Posts Tagged ‘California’

The brew: American IPA part II.

The last IPA turned out well, or at least, it would have turned out well. Thanks to work and life (yet again!) I was not able to get the batch into the keg until almost 4 weeks into the primary! Fortunately, the yeast were healthy enough to not give way to autolysis and those wonderful flavors that come with. In fact, it was still a very drinkable batch. My only issue was that it seemed that a majority of the hops dropped out, leaving me with an overly bitter and unbalanced ale. Perhaps it was a process/fermentation issue. Or perhaps it was something else. I suppose the only way to get an answer is to try to brew it again. Oh darn!

Photo courtesy: bjcp.org

BJCP Guideline 21A – American IPA (2015):

Overall Impression: A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hopforward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.

Commercial Examples: Alpine Duet, Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA, Firestone Walker Union Jack, Lagunitas IPA, Russian River Blind Pig IPA, Stone IPA

Here’s what was supposed to happen:

American IPA Recipe – 5.00 gal Batch (Based on Brewing Classic Styles Recipe)

– 12 lbs, 12 oz. US 2 Row
– 12 oz. Munich
– 1lbs. Crystal 20°L
– 4 oz. Crystal 40°L
– 1 oz. Magnum at 60 mins
– 1 oz. Centennial at 10 mins
– 1 oz. Simcoe at 5 mins
– 1 oz. Mosaic at 0 mins
– Fermentis SafAle US-05
– Single Infusion Mash at 152 F for 60 mins

According to BeerSmith (for my equipment profile):

– OG: 1.069
– FG: 1.015
– ABV: 7.18%
– 62.8 IBUs

Here’s what really happened:

Imagine a beautiful, sunny, California morning. The was a very slight breeze. The sun was out just enough to keep the temperature under the shade to a perfect 68-70 F. Three friends gathered all their brewing equipment at one friend’s home brewery (his garage), and set up for the morning. Conditions were in place for a perfect brew day. So perfect, in fact, that if it wasn’t 0700 am at the start of our brew day, I would have started the day with a breakfast stout… I didn’t. But I seriously considered it.

So I heated up my water as usual. Time for dough in…DOH! I only got up the high 140s F (146-148 F). But I remembered my last batch only hit 144 F, and it still turned out okay. I think the low temperatures may be due to the very thick mash caused by some equipment limitations (see the above grain bill and insert into my 5 gal. cylindrical cooler). It’s okay though! Moving on…

I sparge approximately 1.34 million times to work my way up to 6.5 gal. pre-boil volume in the kettle, turn the fire on, and sit and wait. Since I’m going full boil on a turkey fryer, getting the wort to boil can take awhile. During these downtimes, the 3 of us usually help the other with their brew day where needed. After there’s nothing else to help with, I get my kettle additions laid out and ready to go (hops, whirlfloc, and the like).

I don’t really have the luxury of video or audio to allow for the awkward dead air, but that’s basically the feeling I had while I waited for the boil. And finally! I see some rolling wort action! First addition of Magnum here we…

Photo courtesy: Hopunion.com

Oh crap. I saw the M on the hops and threw them in there. But it wasn’t Magnum… it was Mosaic! Well, there goes my aroma addition, and really my whole hop schedule. I wasn’t then going to add Magnum and the rest of the hops. So instead, I slightly improvised and used the hop schedule below (based on what I had available):

– .8 oz. Mosaic at 60 mins
– 1 oz. Simcoe at 5 mins
– .5 oz. Amarillo at 0 mins
– 1 oz. Citra at 0 mins

As you can see, it’s a much different schedule than what I planned. But what’s that old saying? Oh yeah.. Don’t worry. Relax, and have a homebrew! (Or something like that..) Here’s to another 5 gal. of mystery beer! Cheers!
Advertisements
Here I am starting to write this minutes away from the Brewers Showcase in Sacramento, California – the grand finale of the awesomeness that is the California Craft Beer Summit. By the time I finish this, I will likely be plenty inebriated and cooked well-done thanks to this lovely Sacramento heat. The overall experience was amazing to say the least.

The first year of California’s Beer Summit included a host of talks and classes by some of the most recognized names in the brewing industry. The guest list consisted of the past, present, and future of the California and U.S. craft beer scenes. Greg Koch, Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, Tony Magee, Matt Brynildson, Dr. Charlie Bamforth, Ken Grossman, David Walker, and several others addressed craft beer industry professionals and fans alike. Many of the key points were highlighted on the California Craft Brewers twitter feed, but I will highlight a few of my own takeaways.
The main entrance to the Expo Hall

The main entrance to the Expo Hall.

