Great Lakes Brewing News December 2013/January 2014 : Page 1
By Matt Kotula ILLUSTRATIONS BY HANS GRANHEIM BOW WOHIO. (L to R) Tim Rastetter, head of brewing operations, John Najeway, owner, Adam Stull, head brewer and Brandon Benson, Brewer Biologist at Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. PHOTOS BY KAREN BUJAK By Karen Bujak nleash the flavor” has been Thirsty Dog’s motto since their begin-ning in 1997. They’ve gone through some changes, a few hiccups, and a lot of growth in those sixteen years, but are now going strong and continuing to unleash new flavors. Starting in Canton, Ohio with a brewpub and expanding with brewpubs in Dayton and Akron in 1999, Thirsty Dog strug-gled a bit in the early years, even while continu-ing to make good beer and verybody knows the Holidays are a time for the things that matter most in life: friends, family, charity, and of course, beer. While you’ve been at the mall feverishly cross-ing things off that shopping list and pawing through thrift store racks searching for the perfect gift they somehow never thought to ask for (there was a reason), brewers (and brew-elves) across the land have been hard at work in their little workshops to bring you the flavor of the 2013 ys holiday season. After all, as the days grow shorter, the social calendars fill up and credit cards approach their limits, everyone needs to take a moment now and then to remember what this time of year is all about (we’re talking about beer again). So, should you find yourself alone under the mistletoe, don’t despair, simply pry open one of these lovingly crafted brews and kiss the winter hello. And should you find yourself shar-sho ing the holidays with others, be sure to offer them a pint, or buy a round round. Here, we will offer a few suggestions to help get you sug inspired, inspired but the choices are mul-tiplying tiplyin with each passing year, so this th year more than ever, any such suc list is only the begin-ning. Southern Tier – 2xMAS : Back for a second year, this double spiced ale inspired by Nordic Glogg (similar to mulled wine) See New p. 6 “U See Thirsty Dog p.5 INSIDE Event Calendar .......................... 3 The Beer Queendom ................. 8 Homebrew: Imperial Stout .......10 Beer Beacon: Holiday Beers ....12 Jolly Giant ................................15 Map/Directory ......................18-23 Alpha King Thai’d up! ..............35 State by State News Michigan .......... 14 SE Michigan ....16 SW Michigan ...17 Indiana .............24 Wisconsin ........26 N Wisconsin ....27 Chicago ...........28 Illinois ............. 29 Minnesota .......... 30 New York ........... 32 Ontario .............. 34 Pennsylvania ..... 37 Ohio ................... 38
Singing The Pruises Of Holiday Beers
Everybody knows the Holidays are a time for the things that matter most in life: friends, family, charity, and of course, beer. While you’ve been at the mall feverishly crossing things off that shopping list and pawing through thrift store racks searching for the perfect gift they somehow never thought to ask for (there was a reason), brewers (and brew-elves) across the land have been hard at work in their little workshops to bring you the flavor of the 2013 holiday season. After all, as the days grow shorter, the social calendars fill up and credit cards approach their limits, everyone needs to take a moment Now and then to remember what this time of year is all about (we’re talking about beer again). So, should you find yourself alone under the mistletoe, don’t despair, simply pry open one of these lovingly crafted brews and kiss the winter hello.Should you find yourself sharing holidays with others, be offer them a pint, or buy round. Here, we will offer a suggestions to help get you inspired, but the choices are multiplying with each passing year, this year more than ever, any such list is only the beginning.<br /> <br /> Southern Tier – 2xMAS: Back for a second double spiced ale inspired by Nordic Glogg (similar to mulled wine)Is medium bodied and spiced with fig, orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and ginger root. Like Glogg it is dark ruby in color, and its aroma may cause visions of spice cake and dried fruit to dance in your head. Four varieties of malt balance out the spice, along with a little hop bitterness. Southern Tier recommends classic Nordic food pairings such as pickled herring, sausages, and korv (Google it).<br /> <br /> Long Trail – Hibernator: They have Christmas in Scotland, too. Why not un-wrap a Scottish Ale? Enter Long Trail’s Hibernator, a robust, malt-oriented, unfiltered ale that’s been brewed now since ’95. Though available in bottles, you can also look for it in five-gallon “logs.” <br /> <br /> Goose Island – Mild Winter: I don’t know what the Farmer’s Almanac says, but I see a Mild Winter in my future. This creamy toffeebrown American mild ale is sumptuous and satisfying. Get your nose right in there, smell those raisins, and perhaps that dark bread still warm from the oven. Tip the glass to taste spicy rye malt, caramel and dark chocolate malts and roasted barley. Let it snow.