There we were, Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery (and soon-to-open South Park Brewing Company) head brewer Cosimo Sorrentino and yours truly sitting across each other at his East Village stomping grounds. The topic, what to infuse into a beer we would be brewing for my Beer to the Rescue lupus charity campaign. We’d determined the base style would be a Belgian-style singel, the lowest in alcohol of the monastic abbey ales. All that was left was to choose something seasonal to give it new and potentially outlandish depth. Cosimo read through two dozen fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Neither of us got very excited, but then he said “rhubarb” and our eyes lit up.
It’s not a high-profile edible, but ever since my first strawberry-rhubarb pie, I’ve loved this ingredient. I enjoy its natural tartness, and once used it to make an ginger- and orange-infused consommé for a poached lobster dish I paired with The Lost Abbey’s Flemish-style sour Red Poppy Ale. That’s the closest I’ve come to having rhubarb in beer, and it was delightful, so the prospect of incorporating it into our Beer to the Rescue offering was highly intriguing. Cosimo and I shook on it and, a few weeks later, he went through with the brew using 100 pounds of freshly juiced rhubarb procured from Escondido’s Stone Farms.
Dubbed LUP’d Up Singel (LUPUS), the beer made its official debut Thursday at Monkey Paw (805 16th Street, East Village). In addition to the rhubarb, the beer was dry-hopped with Azacca and Nelson Sauvin hops. The white wine nuances of the latter commingle nicely with the tartness of the rhubarb and fruity Belgian yeast esters, and the light body of the singel allows these complimentary flavors to show up in the finished product. It has far more character than most beers of this style, which tend to be watery and devoid of hop flavor. But it'll be flowing like water at Monkey Paw and numerous bars throughout San Diego County for the next month or so, with a portion of proceeds from all sales going to the Lupus Foundation of Southern California.