The malty aroma of freshly brewed beer and the sweet smell of baked donuts are familiar to many Manhattan residents who frequent Aggieville and Poyntz. To many locals, beer and donuts may not sound immediately compatible, but perhaps it is time to reconsider. Manhattan Brewing Company and Varsity Donuts, both locally owned, are pushing culinary limits by combining their expertise to craft a maple bacon donut-flavored beer.
Kevin Peirce, an owner of Varsity Donuts, said the flavor idea came from their most-enjoyed delicacy.
“One of our most popular donuts is the maple bacon donut, so we just thought ‘what if we made a beer out of it?’” Peirce said. “It’s not a combination of what you’d normally think of, but it’s going to be good.”
Jake Voegeli, an owner of Manhattan Brewing Company, said the idea sprang from Manhattan Brewing Company’s mission to collaborate more with other local businesses.
“When Manhattan Brewing Company started asking about these partnerships, it was a no-brainer for us,” Peirce said. “We dumped 50 pounds of maple bacon donut mash into a beer vat with smoked malt … making a stout, thick, dark and very sweet beer.”
The result of the brew is the new Varsity MBD Stout, short for “Varsity maple bacon donut stout.”
Macey Willard, junior at K-State, said she was impressed by the quirkiness of the beer.
“I think brewing beer with donuts is very unique,” Willard said. ”I’ve never heard of it being done before.”
Both Voegeli and Peirce said the beer is set to be on tap at the end of February. It will be at least another three weeks before the beer is done brewing. The Varsity MBD Stout can be purchased after its release at Manhattan Brewing Company. Other local vendors, such as Bluestem Bistro, may also purchase the beer to sell at their businesses.
“The donuts are really cool because when we throw them into the vat to brew, the yeast eats the sugar and creates alcohol, meaning the sugar ferments,” Voegeli said. “So the sugar from the donuts gives the beer both alcohol and flavor.”
Voegeli said the maple-tasting beer will be about 10-12% alcohol. Due to the higher alcohol content, it will be sold in 8-ounce glasses costing $6-$7.50 per beer.
“It seems a little expensive for an 8-ounce glass, but considering it’s twice the alcohol percentage of most beers you can get for $4, I don’t think it’s too bad,” Willard said. “It’s either going to be a great beer or one of those things you try once just to say you did it.”
Collaborating with Varsity Donuts is just the start, as Manhattan Brewing Company is planning ideas with other local businesses to make their own unique beers, Voegeli said. The Varsity MBD Stout won’t be the only collaboration beer Manhattan will see in the next few months.
“We are getting ready to do a beer with Rock-A-Belly Deli next month,” Voegeli said. “It’s not ready yet, but it’s going to be a fruity, raspberry brown ale. It’s an old recipe that Rich Markle, the owner of Rock-A-Belly, used when he brewed a long time ago.”
The brewery’s newest beer on tap will certainly be exciting for Manhattan residents who love shopping locally, Voegeli said.
“We love locals … and people love Manhattan Brewing Company and Varsity, so this is a great marriage of the two,” Voegeli said. “It’s an awesome collaboration with two great Manhattan businesses that’s long overdue, and we don’t know why we waited so long.”