Browsing articles tagged with " Head Brewer"
On my recent travels I was lucky enough to attend a beer pairing dinner at Long Valley Brewing in Long Valley, New Jersey. Beer pairing dinners are becoming more popular and if you ever get the opportunity you should definitely give it a shot. If done properly it’s every bit as good if not better than a wine pairing dinner. My wife and I have been to several and have always thoroughly enjoyed them. Nestled in the hills of New Jersey, Long Valley was settled by Germans and originally called German Valley. The name was changed to Long Valley during World War I. The brewery’s home is located in a stone barn built that was built in 1771. It has a wonderful ambience with stone walls, rough hewn beams and a high vaulted ceiling. For overall character it is one of my favorite brewpubs.
The Beer Tasting Dinner prepared by head chef Juan Mujica consisted of an appetizer, and 5 courses with a different beer pairing each.
The appetizer was a Brick Oven Pizza topped with hops, served with a cask conditioned IPA. The pizza was quite tasty with just a hint of hops. Loved the IPA. It was poured by the head brewer Joe Saia. I asked him what the ABV and IBU’s were, but he did not have the information with him. Great match. The IPA had great hop aroma and was smooth and balanced. While waiting for dinner to start I met Joe Freiday who at one time was an assistant brewer at Long Valley. We ended up sharing a table as he regaled me with stories of brewing on the east coast.
First Course: Shrimp Creole
Sauteed Shrimp with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes cooked with their German Valley Amber in a lemon garlic aioli topped with fresh cilantro. Paired with the German Valley Amber. The moderate malt sweetness and hop bitterness in the German Valley Amber balanced well with and helped cut the spice of the shrimp Creole. Light roasted malts and low hop bitterness. Medium malt body and sweetness with low hop bitterness. ABV 5.75%, IBU’s 25
Second Course: Spinach Salad
Baby Spinach, red onion, portabella mushroom, and roasted tomatoes served with a warm bacon vinaigrette made with their Hookerman’s Light. Topped with a deviled egg and paired with Hookerman’s Light. Hookerman’s light is named after a local legend who lost his arm in a railroad accident and wanders the tracks at night carrying a lantern looking for it. This beer is Long Valley’s lightest offering. An American wheat ale with a refreshing fruity aroma with a delicate flavor and body. The clean fresh floral finish went very well with the spinach salad. ABV 4.25%, IBU’S 15
Third Course: Chicken Caprese
Pan seared chicken, fresh buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, roasted red peppers, topped with an American Pale Ale balsamic reduction. Served with American Pale Ale. The reduced balsamic vinegar added a very pleasing sweetness to the chicken, whereas the Pale Ale balanced agreeably with the mozzarella, basil and roasted peppers. Their American Pale Ale has a moderate hop aroma with low malt notes. Medium bodied with a refreshing hop bitterness, which lingers a bit. A very nice Pale Ale. ABV 5.25%, IBU’s 25
Fourth Course: Osso Buco
Braised Osso Bucco served with a white bean casserole, sautéed broccoli rabe with roasted garlic and topped with a Barleyville Rye sauce. The veal was very tender and fell easily off the shank. The broccoli rabe was a little bitter for my taste. With a moderate spice in the aroma and a medium full-bodied mouthfeel, the Barleyville Rye really enhanced the flavor of the Osso Busco. ABV 4.5%, IBU’S 12
Fifth Course: Hazelnut Irish Coffee Cake
This decadent cake was served with vanilla ice cream and paired with Long Valley’s award winning Lazy Jake Porter. Lazy Jake has won three medals at the Great American Beer Festival and one at the World Beer Cup. Try replacing a cup of coffee with a Stout or Porter for a real treat with your dessert. Full bodied, with a robust roasted malt, coffee, toffee and hints of chocolate. Lazy Jake went great with this desert and accented the hazelnut in the cake. Lazy Jake is named after a dog owned by the carpenter who did much of the work when the brewery was being built. ABV 5%, IBU’S 30
If you call in advance you might be able to schedule a tour of the brewery with brew master Joe Saia. This is definitely a brew pub I will visit again.
Long Valley Pub and Brewery
1 Fairmount Road
Long Valley, NJ 07853
Don Williams has been a home brewer since 2002. He is a recognized BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, and has taught brewing classes. Don’s job requires extensive travel, and he enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Cottonwood, CA.
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When Kevin Clark took up home brewing, he never imagined it would be the path to an entirely new career. But that’s exactly what happened and the south Salinas resident said he couldn’t be happier.
Sitting one foggy morning at a table in Peter B’s Brewpub, where he is the head brewer, Clark traced the series of events that brought him to this position at the relatively young age of 30.
Clark’s parents moved to Monterey County about 12 years ago. He explained that he “followed in his father’s footsteps” and went into construction after high school.
When the economy took a dive, Clark said he was “invited” to take some time off. Because he was working on his degree in humanities and communication at California State University, Monterey Bay, he needed to find another job.
“I ended up working at Passionfish [restaurant] in Pacific Grove and it was there that I learned about good wine and beer,” he explained. The more he learned about beer and its production, the more the young man played around with the idea of trying some home brewing.
In 2008 Clark’s wife, Corrie, bought him a starter’s brewing kit. It was a little too rudimentary, so Clark returned it for something that wasn’t using a can of extract to create the beer.
