Great Lakes Brewing News December 2016/January 2017 : Page 1
By Kristen Kuchar Brewmaster Kirby Nelson in the brewhouse at Wisconsin Brewing Company. By Bob "Now go have a beer" Paolino aming your brewery after your state creates some big expectations, but people are likely to take you seriously if your brewmaster is one of the veterans of the state's craft beer industry, with nearly four decades of brewery experience. Someone who for years had been the face of one of the state's first craft breweries. Now add a CEO who had for a time been president of that same brewery and had a career in beer distribution before that. PHOTO COURTESY OF WISCONSIN BREWING CO. PHOTO BY BOB PAOLINO Then start building a state-of-the-art facility and get it done on time. Wisconsin Brewing Company co-founders Carl Nolen and Kirby Nelson did just that with their brew-ery and taproom in the Verona Commerce Park in the Madison suburb of Verona, Wisconsin, barely more than 10 miles directly south of the venerable Capital Brewery in Middleton where both of them previ-ously worked. Racine native Kirby Nelson got his start in the brewing industry in 1978 in quality assurance at the former Heileman Brewing Company in LaCrosse. While working for Heileman, Nelson— See Forward p.7 PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM Origins etting together with friends and family is what the holiday season is all about. Planning the perfect party can be a lot of work and a bit stressful, especially if you’re a craft beer enthusiast. Having a true appreciation of high-quality beer means you don’t want your guests sip-ping on mass-produced brews, but where do you even begin? What styles do you grab, and how much? How do you serve it? What foods do you serve with it? And what about those dear friends who aren’t “into good beer” yet? What Beer Styles Should I Serve? The vast array of unique beer styles is what makes being a craft beer enthusiast See Party p. 6 INSIDE Event Calendar ............................. 2 Headwall Crowned Alpha King ..... 8 Beer & Health ................................... 9 Homebrew ...................................... 10 Beer Beacon ............................... 11 Map/Directory.........................18-23 Import Report .............................. 31 State by State News Indiana .......... 12 Ohio ............... 13 Illinois ........... 14 Chicago ......... 15 Wisconsin ..... 16 N. Wisconsin . 17 New York ....... 24 Central NY ..... 26 Western NY ... 28 Minnesota ...... 30 Ontario .......... 32 Pennsylvania . 34 Michigan ........ 36 SW Michigan . 36 SE Michigan .. 38
The Beer Lover’s Guide To Throwing a Holiday Party
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM
Getting together with friends and family is what the holiday season is all about. Planning the perfect party can be a lot of work and a bit stressful, especially if you’re a craft beer enthusiast. Having a true appreciation of high-quality beer means you don’t want your guests sipping on mass-produced brews, but where do you even begin? What styles do you grab, and how much? How do you serve it? What foods do you serve with it? And what about those dear friends who aren’t “into good beer” yet?
What Beer Styles Should I Serve?
The vast array of unique beer styles is what makes being a craft beer enthusiast fun and exciting, but deciding what to serve can be a daunting task. First, decide whether you’re opting for a traditional party or doing more of a beer-focused tasting party. For a regular get-together, three to four different styles keeps it simple, but also assures that guests will have at least one beer they enjoy, says Nick Rondeau, Certified Cicerone, medal winning home brewer, and creator of Lupulin Libations, a business hosting private beer tastings.
If you already know the favorite styles of your friends and family, you’re in great shape. You can still add a little excitement by including a style that’s similar, but new to them, to make the selection more interesting.
But while it is helpful to know your guests’ go-to beer styles, Rondeau says it’s not a necessity. If he were planning a party with unknown taste preferences, he says he’d go with four beer styles.
“The first one would be a safety net – a beer that is more approachable and not too bold. Think balanced,” he says—a Pilsner, California common, a slightly hoppy amber ale, or a not-too-bitter pale ale. For the next two beers, he suggests going “traditional” with an IPA, hen something more malty, such as a porter or a bock. To round out the beer list, Rondeau would pick something less mainstream and more extreme—a barleywine, spiced beer, chili beer, Lambic, or one of the many sours now available.
John Schlimm, Director of Public Relations at Straub Brewery and international award-winning author of The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Happy Hour, says variety is key when choosing your beer list. Variety packs put out by many breweries, offering a mix of favorites and new brews, are a great solution to this.
This End Up
Andrew Gerson, Chef and Head of Culinary Programming at Brooklyn Brewery, recommends starting off with something light and festive, such as a saison, sour, or wild ale. “You definitely want something sessionable so folks don’t get too rowdy,” Gerson says. He recommends finishing things off with a good stout around the holiday season.
