Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:26
When you hear that we tried "Randall the Enamel Animal," you might think we're taking our turn on a new sort of mechanical bull—or digging in to some mystery meat at the food truck.
But no, it's "just" a new-age (ish) way to enjoy your suds at the Gainesville House of Beer. Elliott Doolittle tried it to report back on the Randallization taking University Avenue by storm.
Although a relative newcomer to the Gainesville beer scene, House of Beer has been around. Initially established in 2008 over in Dunedin, the bar expanded to Palm Harbor in 2010 before making its most recent jump to Gainesville last September. Located in the heart of downtown on the corner of University Avenue and Southwest First Street, the bar houses 40 different beer taps in addition to a small selection of wine and bottled beers.
Co-owner Mike Aguis says that the goal of House of Beer is to provide craft beer in a friendly, unintimidating atmosphere.
"We also try to present our guests with many unique events," he says, "like our 'Take-It-Home' Tuesdays, where we spotlight a different brewery each week with a tap takeover and glassware giveaways, or our 'Randall the Enamel Animal' nights each Thursday."
Ah, yes. We've heard about this so-called beast.
Randall the Enamel Animal is a device invented by Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewery—something that they refer to as an "organoleptic hop transducer module." In simpler terms, it's a sort of filter that connects to a keg of beer and is used to enhance its flavor through the use of added ingredients, namely—but certainly not limited to—hops.
House of Beer has experimented with a number of unique flavors. A couple of recent examples are Cigar City's Bone Valley Brown Ale, infused with cherries and cinnamon sticks, and Brooklyn Brewery's Maple Porter, infused with more than a pound of bacon that was slow-cooked in brown sugar.
"My favorite so far has been Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale with Ancho chiles," says bar manager James Chapnick. "The flavor was so complex: sweet raisin flavors, savory sun-dried tomato, and just a touch of heat that went so well with the slightly roasted, chocolaty notes of Maduro. It was like a Mole sauce or something."
James—a certified beer cicerone (which is like a wine sommelier, only for beer)—handles the flavor pairings for the Randall.
"The decision-making process pretty much goes one of two ways," he says. "Either I think of an ingredient that sounds like it would impart a lot of flavor and would make a good candidate for Randallization, or I pick the beer first and pair based on that."
The Randall at House of Beer is one of 280 units manufactured by Dogfish Head, and also the third and final generation of its design. The brewery has ceased production of the Randall, but does provide building plans for those interested in creating their own. As a relatively rare device, it's something that James is glad to have available at the bar.
"It's cool because the Randall isn't just a gimmick," he says. "It really works, and it works well."
Sounds fresh from the pages of the magazine