“I had more respect for beer than to do that, so we went to Seven Bridges, a home brew shop in Santa Cruz, and purchased something a little more hands-on,” he said. “The next day I brewed my first batch of beer. It was about a 10-hour process and it wasn’t the best beer I have ever made but it was consumable.”
Once he completed that first batch, Clark was hooked. It didn’t take long before his friends and family knew what he was up to and there were plenty of folks willing to sample the product.
The more he created his home brews, the more Clark wanted to know about the craft of beer making. “Once you get into it, you really want to know everything,” he said, explaining that he began building a home library on brewing.
About the time he was seriously getting into home brewing, Clark was also assessing what he wanted to do with his life after he got his college degree. At this point Clark told his wife he wanted to do “whatever it takes” to become a professional brewer.
Tamarack Brewing, Lakeside
Josh Townsley, owner of Tamarack Brewing Co. in Lakeside, has tried to create more than a place for beer lovers.
“Our mission statement is to create high-quality beer and food in a community-based atmosphere,” he said. “We wanted to get the feeling of a gathering place for people from all walks of life.”
Townsley and his family came to the Flathead Valley to start Tamarack when they were looking to move out of Arizona. Townsley had been part of the state’s largest brewing company, Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe.
He opened Tamarack as a full-service restaurant and brewery in July 2007. The establishment has 12 beers on tap, with eight staples and four seasonal brews.
“We try to keep things new and exciting and fresh,” he said of the rotating stock of beers.
Tamarack offers numerous community-friendly options, with trivia night on Tuesdays and a charity tap night on Wednesdys, when 75 cents from each pint sold is donated to a local charity.
Tamarack also has extended its reach to Missoula, opening a restaurant there, which also has 12 Tamarack beers on tap, in April 2011.
Tamarack’s flagship brew is the Yard Sale amber ale, which Townsley said can be found on tap throughout the valley.
He said that people generally start out on the lighter side in their first introduction to craft beer.
“People will try a blonde ale, it’s crisp and clean, and much more full-bodied than what they’re used to with mass-produced beer,” he said. “Then they try an amber and darker, then branch out and grow, the same way I fell in love with beer. You become more of a connoisseur.”
Flathead Lake Brewing, Bigfork
Flathead Lake Brewing Co. manager Sandy Clare attributes the recent escalation of the brewery’s beer sales to “a perfect storm” of circumstances.
First, she said, the beers produced by head brewer Tim Jacoby have generated and maintained a public following in the eight years since the business has opened in its current site in Woods Bay, 5 miles south of Bigfork.
Then she believes that publicity work by marketing director Blake Nicolazzo has attracted a great deal of recent attention.
“We’ve cleaned up our logo and renamed our beers, reintroduced our look,” she said. “It’s very new and different and our artwork is really bold and fresh.
“We’ve always had great beer and combine that with neat branding, and then we have a great sales director [Nate Willete] out pounding the streets.”
In about a year, Flathead Lake Brewing Co. expects to move to accommodate the extreme growth into the old home of the North Shore Lanes bowling alley in Bigfork.
The building will be split into a restaurant on one side and the production facility on the other. It’s a time-consuming project, in part because Flathead Lake Brewing Co. is going to be housed in a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building project.
“We’re doing everything as environmentally friendly as possible,” Clare said. “We’ll be the second LEED brewery in the U.S. Hopefully we’ll be leading the way with innovative design that’s exciting. It’s taking some time because we have to do everything very specifically.”
Flathead Lake Brewing Co.’s most popular beers are the Centennial IPA and Two Rivers Pale Ale. The brewery makes around a dozen types of beer, from the light Wild Mile Wheat to the very dark 369 Stout.
“We think Flathead people and Montanans are hearing about our beer and demanding it,” Clare said.
Glacier Brewing, Polson
Glacier Brewing Co. owner Dave Ayers had years of experience at microbreweries in Colorado before opening his place in Polson 10 years ago.
He had dreamed of opening a brewery in Montana for years, starting with an epiphany during a drive from Fort Collins, Colo., to visit his girlfriend, who was working as a naturalist in Glacier National Park.
It was many years later, when he had married the girlfriend and had children and was working as the head brewer of a pub in Telluride, Colo., that he actually took the leap along with his wife and brother-in-law.
He found a used brewing system in California on the Internet, took it down there and installed it at the Polson site, which was an old racquetball facility at the time Glacier Brewing moved in.
That original brewing system is still in use.
“In the summer it’s working so hard that it becomes red hot,” he said. “It would be nice to have a bigger system in the summer. In the winter, we would like bigger demand.”
Ayers said Glacier Brewing calls itself a German alehouse, brewing all of its beers using the ale technique. The lagers and hybrids also are brewed in the manner of ales, “so we have a quicker turnaround time in the tanks,” he said.
“That’s absolutely necessary in the summer. Once a tank is packaged, it’s sold.”
Glacier Brewing has a good-sized tasting room, the Tap Room, with seats for around 100 people, and another 120 seats in the outdoor beer garden. Glacier Brewing at one time had the biggest tasting room in Montana, but with the growth of the industry, it has lost that distinction, Ayers said.