According to Jim Gooley, Wine and Beer Director at Big Red Liquors, IPAs are the most popular style, and a must-have for your party. Gooley recommends sticking with some seasonal beers for any event as well. Think winter warmers and spiced beers like Snow Melt Winter Ale (East End Brewing Company), Great Lakes Christmas Ale (Great Lakes Brewing Co.), 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale (Thirsty Dog Brewing Company), Holly Jolly Christmas Ale (Fat Head’s Brewery), Holiday Spice Lager Beer (Lakefront Brewery), and Rude Elf’s Reserve (Allentown Brew Works).
Hilary Jurinak, Binny’s Beverage Depot Communications Coordinator agrees, and recommends a mix of pale ales, IPAs, a porter or a stout, and something seasonal as well. She also says to stick with lower ABVs as much as possible, so the party doesn’t get out of hand.
My First Time
But what do you grab for your guests that are new to craft beer? DryHop Brewers Creative and Communications Director Eileen Garrity says to stick with styles that don’t have such a hop heavy taste, such as a blonde, witbier, or creamy milk or nitro stout. She also recommends thinking about what other drinks or types of food they like. “A stout may be perfect for a coffee lover, while a saison may resonate with someone who enjoys bright white wine,” Garrity says. For the novice beer drinker, she also says having a well-rounded IPA on hand for people to try can’t hurt.
How Much Should I Buy?
How much beer? It’s a tough question because there are so many variables like— the size of your party, your guests’ drinking habits, how long do you anticipate your party lasting, and what else you are serving.
Gooley recommends figuring 2 to 3 beers per person; Binny’s Beverage Depot agrees. But Schlimm recommends up to six bottles per guest. “A good host always knows how boozy his or her guests are and should plan accordingly,” Schlimm says.
Fresh beer from your favorite nearby brewery can be a great option for your party, especially if you’re having out-oftown guests that couldn’t otherwise enjoy the local brews. To decide how many growlers to purchase, first determine the size glass you’ll be using and the length of your party, says DryHop Brewer’s Garrity. For a 16-ounce glass, estimate one to two beers per person each hour.
Overall, it’s always better to have too much than not enough. Anything you have left is ready for you to enjoy yourself, but there are other options. “The beauty of beer in bottles is that leftover bottles of beer can be sent home with guests in little party swag bags,” Schlimm says. And you can always use leftover beer to cook with.
Serve the Beer
If you’re purchasing growlers for your party, you’ll want to purchase them close to the day of the party, says Garrity. Store them in the fridge and then on ice in a beverage tub during your party. Leave them on ice and tightly caped between pours.
While the correct glassware does maximize the enjoyment, Cicerone Nick Rondeau says it’s not worth purchasing enough to host a large party. But by all means, if you have enough glassware to go around, use it. Rondeau suggests putting glassware in a visible spot near the beer.
If you’re buying a decent variety of beer, take it up a notch and do a minibeer tasting, John Schlimm recommends. “Get small sampling glasses, crack open a few different styles, and then let your guests sample away to their heart’s content,” Schlimm says. “This makes for great conversation and very satisfied guests.” For tastings, don’t forget palate-cleansing snacks to have out for your guests to enjoy in between beers. Other items to have on hand include water to rinse glasses and something for guests to take notes on such as a tasting sheets you can find online and print.
Pairing Beer and Holiday Meals
plenty of food is essential for a good holiday party, especially with a focus on beer. The main thing to keep in mind when choosing beer to go with your food, or vice versa, is to have fun with it, experiment, and decide if you’re looking to compliment a flavor or contrast it.
Chef Gerson says to consider beer the last ingredient in your dish. “In a good dish, we are looking for a balance of sweet, acid, umami, and bitter, and beer should help to bring out this balance.” Beer should add something to your pairing, either harmonize, cut, or contrast flavors.
As far as specific holiday foods, Gerson pairs Oktoberfest brews with turkey, Belgian ales with ham, dark ales and sours with leg of lamb, brown ale with candied yams, lagers with stuffing and chocolate stout with pecan pie.
Straub Brewery’s Beer & Food Pairing Guide recommends lagers with cheesy party dips, helles with fish and seafood, dunkels with flavorful cheeses and marinated tofu, and doppelbocks with chocolate cake and roasted butternut squash.
The Brewers Association suggests matching strength with strength when it comes to pairing and finding harmonies. Most wheat beers, such as hefeweizens and wits, are going to go with lighter foods such as salads, vegetable dishes, or a very light fruit dessert. An IPA goes best with strong, spicy foods or bold, sweet desserts, such as carrot cake, ginger spice cake, or a caramel apple tart.
