Great Lakes Brewing News August/September 2016 : Page 1
Second Salem Brewing Co. A Nanobrewery with Big Plans ILLUSTRATION BY HANS E By David Bardallis www, your beer’s gone bad!” Brewer Ron Jeffries remembers hearing that in the early days of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, the Dexter, Michigan brewery he founded in 2004 as the first American brewery devoted solely to producing barrel aged sour ales – beers deliberately crafted to exhibit tart, acidic, or otherwise “funky” flavors. “I still get that sometimes, but not nearly as much as I used to,” he says. In other words, that was then and this is now – now being a time when more and more American beer drinkers are clamoring for sour ales of all kinds, and it’s become Clockwise from bottom left-Vintage truck hauling beer, Second Salem's witchy logo, brewer/owner Christ Christon shares a laugh with patrons, Christ Christon at work-It's not often that a professional brewer stands taller than his brewing equipment. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF SECOND SALEM EXCEPT CHRIST See Sour p. 3 INSIDE Event Calendar ............................. 2 Beer Beacon ................................. 8 Homebrew ...................................... 10 Map/Directory.........................18-23 Import Report .............................. 31 State by State News Indiana .......... 12 Ohio ............... 13 Illinois ........... 14 Chicago ......... 15 Wisconsin ..... 16 N. Wisconsin . 17 Minnesota ...... 30 New York ....... 24 Central NY ..... 26 Western NY ... 28 Ontario .......... 32 Pennsylvania . 34 Michigan ........ 36 SW Michigan . 36 SE Michigan .. 38 T By Bob "Now go have a beer" Paolino hree Wisconsin brew-pubs won medals in the 2016 World Beer Cup. Two of them, Vintage Brewing Company and Grumpy Troll Brew Pub have prior wins at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival competitions. But it's unlikely that many people would question your beer geek credentials if you had never previously heard of Second Salem Brewing Company in Whitewater, Wisconsin. If brewer Christ Christon had stuck to his original plan, indeed you wouldn't have heard of the brewpub or its World Beer Cup medal in 2016 at all because there would have been no brewpub in his downtown Whitewater restaurant. Christon grew up in the See Second Salem p. 7
Power Of Sour
Ewww, your beer’s gone bad!” Brewer Ron Jeffries remembers hearing that in the early days of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, the Dexter, Michigan brewery he founded in 2004 as the first American brewery devoted solely to producing barrel aged sour ales – beers deliberately crafted to exhibit tart, acidic, or otherwise “funky” flavors. “I still get that sometimes, but not nearly as much as I used to,” he says.
In other words, that was then and this is now – now being a time when more and more American beer drinkers are clamoring for sour ales of all kinds, and it’s become Difficult to find any brewery that isn’t at least dabbling in them to meet the demand. Whence cometh this intense interest in types of beer that until recently were considered “spoiled” by the drinking hoi polloi? Jeffries has a simple explanation: “When you offer people something that’s interesting and complex, there’s going to be a natural attraction to that.”
What’s in That?
Sour beers are gaining in popularity, but what exactly are they? The catch-all term “sour” actually encompasses a wide variety of styles, flavors, brewing methods, regional traditions, and especially types of microbes used in fermentation, which may include bacteria and wild strains of yeast in addition to traditional brewer’s yeast.
“‘Sour’ isn't really a style, but an array of flavors and sensations,” says Annette May, a Certified Cicerone who lectures on brewing and beer appreciation in Southeast Michigan.
“Simply put, a sour beer is one that’s flavored to some degree by the acids produced by the same microorganisms that ferment a variety of foods or make food taste tart.”
Arbor Brewing co-owner Matt Greff (left) and sour beer cellarman Rob Conley in their expanded barrel aging warehouse.
It can be useful, says May, to mentally divide the term “sour beer” into two very rough (and very different) categories: aged sours and quick (or “kettle”) sours. The former include Jolly Pumpkin’s beers and traditional Belgian styles such as, lambics and Flanders red ales—all beers that develop over a year or more in wood vessels (foeders) with a cocktail of microbes like Pediococcus and Brettanomyce—which produce a range of funky, layered flavors. Due to the investment needed in time, equipment, and technical skill, these beers are typically more expensive and limited in distribution, with relatively fewer breweries making them – or Making them well.
Breweries throughout the Great Lakes, including Bell’s, Goose Island, Jolly Pumpkin, and New Glarus, are experiencing increased demand for sour beer styles.