<br /> <br /> Samuel Adams – Winter Lager: A textbook example of the winter beer— a bold, rich lager with a dash of holiday spices. Deep brown in color and discretely hopped with Hallertau Mittelfrueh, at 5.6% abv it’s an easy drinker, perfect for that first foray into the wide and wonderful word of winter beer, and a solid choice with a holiday meal.<br /> <br /> Thirsty Dog – 12 Dogs of Christmas: Brewed with honey, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, this 8.3% abv beer is a big version of what’s become the classic style of holiday ales; this one is complex, warming, and nicely reminiscent of baked goods. Can’t go wrong with that.<br /> <br /> Sierra Nevada – Celebration Ale: Should you grow weary of the spice-forward, low-hopped beers that dominate the season, consider Celebration Ale, Sierra Nevada’s stalwart winter IPA. Brewed since 1981, it comes on strong with a bright green garland of Chinook, Centennial and Cascade hops that will wake you from your long winter’s nap faster than a fresh blast of Pacific air. Once quite rare and fleeting, it is now widely available.<br /> <br /> Great Lakes – Christmas Ale: From the windblown shores of Lake Erie comes Great Lakes Brewing’s newly tapped 2013 Christmas Ale. Now here’s a beer that could melt the heart of Jack Frost. Roasted Barley is judiciously added to morph healthy doses of cinnamon, fresh ginger and honey into a truly delicious, complex holiday concoction, with a touch of wheat for a supple head and body. At 7.5% ABV, Christmas Ale will have you caroling up and down the street in no time.<br /> <br /> Samuel Smith – Winter Welcome Ale: Fermented in open topped ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ for a full body, and hopped with whole-dried Fuggle and Golding hops, this indulgently complex brew is very British and satisfying on the pallet; it’s balance of fruit, malt and spice is best enjoyed—in typical British fashion—at around 51°F.<br /> <br /> Saranac – Twelve Beers of Winter: For those of us who hate to choose, Saranac is coming strong again this year with its Twelve Beers of Winter variety pack, the gift card from the beer world.Two each of: Rudy’s Christmas Ale, mildly spiced “Christmas cookie” medium bodied brew; new Moonshadow Black IPA, a bit roasty, well hopped and darker than the winter solstice; Decoction Concoction—a unique and seriously enjoyable German style deep amber dry-hopped lager; Belgian Pale Ale—balanced fruit and spice awoken by American Hops; 4059’ Porter— strong, roasty, and named for the height of NY’s Porter Mountain, and original Pale Ale.Saranac also offers one of the first holiday seasonals, Season’s Best, a rich, toasty, satisfying nut brown winter lager.<br /> <br /> Tröegs – Mad Elf: Remember that elf that just refused to fit in? No, not that one—I mean Mad Elf by Tröegs. Sweet and sour cherries, chocolate malt and Pennsylvania honey bloom like colored lights from this ruby red. But don’t be fooled, at 11% ABV this elf belongs on the naughty list.<br /> <br /> Ayinger – Winter Bock: No Bock’s on our list yet, and it’s important to get something for everyone. A triple mash process using four kinds of malt, bottom fermented following age-old monastery traditions yields a doppelbock marked by its inyour- face, almost boozy flavor and burnt bread aroma with a dry finish. Bring a bottle of Bavaria home this winter.<br /> <br /> Pyramid – Snow Cap: Deep mahogany in color, a full-bodied winter warmer brewed in the spirit of British winter ales. Roasted chocolate and caramel malts, and generously hopped Nugget, Willamette, East Kent Goldings, this deep mahogany colored beer has gotten more complex and hoppier the past few years. All in a good way. 7% abv, 100% winter approved.<br /> <br /> Brooklyn – Winter Ale: A Scottish red that goes down smoother than Santa descending a chimney.Just the right amount of hops accompany an impressive array of English crystal, Belgian aromatic, American roasted And Marris Otter pale malts. Winter Ale is the perfect capper to a bright cold winter’s day.Deep and bready, the brewery suggest you pair it with robust winter meals like stew, lamb, game, steak and duck, or even a New Year’s cigar.<br /> <br /> Bell’s – Winter White Ale: This time of year much of the world turns white, and with that in mind Bell’s is serving up Winter White Ale. Spice-free but you wouldn’t know it— Belgian ale yeast and a blend of barley and wheat malts join forces to evoke notes of clove and fruit. Unabashedly cloudy in appearance, it’s a bit like a blissful blizzard.<br /> <br /> Just a few suggestions off the top of our heads. Enough to get you started. There are numerous new holiday beers to try, ranging from 5% abv to 15% abv, with a list of ingredients rivaled only by the list on a box of assorted chocolates. And your local brewery or brewpub has a holiday or winter ale waiting for you, wherever you are, so try as many as you can, and don’t forget to share. ‘Tis the season. So don’t let the season’s best beers pass you by.
Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.
