Mid Atlantic Brewing News April/May 2015 : Page 1
Distilling Beer Into The Frecon family makes beer and cider at Other Farm Brewery and Frecon’s Cidery. From left to right are head brewer Bryan McDonald, co-owners Steve and Hank PHOTO COURTESY OF FRECON’S CIDERY Frecon, and cider maker Jamie Bock. By Jack Curtin ave cider makers found a new use for the bitter herb used almost exclusively in brewing beer? Added post-fermentation, hops bring subtle but discernible herbal and earthy notes to offset or complement the sweetness from the apples. Homebrewers have experimented with the concept for some time. The first commercial version appears to have been Anthem Cider , made by Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, Ore. and inspired by a brewery in the state that blended a Wandering Aengus cider with an IPA. Hopped ciders are now emerging on a broader scale: Two small beverage makers in southeastern Pennsylvania have begun infusing ciders with hops, and even big guys Angry Orchard and Woodchuck have picked up on the new style. SCHNAPPS TO IT. Owner James Yoakum of Cooper River Distillers in Camden, NJ has experimented with distilling several beers into schnapps as well as producing other spirits like Petty’s Island Rum and Silver Fox Rye. BELOW LEFT-The pot still Yoakum uses for his experiments distilling beer schnapps. He had three varieties aging PHOTO BY KATHY GANSER-ABATE as of press time. By MABN Staff hen he opened Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. in Philadelphia in spring 2014, Tim Patton wound up “ruining a bunch of batches because they were new,” recalled his friend James Yoakum. Rather than dump his mistakes, Patton turned the beer over to Yoakum, who had just opened Cooper Rivers Distillers in Camden, NJ, possibly the first distillery ever to operate legally in the Garden State. Thus, 200 gallons of a bad lavender saison were distilled into 15 bottles of beer schnapps called Liaison Saison . “It has a strong taste of lavender,” says Yoakum. “It’s not ready to sell to public yet, though. I’m waiting for approval on labels.” In our nation’s capital, DC Brau found a similar use for misfilled cans that couldn’t be sold. The brewery mixed together four of its brands— The Public , The Corruption , The Citizen and El Hefe Speaks! —and delivered the blend to New Columbia Distillery, where it was distilled into a 145 proof spirit. Owner Michael Lowe says he’ll cut the See Hopping p. 4 See Schnapps p. 3 INSIDE Fairy Hopmother .......................... 7 Book Review.................................. 8 Homebrew ...................................10 Maps ...................................... 16-19 Strength Matters ........................33 Event Calendar ............................33 State by State News Virginia ...........12 Maryland ........26 W. Virginia ......15 Baltimore ........27 C. Penn ............20 D.C. ..................29 Philadelphia ...22 New Jersey .....30 E. Penn ............24 Delaware ........34
A Fine Nip: Schnapps
When he opened Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. In Philadelphia in spring 2014, Tim Patton wound up “ruining a bunch of batches because they were new,” recalled his friend James Yoakum. Rather than dump his mistakes, Patton turned the beer over to Yoakum, who had just opened Cooper Rivers Distillers in Camden, NJ, possibly the first distillery ever to operate legally in the Garden State.
Thus, 200 gallons of a bad lavender saison were distilled into 15 bottles of beer schnapps called Liaison Saison. “It has a strong taste of lavender,” says Yoakum. “It’s not ready to sell to public yet, though. I’m waiting for approval on labels.”
In our nation’s capital, DC Brau found a similar use for misfilled cans that couldn’t be sold. The brewery mixed together four of its brands— The Public, The Corruption, The Citizen and El Hefe Speaks!—and delivered the blend to New Columbia Distillery, where it was distilled into a 145 proof spirit. Owner Michael Lowe says he’ll cut the liquor before offering it to the public. (Commercially available beer schnapps tend to hover between 40 and 50 percent alcohol by volume, or 80-90 proof.)
In the meantime, it’s mellowing in oak barrels along with a schnapps that Lowe made from a black IPA contributed by Bardo, another local brewery. He stresses that these are super small-batch products and will likely be available only at the distillery.
Schnapps, from a German word meaning “to swallow,” can mean any strong alcoholic drink, often one flavored with fruit or herbs. Technically, any grain-based spirit can be considered a beer schnapps. Before he can make whiskey, a distiller first has to ferment grain to produce a 7-8%-abv liquid called “distiller’s beer” or “wash.”