“Lambics are notoriously hard to make,” says Dan Carey, brewmaster of Wisconsin’s New Glarus Brewing, who has been making fruity, funky Belgian-style ales such as Wisconsin Belgian Red since founding the brewery in 1993. “Anyone can brew with Brettanomyces, but to make something truly special it takes years and accounting for things like what time of year to brew, the temperature outside, the location of the foeders, lots of factors.”
Make it Fast
Quick, or kettle souring is a much faster and cheaper way to deliver a tart taste to beer during the brewing process, using Lactobacillus bacteria or simply adding lactic acid. Sour beers made this way tend to be much less complex than their aged counterparts, notes Lindsey Roeper of Cincinnati’s Rivertown Brewing, which specializes in aged lambic-style ales but also makes several , or what she calls “everyday” sours such as Divergent Berliner Style Ale and Soulless Flanders Style Ale. “There are more and more breweries using lactic acid to sour their beers, which results in a product that tends to lack the depth and character that using live bacteria and yeast impart,” she says.
What kettle soured beers may lack in depth and complexity, however, they often make up for in light, refreshing, and more easily approachable characteristics. One great example is Bell’s Brewery’s Oarsman Ale, a 4% ABV wheat beer introduced in 2008 and now available in cans year-round. It is not actually soured in the brew kettle, however, but during a unique reactor stage Bell’s developed where the Lactobacillus works its magic.
“Oarsman offers a tart, lemony experience that I think most people were not used to at the time it debuted,” says Laura Bell, brewery vice president. “But it’s grown steadily in popularity because it’s Supercrushable. You can take it on your boat or to a ball game or golfing, wherever you end up going.”
Not Your Father’s Berliner Weisse – Your Grandfather’s
The 153-year-old August Schell Brewing Co. In New Ulm, Minn., also began to experiment with sour beer in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2013 that they introduced their Star of the North Berliner Weisse, named one of DRAFT magazine’s “Top 25 Beers” that year. The brainchild of sixth-generation Schell family member and brewer Jace Marti, who spent a year at a Berlin brewing school, the quaffable, fragrant 3.5% ABV brew is unique in that it uses yeast strains preserved from a defunct Soviet-era Berlin brewery and spends time conditioning in two 80-year-old cypress lagering tanks that Marti painstakingly restored.
Brewmaster Dan Carey with a few of New Glarus’s foeders, used to age award-winning fruited sour ales like Serendipity.
“The reason we wanted to make sours was we had the opportunity to use these pieces of our history in a totally different way than they were originally intended,” he says. “As far as I know, they’re the last tanks like this left in the world.”
Schell’s sour program focuses for now solely on the Berliner weisse style, but Tries, in Marti’s words, to “stretch the limits of what a Berliner weisse can be,” including the use of different yeast and bacteria strains, dry-hopping, and fruit additions. Regarding the latter, a raspberry-aged version dubbed Framboise Du Nord won a bronze medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup.
The Next Big Thing?
Whether we’re talking aged or kettle soured, brewers across the spectrum agree that interest in tart and funky styles only continues to rise. But is it just a temporary fad, part of a more permanent shift in taste, or something else? It depends on whom you ask. Schell’s Marti believes the tart, acidic Flavor profiles of many sour beers will draw in more people who normally turn to wine, giving the market for sour beers “staying power.”
Not far down the road in Minneapolis, Niko Tonks, head brewer at Fair State Brewing Cooperative, agrees. “Sour beers have really taken off for us, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “I think sour is a ‘thing’ in the brewing world right now.” Fair State produces kettle soured beers like the citrus-infused Cromulence Berliner Weisse and Roselle Hibiscus Sour Ale and more recently has begun to experiment with barrel aged sour beers, expecting to release 4 or 5 before the end of the year, with plans to further ramp up production and distribution in 2017.
Educational classes likes those offered by Certified Cicerone Annette May of Know Beer are helping spur interest in, and appreciation of, sour beers.
At Cincinnati’s Rivertown, where sour beers account for 40% of the brewery’s production (up from 10% just a few years ago), Roeper says, “We do believe that sour is the new hoppy.”