BOW WOHIO. (L to R) Tim Rastetter, head of brewing operations, John Najeway, owner, Adam Stull, head brewer and Brandon Benson, Brewer Biologist at Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.<br /> <br /> “Unleash the flavor” has been Thirsty Dog’s motto since their beginning in 1997. They’ve gone through some changes, a few hiccups, and a lot of growth in those sixteen years, but Are now going strong and continuing to unleash new flavors.<br /> <br /> Starting in Canton, Ohio with a brewpub and expanding with brewpubs in Dayton and Akron in 1999, Thirsty Dog struggled a bit in the early years, even while continuing to make good beer and Bring home medals from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. The brewpubs closed in 2005, management changed, and their beer was contract brewed until 2007 when the new brewery opened in Akron.<br /> <br /> Owner, John Najeway was able to convince brewer Tim Rastetter to return to Northeast Ohio.Rastetter has a history of brewing in the region, having formerly worked at Great Lakes Brewing Company as head brewer and then at the now defunct Liberty Street Brewing in Akron. He then moved to Kentucky and designed and built a 15-barrel brewhouse for Brewworks, which subsequently went out of business in 1998, and Rastetter began brewing for the Hofbrau Haus near Cincinnati, the first one outside of Munich, Germany. Meanwhile, the Brewworks brewing system was sitting unused. Najeway acquired the system and brought Rastetter back to Akron to set it up and be the Head of Brewing Operations, and breathe new life into Thirsty Dog. Now, six years and several expansions later, they have a brew crew of eight people and brew three batches a day, seven days a week. Occasionally they run 24/7 to keep up with the demand, and will hit about 12,000 barrels per year this year, a 30% growth over last year.<br /> <br /> Growing Demand <br /> <br /> Demand for their beer has been growing at a 30-35% rate over the last four years, much faster than they anticipated. They are in the process of renovating a couple of 1870s era buildings adjacent to the brewery to make room for more expansion.An old icehouse is now ready to be used for additional warehousing and storage, while the other building is still being renovated. A recent tour of the construction site revealed Wolf Creek running in a cave under the building…the source of water for the old Burkhardt Brewery back in the 18 and early 1900s.<br /> <br /> The reason for all this growth? It’s all about the beer, of course! To Rastetter, “unleash the flavor” means balance and complexity. No matter what beer he talks about, the word balance seems to always come up. “Balance is a big thing,” he says. “It’s the thing that makes people want to drink another, after they’ve had one. I don’t do simple plain beers, I brew beers with complex character.” <br /> <br /> Let’s just take a look at some of their recent offerings. Raildog is a smoked black lager. They are quick to tell you what it is not: a schwarzbier.It is a higher gravity beer with more malts to balance the smokiness. They smoked their own malts with cherry and apple wood, and hand roasted the malts for the toastiness. It’s a well-balanced (there’s that word again), not too smoky lager.<br /> <br /> Then there is their first IPA called Citra Dog…for the citra hops, of course. At about 95 calculated IBUs it is the hoppiest of their beers.The citra hops aren’t as “grapefruity” as some, and have a sweeter, almost tangerine aroma, which Rastetter says draws people toward it. It’s different from most IPAs, but that’s exactly what Rastetter was aiming for.<br /> <br /> The beer he really raves about is their bourbon barrel aged wee-heavy, called Wulver. Some have said this is the best barrel-aged beer they have ever had, reported Rastetter. It’s a sipper, but a fantastic and complex beer, and again, balanced so as not to be too much bourbon flavor.<br /> <br /> By the Barrel <br /> <br /> Thirsty Dog has quite a barrel aging program now. Currently they have over 100 beers aging in barrels. Some in whiskey barrels, some in wine barrels. Barrel aging of sour ales is also something relatively new with Thirsty Dog, and something that few breweries are doing. They currently have a release of Cerasus Dog, a Flanders style red, in 500 ml. Bottles, and in December they will release a Belgian saison aged in Chardonnay barrels with lactobacillus added.<br /> <br /> The 12 Dogs of Christmas is Thirsty Dog’s best selling beer. It, too, has seen about a 30-35% growth year over year. As Rastetter was head Brewer at Great Lakes Brewing, which also has a best-selling Christmas Ale, the rumors have spread over the years that the recipe for 12 Dogs is from Great Lakes. Rastetter says that is not true and explains that when he was there, he wanted to make some changes to the recipe. He was told that it was selling fine, and no changes were allowed.When he subsequently went to Liberty Street Brewing Co, he took the GLBC recipe and made the changes he had wanted. He changed the hop and malt profile, the yeasts, and added nutmeg, making it a more complex and, dare I say it, balanced beer, and that is essentially the recipe he uses today at Thirsty Dog. So it’s not at all the same recipe, but does have the cinnamon, ginger, honey profile that the GLBC beer has.<br /> <br /> What’s Next <br /> <br /> When asked if there was anything new to look forward to, both Rastetter and Najeway mentioned a new project they are embarking on (pun intended) with the Akron Art Institute. The AAI wants to have a beer exclusive to their café that complements their current exhibit, which at the moment is “Multiplicity.” Right up Rastetter’s alley, he’s excitedly working on a recipe with more than three malts, more than three hops, more than three hop additions, and more than three yeasts. Do you think that’ll be complex, and a bit tricky to balance? This is just the first of many beers… and maybe one of the reasons John Najeway says, “This is a job I just love to get up and come to.” <br /> <br /> Najeway says Rastetter is a huge asset not only to Thirsty Dog, but to the brewing community as a whole. He does a wonderful job and has trained all the crew, most of whom are home brewers. The crew, which now includes Adam Stull as Head Brewer and Brandon Benson as QC Biologist, continues to push the envelope with new flavors and old favorites.
Using a screen reader? Click Here