Well… that lasted a whole two paragraphs… The whirlwind of a weekend didn’t stop at the end of the Summit, but instead continued through the Brewers Showcase with an outstanding showing by some of California’s finest. The hundreds of beers available and numerous cornhole games kept me preoccupied and away from the digital devices (with the exception of UnTappd checkins in the rare case you didn’t see them). But don’t worry, I’m now well rested and fully recovered!
The turnout for the Brewers' showcase.

The turnout for the Brewers’ showcase.

There was a lot going on at any given time during the summit. There were “Educational Sessions,” which took the form of a typical lecture with a powerpoint and Q&A at the end. There were also “Tap Talks” and Food & Beer demos that took place on small stages at different corners of the main expo hall – these talks gave the speaker a stool and mic with a smaller audience. I believe there was just enough information given to create a craft beer encyclopedia, so I will not do it injustice by providing summaries with potential for misinformation. Instead I will highlight each of the talk that I went to with one main idea or sentence. But enough with the talk! Beer time…
One of the entrances to the Educational Session rooms.

One of the entrances to the Educational Session rooms.

September 11th, 2015 

Moment of Silence – This was not a part of the Summit, and by the time you’re reading this it will no longer be September 11th. But in case you missed it, please share with me a moment of silence for those lives taken over 14 years ago. 

State of the Industry: Current Trends & Statistics Where the Industry is Heading – Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association.
  • Main takeaway:  While there are currently over 500 breweries in existence and in planning, there is still room for growth for another 200+ breweries! (I knew these crowded cities were good for something! California beer is awesome!)
  • Also, the next “IPA” will likely be…. an IPA.

Craft Beer “The New Top Shelf” How craft beer can increase your overall bottom line – David Macon, VP Sales & Marketing, Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
  • Main takeaway (although tailored for beer retailers): Be objective in beer selection; use proper glassware; utilize Brewers Association standards for draft & refrigeration systems; try beers often; and have fun!

Value of a Cicerone – Virginia Thomas, Cicerone Certificate Program
  • Main takeaway: Knowing how to taste, describe, and experience beers will allow you to help others do the same! Cicerone Certification helps this process.

From left to right: Dave Gull (New Helvetia Brewing Co.); Ryan Graham (Track 7 Brewing Co.); Glynn Philips (Rubicon Brewing Co.)

From left to right: Dave Gull (New Helvetia Brewing Co.); Ryan Graham (Track 7 Brewing Co.); Glynn Philips (Rubicon Brewing Co.)

Sacramento Brewers Panel – Glynn Philips (Rubicon Brewing Co.); Ryan Graham (Track 7 Brewing Co.); Dave Gull (New Helvetia Brewing Co.)
  • Main takeaway: Sacramento beer is awesome, and the beer scene is rapidly becoming one of the premier California beer scenes! “Drink local, go with the home team!” – Dave Gull
  • Also… Glory, glory Sacramento!
September 12th, 2015

Beer Styles: the Advanced Course – Mike “Big Mike” Moore, Beer Judge, Beer Educator & Food Specialist
  • Main takeaway: History and origin is very important to beer style and beer overall! Remember the history of what’s in your glass!

Homebrewing – Gary Glass, American Homebrewers Association
  • Main takeaway: Homebrewing is easy, fun, and better with friends…. Join the AHA!

The hop wall and  the history on hops.

The hop wall and the history on hops.

Reverence for Beer – Dr. Charlie Bamforth, UC Davis
  • Main takeaway:Use the proper glass, and treat the beer with the respect and reverence it deserves!
  • On “yellow, fizzy” beer: “Its up to you – what you like, and have reverence for it.” – Dr. Charlie Bamforth

Beers You Can Age & How to Store Them at Home – Matt Brynildson (Firestone Walker Brewing)
  • Main takeaway: 97% of the beers produced are not made to age – if the brewers wanted it aged, they would age it themselves. The 3% produced that can be aged should be stored properly and in a controlled environment.

