Mid Atlantic Brewing News June/July 2011 : Page 1

WIT’S END: WHITE REVOLUTION By Greg Kitsock PIERRE CELIS’S 1966, a milkman in th town of Hoegaarden the (a (about an hour’s drive ea of Brussels) decided east to revive witbier, a re regional beer style that had become extinct almost a a decade earlier when the town’s last brewery closed. Introduced to the United States in the early 1990s, witbier (from the Flemish word for “white”) or biere blanche has become one of the craft industry’s most popular styles. This turbid, straw-gold, easy-drinking, wheat-based brew, flavored with coriander and orange peel (and sometimes When Lindy Adams of Huntington Beach, Calif. met Pierre Celis at Denver’s Falling Rock Tap House during the 2006 Great American Beer Festival, a handshake wasn’t enough. “To me,” said Adams, “he might as well be Johnny Depp.” FILE PHOTO BY GREGG WIGGINS Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall, founders of DC Brau, are kegging and canning beer in our nation’s capital as the first packaging brewery in Washington, DC in 55 years. PHOTO BY NATHAN ZEENDER an additional secret spice), has probably introduced more Americans to Belgian beer culture than any other style. If you’re one of its fans, raise a toast to that milkman, Pierre Celis, who died at the age of 86 on April 9. “He was the best father everybody can wish for, a great mentor, and he definitely had an enormous passion for beer,” said his daughter Christine Celis, who was intimate-ly involved in her father’s brewing ventures. See Celis p.4 By Nathan Zeender he drought has ended. The nation’s capital has welcomed DC Brau, its first production brewery since the Christian Heurich Brewing Co. shut down in 1956. Appropriately, the new microbrewery opened on April 15, a day celebrated locally as Emancipation Day, marking the date Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the District of Columbia in 1862. DC Brau held its launch party at Meridian Pint in DC’s Columbia Heights neigh-borhood, kicking 15 half-barrels of its hoppy pale ale The Public by 11 p.m., an allotment that was supposed to last the pub the entire week. That’s See DC Brau , p.5 T DREAMSTIME INSIDE Editorial ........................................3 Book Review ..............................34 HomeBrewing ............................14 Fiary Hopmother ........................16 Events .........................................41 DREAMSTIME State by State News Virginia ................17 C Pennsylvania....24 Philadelphia ........26 E. Pennsylvania ..28 Maryland ..............30 Baltimore .............32 New Jersey ..........36 W. Virginia ...........38 Delaware ..............40 DC ........................42

Wit's End:

Greg Kitsock

WHITE REVOLUTION

In 1966, a milkman in the town of Hoegaarden about an hour’s drive east of Brussels) decided revive witbier, a regional beer style that almost a decade earlier when the town’s last brewery closed.

Introduced to the United States in the early 1990s, witbier (from the Flemish word for “white”) or biere blanche has become one of the craft industry’s most popular styles. This turbid, straw-gold, easydrinking, wheat-based brew, flavored with coriander and orange peel (and sometimes an additional secret spice), has probably introduced more Americans to Belgian beer culture than any other style.

If you’re one of its fans, raise a toast to that milkman, Pierre Celis, who died at the age of 86 on April 9.

“He was the best father everybody can wish for, a great mentor, and he definitely had an enormous passion for beer,” said his daughter Christine Celis, who was intimately involved in her father’s brewing ventures.

Celis’s first brewery was in his father’s stable. In 1972 he relocated to an abandoned soft drink factory, and by 1985 was brewing 300,000 barrels a year. But Celis never had luck in business. His brewery burned to the ground that year, and Celis, who was under-insured, wound up selling his Hoegaarden brand to Belgian giant Interbrew. That company, now known as Anheuser- Busch InBev, continues to make Hoegaarden to this day.

Celis, at the age of 67, founded a microbrewery in the hill country outside Austin, Texas in 1992. Celis White received a perfect four-star rating from the late British beer writer Michael Jackson in his Pocket Guide to Beer. Celis was unable to keep pace with demand, however, and sold a controlling interest to Miller Brewing Co., hoping the Milwaukee-based giant would fund expansion. But the Celis Brewery floundered under the ownership of Miller, which adulterated the recipes, cut travel expenses and diverted Celis beer to distributors who knew nothing about selling a craft product. Volume dropped. Miller finally shuttered the failing brewery on what was technically the last day of the twentieth century, Dec. 31, 2000.