“I like it when people ask how business is going,” he said. “I tell them we are open 12 months a year, and for a small Montana retail and manufacturing business, it’s a neat trick if you can do that.”
Desert Mountain Brewing, Columbia Falls
Though Desert Mountain Brewing will be the smallest brewery in the valley when it opens, the selection will be anything but.
“Because we’re so small, we’re planning to do a lot of experimentation and brew a number of beers that are unique,” owner Kelley Christensen said. “We want people to come to our brewery and try something different they can’t get anywhere else.”
As well as brewing the standard beers — an India Pale Ale, stout, porter, amber and wheat — in their four-barrel system, Christensen and her husband, Shawn, plan to do some experimenting. They hope to make a heather beer (heather makes the beer purple), as well as fruit flavors such as cherry, huckleberry, pumpkin and apricot. They will also make a root beer for the younger clients of the tasting room.
“We want Desert Mountain Brewing to be somewhere people can bring children,” Christensen said. “We want it to be a family friendly establishment, not just a bar.”
The Christensens decided a brewery and tasting room would be a good way to keep themselves employed doing something they love.
A December opening is planned, though Christensen said at this point that date is a “moving target.” The business, which will have room for 20 to 25 customers in its tasting area, will be located next to Three Forks Grille on Nucleus Avenue. It is in the construction process.
“The reason we chose our location is we’re right off of Highway 2 and you can see us,” she said. “We want to be somewhere tourists come and have a good time, and at the same time, we understand the strength of any business depends on the local base.”
Christensen said Desert Mountain will be a community-oriented business, offering game nights, knitting nights and benefit brews.
Great Northern Brewing, Whitefish
The Great Northern Brewing Co. has stood out above the Whitefish city skyline since 1995.
The three glass-walled stories were designed for a unique architectural look, but also to house the brewery’s distinct gravity-flow brewing system.
“It’s a little old school and traditional,” according to Jessica Rucey, retail marketing manager at Great Northern.
The beer-making process starts after a bucket elevator on the ground floor carries the malt to a mill on the third story; it’s all downhill from there.
Tours are available for those who would like to see how Great Northern creates its popular Wheatfish and Going To The Sun IPA beers, among many others. (Head brewer Joe Barberis said the Good Medicine Imperial Spring Ale is also becoming a local favorite.)
The brewery has 11 beers on tap; Barberis said he creates 18 to 20 beers throughout the year. Black Star Draught House serves Great Northern beer, wine and food on the second level of the building.
Rucey said one of the biggest customer contingents is made up of the 75 or so people who are part of the “Great Stein Club.”
“People drink 50 steins, and they become part of the club and get a stein on the ceiling,” she said.
“They’re the heart and soul of the brewery.”
Great Northern is excited to have Pete Thomas, design director with the ZaneRay Group in Whitefish, designing new logos. Packages with the new Wheatfish logo were distributed in early September and more Great Northern packaging projects in collaboration with ZaneRay will be rolled out in the future.
“You’d like to think the product stands for itself, but it looks really slick when people make a decision to try a beer,” she said of the Wheatfish logos.
The brewery only distributes to Western Montana right now, sending kegs to bars in Missoula and Bozeman, and bottles to grocery stores and “quirky” convenience stores, Rucey said, with a lot of recent growth in the Helena area.
“We want to grow smartly and not too fast,” Rucey said.
The Double Tap, Whitefish
State Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, has no personal beer brewing experience, but he has a history with the people who do.
In his work with the Montana Legislature, he was a loyal advocate for the Montana Brewers Association. So he decided, upon leaving the Legislature, to join the state’s growing craft beer scene himself.
“I enjoyed the people and the industry,” he said. “They’re all hardworking and fun-loving, and they’re very serious about their beer.”
Zinke is currently going through the planning process to open The Double Tap, a tasting room and microbrewery on the western edge of Whitefish at 336 Second Ave. The new facility, planned to be about 2,000 square feet, is modeled on a Great Northern Railway grainery.
He wants his opening to coincide with the completion of road work on nearby stretches of U.S. 93, so he expects it will be about a year until The Double Tap serves its first customers.
A Pilsner, an India Pale Ale and a seasonal beer are foremost in Zinke’s brewing plans. He expects to be delivering kegs to local pubs, as well as serving his craft beers through two taps in his tasting room and on the patio.
“It excites me to be delivering a handcrafted ale,” he said. “To be a brewmaster is almost like being part of an old guild. It’s something locally made, produced with local Montana products. It’s a great way to employ local people and it’s a clean industry.”
Part of the attraction for Zinke is that his business add value to an area of Whitefish he feels deserves to be spruced up. His family has owned the property where The Double Tap will be located for 75 years.
“I was thinking of what little industries will work in Whitefish that will help certain neighborhoods that have seen better times,” he said.
It’s not every day that you get to compare the notes of a head brewer and a home brewer.
NewsWorks asked Paul Rutherford, head brewer at Iron Hill in Chestnut Hill, and Scott Wikander, home brewer and owner of Malt House, Ltd., a brewing supply store in Mt. Airy, about the craft of beer making.
Ramping up creativity
We’ve all seen our local watering holes change the taps before, but within the last several years, those drafts have become increasingly over-the-top and buzz-worthy.
Just consider Iron Hill’s “Pineapple Express,” a popular pineapple-flavored beer on tap at the brewery.
