By Alex Puchner, Sr Vice President of Brewing Operations at BJ’s
If you frequent BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse around the holiday season, then you are probably familiar with BJ’s Grand Cru and are looking forward to its return this season. While you wait, here’s the story behind this sensational Belgian Style Pale Strong Ale that we have all come to crave, savor and love.
Back in 1999, we decided that we wanted to create a very special brew to celebrate the new millennium. In the Belgian tradition of brewing, the term “Grand Cru” is reserved for the strongest, spiced ale that a brewer produces. In other words, the term “Grand Cru” signifies the most masterful brew. And to celebrate such a big event like crossing into the 21st century from the 20th, it just made sense that we produce our best, that we give guests our best- BJ’s Annual Grand Cru.
Setting out to brew a best-in-class golden ale, we used a special Belgian yeast strain in the brewing process. Belgian yeast strains produce a lot of flavors during fermentation – fruity flavor compounds called esters or spicy flavor compounds called phenols. The Belgian yeast we brew with produces a good amount of both esters and phenols. In addition to this special Belgian yeast strain, we also spice the beer with bitter orange peel and coriander to contribute even more fruit and spice notes. All of these factors make for a layered beer, full of complexity and flavor.
For the first 10 years after Grand Cru’s creation, we would tweak the recipe every year. About 5 years ago, however, we decided not to mess with the perfection and we went back to producing the original recipe for all of our restaurants. It was this recipe that went on to win medals at both the World Beer Cup and GABF, and it is this recipe that has come to be beloved by our guests.
Although BJ’s Grand Cru was originally created to celebrate the New Year, it is the perfect complement to any holiday celebration. Which is why we have moved its release date up to Tuesday, November 11th, in advance of Thanksgiving. It’s an innocent looking beer with its golden hue and magnificent, creamy head, but it packs a punch at 10% ABV. It pairs perfectly with pretty much all the sweet and savory hearty foods that we love to indulge in around the holidays, including your Thanksgiving dinner.
We can hardly wait till our first sip of this year’s batch of BJ’s Grand Cru! Again, it’s tapping on November 11th at all BJ’s Restaurants & Brewhouse locations. Also, you can try Grand Cru at our Holiday Beer Dinners which will be going on from November 10-18th, to register visit: http://www.bjsrestaurants.com/beerdinners. Hope to see you soon to start our celebration of this wonderful time of year!
Angelo grew up in Maine and is proud to call New England his original home. Cascadia is now his home. He fell in love with great beer in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California.
He has been a correspondent for the Portland Tribune's Guest on Tap column, LivePDX.com, and has been featured in publications such as Beer Northwest and PDX Magazine. Angelo also has a great interest in independent music, and has been a booker and organizer for shows around the Portland under the name Pop Tomorrow! Angelo garnered much knowledge regarding beer from his experiences homebrewing, working at Belmont Station, Pyramid Brewing, Upright Brewing, By the Bottle, Beer Revolution, Olde Depot Public House, Falling Sky Brewing, Cascade Brewing, and from many many knowledgeable, passionate, and loving people along the way. It is Angelo's mission to bring "infotainment" and "edumation" to the readers of this website. If you have any questions or comments, or would like to contribute, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org