It wasn’t the end of an era; it was the beginning of one. Coors, Miller’s erstwhile rival (now its partner), succeeded where Celis had failed, with a brand called Bellyslide Belgian Wit. You’ve never heard of it? That’s because it was renamed Blue Moon Belgian White before its national release. Keith Villa, who heads Coors’ specialty division, spent years hand-selling the brand, teaching restaurateurs to add an orange peel garnish to attract customers’ attention.

Coors’s patience paid off. If you define craft beer loosely as any fuller-flavored beer (rather than using the Brewers Association’s more exacting definition), then Blue Moon is the nation’s best-selling craft beer. Americans drained nearly 1.5 million barrels of the brand in 2010, according to figures supplied by industry consultant Bump Williams.

In 2002, the Celis name was acquired by Michigan Brewing Co. In Webberville, Mich., which continues to make Celis White, Raspberry, Pale Bock and Grand Cru. Pierre Celis returned to Europe, where he formulated Grottenbier, a dark ale aged in caves, for the St. Bernardus Brewery in Watou. He planned to revisit the U.S. market with a line of beers under the Brussels name, but that project never reached fruition.

Today, dozens - maybe even hundreds - of breweries make a wit or wit-inspired beer. Many of these add their own twist to the basic recipe, which calls for unmalted wheat, oats, coriander and bitter Curacao orange peel. Southampton Double White is an amped-up version, with an alcohol content of 6.7% abv. Friar Hop Ale, one of three selections in Boston Beer Co.’s new LongShot mixed sixpack, is a wit/IPA hybrid, full of hops and spices and measuring an even more formidable 9%. Starr Hill Brewing Co.’s Lucy is a golden ale laced with lime, coriander and ginger. Breckenridge Brewery’s SummerBright is an American wheat beer flavored with both lemon and orange peel.

Samuel Adams White Ale, a sporadic release from Boston Beer Co., contains eight different condiments, supplementing the standard orange peel and coriander with such exotica as dried plum, hibiscus and rose hips.

Over the next few weeks, the Rock Bottom brewpub chain will introduce a wit at its 31 locations nationwide as part of a move to standardize four house beers. Director of brewing operations Kevin Reed describes it as “a fairly straightforward white ale,” no extra spices, although it does substitute Florida orange peel for the Curacao and uses mostly malted wheat.

That’s quite a legacy that Pierre left behind.

“My father would not have liked [people] to mourn for him, but rather to remember him in happy times,” commented Christine Celis, who urged the craft community to “raise a glass of beer” in his memory.

It shouldn’t be hard to find a suitable beer for toasting.

Read the full article at http://mabnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Wit%27s+End%3A/746218/71604/article.html.

Hometown Beer

Nathan Zeender

The drought has ended. The nation’s capital has welcomed DC Brau, its first production brewery since the Christian Heurich Brewing Co. Shut down in 1956.

Appropriately, the new microbrewery opened on April 15, a day celebrated locally as Emancipation Day, marking the date Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the District of Columbia in 1862. DC Brau held its launch party at Meridian Pint in DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, kicking 15 half-barrels of its hoppy pale ale The Public by 11 p.m., an allotment that was supposed to last the pub the entire week. That’s a rate of five pints per minute. “We had a line out the door from 5 until 11 p.m.,” commented Sam Fitz, Meridian Pint’s beer manager.

DC Brau has since added 12-oz aluminum cans to its repertoire. The overtly DC-centric hometown brand wears its iconoclasm proudly on its sleeve. The bright silver, red and white cylinders proclaim, “In November 2000, the DC Department of Motor Vehicles began issuing license plates bearing the slogan: Taxation Without Representation” - a protest of the fact that the city’s 600,000 residents still have no vote in Congress.