Keynote – Greg Koch (Stone Brewing Co.)
  • Main takeaway: The craft beer industry is booming in the U.S., and there is potential for growth on the international level.
  • Stone Brewing will remain strong and independent in its own brand! “My answer is no or hell no” – Greg Koch
During the Keynote with Greg Koch. "My answer is no or hell no" - Greg Koch on Stone Brewing being sold.

During the Keynote with Greg Koch. “My answer is no or hell no” – Greg Koch on Stone Brewing being sold.

 

If you couldn’t tell, the first ever California Craft Beer Summit was worth every penny, and I enjoyed every second of it. The education alone was worth the cost.. not to mention the special releases and tastings available all weekend!

The one that got away...

The one that got away…

 

As I’ve said before, California’s Craft Beer Summit included some of the most iconic figures in today’s American craft brewing scene. While being within arms reach of many of these guys and girls, it’s easy to see that they are all still just regular people whose passion and drive led them to great success in the craft beer world. I mean, after the Summit Greg Koch threw on his backpack and sunglasses and walked a few blocks over to the brewers’ showcase! If I saw him in passing in Downtown Sacramento, I would have never looked twice. The same was the case with the Cilurzos, with Mitch Steele, and the rest of craft beer community. Unfortunately, I turned into a 13 year-old boy around Taylor Swift anytime one of these people sat or stood around me, which is why I have no pictures with them. Nevertheless, being in the same room with some of the same interests as these folks was truly an amazing experience. Time to start the countdown to next years’ summit!

[This post is in response to the August 2015 topic: The Landscape of Beer. You can find more information about The Session on host Allen H.’s website, or at the Brookston Beer Bulletin. ]

 

More information at: brookstonbeerbulletin.com/the-sessions/

 

Many of us have read about the history of beer in America. We can read article after article, book after book about the rise of the beer, wine, and spirits in the pre- and post- prohibition days of the United States. We know of the conglomerates that have grown from regional breweries into the massive, large-scale industrial operations they are today. More recently, we as a [craft] beer community have cherished and idolized the histories of those community brewers turned national icons – Boston Beer, Stone Brewing, Russian River, Bells Beer, and Dogfish Head are just a few that come to mind. We know the stories, and if we don’t, we can depend on the great story tellers of our time to allow us to catch up on the history of our craft beer forefathers. There are websites, blogs, and books dedicated to these topics. While this post will not explore these histories in depth, I do encourage you to take a gander at your favorite brewery’s story on how they got to where they are. This might just open your eyes to the greatness beyond the local pint glass, and knowing where beer has been can help one understanding where beer might be headed.

 

In one of my previous posts, I noted a few numbers concerning the growth of the craft beer industry.  You can find that post here. I also encourage you to visit the Brewers Association website to view more information and statistics on the craft beer industry in America. There is a multitude of information available on the current landscape of beer in America. There are also a great number of industry experts and economists providing their take on what the future holds for craft beer.

 

It was once said that there will never be competition for the “big” breweries. Yet, here we are in 2015 with over 3,000 breweries and more opening each day. The market share for “craft” beer has jumped to over 10%, which was previously looked upon as next to impossible. And the mere fact that we can blog about a “landscape” of beer is testament to the types of growth we are seeing develop in the United States.

 Photo from: Allaboutbeer.com

 

As for my take on the future landscape of beer in America, I believe the answer is not in the stories of the beers created, but instead within the stories of the creators behind the beers themselves. The landscape of beer in America will not only showcase the many accounts of professional brewers’ across the nation, but will also consist of the stories and experiences by those who enjoy it. Beer is no longer just the ice-cold, refreshing television commercial pushing product at the grocery store. Beer isn’t just the inexpensive alcohol that takes the buzz off of a busy Monday, or gets the party started on a long-awaited Friday.

 

[Craft] beer is now the story of Tom along with his family and friends sacrificing long, excruciating days to start and operate your community brewery. It’s about Greg’s ability to create a quality product and combine it with a great business acumen that allows a regional brewery to become a national icon. Beer is about the experiences shared, the conversations started, and the relationships created over a glass of fresh, local IPA or porter. People are the landscape of beer in America.

 

So what does the future of the landscape of beer in America look like? The stories and experiences will continue. Growth in the craft beer industry will be stimulated by the stories of the professionals and the consumers, alike. How will craft beer increase to 20+ percent of market share? People will continue to share their stories and experiences through social media. Newcomers will learn more about their favorite alcoholic beverage. They will experiment, sample, taste-test, converse, and name favorites among several different styles and brands of beer. In turn, demand will increase and brewers will continue to seek growth in their production to match these demands.