“Science is a part of the job,” explained Rutherford. “When we put a recipe together, we need to do research, especially with a novel ingredient like a pineapple.”
Wikander explains that time is what makes craft beers stand out against the Miller Lite’s of the beer world.
“The root of it is a commitment to quality, rather than mass-produced things,” said Wikander. “It’s taking the time to do it right.”
His interest in home brewing began at the age of 32 after learning from a friend.
“I was surprised when I learned how to home brew,” said Wikander, “I realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.”
Rutherford says he gained interest in home brewing at the age of 19. “That was a hobby for me then,” he admitted, “now, it’s a career.”
While working in the restaurant business in California, he decided he wanted to enroll at the Siebel Institute of Technology and World Brewing Academy in Chicago. He graduated with a World Brewing Diploma and even spent a month studying in Munich at a pilot brewery.
“It’s like any other trade,” explained Rutherford. “The industry is growing. Now, it’s a viable career path.”
Hollywood names for hometown beers
Naming beer is essential to the craft. Wikander says one of his favorites is “Saison II: Tokyo Drift,” a spin on the movie of a similar name.
“Most home brewers come up with crazy names,” said Wikander, who currently has a “Maison Saison” on tap, meaning “house malt,” and an “East Coast Pale Ale.”
With names like “Cowabunga Porter,” “Chestnut Hill Cream Ale” and “Kryptonite Imperial IPA,” Iron Hill always has an array of unique beer names.
Breaking down the brewing process
During the NewsWorks visit, Wikander made a British Mild Ale that was brewed with pale and crystal malts, British hops called “Fuggles” and British ale yeast.
Rutherford brewed a Biere de Garde, a French farmhouse style ale that translates as “beer for keeping.” It was brewed with pilsner, aromatic and Munich malts, a lager yeast and cracked black pepper.
Wikander utilized a pot on his stovetop, while Rutherford used a mash tun, a brewing vessel that can hold up to 800 pounds.
Both brewers boiled water, with Wikander boiling 5 gallons and Rutherford boiling 2.5 barrels (about 82 gallons).
The processes were similar, including the hop addition. Both brewers explained that there are three fundamental hop additions that a brewer can add to their beer. The first addition adds bitterness, the second adds flavor and the third adds aroma.
While there were differences in the scale of the equipment being used, one stand-out item that the brewery did not have on hand was a “hop sock.” The sock or netted bag can hold a hop addition that is sunk into the brew.
“[It] is purely a home brewer item,” said Wikander. “It’s meant for small amounts of hops, commercial brewers use much larger quantities.”
Hazards of the trade
Both processes include a hazardous element because of Carbon dioxide (CO2) build up. The fermentation process itself converts sugars into alcohol and Carbon dioxide.
Rutherford says Carbon dioxide can cause a pressure build up that could essentially cause a small explosion.
“That’s why we have a blow-off tube that vents the CO2,” said Rutherford.
He surmised that home brewers could also have issues in a glass carboy. “They’d have a glass mess on their hands,” said Rutherford.
In a glass carboy that contains Wikander’s brew, an airlock releases Carbon dioxide and allows gas to escape the container, preventing a small eruption.
“For a home brewer, the stopper or lid would give-way before a fermentor actually exploded,” explained Wikander.
Losing money from botched batches
Wikander says if a batch of beer is bad or undrinkable, he loses about $40. “It depends on the ingredients,” he explained.
Rutherford agrees that ingredients are what determines the cost of a batch and says the brewery can lose thousands of dollars. “It depends on what the raw material costs.”.
Both brewers agreed that sanitation is a key part of making a good beer. Wikander even cleans the bottles and caps that he stores his beer in and Rutherford personally checks and shines the glassware at Iron Hill.
“Bad batches for home brewers are usually the result of improper sanitation that result in foreign or wild yeast entering the beer and adding off-flavors,” said Wikander.
“Eighty percent of the job is cleaning. It’s not that glamorous,” said Rutherford, “but mostly, it’s the best job in the world.”
Tuning in to the right timing
Both brewers watch a clock when brewing, with Rutherford using his cell phone and Wikander a wall clock. “Everything is time sensitive,” said Rutherford.
With 16 beers on tap at Iron Hill, Rutherford says a major part of his job is scheduling. He has six 10 barrel tanks and one 20 barrel tank filled with fresh beer ready-to-go at any one time. He described it as “a juggling act.”
“It’s better to have a second person to help on this level,” said Rutherford, who works alongside Derek Testerman, assistant brewer at Iron Hill, “usually we’re overlapping a lot of projects at once.”
Because he has a kegerator, a refrigerated container that dispenses beer, Wikander can keep four beers on tap at the same time. He typically has three to four batches ready to drink with “a few fermenting.”
A sense of camaraderie
Both brewers agree that brewing is something that has its own culture and community. They love that they’re able to share their craft with friends, family and beer lovers alike.
Wikander says he gives his beer as gifts. “I bring it to parties,” said Wikander.
Rutherford says he enjoys participating in the beer culture. “We plan events and have beer release parties,” he said, “we really try to keep people talking.”
In July, Iron Hill held a Wrestlemania-inspired event featuring two beers, “Ultimate Warrior IPA” and “Belgian Full Nelson.” They invited patrons to order one or the other until one was tapped out, making that beer the winner.
