Recipe Profile #2: Marilyn
I decided to profile Marilyn this time around. In many ways, it's very different from Valkyrie - light instead of dark, light versus heavy body, mild instead of heavily flavored, and more hop focused. I call it my "conversion beer" because it's the first beer I made that my dad liked. He's typically a Bud Light kind of guy. When I'm looking for a beer that has broad appeal, dad is one of my first taste testers.
Marilyn actually started out as two beers: a blonde ale called "Marilyn" [Monroe] and a Kölsch named "Marlene" [Dietrich]. Gentlemen prefer them, after all. This was during a time when I was brewing two 3 gallon batches every week to increase recipe turnover and help to develop my process. I would often make two beers that I wanted to compare. Dry Stout vs. a Sweet Stout. Munich Helles vs. Munich Dunkel. And so on. I was specifically aiming for a more accessible craft beer with these two, and wanted something with a little twist. I found it in Nelson Sauvin hops.
I chose Nelson Sauvin after reading that they smelled and tasted like Sauvignon Blanc grapes. I remember when I first opened the silvery pouch and took a big whiff. "I'll be damned," I thought, "that does smell like a white wine." I took them into the living room to give my wife a smell. I don't think she was nearly as excited as I was. Later on, after my dad and stepmom tried the first batches, they were trying to place the flavor. "White wine," I said. And I got the satisfying "that's it!"
Most folks preferred the blonde ale over the Kölsch, so she made the cut, and we've stuck with Marilyn ever since. Of course, I am never finished with a beer, and I kept messing with the recipe. First, I upped the hops to change the balance and get more of that awesome aroma and flavor. I also ended up using Wyeast 2565 Kölsch yeast because I preferred its performance. I overdid the hops in the second version, so I scaled back. I had also gone back to 5 gallon batches at that point. This was the most popular version I've done so far.
With the last brew, I tweaked the balance toward the late hops a little more and switched to Wyeast 1056 in the interest of standardization. That was the wrong choice, it seems, because it was not as well received by my folks. In the future, I'll switch back to the Kölsch yeast.
Moving forward, I plan to brew a basic Hefeweizen and a Bohemian Pilsner and see how they go over with the BMC crowd. If they're popular, they might get a rotation with the Nelson Sauvin hops and get the Marilyn label.