Photo from: Craftbeer.com

 

Will the craft beer bubble burst? I don’t believe it will. I believe that the craft beer market will continue to grow – maybe not as fast, but there is still plenty of opportunity for brewers across the nation. After all, not every state is as populated as the California beer scene appears to be.

 

I do believe that those not making a high-quality product will cease to exist. Those breweries and brewpubs that began as a money-making operation without passion for its product or its people will not last long in a very competitive craft beer market. Those breweries will lack the passion that also drives the innovation behind their beers, and by the looks of the current beer shelves, variety and innovation seem to be prominent factors in the marketplace.

 

I believe the other sets of breweries and brewpubs that may be affected by a changing beer landscape will be those passionate home brewers recently turned professional brewers/owner-operators. Perhaps they looked to pro brewing for a career change. Maybe they were told they made great homebrew, so they looked to the pro world for an opportunity. Regardless of the reason, I sincerely hope they succeed; however, it is reasonable to believe that if they are serving beer with a lot of flaws, or if they are serving unspectacular beer, then they may not see long-term success. Aside from the beer, if they lack the business acumen to keep their organization afloat and successful, then these too may not live to be the next craft beer success story.

 

I would love to say the Landscape of Beer in America will be positive with limitless opportunity and growth for all breweries and brewpubs. Do I believe the growth will continue? Absolutely! But with the significant growth will come growing pains. The Landscape of Beer in America will continue to provide an amazing variety of beer in every region in the U.S. The quality will continue to improve, and the average consumers knowledge will also improve. There will be some breweries and brewpubs that may not make it to the future. But until that future comes, you can find me basking in the thousands of beers and breweries in today’s American landscape. Go us! Go America!

 

Photo from: usasocialcondition.com

The brew: American Wheat part II. The last wheat I brewed was about 2 months ago, and the last beer I brewed was almost 1 1/2 months ago. Work and life have been so busy – I ended up having to squeeze in a brew day last minute.

 

Photo courtesy: Bellsbeer.com

 

The absence of Bells Oberon in California has me craving a crisp and clean wheat that I can have a few pints of in this triple digit heat, no water having, California summer. The last wheat brewed unfortunately fell to my friend, Acetaldehyde. It might’ve been high fermentation temperatures, bacterial infection, an underpitched amount of yeast, or any combination of a few other post boil factors. I’m sure there were at least a few other things going on in that batch, but the green apple and fruity esters overpowered just about everything else. So I decided to keep going with the same recipe.

 

 

Here’s what was supposed to happen:

 

 

American Wheat Recipe (Based on Jamil Z. Recipe)

 

  • 5 lbs. 8 oz. US 2 Row (50%)
  • 5 lbs. 8 oz. White Wheat (50%)
  • 1 oz. Williamette at 60 mins
  • .3 oz. Williamette at 0 mins
  • .3 oz. Centennial at 0 mins
  • American Hefe Strain (WLP 320 or Wyeast 1010)
  • Single Infusion Mash at 152 F for 60 mins

 

 

According to BeerSmith (for my equipment profile):

 

  • OG: 1.054
  • FG: 1.014
  • ABV: 5.3%
  • 19.3 IBUs

 

Here’s what really happened: 

The brew day setup.

The brew day setup.

 

Everything went according to plan. I entered it into a few competitions, and it took gold in each one… Okay, not really. I actually haven’t even tasted it yet. I will be transferring from primary to keg tomorrow, so it should be ready in about a week.

 

But the brew day really did go as well as I hoped. I used a nylon mesh BIAB bag as my false bottom, which was used in combination with the bazooka screen. The 11 lbs. grain bill with 50% wheat in my 5 gal. mash tun worked out just fine – No stuck sparge  like last American Wheat brew day!

 

I did mash a little higher than I expected – 155 F. I was trying to make up previous experience with my mash tun losing several degrees over the duration of the saccharification rest. Fortunately or unfortunately, the 155 F was consistent throughout the entire mash. For my purposes (drinking at home), the 3 degree difference will not be a major issue. I did pitch warmer than I wanted. I was aiming for around 70 F, but pitched around 80 F due to time constraints on the brew day.

 

Other than that, the day was fairly uneventful. I put the glass carboy in the fermentation chamber set for about 65F (the temp controller probe was taped to the carboy surrounded by some cloth to try to get a closer read). Here’s to a successful batch of American Wheat!

This post roughly marks this blog’s 1 year anniversary! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to also find me at Sommbeer.com!
Today’s brew: Everyone’s favorite, THE American IPA. Like much of the world, my mainstay is the American IPA. I love most styles, but I tend to favor the Fresh Squeezed (Deschutes), Deep Ellum IPA (Deep Ellum Brewing), and million other IPAs on the market. I figured most of my non-American Lager fans do too, so why not get a decent and consistent recipe down.
My working layout (My morning IPA not pictured).

My working layout (My morning IPA not pictured). New school on the left (Beersmith.com), old school on the right (Notebook)

Here’s what was supposed to happen:

American IPA Recipe – 5.00 gal Batch (Based on Brewing Classic Styles Recipe)

  • 12 lbs, 12 oz. US 2 Row
  • 12 oz. Munich
  • 1lbs. Crystal 20°L
  • 4 oz.Crystal 40°L
  • 1 oz. Magnum at 60 mins
  • 1 oz. Centennial at 10 mins
  • 1 oz. Simcoe at 5 mins
  • 1 oz. Amarillo at 0 mins
  • Fermentis SafAle US-05
  • Single Infusion Mash at 152 F for 60 mins

According to BeerSmith (for my equipment profile):

  • OG: 1.069
  • FG: 1.015
  • ABV: 7.18%
  • 62.8 IBUs
Here’s what really happened: 

The brew day actually went fairly smoothly. I stayed on course with my intended recipe. My issues with the brew day took place pre-boil. The grain bill of almost 15 lbs. made my poor little 5-gallon mash tun work far harder than it should’ve. The mash was extremely thick, but I used a BIAB mesh bag as a false bottom over my bazooka screen. Multiple sparges were needed, but no stuck mash here! Since I can’t measure the exact volume of my wort, I can’t determine an accurate efficiency %. But that is one thing to plan for as I nail down my processes.

Not only was my mash thick, but I also had issues with my mash temperature. The plan was to dough in around 165°F, but by the time the entire grain bill was stirred in, I was mashing at the low end of the Beta-Amylase range of around 140°F. I hope the beer doesn’t turn out as dry and light as the numbers make it out to be.

 

******************************************

Photo courtesy: BJCP.org
BJCP Guideline 21A – American IPA (2015):

Overall Impression: A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hopforward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.

Commercial Examples: Alpine Duet, Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA, Firestone Walker Union Jack, Lagunitas IPA, Russian River Blind Pig IPA, Stone IPA

On a separate note, you can now find me as a contributor on SommBeer.com. Check out my posts along with a variety of others written by an awesome SommBeer.com team!
If you don’t have a calendar, this weekend will be the cause of celebration for some and remembrance for others. This Memorial Day weekend will likely be similar to many others you may have had before. Perhaps BBQs and beer will be the main event of your weekend. Maybe you’re more of a shopping and beer type. Or if you’re a home-body like I am, your weekend will be filled with relaxation… and beer. Regardless of your celebration style, it is always a good thing to remember those who have died for the greater good, and for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia.org

After spending a few moments in remembrance, your celebration will continue and you will enjoy your craft beers. Hopefully you will enjoy this time with friends and family, who may also enjoy craft beers. But… there is always that one. The one who forgoes your keg of homebrew or craft beer. The one who dodges the hop-friendly IPAs and oak-aged Stouts you so selflessly opened to anyone in attendance. They’ve even managed to offload that pilsner or other craft lager you personally purchased for them since they only drink “light” beers. But fear not! There is hope for this friend, spouse, and/or family member!
The other day my wife and I made a trip to our friendly neighborhood bottle shop (Beverages and More), and sifted through the generous selection they always have available to us VIPs – its called the Craft Beer Aisle. I searched up and down the aisle monitoring my moods and emotions as I scanned their inventory. I selected a few that were recommended, and a few that I read about. All for me, of course. I then encouraged my wife to make a selection or two for her own enjoyment.