Much of the beer community starts at local home brew clubs like M*A*S*H (Mt. Airy Society of Homebrewers), the G.L.U.B. (General Lafayette Underground Brewers) Club in Chestnut Hill and the YTM (You The Man) Homebrew Club in Manayunk.
Whether they’re producing a few gallons or multiple barrels, both brewers agree that it’s creativity and community that keeps them loving the craft of beer making.
Two Beers Brewing Prepares for Early Release of Fresh Hop 2012; Pumpkin Spice and Heart of Darkness Imperial CDA to Hit Shelves Soon
SoDo-based Two Beers Brewing one of the first to offer craft beer enthusiasts their first taste of Fresh Hop for fourth year; Pumpkin Spice joins lineup of 22-ounce bottles
SEATTLE (August 22, 2012) – As the most highly anticipated beer on the growing brewery’s impressive tap list, Two Beers Brewing is excited to announce the early release of its 2012 Fresh Hop. Hop-enthusiasts can enjoy their first sip of this long-awaited beer beginning August 31 at the Two Beers Brewing tasting room – the earliest release for this beer yet – followed by its release in bars, restaurants and retail establishments throughout the Pacific Northwest beginning September 3. Adding to the excitement, Fresh Hop will soon after be accompanied by Two Beers Brewing’s Heart of Darkness Imperial CDA and Pumpkin Spice Ale – now both available in 22-ounce bottles.
“We look forward to this time of the year at the brewery and the flavorful beers that come with it,” said Joel VandenBrink, Two Beers Brewing founder and head brewer. “Plus, we’re excited to add Pumpkin Spice to our lineup of 22-ounce bottles, meaning more opportunity for our fans to enjoy the delicious flavors of fall.”
First brewed in 2009, Fresh Hop enters its fourth season on the brewery’s fall lineup. This Northwest-inspired brew’s strong citrus aroma – featuring hints of grapefruit and passion fruit – can be attributed to the freshly picked, Yakima Valley-grown Centennial hops used to create it. Copper in color with deep caramel malt tones, Fresh Hop 2012 settles in at 6.2 percent ABV resembling an aggressively dry-hopped mid-range IPA, but packing the punch only fresh hops can deliver. In addition to Centennial hops, this beer features locally grown Apollo, Cascade, Columbus, Super Galena, and Warrior hops, helping this popular beer achieve its bright and delightfully bitter flavor.
“This beer is a true demonstration of team work and our love for craft beer,” added VandenBrink. “Each year, we wait with anticipation for the call that the hops are ready. The moment we receive it, we drive to Yakima to pick them ourselves and that same day, we’re back at the brewery with staff and loyal fans handpicking the hops off the vines. There’s nothing else like it.”
“Two Beers Brewing does an amazing job capturing the flavor of the season with its Fresh Hop, which was voted top Washington fresh hop at our annual Fresh Hop Throwdown last year,” said Ellen Kelly and Rick Weersing, owners of The Noble Fir in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, known for its outstanding craft beer selection. “It’s a true tribute to local beer and Washington-grown hops, and we couldn’t be more excited for its return.”
Adding to the excitement, another of the brewery’s popular fall seasonals – Pumpkin Spice Ale – will be available in 22-ounce bottles for the first time in the beer’s four-year history. Malt forward with a nutmeg and clove aroma, drinkers of this fall-focused brew will enjoy cinnamon lingering on the tongue, with allspice rounding out the back end of the palate. First released in the fall of 2009, this perfectly spiced, deep copper colored ale – brewed with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice – makes its return in 2012 on September 7.
Also joining the Two Beer Brewing tap list in September is the brewery’s Heart of Darkness Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA). Coming in 67 IBUs and a 8.4 percent ABV, this beer was first brewed as a limited release in 2011 and quickly became a popular pick, both on tap and in a bottle. An imperial version of the emerging “Black IPA” style, the Heart of Darkness Imperial CDA mixes dark roasted specialty malts with highly citrus and floral hops, and is then dry-hopped with Columbus hops for a smooth finish. Featuring flavors of molasses, dark cherry, oak and chocolate, this noteworthy beer will be available in 22-ounce bottles at select retailers and on tap at The Woods tasting room beginning October 1.
Two Beers Brewing will continue to distribute its five year-round offerings this fall, as well as a host of packaged products. In addition to Fresh Hop 2011, Heart of Darkness Imperial CDA and Pumpkin Spice Ale, craft beer enthusiasts can pick up Persnickety Pale Ale and Evolutionary IPA in 22-ounce bottles. Also available is Two Beers Brewing’s popular line of 12-ounce aluminum cans – sold in six-packs at select retailers including Whole Foods and Central Market – featuring Evolutionary IPA, Immersion Amber, Panorama Wheat, Persnickety Pale Ale, Trailhead ISA and SoDo Brown.
Offering twelve beers – including five year-round, seven seasonal, and a host of intricate infusions and limited releases – Two Beers Brewing also offers pints, growlers and kegs-to-go in its 4,800-square-foot SoDo brewery and tasting room, dubbed “The Woods.” Packaged products can be found throughout Washington, Oregon and Alaska, in addition to being available on tap in more than 500 restaurants and bars in Washington and Idaho. For more information, be sure to follow Two Beers Brewing on Facebook and Twitter, or visit www.twobeersbrewery.com.