Using a commercially produced beer in place of the wash can be challenging. First, you need to de-gas the beer. Otherwise, raising the temperature to 172 degrees to vaporize the alcohol will cause the beer to foam violently. (Yoakum didn’t know this and admits that his first attempt at distilling beer “made a big mess.”)
“The distilling process highlights some flavors and mutes others,” observes Jamie Gulden, co-founder of Feisty Spirits in Fort Collins, Colo. He recalls distilling a sour ale from nearby Black Bottle Brewery, which kept the sour essence but muted the puckering qualities. A blackberry wheat that lacked blackberry character as a beer showcased the flavor nicely after distillation.
Hops vs. Schnapps
Hoppy beers can be problematic, because distilling can concentrate the flavor to the point where it becomes unpleasantly bitter. But “if you like hopped whiskey, there’s a lot of them out there,” mentions James Rodewald, author of American Spirit: An Exploration of the Craft Distilling Revolution. He’s not a huge fan, but does single out one example for praise—287 Single Malt Whiskey from StilltheOne Distillery in Port Chester, NY. It was originally made from Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.’s Freshchester Pale Ale, but brewer Scott Vaccaro now creates a custom wash using four different types of malt. “Scott creates beers with great flavors, and it’s my job as the distiller to coax those flavors out,” comments StilltheOne proprietor Ed Tiedge.
Another example is R5 Whiskey from the Napa Valley’s Charbay Distillery, distilled from Bear Republic Brewing Co.'s Racer 5 IPA. Marko Karakasevic—son of founder Miles Karakasevic —comments, "The hops are concentrated but we get a fruity, spicy, floral, green character which a lot of people like."
Nevertheless, distillers tend to prefer maltier beers. Chris Wells, founder of Berkshire Mountain Distillery in Sheffield, Mass., experimented with five different Samuel Adams beers before settling on two malt-forward styles. About 25,000 gallons of Boston Lager and about 10,000-15,000 of Cinder Bock were triple-distilled to about 5% of the original volume. Wells says that the Boston Lager distillate has a fruit and floral character with prominent aromatics, while the Cinder Bock version evidences a deep Scotch malt. The spirits have been aging for two-anda- half years in the wood but neither is quite ready yet.
Not all beer schnapps are one-off, smallbatch releases. Oregon-based Rogue Ales & Spirits produces two on a regular basis. Dead Guy Whiskey is made from the same malts as the brewery’s Dead Guy Ale but without the hops. Chipotle Spirit is based on Chipotle Ale taken directly from the brewery. Mike Higgins, Rogue’s director of liquid development, said some is shipped as far afield as Total Wine in Virginia.
Some beer schnapps are based on seasonal offerings. Every year, Anchor Brewing Co. In San Francisco turns over leftover Christmas Ale to its distillery, where it’s turned into a spirit called White Christmas. One hundred fifty barrels of 2014 Christmas Ale are aging and will make about 1,800 bottles of White Christmas for a December 2015 release.
Pumpkin Season Spirit from Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee, Wis. Is distilled from Lakefront Brewery’s fall favorite Pumpkin Lager. Great Lakes ships its brands to 28 states, including Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey as well as Washington, DC.
As the number of micro-distilleries increases (there are now more than 700 across the country), we’ll see a growing number of beer schnapps. Back in New Jersey, Cooper River Distillers has so far distilled three cast-off beers from Saint Benjamin Brewing: the lavender saison, an IPA and a California common. Owner James Yoakum says he’s waiting for a shipment of an Oktoberfest from Flying Fish Brewing Co. In Somerdale, NJ.
He plans to sell these beverages as a singlerun series of what he calls “beerskeys.” He explains that he’s originally from Kentucky, home of bourbon, and he thinks every liquor should end in “-ey.”
Expect more. “We found this source of raw materials. As new breweries open, there are more resources, because they’ll make mistakes too. Give them to us!” Beer schnapps are “not our focus, not our bread and butter,” admits Yoakum, but he’d like to see them become “a little sideline of the community.”
Kathy Ganser-Abate, Steve Frank, George Hummel, Arnold Meltzer and Greg Kitsock contributed to this article.
Read the full article at http://mabnonline.brewingnews.com/article/A+Fine+Nip%3A+Schnapps/1974489/252824/article.html.
Cross Over Beverages: Hopping The Apple
Have cider makers found a new use for the bitter herb used almost exclusively in brewing beer?