Photo courtesy: Bevmo.com

My wife is a Texan through and through. She loves the entire state (I’m not sure how that’s possible). She misses the rolling thunderstorms, and the crazy Texan courtesies. She loves her Dallas Mavericks, her Dallas Stars, and worst of all, her Dallas Cowboys. Now, I’m not a fan of the Cowboys by any stretch of the imagination; but Texas has given her and her family something far worse in my opinion – the taste for the American Lite Lager, especially Coors Lite. The first time we went out she offered a Coors Lite to me. I was still trying to impress her, so I drank it. Once the courtship became official, those went out the window.
Now that you know her history, back to the Beverages and More story. She scanned the few aisles that she was interested in and gently put her selection into the cart. I looked down only to see Boulder Beer Company’s Shake Chocolate Porter. It doesn’t matter what you think of the porter, but I think we can all agree that’s quite the step from Coors Lite. The good news is, her transformation is ALL my doing. And I’ve shared my secrets to getting someone to drink craft beer below:
  1. If they don’t drink beer, make them drink one anyway. They’ll enjoy it… eventually.
  2. While you’re drinking one of your favorites, make sure you force them to have a sip too! It’s a great beer!
  3. Even when trying different, and often weird, styles of beers throughout the day or week, repeat # 2.
  4. You can also try the force method with that 3 hop, 5 malt, 2 yeast experiment you home-brewed a few weeks ago. You’re a good brewer right?
  5. Start with the “best” beer you can find. You know, those Double IPAs, the Imperial Stouts, and the all-Brett Sours. People need to get with the times! Bigger is better!
  6. Don’t start them with something similar to what they already like. If they like sweet, don’t give them a cider, mead, or any other malt forward beer. Try Stone’s Arrogant Bastard or Ruination. Everyone likes Stone, right?
  7. Good beer has no seasons. Founders’ KBS and Rasputin’s RIS drink just as easy in the middle of a Texas summer as Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale or Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale.
  8. Make them stand in line with you for those private releases, and convince them how amazing it is to wait hours for the opportunity to potentially purchase one.
  9. Or for the average days, allow them to enjoy looking at your local bottle shop’s new inventory for the hour or more that you’re there.
  10. If all else fails, “trick” them by pouring it in a red solo cup and writing their name and “Coors Lite” on the cup.
Hope these work for you as “well” as they’ve worked for my wife and I.
So, I’ve been missing from the Interwebs… again. Mainly because I wrapped up a 5,500 mile round trip drive from California to Georgia a couple weeks ago. That was a great time, which happened to suck the life out of my truck. Sorry, truck.

I have also been missing because not 8 hours after said trip did I separate my radius and ulna from my humorous humerus. Either way, it was not funny. And for those who have been patella deep in Brewers Association books instead of remembering the Bones song, I dislocated my elbow. The latter reference was to the knee. You’re welcome.

Now back to beer.

*****Caution: SINGLE-HANDED-TYPING RANT AHEAD*****

Speaking of Georgia, while I was there I had my first experience with a growler filling station. At Whole Foods. It was AMAZING. There I am looking for good cheese when I say to myself,  “Maybe I’ll have a beer tonight, too.” So I walk my happy little self to the cold bottles and find the selection great, but the indecision greater. Then a friend jokingly says, “Hey, maybe you should get a jug!” I look to where he’s pointing, and there it is! A beautiful, chrome five-faucet system perfectly placed between the wine/beer aisle and the bakery. Cold, kegged beer waiting in front of me. Warm, toasty goodness filling the air. Overly priced, one-time-purchase cheese in hand. It was a great moment in my life. Needless to say, I walked out with two 64 oz. growlers of Bell’s Oberon, which were eventually consumed within the following 48 hours.

That next weekend I decided I would like to try beers more local to the Georgia-Lina area (That’s Georgia-Carolina, by the way). A quick Yelp and Google search, and I find the nearest growler station, Tip Top Taps. I took my Whole Foods growlers in and added one of Tip Top Tap’s growlers to my collection. They flushed my growlers with CO2, and I walked out with a few keg-fresh gallons of local goodness. After I left Georgia, I drove into Texas and did the same thing for some DFW growlers.

Some of you reading this may be thinking, “Cool story, guy, but I get my growlers filled all the time.” Well, this is where the rant begins. According to the Brewers Association,  Georgia ranks 24th in the nation with 40 craft breweries; I found at least 3 non-brewery/retail establishments within a 10 mile radius that fill growlers. Texas ranks 8th with 117 craft breweries. Retail growler filling stations were quite common there as well. Arizona,  Florida,  New York,  and of course Oregon and Washington, all allow retailers to fill growlers. California ranks 1st in the U.S. with 431 breweries and counting. There are 1.6 breweries per Capita (100,000 21+ adults) in California. Guess where it is NOT legal for retail growler filling? And California is not alone!