It isn’t that he’s an intimidating person. Sure, Dave Coleman, co-founder of 3 Stars brewing and former beer director at The Big Hunt is 6 feet tall, tattoo clad, with a shaved head and burly beard makes him look more like a bouncer than a president of a company. The book cover judgments end as soon as you speak to him, however. He is that bouncer who looks like he’ll rip your head off, but then you see him reading Voltaire when no one is waiting to get into the bar. From barstool patron to non-blood family, never would I have thought I would enter the world of Dave Coleman and head brewer Mike McGarvey and be completely immersed in it for the next two years. This is my journey from barfly regular to name-emblazoned work shirt.
I had known Coleman for some time before this, but we had rarely gotten past the normal bartender/patron banter. So upon first conversation with him about his ideas for a brewery I was intrigued yet a bit apprehensive, as that is a common dream for us in our little microcosm of beer. “So what kind of beer are you trying to make? What kind of market you trying to get here in DC?” I said as he slid my Strongbow and Woodford Reserve over to me. “We want big beers. The kind that knock your socks off.” Coleman said. He explained to me their lab set-up and how they did multiple batches in McGarvey’s basement to “zero in” on recipes they wanted to get down exactly.
I visited McGarvey’s house and was impressed with the level of thoroughness they had for a homebrew set-up. McGarvey, originally an engineer, had created a miniature brewery in his basement and his attention to efficiency and operational flow was evident in the way the basement was set up. This was the first time I knew that they truly meant business and this wasn’t some hobby destined to years of yearning without resolution.
Finally locked down a location for the brewery. For the next year, the majority of my Saturdays (and other random nights) are spent turning an old mechanic’s garage into an operating brewery. This turned out to be way more than I had anticipated. From powerwashing mold off walls, to scrubbing countless iron grates of rust and 20 years of debris, to putting in drop ceilings; a complete transition was happening in both the building, in our friendships, and in me. Along the way I’m also learning about construction, operations, and tools.
The Three Stars boys went up to Delaware to do a collaboration beer with Evolution Craft Brewing and release it Memorial Day weekend. It was the first commercial release of a beer, a delicious peppercorn saison that was one of my favorites for the summer. Places that had it around town went through it so fast.
The volunteers were becoming a tight-knit crew of friends who believed in a vision of a brewery and what it will do for our growing beer scene. One of the first times I noticed we were getting to become close friends was the problem of “The Drain.” The brewery floor has a metal drain running 125 feet through the main floor of the brewery. This is fantastic for drainage and was important in the choice of location. However, it was also filled with 20 years of sludge that had to be removed in order for it to be useful. This drain is only about two feet wide and we couldn’t figure out how to clean it out.
Coleman and I were brainstorming at Meridian Pint when our friend Jake walked in the door. As if lightning came down from the heavens and energized our comfortably numb light bulbs, the solution was had in a bearded Premiere League fan who was just svelte enough to fit in that quagmire of filth. Needless to say, to this day he is still called “The Drain.”
August also saw the release of B.W. Rye (a collaboration with Oliver Ales of Baltimore) and 3 Stars being heavily involved with DC Beer Week. For us as the support crew, it meant being ambassadors for the brand and going to as many of their events as we could – livers be damned.
Fall and Winter, 2011
The brewery started looking more like a brewery: fermenters, tanks, piping, cold storage rooms, and various coopering finally came in and turned this building into an actual beer production facility. This is also the time when the 3 Stars family really bonded through a lot of time together. Post-workday barbecues, late-night sessions of popping rare bottles, and holidays together are becoming the norm. I decided to go to Paris through the end of December into January to visit a friend and was actually disappointed to miss Dave and wife Nancy’s annual New Years Day party. This is my family now.
The organization of the brewery was being put together. Our workdays were spent seeing where things go in order to create the best workflow, removing unneeded last remnants of the building, and getting things ready for trial production. Piping for waterlines, for transferring contents between the fermentation and bright tanks, and for kegging were being put in.
Coleman’s brother designed the tap handles and they came in. This tangible aspect was really exciting. Shirts, stickers, tap handles, sixtels (a smaller sized keg that many breweries use for larger abv beers or rarer offering that a normal keg wouldn’t be needed for) and barrels (for aging beer) were all coming in. This was really happening. And soon.
McGarvey, who is normally as composed as they come, become more agitated as he was dealing more with lawyers, contractors, and regulation officials than the actual brewing. Which, in reality, is most likely the case with starting any small business. Just with a brewery, you have the added headache of ABRA and the antiquated (or non-existent) laws of brewing in the District. Couple this with health inspections, the right building permits, water, sewage, power, and gas line upgrades to get it to commercial specifications, and I could see the stress of paperwork issues taking a toll on him.
The release really snuck up on me. All of a sudden they got their Certificate of Occupancy and I knew they could, in Coleman’s words, “Do it to it!” but I didn’t know how long it would take to get things up to their level of quality and kegged. The workdays have been getting a little shorter and I had been much more involved in organizing homebrewing events and tasting events elsewhere, so it was almost a surprise when the release parties went public.