Keep in mind there are beers that can easily overpower food, such as Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, and Double or Imperial IPAs. Not that these beers can not be part of an excellent pairing, it’s just going to require an intense, bold food.
Mix It In
Elevate your food and beer experience even more by using it in the dishes you’re serving. Schilmm says add a teaspoon (or more to taste) of your favorite beers to traditional holiday party dips, side dishes, main courses, and punches.
Beer can also add moisture to many dishes while adding a depth of flavor, according Drew Surniak, Banquet Chef at Great Lakes Brewing Company. Surniak recommends pouring an IPA into your pot of boiling potatoes for a subtle twist on a classic holiday favorite.
Brewmaster Kirby Nelson in the brewhouse at Wisconsin Brewing Company.
PHOTO BY BOB PAOLINO
Naming your brewery after your state creates some big expectations, but people are likely to take you seriously if your brewmaster is one of the veterans of the state's craft beer industry, with nearly four decades of brewery experience. Someone who for years had been the face of one of the state's first craft breweries. Now add a CEO who had for a time been president of that same brewery and had a career in beer distribution before that.
Then start building a state-of-the-art facility and get it done on time. Wisconsin Brewing Company co-founders Carl Nolen and Kirby Nelson did just that with their brewery and taproom in the Verona Commerce Park in the Madison suburb of Verona, Wisconsin, barely more than 10 miles directly south of the venerable Capital Brewery in Middleton where both of them previously worked.
Racine native Kirby Nelson got his start in the brewing industry in 1978 in quality assurance at the former Heileman Brewing Company in LaCrosse. While working for Heileman, Nelson— no, make that Kirby, because that's how everyone in the brewing industry in Wisconsin knows him—also spent about a year and a half working in the lab at a brewery Heileman had acquired in Auburndale, Florida. It would be an understatement to say that the brewery there was not as advanced as in LaCrosse, which Kirby said made it a good educational experience for him, commenting, "I got good at looking for what was wrong and making it right."
Kirby became interested in Capital Brewery in 1983 when he learned about plans for opening a brewery in Middleton and sought the job. Between then and 1986 when the brewery opened, he worked in Illinois, outside the brewing industry. Despite other potential job offers on the table—with Heileman in Baltimore, F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica, and Hoster in Columbus—he decided to stick with Capital through its financially shaky start-up phase.
Capital brewed its first beer in 1986, with a focus on German-style lagers for Wisconsin. But Kirby said there wasn't a lot of awareness of the beer industry in 1986, and Capital struggled financially. Kirby joked that for much of the time he worked there, he was working for a non-profit, but he was determined to ride it out and they eventually started making money.
Capital hired Carl Nolen in 2004, bringing his experience in distribution to help Capital better establish itself in the market. Prior to coming to Capital, Nolen had worked for Murphy Distributing, later acquired by Frank Beverage. He also became the Wisconsin rep for Coors and later moved to Colorado before coming back to Wisconsin for the job as president of Capital Brewery. Nolen understands the distribution end of the business very well. Carl's brother Mark brings his experience in the financial industry, including 14 years at Johnson Bank in Madison, to his position as Chief Financial Officer of Wisconsin Brewing.
The transition from Capital to Wisconsin Brewing was not exactly amicable. Capital fired Carl Nolen in July 2011. Shortly afterward, the Nolens and a group of investors presented an offer to buy the brewery, which Capital's board rejected. After that, Nolen began work on a plan to open his own brewery.
Kirby said he began to have doubts about staying at Capital because he didn't think they had treated Nolen well. With so much emotional investment in the brewery and the relationships he had developed at Capital, it was not an easy decision, but he resigned from Capital in October 2012 to pursue the new opportunity with Nolen and Wisconsin Brewing Company. Kirby says he maintains good relationships with many of the brewers and other employees at Capital.
WBC began construction in September 2012. By August 2013, the building was completed and the 80 barrel brewhouse delivered. True to the name of the company, the brewhouse and construction of the building was Wisconsin sourced, and a display in the taproom shows a map of the state and all the companies involved. The first beer was brewed on September 20. The large, high-ceiling tap room has a full view of the brewery through tall windows. The view in the other direction, from the brewhouse into the taproom is just as impressive, and one has to wonder whether it was designed that way to inspire the brewers to remember the customers for whom they are brewing. Although the brewery is in an industrial park, it is set alongside a man-made pond and has a large patio and grassy area it calls its backyard; it has become a popular setting for outdoor beer drinking, socializing, and live music.
