers on the brew-your-own side came up with the idea and the owner/head brewer, Anning Smith, developed the recipe.
It was so good, we started making it for the pub, and selling kegs of it to Bardo Rodeo in Arlington. And then came the Michael Jackson Beer Tasting at Dave Alexander’s RFD (Regional Food and Drink) in the Chinatown neighborhood of DC.
Dave Alexander is a force of nature. First he opens the Brickskeller in Georgetown (53 years ago!), then he and Diane started RFD (Regional Food and Drink). Both places feature an astonishing variety of beer, including plenty of obscure suds you can’t find at the local grocery store. Dave hosts beer tastings where brewers from the DC area (Maryland, Virginia, Delaware) would bring a keg to match the night’s theme: Winter Warmers, Summer Seasonals, whatever. Usually, he’d spread it over two nights. Bob Tupper, of Tupper’s Hop Pocket, served as genial host.
All the brewers sit together, and when your beer is being poured, you get up on stage and talk about it to the crowd. Jason Oliver would always recite a poem for his Christmas beer, Sam Calagione did a brilliant take-off one year, and everyone admired each other’s beer.
One night in 2005, Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter, was the guest of honor. What do you give a guy like that to taste? Anning had just the thing: Chocolate Donut Stout! The brewers table was joking about the lengths we’d go to in order to stand out. I was just the assistant brewer at Shenandoah, but Anning had me come up on stage with him. We actually rimmed the tasting glass with colored sprinkles before presenting it to Michael. Mr. Jackson was game and diplomatic in his comments. Hard to do when you’ve got colored sprinkles stuck to your beard.
Here’s the video from Food Network: