Dec 5, 2014
The Lion, the Witch and the Beerdrobe: An Oral History of Evil Twin’s Turkish Delight
I was introduced to the magical, allegorical world of Narnia as a chubby schoolboy at P.S. 88. This fortuitous first encounter occurred when my fourth grade class read the most popular of C.S. Lewis’ seven novels in his The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe.
An early chapter of Wardrobe, which was published in 1950, details a devious encounter between the White Witch, Jadis, who has usurped control over Narnia with a wintery deathgrip, and Edmund Pevensie, one of three children to accidently discover the fantasy realm by entering… the wardrobe. She attempts to win his fealty with copious amounts of Turkish Delight, a gelatinous dessert covered in powdered sugar, which he devours, a tangible symbol of his insatiable greed.
Turkish Delight is actually a thing, shaped like pudgy squares and sometimes packed with pistachios or flavored by rosewater. I had never heard of the confection before my discovery of Narnia, but I recall badly wanting to eat some after digesting Lewis’ description. “Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious,” he wrote.
Though I never found Turkish Delight to taste as an intrigued schoolboy, the time has arrived to satisfy my decades-long craving—well, kinda-sorta.
Yep: Evil Twin has released a beer named Turkish Delight. The recipe does not feature the enchanted dessert conjured by Jadis, but instead has espresso and cardamom in an attempt to replicate the flavor of Turkish coffee, which refers to a style of preparation more than a specific type of bean. That’s close enough!
As owner of Evil Twin Brewing, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø could be accurately labeled as The White Witch of Beer; the gypsy brewer’s offbeat and innovative recipes—in his latest Nomadic Brews column for Vice, for example, Bjergsø detailed a recent trip to Norway to brew a stout with pizza and money—has seduced a global legion of followers. His penchant for collaborations is also favored by his fans: Bjergsø has made a buttload of widely acclaimed beers with heavyweights like Prairie Artisanal Ales (Bible Belt), BrewDog (Hello My Name is Sonja), Jack’s Abby (Jack’s Evil Brew), and Stillwater Artisanal Ales (Classique Imperiale).
A one-off release for now, Turkish Delight partnered Bjergsø with Joe Carroll, owner of the holy brew-and-chew trinity of Williamsburg: Spuyten Duyvil, St. Anselm, and Fette Sau (to avoid any issues on selling the beer outside of Carroll’s businesses, the trio is cryptically referred to as the “food and beverage triangle on Metropolitan Ave in Brooklyn” on its label). The rich brown-aled base is given depth by toffee and chocolate flavors, spiciness, and espresso and cardamom aromas. It’s now pouring at Fette, and will likely make appearances at Spuyten and Anselm over the weekend, according to Carroll. We spoke with both sides to get the scoop on its creation.
Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø: I moved to Brooklyn three years ago. I had heard of Joe before and been to his places—the first time to Spuyten the year they opened in 2004. After I moved here, we became good friends through the scene. Making beer with friends makes most sense.
Joe Carroll: It happened naturally. Just by chance, Jeppe and I live in the same complex in Williamsburg. And just by chance, my mother-in-law lives in the same town as Westbrook in South Carolina, which is where Jeppe brews a lot of his beers now. I’m down there once a year, and we had talked about doing a beer the next time. So we planned to do it in late August.
JJB: Joe has so much going on with his three—four now, actually—places, but they’re all connected in some way, and not just geographically. I liked the idea of doing a beer to cover them all. We had a totally different idea than Turkish Delight at first but that didn’t work out.
JC: The original idea, believe it or not, was to brew a beer with brisket. That would have tied in with the meat aspect of Fette Sau and St. Anselm. But we didn’t register it in time with the TTB. We just missed the deadline by days.
JJB: I’ve brewed with meat before—a stout aged on Spanish black foot ham and another aged on beef jerky—and really liked the result. You get this meaty, salty taste that suits some beer styles well. The idea was to do a beer with meat to combine what I do and what Joe do for a living but it didn’t work out that way; so we switched gears.
JC: We needed a new idea. I was a homebrewer in the ’90s and I had this beer I made in 94 or 95. It was a brown ale, really high-in-alcohol, with honey, vanilla, and cardamom in it. I think I still have one in the basement of Spuyten somewhere. I had wanted to throw coffee beans in it too, but I never got the chance.
JJB: I loved the idea. Bringing Joe’s ideas from his homebrewing days to life just made sense. I have brewed with coffee before, but most often when brewing stouts, so to make a brown ale with coffee and then add cardamom was intriguing.
JC: My homebrew was nearly 12 percent ABV, but we didn’t want an intense beer like that for Turkish Delight. We shot for a rich, malty beer, good for after dinner, with cardamom as the main attraction and we achieved that. Cardamom is an interesting spice. Very aromatic. It works with both savory and sweet. I think it pairs really well with meat.
JJB: The cardamom is more on the nose. Definitely not overpowering. The beer actually reminds me of Christmas, which is suitable for the time of year. And the coffee gives a nice roastiness to balance the malts. I’m happy with it.
JC: I’m also happy with it. If we collaborate again, I rather do a different beer, though. Maybe the brisket, or something else entirely different; I’m sure we can think of something fun.
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