Mid Atlantic Brewing News February/March 2014 : Page 1
ILLUSTRATIONS BY: HANS GRANHEIM M S By Greg Kitsock Brewing Co. in Frederick, Md. teamed up to brew a Bavarian-style helles, a malt-accented golden lager so far out of vogue in a world of upscaled “imperial” brews that many wouldn’t even recognize it as a craft style. Elsewhere in the District of Columbia, Nathan Zeender, head brewer at the newly opened Right Proper brewpub, voices a similar heresy: “I ometimes less is more. Tim Prendergast, cellarman at Washington, DC taphouse Meridian Pint, says he’s “become less enamored with over-the-top styles of beer that seem to be a dime a dozen these days.” He complains, “Being hit over the head with bitterness, alcohol and flavor is frankly getting old.” And so last Nov. 6, Prendergast, Meridian Pint beer director Sam Fitz and Monocacy See Lowering p.4 4 hey’re brewing on systems ranging from five gallons to 15 barrels, in old barns and blue warehouses, all alone or in concert with old pals, their spouses or their families. They’re making American wild ales, super saisons and chili pepper stouts. Their numbers include one innovative brewery that will operate on the CSA (community supported agriculture) model, selling beer to subscribers only. But their dreams are the same. Here’s a peek at a few of the up-and-coming breweries in Pennsylvania that are currently in operation or plan to be soon. Armstrong Ales is a one-barrel, one-man operation in the rear of a big blue warehouse behind a shopping center off Rt. 23 in Phoenixville. Owner Steve Armstrong began selling beer last year and has landed taps at some of the best-known local beer venues, including Limerick’s Craft Ale House, Linfield’s Railroad Street Bar and Grill, and the Pour House in Pottstown. He has a contract to make a house pale ale for the latter. He built his own coolship to make American Coolship Ale , which he describes See Next p. 6 INSIDE Book Review.................................. 8 Funnell Bids Farewell ................... 9 Fairy Hopmother ........................10 Event Calendar ............................17 Homebrew ...................................12 Hop Ed .........................................13 Maps ...................................... 18-21 Virginia ...........14 C. Penn ............22 Philadelphia ...24 E. Penn ............26 State by State News W. Virginia ......28 Maryland ........29 Baltimore ........31 D.C. ..................33 New Jersey .....34 Delaware ........36
Lowering The Bar
Sometimes less is more.
Tim Prendergast, cellarman at Washington, DC taphouse Meridian Pint, says he’s “become less enamored with over-the-top styles of beer that seem to be a dime a dozen these days.” He complains, “Being hit over the head with bitterness, alcohol and flavor is frankly getting old.”
And so last Nov. 6, Prendergast, Meridian Pint beer director Sam Fitz and Monocacy Brewing Co. In Frederick, Md.Teamed up to brew a Bavarian-style helles, a malt-accented golden lager so far out of vogue in a world of upscaled “imperial” brews that many wouldn’t even recognize it as a craft style.
Elsewhere in the District of Columbia, Nathan Zeender, head brewer at the newly opened Right Proper brewpub, voices a similar heresy: “I Personally find a lot of the ‘imperial’- styled beers to be harsh and overdriven without any nuance.” As of early January, he boasted that three of his eight beers on tap clocked in under 4% abv. They included Petit Frere, a 3.5% table beer based on the abbey singles that monks brew for their own consumption.
These kinder, gentler beers are finding a receptive market. Founder Brewing Co. In Grand Rapids, Mich. Reports that its 4.5%-abv All Day IPA has replaced its full strength IPA as the company’s top seller.
They also present the ultimate challenge for brewers, suggests Matt Rose, founder and head brewer of Forge Brew Works in Lorton, Va. “If you want to hide a flaw, it’s virtually impossible. You have to hit your target spot on.”
The Road to Helles
Monocacy’s helles lager was expected to go on tap Jan. 28 at Meridian Pint and its sister establishment, Smoke and Barrel. The style, which typically clocks in around 5% abv, is subtle but not boring, insists Prendergast.“It's a decidedly malty style of beer that feels full on the palate but shows very little sweetness and remains thirst-quenchingly dry in the finish.”
Helles means “bright” in German; it has no connection to the underworld. However, to add a little notoriety to their beer, Meridian Pint and Monocacy have decided to call it Long Road to Helles and use precisely 666 lb of grain per 15-bbl batch. A portion will be siphoned into pins and served, refermented and dryhopped,As a Kellerbier.
Although there aren’t nearly as many American-made helles lagers as IPAs, the style isn’t as rare as it first appears. It often masquerades under such names as golden lager, blonde lager and simply lager.
Jason Oliver, brewmaster for Devils Backbone Brewing Co. In Virginia, says that his Gold Leaf Lager (4.5% abv, 17 IBUs), one of his mainstays since 2008, was formulated as a helles “but fermented drier and crisper than initially intended, so I dropped the helles moniker and consider it to be just an all-malt lager.” Look for it in cans as of April 1.