Now, I get it… why have Whole Foods or independent tap houses fill growlers when I can throw a rock in any given direction and hit a brewery, which IS allowed to fill growlers (with certain guidelines, of course). The beer is fresh. The kegs are controlled. And those filling the growlers will usually know the beer almost as much as the brewers. I’ve heard some argue that breweries lose control of the product once it leaves their doors. I’ve heard others attribute a retailer’s cleanliness (or lack thereof) to a less than satisfactory experience for consumers. And I’ve had conversations with a few who believe the right to sell growlers of beer should stay with the brewers and breweries.

I certainly admire and respect the work done by the growing number of brewers and the breweries they work in. It takes a tremendous amount of work to create the fantastic product that we’ve all grown to know and love. It’s no easy feat to transform water, malt, hops, and yeast into an 8% ABV ale sought after by tens of thousands. I would never ask that the hard work done be compromised for the sake of the consumer or the almighty U.S. dollar. Still, I don’t understand the arguments against the “growler house.”

Sure, breweries have less control of the product. But what about when it’s sent around the nation in bottles? Maybe the local bottle shop will keep them in cold storage and maintain them properly. Will the local convenience store or mom and pop adult beverage store do the same? How does risk in the treatment of bottles differ from the risk in the treatment of growler filling stations? If anything, those hard-working people filling the growlers will be just as passionate as those working on the breweries’ premises. And it’s this passion that will push them to continuously serve a quality product in a clean and inviting atmosphere.

I believe there are so many advantages in allowing retailers the opportunity to pour a 16-64 oz. growler. Now, I write this strictly as a passionate consumer. I don’t work in the industry, nor do I pretend to understand the industry. If I’m incorrect in any of my statements, feel free to contact me. I’d love to have a conversation and to learn more about what I’m missing. Regardless of the reasons, craft beer should not just push the envelope on the beer itself, but it should also push the envelope on how the beer is made available to those who love it so.
Well, that’s what this blog seems it’s turning into… “Hello World, this is me.” 6 Months later… “Hello, I’m still here.” 3 Months later… “Hello again.. I like beer.” No post for umpteen months…

So yeah… Thanks for reading!
….

..

.

Okay… It has been like that, and it all started a little after my last post. Life happened and work travel started. But the beer keeps flowing! Fortunately, I’ve been able to have some different beers traveling outside of the West Coast. For the list of those, you can find me on Untappd.com.
From Left to Right Rear: Lagunitas Maximus, 903 Brewers Sugar On Top, Community Beer Co. Mosaic IPA,  Revolver Brewing Blood & Honey, Rahr & Sons Stormcloud IPA, Saint Arnold Brewing Elissa IPA, Stone Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise Front: Cedar Creek Brewing Dankosaurus IPA, Deep Ellum IPA, Southern Star Brewing Valkyrie IIPA, Deep Ellum Dream Crusher IIPA

From Left to Right
Rear: Lagunitas Maximus, Rodenbach, 903 Brewers Sugar On Top, Community Beer Co. Mosaic IPA, Revolver Brewing Blood & Honey, Rahr & Sons Stormcloud IPA, Saint Arnold Brewing Elissa IPA, Stone Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise
Front: Cedar Creek Brewing Dankosaurus IPA, Deep Ellum IPA, Southern Star Brewing Valkyrie IIPA, Deep Ellum Dream Crusher IIPA

While the beer flows, the brew-formation (see what I did there?) seems to be flowing even more. I’ve listened to dozens (maybe hundreds?) of podcasts and watched several videos on homebrewing and the craft beer business – everything from multiple shows on the Brewing Network, to the BeerSmith, Basic Brewing Radio, and MicroBrewr podcasts, to the several BrewBound sessions available on the Youtube.com. I’ve also read a good number of books, which you can find the updated list here. You can also find an expanded reading list at Microbrewr.com. All of it so informational and entertaining!

I know I’ve set multiple directions for this blog within its short lifespan, but now I just planning on posting stuff. Some of it will be related to the beer business. Some of it to my homebrewing and recipes. Some of it relating to tastings. Just stuff. So here we go again! Happy reading! Cheers!

