OK, I drank all the Cool Rooster. That’s why there’s no picture of it. But the brown bag is also a tribute to sultry summer nights sitting on the stoop in front of a Brownstone, in a city somewhere from Boston to St. Louis to Atlanta. I never did that, but I hope I can relate.
A few years ago I was in a Washington DC liquor store, and picked up a can of Coqui 900 malt liquor. I admit, I bought it for the name. It turned out to be an acceptable brew, not worthy of the bad reputation American malt liquor usually carries. This got me to thinking, “What if they brewed malt liquor to taste great, not as a cheap drunk?” I was on a quest.
I looked over my collection of beer cans and sought further inspiration: Magnum Malt Liquor; Golden Hawk Classic; Country Club. Finally, I turned to one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits: Cold Cock Malt Liquor, featuring Tim Meadows as the urbane host of a serious party. Ellen Cleghorn tells him “You one malt liquor picker!” Chris Rock gets socked in the chin by the label art and declares “Proper!” I wanted to make a proper malt liquor.
The literature says American malt liquors are distinguished by malty sweetness, with medium body and light bitterness. They should be pale gold in color, with a modest hop flavor and a little “skunky” nose. Like many light American beers, malt liquor has a substantial amount of corn sugar, rice solids, or flaked corn; in this case they’re used to bring the ABV up to about 8 percent.
Cool Rooster starts with 750 grams of pale barley malt, together with 450 grams of flaked corn, 250 grams each of honey (aromatic) malt and 10L crystal malt, 100 grams of Cara-Pils, and 15 grams of black malt. These are mashed with the single-step infusion method. Then 2.7 kilos of Munton dry malt extract, 410 grams of corn sugar, and 450 grams of rice solids are added. The boil is bittered with 20 grams of Chinook hops, flavored with 15 grams of Liberty, and 15 grams of Centennial hops. The boiled wort is topped up with filtered water to make a batch of 23 liters volume. Starting gravity is 17.5 Plato.
For this brew I pitched Safale US-05 . This is an American ale yeast with a high tolerance for alcohol, producing a very clear beer with a nice crisp balance, and a creamy head. The beer fermented out to 2.75 Plato, indicating a finished ABV of 8.4 percent. Six months aging really smoothes it out.
Cool Rooster is a strong gold color, with a white firm head. It has a malty nose, with a slight hop aroma. Its smooth flavor does not feature much of the corn addition, finishing fairly dry with a tasty bitter touch. A nice example of real American Malt Liquor’s style, Cool Rooster packs a punch–Proper!