Lovers of Dust Bowl Brewing Company are familiar with the wide variety of craft beer available at their two Turlock taprooms. Now, the company has collaborated with Jasper Specialty Foods in Newman to bring beer connoisseurs a delicious treat just in time for the holidays: a sweet, yet salty beer brittle.
Dust Bowl co-owner Brett Tate has known Jasper Specialty Foods General Manager Jason Jasper since 1985, when Jasper was a player on the basketball team that Tate coached at Orestimba High School. Over the years, the two have kept in touch, but the relationship took a turn toward business two years ago when Jasper showed interest in creating beer brittle.
“Jason was looking at using beer in a few of his recipes in any kind of innovative way,” said Tate. “He’s always working to create new things, and he was excited to collaborate with another local business.”
Details of the beer brittle’s recipe were created in the fall, and a few months later, production began. There are two flavors of the beer brittle; one is made with Dust Bowl’s Taco Truck Lager, and the other with their Taco Truck Amber. The brittle is made from a secret recipe, said Harley Brinkman, product development manager for Jasper Specialty Foods.
“It took us a couple of tries before we got the right recipe,” said Brinkman. “It had to have the right consistency and just the right break on your teeth so that it doesn’t get stuck in them.”
Along with Dust Bowl’s Taco Truck Lager and Amber, other ingredients like butter, sugar and corn syrup combine with locally-grown Jasper Ranch almonds to create the savory brittle. This sets the brittle apart from its competitors, said Jasper, which often contain peanuts rather than almonds.
“You can’t find a product like this anywhere else that I’m aware of,” he said. “I’ve never seen a beer brittle with almonds.”
The top of the beer brittle is garnished with two different specialty salts, one for each beer flavor. The beer brittle made with Taco Truck Lager is topped with a lime salt, while the beer brittle made with Taco Truck Amber receives a dash of chili salt on its surface.
“The specialty salts really enhance the beer flavor,” said Brinkman. “It really gives it that taco truck feel.”
Another thing that sets the beer brittle apart from others is its size, Jasper said. While most brittle comes in large shards that must be broken apart to enjoy, this particular brittle comes packaged as bite-sized, one-inch squares – the perfect serving size.
The taste of beer in the brittle is not overpowering, said Dust Bowl Marketing and Public Relations coordinator Michelle Peterson. Instead, it simply accentuates the flavors already present in the brittle.
“You don’t have a strong, overpowering taste of beer in the brittle at all,” said Peterson. “The beer is a subtle note in the whole process – it splits the difference between the salty and sweet characteristics.”
Since the beer brittle has gone on sale, it has been flying off the shelves. The two different flavors of brittle are available for purchase at both Dust Bowl taprooms in Turlock, as well as Stewart & Jasper retail stores in Newman, Modesto, Patterson and Monterey.
Working with another local company to create a quality product has been a great experience, said Jasper.
“Really, it was a great partnership between having a great quality, local beer and high quality, local almonds,” he said. “To take the time out of our busy lives to be able to work together like this and develop a product like this has been really fun.”
“It’s been a perfect marriage between us,” said Peterson. “We are both companies who believe in hand-crafted, local products.”
The local aspect of the beer brittle also makes it a great holiday gift, Peterson added.
“People feel connected to it, and feel like they’re giving a piece of their community when they send this gift to their family and friends, and it’s even more satisfying to give something as fun as beer brittle.”