The first release party at ChurchKey was about as ridiculous as we could imagine. Completely packed with friends but also so many people we didn’t know. While the bar was full almost the whole night, for many it was “one in, one out” and we couldn’t have been happier about the turnout. Coleman made a speech that was short, slightly crass, and incredibly heartfelt. The whole bar was electrified with fermented energy and the staff did an amazing job. The next night at Big Hunt was much more friends and family but equally amazing in terms of crowd and awesome staff.
August 12, 2012
I feel so lucky to have been able to be part of this rag-tag crew that had a belief in friends that went far beyond beer. For most of us, it was well over a year into sweating, bleeding, and nursing our sore muscles before we had anything other than homebrew. But we believed in our friend’s drive and passion. And that was enough.
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On Thursday and Friday, respectively, 3 Stars will officially launch its beers at Birch Barley/ChurchKey and the Big Hunt. Soon after, 20 or so more bars and restaurants will carry its products. The Big Hunt is an appropriate venue for the beer’s debut because McGarvey, the brewery’s 39-year-old chief executive and head brewer, and Coleman, its 35-year-old president, met there nearly a decade ago. (Both are longtime District residents, and Coleman left the Big Hunt in the spring, having served as beer director for the past six years.) McGarvey got into home-brewing, and about three years ago the friends laid the groundwork for their brewery and delved into serious recipe development.
The process they adopted, unusually scientific for home-brewers turning pro, speaks to the pair’s methodical pursuit of jaw-dropping beers, despite relying more on five-gallon pots than on state-of-the-art brewing equipment. For each test batch, McGarvey simultaneously brewed a basic recipe and four variations. One might use entirely different hop varieties, another a different yeast strain. Assigning ratings to each iteration, McGarvey and Coleman identified their favorite, then repeated the process until they made something they considered truly special. Most 3 Stars beers have gone through three to five rounds, some even more. The first to emerge was Pandemic, which Coleman jokingly calls “the beer that changed the world.”
“It was the first beer and recipe that we developed on our own that we felt really is a differentiated product,” McGarvey says. “The beer industry is incredibly competitive, and I think if you’re going to go into it, you have to be serious about what you’re going to produce and what experience you’re creating that’s going to differentiate you.”
The other two releases 3 Stars is introducing this week are flavorful and offbeat as well. Instead of starting with more common beers, such as American pale ales and German styles, McGarvey and Coleman offer Urban Farmhouse saison, a Belgian-influenced ale brewed with white and green peppercorns and citrusy American hops, and the Southern Belle, a malty imperial brown ale finished with toasted pecans.
We call this making lemonade out of lemons — or good beer with “a nice mouthfeel” out of rapidly-spoiling-from-no-refrigeration beer.
Like more than 1 million others in the D.C. area, Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company lost power in the aggressive “derecho” storm that blew through town on June 29. Port City’s power stayed out almost a week, until the following Thursday, during which time 13,000 gallons of beer — pilsner, ale, lager — were in peril.
Head brewer Jonathan Reeves told The Washington Post he was worried overheated beer would “taste like nail polish.”
In an “An Open Letter to the D.C. Beer Community” sent out Monday, Port City’s owner Bill Butcher said that the beer tastes very good, indeed — and one batch of lager that fermented at too high a temperature will be available in a delicious limited run called “Derecho Common” starting in August:
There is a beer style that developed in San Francisco called steam beer, or California Common beer. It is a beer made with lager yeast and fermented at higher temperatures like an ale. This is exactly what happened to this 60-barrel tank of our beer.
The Washington Examiner has a preview of how the beer will taste:
Brewery owner Bill Butcher describes the limited-edition beer as “a bit rounder in flavor” than a traditional lager with caramel and fruity characteristics and “a nice mouthfeel.”
Derecho Common will be sold on draft at some D.C.-area restaurants and bars, and in Port City’s tasting room. Come August, we’ll be sure to try one and report back.
Here’s the “open letter”:
Last Friday’s freak storm caught the entire D.C. area by surprise. The destruction that the unexpected derecho caused is astounding. As I write this, there are still people without electricity, and our thoughts are with them as the region continues to recover.
Our power was out for five days at the brewery, and our production has been completely shut down during this time. We have been unable to brew, package, or ship any beer to market. We were fortunate to find a generator to supply enough power to run our critical systems to try to keep our 13,000 gallons of beer from spoiling.
All of us at Port City Brewing Company were absolutely amazed by the community’s response to our plight. The support from the D.C. Beer community has been unbelievable. We received messages of support and offers of help from all over. Our fellow brewers, our restaurant and retail customers, and many beer drinkers contacted us to ask how they could help us to save the beer.
The willingness to step up and help a neighbor is what defines a community. We found in a very real way that D.C. Beer community is strong and supportive of each other, and we will always be grateful for this. We are truly honored and humbled by the response, and we’ll always remember the support that everyone has shown us.
We have a long way to go to get our brewery back to normal operations. It will take weeks to get caught up with production, and unfortunately, there will be ongoing out of stocks in the market as we try to recover. We appreciate your patience as we work to catch up.
Many have asked us if we were able to “save the beer.” We continue to monitor the beer very closely, and we test and taste it daily. Five of our six tanks appear to be just fine. The 6th tank is a 60-barrel batch of lager beer that fermented at a higher temperature than we intended.