Tim Faith, innovation brewer with Goose Island Beer’s renowned sour program in Chicago, notes the surging popularity of Goose’s “sour sister” series of fruited Brettanomyces-fermented beers, including Halia (white peaches), Gillian (strawberries, honey, and Champagne yeast), Lolita (raspberries), Juliet (blackberries), and Madame Rose (cherry and sherry yeast). But although Goose is working to expand its sour portfolio, Faith sees limits to the market for sour beers. “We've seen phases where certain styles become popularized, and then fade back into the minds of consumer awareness,” he says. “Sours themselves will always be a portion of the beer scene, but they take a lot of resources, time, and knowledge to create. An IPA goes through a brewhouse in a couple hours, ferments in a week or two, conditions, and it’s packaged. A quality sour beer could take years.”
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales became the country’s first brewery to produce only sour ales when Ron Jeffries and wife Laurie founded it in 2004.
Faith’s comments are echoed by Andrew Cook, owner and brewer at Swiftwater Brewing in Rochester, N.Y., Which produces both kettle and aged sour ales. “We had a lot of love and a lot of hate for our sours initially. It definitely seemed that it was a taste that a decent chunk of our customers had not yet acquired,” he says. “Our barrel aged clean beers and IPAs sell three to four times faster than our sours.”
To Funk, or Not to Funk
Meanwhile, some have rejected the gospel of sour altogether. “Plenty of brewers want sour to be the next hoppy, but does the consumer see it that way?” asks Andy Tveekrem, head brewer at Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland. Tveekrem experimented with sour styles but found his passion lay elsewhere, he says. “Hoppy beers have gained acceptance because they use an added emphasis on an existing, traditional ingredient. Sour beers will always be outside the lines and will always be a niche.”
Reservations and qualifications aside, there are plenty of reasons to believe sour ales, as a solid and growing part of the American craft beer scene, are here to stay. For one thing, breweries continue to invest in more space and equipment devoted to making them as well as working to refine their processes and techniques.
In Minnesota, Schell is close to unveiling a brand new sour-only production facility and taproom, called the Starkeller, where Jace Marti plans to go beyond Berliner Weisses to produce new blended styles. “The additional capacity and the fact these beers are able to age in the bottle will allow us to tap into new markets farther from home, if we think that’s an good option,” he says.
Upland Brewing of Bloomington, Indiana, whose sour program has exploded from its beginnings in 2006, recently opened a second brewery next to its original location to accommodate demand for their lambics and other aged sour ales. Dubbed the Wood Shop for all the large oak foeders in it, the additional space will enable Upland to experiment with other styles as well as increase distribution of their muchsought- after beers such as Sour Reserve, a multiyear blend of sour blonde ale that took home a gold medal from the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.
Rivertown in Cincinnati recently broke ground on a second facility with space for continued growth in barrels, foeders, and, eventually, a coolship – a large, shallow pan used in many Belgian breweries that enables wort to be spontaneously fermented by wild airborne micro-organisms.
And Jolly Pumpkin? The brewery now produces about 4,000 barrels a year of their blended sour beers, with Jeffries these days crisscrossing the country from Anchorage to Philadelphia to St. Louis brewing collaboration sours with a range of breweries and beer lovers. Through it all, his philosophy remains simple: “We’re just going to keep making really great beer and hopefully people will keep buying it.”
Read the full article at http://glbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Power+Of+Sour/2555641/327864/article.html.
Second Salem Brewing Co
A Nanobrewery with Big Plans
Clockwise from bottom left- Vintage truck hauling beer, Second Salem's witchy logo, brewer/owner Christ Christon shares a laugh with patrons, Christ Christon at work- It's not often that a professional brewer stands taller than his brewing equipment.
Three Wisconsin brewpubs won medals in the 2016 World Beer Cup. Two of them, Vintage Brewing Company and Grumpy Troll Brew Pub have prior wins at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival competitions. But it's unlikely that many people Would question your beer geek credentials if you had never previously heard of Second Salem Brewing Company in Whitewater, Wisconsin. If brewer Christ Christon had stuck to his original plan, indeed you wouldn't have heard of the brewpub or its World Beer Cup medal in 2016 at all because there would have been no brewpub in his downtown Whitewater restaurant.
Christon grew up in the Restaurant business, having worked in his Dad's two restaurants—a "family-style" restaurant and a pizzeria—as a child, teenager, and, after graduating from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, when he started managing the pizzeria in 2003. In May 2010, he bought the family restaurant with plans to convert the banquet room into a pub that would feature craft beer while continuing to operate the front part as a family restaurant to help pay the bills. In December 2011, the remodeled banquet room opened as Lakefront Pub.
