Potica is the queen of desserts in Slovenia. This traditional nut pastry has been the centerpiece of festivities, celebrations, and memories for hundreds and hundreds of years here on the south side of the Alps. Yet, Potica is not just a traditional food – it’s a staple of Slovenian life. Every family has their own rendition of Potica, and this happens to be ours.
A Pastry Stout is one of the most labor-intensive beers to make – we start the brew day morning with more than eleven different types of fermentables, including several variations of light and dark barley, oats, and sugars. Two complete and consecutive mashes ensure that we are packing as much flavor and strength into the beer as possible before we move on to the boil, which is long and steady in order to caramelize the sugars in the wort, making a thick and sweet finished product, with enough Slovenian hops to cut through and create an earthy balance to the sweetness. After the boil is finished, we send it off to stainless steel tanks to ferment. The finishing gravity is still quite high which gives it its trademark characteristics: Heavy, opaque, and dessert-like. Cake in a glass.
To transform our Pastry Stout into Potica, we cannot just throw tons of Potica into the beer; we need to break down Potica into the ingredients that are agreeable with beer. Potica is a dessert pastry that is full of walnuts, often accompanied with rum and cinnamon. So, we spend an entire day toasting fresh whole walnuts in our fired oven, crushing them, soaking them in rum, mixing them with vanilla and cinnamon, and then putting this sweet-tooth slurry into an empty tank before transferring the Pastry Stout into the same vessel. The beer will spend a few weeks on top of these pieces of Potica, absorbing as much flavor as possible, until our tastings have matched our expectations.
To give it that little bit of extra magic, one of our brewers has his grandmother make one loaf of Potica every time we brew it. Some slices are thrown into the tank with the Pastry Stout, and the rest is happily consumed in celebration of another successful Potica stout brew day.
All in all, this is a special brew for special occasions. It is a rich and complex concoction made for sharing with friends, family, and fellow craft beer connoisseurs. It is liquid potica. Cake in a glass.