If by some miracle you are actually keeping up with this blog and its posts, you may have noticed that the posts have stopped. Well… as it turns out, I am still alive and well. It also turns out that blogging is A LOT of work. By “a lot of work,” I don’t mean its hard work – but it is work to publish something that doesn’t turn into a series of Facebook and Instagram updates, yet is still frequent and interesting to read. 

Example:

     “Here’s a picture of my beer.”
     “Here’s the food from this place that I had with my beer.”
     [INSERT POSITIVE QUOTE]
     [INSERT RANT ON CURRENT ISSUE]
     “This beer tastes like this.”
     [INSERT FUNNY MEME]
     “Look at this IPA. It is so hoppy.”

Other than trying to figure out this whole blogging thing, I’ve also been shoulders deep in reading everything I can about entrepreneurship, brewing, and running a taphouse/brewpub/restaurant. My office is filled with everything from recent articles and books on running your own business, to magazines on beer and brewing – including some old issues of Zymurgy (1989-1996 editions) given generously on Freecycle.org. [Freecycle.org is this amazing, community-based website where you can give and find tons of free/used stuff. For more information, click here.]

From what I’ve read so far, apparently there are a million ways to do the same thing – and everyone is right! There will definitely be good times ahead. If I never open a brewery/taphouse/brewpub, at least I’ll be that much better of a businessman and homebrewer right?

*****UPDATE*****

In other news, the experimental “Pale ale”  is now in the secondary. Its cleared up quite a bit, and is hopefully conditioning just as well. It should be bottled within the next week, and thanks to natural carbonation, will be ready to drink by the middle to the end of September. I’m curious to see the differences the yeast made. I’ll get some photos come bottling time.

*********************

Finally, here’s a funny photo just because I can. You’re welcome.

 

Photo cred: see photo.

Well, the weekend is over, and for most of us, it’s back to reality. Other than the couple home-brews and the half a bottle of wine, I think I got a good amount of work done. More importantly, I was able to begin the first in a series of homebrewing experiments. I’ve included the recipe and some photos of the brew day below.

 

Since I am fairly new to homebrewing, I decided I would try variations of ideas that I’ve had or heard about in order to become much more familiar with the ingredients I would be using. Much of the first round of experiments will be  SMaSH-based recipes. If you have not heard of the concept, or are new to home brewing, SMaSH recipes use a Single Malt and a Single Hop. The purpose of using this strategy would be to isolate the differences in the different ingredients. For example, I may want to focus on malts one day, hops another day, and yeast on a different day. If I wanna get crazy, I may even play with the water or the mash and fermentation profiles. The possibilities are endless, but that is the beauty of homebrewing!

 

In the experiment that took place this weekend, I decided to play with the yeast (since that’s what was on hand). I made a SMaSH with American 2-row malts and Cascade hops in a 2 gallon mini batch. The yeasts used included a starter derived from White Labs WLP001 California Ale yeast and a starter made from White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison yeast. I am curious to see how the fermentation progresses, and what flavors come from the different yeasts.
The mini set up. A friend brewing an American Wheat in the background.

The mini set up. A friend brewing an American Wheat in the background.

The work area with BeerSmith mobile running on the tablet.

The work area with BeerSmith mobile running on the tablet.

60 Minute Boil
4 lbs – US 2 Row
4 oz – 20L Crystal
.25 oz – Cascade @ 60 mins
.6 oz – Cascade @ 15 mins
1 – Whirlfloc @ 15 mins
.5 oz – Cascade @ 5 mins
Cascade additions. From left to right, initially supposed to be at 60, 30, 15, and 5, but decided to combine the 30 min and 15 min additions.

Cascade additions. From left to right, initially supposed to be at 60, 30, 15, and 5, but decided to combine the 30 min and 15 min additions.

Yeasts
1 gal – WLP001
.5 gal – WLP565
.5 gal – WLP565
Both fermenting at approx. 68 – 72 F.

If I’ve missed or didn’t include anything, or if you have questions or feedback on the recipe, feel free to comment or email. Thanks for reading!

The final product. The WLP565 on the sides, and the WLP001 in the middle.

The final product. The WLP565 on the sides, and the WLP001 in the middle. The WLP565 batch had to be split due to the size of the starter.