No one precisely agrees on why it's called a half-smoke, though. Some say it's because the filling is a combination of equal parts ground beef and pork. Others say it refers to the way it's cooked, starting in a smoker before being finished on the grill.
Regardless, it is delicious (especially with hot onions and mustard), and a new brewery in Southeast, D.C. has created a beer designed to replicate the flavor of the half-smoke. The beer is The Butcher and it sounds like everything we want contained in a glass. The German doppelbock is the brainchild of Greg Engert, who runs the beer program of the highly-regarded Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which owns Bluejacket Brewery. From Esquire.com:
This year Engert also began wielding his beer knowledge, and unique flavor profile concept, for one of the most highly anticipated new breweries in America, Bluejacket Brewing. With help from Bluejacket’s brewmaster Megan Parisi, Engert wanted to craft a beer that could literally fill the spot of a half-smoke on the menu at any restaurant in town.
How he achieved it was to think outside the meat box.
For [its] half-smoke [NRG's butcher] smokes, duh, half the sausage filling over cherrywood, applewood, and hickory while also including some porter beer in the recipe. Hearing this, Engert thought, oh my god, let’s simply do a reversal – smoke Bluejacket’s malts over Anda’s half-smoke woods to create a uniquely meaty beer.
And they put serious care into this beer.
Engert came up with the clever idea to smoke his malts at various intensities to create further complexity. Starting with 1250 pounds of grain, the Bluejacket team smoked just 15 percent of it, further dividing that into thirds: a third smoked for 75 minutes, a third for 90 minutes, and the final third for 120 minutes. Finally, Engert and Parisi took Anda’s own unique half-smoke spice blend – which includes sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, white cardamom, mustard seed, and nutmeg – and added it both during the brewing “whirlpool” and post-fermentation.
The result is a 7% ABV sausage beer. Yes and please. Also, it's vegetarian-friendly, if anyone cares (Answer: No). Unfortunately though, it's only available at the brewery. Road trip?
[Sausage image via Shutterstock]