There is a beer style that developed in San Francisco called steam beer, or California Common beer. It is a beer made with lager yeast and fermented at higher temperatures like an ale. This is exactly what happened to this 60-barrel tank of our beer.
As a result, this storm has given us Derecho Common beer.
We will release the limited Derecho Common beer in early August. It will be draft only, and will be limited to about 120 kegs, which will be sold only to bars and restaurants in the D.C. Metro area.
Thank you for your continued support.
Port City Brewing Company
Also on HuffPost:
There were no pint glasses raised for the derecho.
Not at the Port City Brewing Co. in Alexandria, Va., where owner Bill Butcher and head brewer Jonathan Reeves paced nervously, fretting about thousands of gallons of craft brew – especially an ever-warming tank of seasonal pilsner more than two days into the fermentation process.
“It should be around 50 degrees,” Butcher said Monday morning after a long weekend without power in the midst of a relentless heat wave.
“It’s around 62 right now,” Reeves said.
The two men were racing against the thermometer to preserve the contents of the 1,860-gallon stainless steel tank, which (they hope) will be bottled as Downright Pilsner.
“If we have to drop the tank, it’s about $20,000,” Butcher said. “As a start-up business, every dollar in sales is critical. We don’t have any margin for error. This is a crisis situation.”
So, Reeves said, “we’re getting a generator to save the beer.”
As Washington struggled to power up in the wake of Friday night’s freak storm, some area businesses scrambled to protect their perishables and other heat-sensitive products.
Elliott Staren, owner of Wide World of Wines, heard from a customer who’d lost power and wanted to know whether he could bring in 30 bottles of wine before they were ruined by heat.
“Another guy called and said he had six cases,” Staren said. “It’s just like how they tell you to look out for your neighbors, we’ll look out for your bottles.”
Other tales from a newly unrefrigerated world weren’t reaching the Port City Brewing Co.
Butcher, the year-and-a-half-old brewery’s owner, was too busy worrying about 13,000 gallons of imperiled beer.
Already, he said, Port City had lost an estimated $15,000 in tasting-room business during the weekend.
The company was falling behind on bottling, too: 576 cases of Belgian-style ale were to have been bottled Monday morning, and more than a third were scheduled to go out on a distributor’s truck that same day.
The beer wasn’t ready during one of the most important sales periods of the year. “July 4 is a big, big beer holiday,” Butcher sighed.
Adding to the anxiety: The brewery’s ale and lager yeasts were warm and getting warmer and could eventually spoil.
The Dominion Virginia Power guys already had come and gone, taking pictures of the downed lines but leaving without offering a service-restoration timetable.
The brewers were running a small generator outside the steamy warehouse in an industrial section of Alexandria – “it’s for the radio and our coffeemaker, and we’re charging cellphones,” Butcher said – but the big find was a 75-kilowatt generator powerful enough to run Port City’s cooling system. Miraculously located, it arrived on a United Rentals Truck trailer from Manassas just before noon.
“This is a welcome sight – just awesome,” Reeves said. “I hope it works.”
“It will just commit suicide,” Reeves said, explaining that at a certain temperature, the fermenting brew would become undrinkable. “It would taste like nail polish.”
With extensive heat exposure, the beer in the other tanks – thousands of gallons of lager and ales and such – could eventually become stale or spoil, too.
He got in his car to fill up three 20-liter tanks with diesel fuel while everybody else waited for the electricians to show up.
A customer dropped by to return an empty keg. His review was rave: “Only three drops left,” he told Butcher.
By mid-afternoon, the electricians had arrived to connect the generator.
Shortly after 5 p.m., they had it hooked it up to the cooling system.
Within minutes, temperatures in the tanks began to drop.
“Things are looking good,” Butcher declared.
He’ll drink to that.
- – -
Bonnie Benwick and Lena H. Sun contributed to this report.
Union Craft Brewing, the latest micro-brewhouse in town, is celebrating the launch of its first two beers with a release party at Max’s Taphouse on Friday.
I got a chance to speak with co-founder Jon Zerivitz, who said that about three years ago he quit his day job as a graphic designer at T. Rowe Price to pursue his passion of home brewing. Through mutual friends, Zerivitz met Kevin Blodger, the medal-winning head brewer at Gordon Biersch in Chicago, who was interested in coming back home to Baltimore.
The two then co-founded Union Craft Brewing, located in a 7,200-square-foot warehouse in Woodberry. “We really wanted to be a neighborhood brewery and be right here in the city,” Zerivitz said. “There was some red tape working with city zoning and retrofitting an old building, but it was important to us.”
The 20-barrel brewhouse is now ready to debut its first two beers: Duckpin Pale Ale and Balt Altbier. Zerivitz says that he wanted both of his flagship beers to be approachable. The Duckpin is made with a relatively new hop variety grown in Australia and New Zealand, giving off a fruity, citrus profile. The Balt Altbier refers to an old, German style of brewing and is copper-colored with a malty, slightly sweet flavor.
The two new brews will be served on draft and in firkins at a release party at Max’s Taphouse starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. After that, Union Craft will roll them out in Hampden bars on July 3 and in Federal Hill spots on July 5.
As for the future, Zerivitz says look out for a summer seasonal available in August, as well as brewery tours and tastings around that same time.
[Image: courtesy of Union Craft Brewing]