Fordham Helles from the Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co. In Dover, Del.Was one of the few yeararound, bottled brands to use the helles designation.Was. Last month, the golden lager, which derives its light but complex character from Munich, Vienna and CaraFoam specialty malts, was rebranded Gypsy Lager. “It’s a great segue beer for getting drinkers into craft,” explained Casey Hollingsworth, vice president for marketing and sales, and so the brewery wanted a name that better expressed a sense of adventure, the idea of embarking on a journey.
Mini Hop Bombs
The Fordham line is adding a label: Route 1 Session IPA. Measuring 4.5% abv and liberally hopped with Cascade, Bravo, Crystal and Chinook hops, the beer is aimed at drinkers who, like Hollingsworth himself, “enjoy hops a great deal but aren’t getting any younger.”
Session IPAs challenge the notion that session beers have to be balanced and smooth on the palate as well as lower strength. But are they really a separate category, or simply pumped-up pale ales? (Author Brian Yaeger, tongue-in-cheek, has suggested the term “Amero-Anglo-style bitter.”) Route 1 measures 35 IBUs, which appears to be a little below the threshold for a true IPA. But Hollingsworth Notes that a lot of the hopping takes place in the whirlpool, where the hop particles are strained from the cooling wort. This would tend to augment flavor and aroma rather than ratchet up the bitterness that IBUs measure.
At any rate, session IPAs are proliferating.Victory Brewing Co. In Downingtown, Pa.Has made two of them. PJ’s Session IPA is a house beer developed for the PJ Whelihan’s pub chain in southeast Pennsylvania. More recently, Victory released Hop Ticket Session IPA, measuring 4.5% abv and drawing its citrusy hop profile from whole-flower Simcoe, Citra and Chinook. Part of Victory’s Hop Ticket series of limited releases, Session IPA Will be available throughout the brewery’s marketing area, draft only, until it’s replaced by a hoppy wheat beer in March.
And if you wait until fall, Devils Backbone plans to release Bravo Four Point, a singlehop session IPA measuring 4% abv and 50+ IBUs, in cans as a seasonal offering.
“Embrace the Shackles”
At this point in the conversation, we might ask, what defines a session beer? Or more precisely, what should be the upper limit for alcohol? Some would say 5% by volume, which seems to be the norm for American beer. Others might bump that up to 6%, given the trend towards higher-alcohol beers not just from craft breweries but from larger companies as well. (See George Rivers’ column elsewhere this issue.)
Matt Rose begs to differ. “In my mind, a session beer is under 4%. You should be able to have two or three at lunch and still go back to work unimpaired.” His Petite Saison, at 3.3% abv, fits the bill. It’s a saison in the original sense of the style, he says: a lowalcohol beer served to migrant farm workers called saisonniers who needed to rehydrate without getting intoxicated.
How do you pack a lot of flavor into such a slight beer? Zeender, whose repertoire ranges from Ornette (a rustic wheat beer called a grisette) to Laird Fauntleroy (a Scottish-accented dark mild), says that “grist choice, mashing regimen, water chemistry, fermentation temperatures” all figure in. “I guess as a brewer you could also frame it as a challenge to yourself to try to do more with less, sort of embrace the shackles.”
Rose gives credit to his yeast, a Wyeast French saison strain. He ferments Petite Saison at an unusually high temperature of 85 degrees F. This causes the yeast to throw off a lot of phenols, resulting in a spicy, floral bouquet.“You don’t need a whole lot of malt.”
Rose says that Petite Saison will be his first canned beer once Forge Brew Works starts canning (“hopefully within the next six months”). In the meantime it’s available year around in draft form, at the brewery taproom and in a few northern Virginia bars.
Given the fact that lower-alcohol beers tend to have briefer shelf lives, perhaps the best way to enjoy them off-premise is from a growler that was filled mere feet from the tap. Right Proper sells its standard offerings in two-liter swing-top growlers, and will also clean and fill other growlers that customers bring in. Forge Brew Works provides 32- and 64-oz growlers, but Rose isn’t picky. “You bring it in, even if it’s a Corny keg, we’ll figure out a way to fill it.”
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Craft Beer's Next Generation
They’re brewing on systems ranging from five gallons to 15 barrels, in old barns and blue warehouses, all alone or in concert with old pals, their spouses or their families.They’re making American wild ales, super saisons and chili pepper stouts. Their numbers include one innovative brewery that will operate on the CSA (community supported agriculture) model, selling beer to subscribers only.
But their dreams are the same.
Here’s a peek at a few of the up-and coming breweries in Pennsylvania that are Currently in operation or plan to be soon.