Beers & Brewing Philosophy
Although Kirby's passion for wellmade malt-forward German-style lagers is well known, he has an IPA and some other hoppy beers at WBC. He challenged himself to expand to different beer styles because "I didn't want this to be Capital-II. We weren't just going to take the beers we had at Capital and move them to a different facility." Brewing an IPA "is a statement that I'm not at Capital Brewery anymore." In three years, Kirby has demonstrated that he can deliver on a wide variety of beers.
WBC started with four beers, an amber lager, a porter, a session pale, and an IPA, and has since put more than 20 different beers in production under its own label, plus a few contract beers and some beers brewed in collaboration with other brewers. Although he's working on expanding the variety, he is also resisting what he sees as a trend in craft brewing to "always want the next new shiny object." It's difficult for distributors to forecast sales if something is hot for a month and then the brewery wants to move on to something else. For some breweries, in his opinion, it doesn't even seem to matter that a beer becomes successful, there's the pressure just to move to the next thing. Kirby likes to experiment as a brewer as much as anyone else, but says it's not necessarily good for building the market to have too many different brands. The brewery's newest year-round beer represents the opposite of the here today, gone tomorrow "extreme" beers. Kirby describes Badger Club as an American Marzen, and one that evolved from WBC's original Amber Lager. It's not as intense as an Oktoberfest, but is a little bit hoppier. He said it was the easiest sale they've made to their accounts. Kirby added that WBC is focusing on establishments that will keep on tap the beers their customers like.
It is fairly common for a brewhouse to be visible on the other side of a window in the taproom, but at Wisconsin Brewing Company, the brewer also gets a majestic view of the taproom, perhaps a reminder of the final customer of the beer produced.
Photos by bob Paolino
That said, there is plenty of variety among WBC's line up of year-around beers, plus the "In & Out" series and "Conspiracies" series. You'll find American ales, German-style lagers, Belgian-style ales, and enough creative variations to appeal to adventurous beer drinkers. WBC also produces beers in its "Forward" program for which it seeks customer feedback, and some of them make it into production.
Among the standard lineup and seasonals, Chocolate Lab Porter has been growing in sales, including throughout the summer, contrary to the old-fashioned idea that people supposedly don't drink dark beers in warm weather. Other big sellers have included Patron Saint Oktoberfest, Zenith Saison, Yankee Buzzard IPA, and S'Wheat Caroline American Wheat.
Kirby gives a lot of credit to his assistant brewers, Rochelle Francois, who previously worked in the office at Capital, and Clint Lohnman, who worked at Vintage. Indeed, he has nothing but good things to say about the entire team of employees at the brewery. He enjoys his job and the people he works with— "life is too short to work with assholes"—and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Think Locally, Other Projects
Kirby is a big advocate of Wisconsin's craft brewing industry and believes that even with more than 100 breweries in the state, there's still room in the market for more if you focus on learning what's good rather than just chasing every new shiny object. If you have a craft beer week, for example, you don't need to promote beers from California or Colorado. Support what you have right here in the state.
One of WBC's efforts to encourage new brewers is its Campus Craft Brewery project with the University of Wisconsin. The idea originated with conversations following an advanced homebrewing class at UW and 2014 Madison Craft Beer Week. The next year, 18 students from a fermentation studies class were divided into three teams to formulate a recipe for an assigned beer idea and brew it on the 30 litre pilot brewing system in Babcock Hall. A tasting panel chose the winning beer among the three and put it into production at WBC. The 2015 beer was Inaugural Red lager, which has since become one of the year-round beers. The 2016 style was American wheat, and the beer named S'Wheat Caroline, now one of the seasonal "In & Out" beers.
WBC has worked with the weekly Madison newspaper, Isthmus, on a series of informal homebrew competitions, each focused on a particular style, for which the winning beer is brewed on WBC's one barrel pilot system for a final competition at the paper's annual January beer festival. WBC then brews a 150 barrel batch of the winning beer for distribution in Madison.
WBC has been doing some contract brewing, and Kirby says they may expand it a little in the future if the fit is right with any given prospective partner, but they are not seeking to make it a big part of the business at the moment. Current contract beers include Old Tankard Ale for Pabst, Dorothy's New World Lager for Toppling Goliath, and a German-style lager for Schumacher Imports in Chicago.
In its three years, annual production has increased from almost 13,000 barrels the first year to about 15,000, but WBC is looking to grow much more. WBC has already had one expansion, with added equipment to increase annual production capacity from 30,000 to 38,000 barrels. The next big capital investment will be a bottling and canning line. WBC has keg packaging at the brewery, but trucks beer to Stevens Point for bottling, a process with which Kirby was very much familiar during his years at Capital Brewery.
Read the full article at http://glbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Moving+Forward/2656552/365370/article.html.