Second Salem Brewing Company in Whitewater, Wisconsin, is considering a future expansion from its current nanobrewery status.
"You should open a brewery."
Christon's long term plan was to open a brewery, perhaps in 10 years after restaurant and pub was well established. But then he and his business partner met Karl Brown, a UW-Whitewater history professor who had run brewery operations in Japan and Greece in the 1990s before going to graduate school in history at University of Texas. The plan was to start with a small brewhouse while contracting for most of the beers, and expand production later. They bought and installed a one-barrel nanobrewery system. But as a brewpub rather than a brewery, they discovered that contract brewing was not an option under a Wisconsin law that requires a new brewing business to make a choice between a brewer's permit and a brewpub permit, with the latter requiring that all beer production occur on premises owned by the business.
Brown was the original brewer when the brewpub opened, but Christon became the brewer in 2014 after Brown left the business. Christon had only a little bit of homebrewing experience, and it took him about 4-5 months to learn the system and start producing consistent beers.
Now, Second Salem typically has six or seven house beers on tap, with guest beers making up the balance of the dozen taps. (On this writer's visit, there were five Second Salem brews available, with a couple of the regulars nearly ready to go back on tap shortly.) With only the one barrel system, Christon typically brews three or four times a week to keep up. Although one might think that a small system affords a brewer the opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of seasonal or one-off brews, Christon noted that he brews comparatively few such beers because of the effort to maintain the regular selection when he is brewing only one barrel at a time. (He does have one two-barrel fermenter for double batches, along with his one-barrel fermenters.) Christon said his restaurant experience informs his choice to "figure out what works and stick with it," with respect to his beer lineup. It's good to do some exploring, and he has done so, but notes that you can't do the "crazy stuff" all the time. Second Salem's Area 53(190) line (a reference both to UFO folklore and Whitewater's ZIP code) is his opportunity to do some one-offs that can become regular beers later if they are successful.
The restaurant side of the menu features a variety of burgers and other sandwiches, apps, salads, and other entrees. But Christon has enjoyed his transition to brewing, and is often surprised by how knowledgeable many nonbeergeek customers are about craft beer; he enjoys the opportunity to help people discover craft beer.
World Beer Cup
Second Salem's Beast of Bray Road won the 2016 WBC bronze medal from among 96 entries in the American-style Amber/Red Ale category. Christon joked that "even a blind squirrel finds a nut on occasion." Second Salem might not have even entered beers in the WBC except that Christon and his business partner were going to the Craft Brewers Conference to shop brewing equipment for an expansion from the one-barrel nanobrewery.
They decided to enter four beers, including the Bone Orchard IPA, which had won a "best beer" award at a Madison festival, an American Black Ale, a stout, And the Beast of Bray Road. He wasn't expecting to win anything, he was just at the conference to shop for brewing equipment. Christon's business partner didn't even attend the awards ceremony, and was astounded when Christon sent him a text message about the award. Christon said the experience was surreal, and although he received congratulations from friends and customers, the whole thing didn't sink in for him for a few weeks. It was only when he went to a brewers' event in Milwaukee and had other brewers congratulate him that he understood what it meant to have won the award. Christon commented that the brewing industry is different from the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry is very competitive, while craft brewing is a more friendly business, a brotherhood, in which breweries compete with each other but will also do what they can to help each other.
Christon enjoys having won the award, but says it's better to hear his customers praise his beers. One benefit of having won the award, however, is that it has raised the visibility of the brewpub and attracted the attention of potential investors as he looks to expand production capacity.
The brewery area in the restaurant is actually much smaller than it appears from the customer's view through the window across the bar. The fermenters are on wheels so they can be moved around to a couple separate areas, one of which is essentially a closet. Using the current brewery space, Christon could not hope to expand to anything bigger than a three-or five-barrel system, and space would be very tight. The current vision is to convert the lakefront pub area to beer production and limit the bar and restaurant space to the current front bar and dining room. He had also thought about brewing at another location, but has decided to stay in the current building. It's likely that he will eventually expand to a 10-barrel system, but hasn't yet made a final decision on production targets and what will work best in the space.
Read the full article at http://glbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Second+Salem+Brewing+Co/2555646/327864/article.html.