Armstrong Ales is a one-barrel, one man operation in the rear of a big blue warehouse behind a shopping center off Rt. 23 in Phoenixville. Owner Steve Armstrong began selling beer last year and has landed taps at some of the best-known local beer venues, including Limerick’s Craft Ale House, Linfield’s Railroad Street Bar and Grill, and the Pour House in Pottstown. He has a contract to make a house pale ale for the latter.
He built his own coolship to make American Coolship Ale, which he describes As “kind of a lambic.” The rest of the beer list is varied and interesting, from Scrupulous Lupulus IPA to espresso-infused Soletane’s Pride (an English strong ale) to Mongfind's Offering Barleywine.
Armstrong brews twice a week and says, “I don’t have a wife or kids, so all I have to do is cover my mortgage.” He hopes to graduate to a 10-bbl system in a couple years or so and is looking for investors. A website, http://armstrongales.com, was under construction at press time.
Not Horsing Around
Richard Wolfe, Tyler Fontaine and Chris Carbutt, the guys behind Stable 12 Brewing Co., are already owners of a 15-bbl brewhouse, plus fermenters and a four-head bottling line for 12-ouncers. Fontaine will be the brewer, Carbutt his assistant and Wolfe in charge of administrative duties and sales.
The only thing they need at this point is a site. “We had a place and the owner pulled out at the last minute,” says Wolfe. “So we have our brewing system and paperwork all ready to go once we sign a lease.” They’re looking in the King of Prussia/Conshohocken/Plymouth Meeting area while brewing in a barn on Wolfe’s family’s horse farm in Skippack (hence the brewery name).
“We can’t brew commercially at that location because it’s not served by a public water system,” says Wolfe, “so we’ve been doing five-gallon batches which we give to friends on our mailing list so they can provide us with feedback. So far, our IPA and winter ale have been the most popular. Whether we open as a brewpub or a production brewery with a tasting room will depend on the real estate and local rules and regulations.” Follow them at www.stable12.com/home.html.
The Family That Brews Together
Crooked Eye Brewery is a family affair founded by Paul Mulherin, his son Jeff and brother-in-law Paul Hogan. It’s at 13 E. Montgomery Ave. In Hatboro and already has federal licensing. The trio was expecting state approval by late January. They were homebrewers for eight years before launching Crooked Eye. “This all got started in my son’s kitchen with five-gallon extract batches,” says Paul. “We’re doing 30-gallon batches on our pilot system and plan to upgrade to a 3-bbl system soon.” Son Jeff is the brewer.
Once all the paperwork has been approved, Crooked Eye will begin selling growlers, kegs and hand-bottled 22-oz bombers. Initial releases will be Top Hat Brown Ale, Crooked EyePA, Crooked Eye Blond Ale and Regimental 80 (a Scottish ale). Hogan noted, “We’ve gotten a lot of interest from local pubs and taverns and will be brewing a house beer for one of them. And we did a private Oktoberfest last fall featuring our Spiced Porter and Scottish Export 80L and that went very well.” Check out www.crookedeyebrewery.com.
Two for Kennett Square
Out in Kennett Square, beer lovers are salivating over the prospect of two new brewpubs in the borough by summer. Victory at Magnolia, the Victory Brewing Co. Pub already covered in these pages, is set to open in the second quarter of 2014. But the wait for Kennett Brewing Co., at 109 S. Broad St., will be much shorter. They might even be open as you’re reading this.
A 5-bbl brewing system arrived from Oregon in mid-January. “We are looking forward to offering a combination: resurrecting historical beers of the world and creating innovative American ales,” says brewer Chris Braunstein. His partners include his wife Jen and another married couple, Mark and Jocelyn Osborne.
“This is as much Kennett’s brewery and dream, as it is ours,” continues Braunstein. “We can’t wait to contribute to the historic downtown and the community at large.” Follow their progress at http:// kennettbrewingcompany.com.
Bring on the Funk
Funk Brewing Co. At 19 S. Sixth St. in Emmaus projected that its first batches would ready by the end of January, beginning of February. Founder Kyle Funk will brew on a 15-bbl system along with recent hire Joe Percoco, late of Weyerbacher Brewing Co. And Fegley Brew Works.
"Our opening beers will be a session pale ale, American pale ale, American IPA, saison and black saison," says Funk. He promises “some awesome varieties of Funk farmhouse ales, “ including a 10%-abv “super saison” brewed with local honey and American hops.“That one has an awesome citrus nose and taste along with a semi-sweet finish that we're pretty fired up about."
Seasonals will include a Berliner weisse in the spring and a sour ale in the summer, plus fall standards like Oktoberfest and pumpkin ale. Funk also plans to make a rye IPA and a Baltic porter.
The brewery will offer self-guided tours with samplings, along with bottle and growler sales, on Fridays 5-9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays noon-5 p.m. Read more at http:// funkbrewing.com.
For news of still more openings, see the Eastern and Central Pennsylvania columns this issue.
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