But Washingtonians do have a local brewery now, and should have two more by the end of this year when Chocolate City Brewing Co. And 3 Stars Brewing Co. Begin rolling out the barrels. {See related articles on pp. 9 and.12).

Founders Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock have surmounted plenty of hurdles to get their 15-bbl brewhouse up and running, including shipment delays from China (where their equipment was fabricated) and a misguided ship that “went through the wrong canal” (the Suez instead of the Panama!). The pair did find some influential allies on the DC City Council; on May 3, that body voted to allow the new brewery to offer beer samples to tour groups.

There are two products as of this writing. Heavily dry-hopped, The Public (6% abv) draws its pungent aroma from Centennial, Cascade and a new hybrid hop called Falconer’s Flight. The brewery has also brewed a robust porter as a one-time offering. Coming soon: The cleverly named Corruption, an IPA, will be brewed with double the IBUs of the pale and will be wholly hopped with Columbus. The Citizen, a Belgian-influenced pale ale, will complete the core lineup. DC Brau was also planning the release of a single-batch porter. Looking ahead, Hancock hoped to start a barrelaging program in a hidden alcove behind a row of fermenters.

Skall and Hancock plan to distribute in DC and Northern Virginia through Hop and Wine. For those stalking a can or pint, DC Brau has a mapping application on its website (dcbrau.com) to direct you to the closest bar or retailer carrying their beer. Skall notes, “Our plan is to supply only the area that we can continue to give product to consistently. I’d rather be at few accounts and always on, than everywhere for one week out of the month.”

The brewery is sequestered in a 6,700- sq-ft warehouse on an industrial stretch of Bladensburg Road in upper Northeast DC, a few blocks from the Maryland border. Production in 2011 should be just under 2,000 bbl with 3,000-4,000 projected for 2012. Ideally they would like to grow to be a “small regional” brewery, but Skall admits, “Expansion will be needed to achieve this.”

The Revolution Will Be Canned

A mountain of gleaming, unlidded cans sits in back of the brewery. (To get a price break, the brewery had to commit to a full truckload of 170,000 cans at a time from the Ball Corporation.) In these days of measuring one’s carbon footprint, versatile, lightweight aluminum cans have become the hip receptacle. DC Brau’s automatic five-head canning line was purchased second-hand from Roughneck Brewing Co. In Alberta, Canada. When the numbers are dialed in, it can package a double 30-bbl batch in a day … theoretically. In fact, the plastic rings have to be fastened on each sixpack manually, and this imposes a bottleneck. On their first day of canning, Skall and Hancock managed to package a little over 200 cases.

Skall and Hancock aren’t the first pioneers to try to give DC a hometown brew. Gary Heurich, the grandson of DC beer baron Christian Heurich, tried to revive the family business in 1986. He contractbrewed his Foggy Bottom Lager and Ale at the F.X. Matt Brewing Co. In Utica, NY. Heurich was never able to grow his business past a few thousand barrels a year, and couldn’t justify the expense of constructing his own brewery.

Heurich would have benefited from Facebook and Twitter. The DC Brau team relied on social media and guerilla marketing to build buzz for the brand. For the year prior to launch, they became fixtures of the local beer scene, handing out swag like t-shirts and bumper stickers, and making themselves available to the press and public alike.

Washington, DC has had brewpubs since 1992, when Capitol City Brewing Co. Opened, but DC law prohibits them from selling beer to go. This summer, the Capitol City near Union Station is TO cease brewing, leaving the nation’s capital with only two brewpubs: the District ChopHouse and a Gordon Biersch branch. Ironically, the city might have more packaging breweries than brewpubs by the end of this year.

Skall comments, “The beer landscape is continuing to evolve. I think there will be more breweries opening soon, and we just want to help nurture that community as well as the craft beer drinking culture in DC.”

DC Brau is at 3178-B Bladensburg Road NE, Washington, DC 20018. Phone 202- 621-8890. As of press time, the brewery planned to hold public tours and tastings (growler fills, too) Thursday and Friday, 4-8 p. m., and Saturday, 12 noon to 7 p.m. Skall hopes to start the tours by mid-June.

Read the full article at http://mabnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Hometown+Beer/746221/71604/article.html.

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