Added postfermentation, hops bring subtle but discernible herbal and earthy notes to offset or complement the sweetness from the apples. Homebrewers have experimented with the concept for some time. The first commercial version appears to have been Anthem Cider, made by Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, Ore. And inspired by a brewery in the state that blended a Wandering Aengus cider with an IPA.
Hopped ciders are now emerging on a broader scale: Two small beverage makers in southeastern Pennsylvania have begun infusing ciders with hops, and even big guys Angry Orchard and Woodchuck have picked up on the new style.
Having settled into new quarters at Round Guys Brewing Co. (see this issue’s Eastern Pennsylvania column), Joe Getz, co-founder of Kurant Cider in Lansdale, Pa., is eager to push the envelope. “I’ve worked at Keystone Homebrew Supply [a major suburban homebrew supply chain] for the last three years,” he says, “and I had a lot of customers who tried making ciders with hops. I tried a few times myself but was never really satisfied with the results.”
He began playing around again last summer. “I tried maybe seven or eight different varieties and found that Mosaic, Citra and Equinox worked well with our flavor profiles. More importantly, people liked the results. Ciders incorporating those hops got really, really good receptions at all the festivals we took them to.”
Kurant’s first commercially available hopped cider, Earth, was dry-hopped with Mosaic, a strain known for its fruity and floral flavors. Earth is now available on tap at the Round Guys pub.
Getz is already planning his next step. “I want to try creating a hop tincture by treating some raw cider as if it were a beer, bringing it to a 30- to 60-minute boil with hops added and then blending that back into another cider after it has fermented so that we get more the hop flavor and some of its bitterness instead of just aroma and a little flavor. I really don’t know whether it would be great or terrible, but finding out and learning something new is part of the fun.”
“A Salad of C’s”
The Other Farm Brewing Co., a nanobrewery that opened in a former coffeehouse in 2013, and Frecon’s Cidery, which started up in 2009, are both owned primarily by members of the Frecon family. Both operate on the family farm in Boyertown, Pa., where brewmaster Brian McDonald and cider maker Jamie Bock have collaborated on several hopped ciders. Customer reaction to their dry ciders spurred the decision to experiment with hops, says brewery co-owner Hank Frecon. “People would comment that they thought they didn’t like ciders because they are too sweet. But ours was not at all what they expected, and one or two even compared them to Belgian-style ales.”
The first step involved the brewery’s Renart’s Triple, hopped with Tettnang and Magnum. McDonald turned it into a beer/ cider hybrid by freezing a sweet cider into an ice ball and adding it to the brew as it was finishing to give the 10%-abv beer a touch of apple aroma and sweetness.
Currently available are Hoppy Mon (5.5%), Frecon’s light-bodied Early Man cider dryhopped with Cascade and Centennial hops; and Hoppy Granny (10%). The latter is a cyser, a hybrid cider-mead fermented with apples and honey. It begins as Frecon’s Crabby Granny cyser, and is then dry-hopped with “a salad of C's (Citra, Centennial, Chinook, Cascade).”
Other Farm and Frecon have also collaborated with Subarashii Kudamono, grower of Asian pears and maker of Asian pear wine, on Nashi (6%). “Our witbier was blended with Asian Pear Sweet Perry,” says Frecon. “The hops we used were Tettnang and Goldings.”
Coming Soon: “Wilder Interpretations”
The big cider makers didn’t get that way by ignoring trends. The Vermont Hard Cider Co. (maker of Woodchuck) got into the game during the summer of 2013 with Dry Hop, a 6. 9% one-off released in 22-oz bottles as the first of its Cellar Series line. Their hopping technique involved running a fermented cider through a tank of fresh, whole-cone Cascade hops, allowing it to pick up the hop oils and aroma. Dry Hop later received a limited draft release as Hoppy Apple. Now renamed Hopsation and reduced to a more cider-like 5% alcohol, it’s been added to the Woodchuck core group. The cidery’s creative manager, Cheray MacFarland, says they’ll soon release a Hop Variety Pack with some “wilder interpretations” of infused ciders.
Boston Beer Co.’s Angry Orchard affiliate was preparing to release its first infused cider, Hop’n Mad Apple, in March. It’s made with Strisselspalt and Galaxy hops and American culinary apples from Washington State. These apples, says cider maker David Sipes, have slightly less tannic juice and therefore best complemented the hops. “You might say we’re obsessed with ingredients; we have been experimenting with cider recipes for nearly twenty years.”