Great Lakes Brewing News August/September 2012 : Page 1
Best Read By Aug/Sept 2012 Volume 17 Number 4 A Head for Hops BREWS By Karen Bujak Madison’s House of Seeks to Build Beer Community I PHAT HOPS. Fat Head's brewmaster, Matt Cole, (L) enjoying a beer with Chris Alltmont in the middle of a busy brew day in Middleburg, OH. PHOTO BY KAREN BUJAK “B PHOTO COURTESY OF HOUSE OF BREWS t seems to be all about the hops these days, and it’s no differ-ent for Fat Head’s Brewery. The award-winning Head Hunter IPA is the flag-ship beer for Fat Head’s. When you’ve talked with brewmaster Matt Cole for more than a few min-utes, you find out there’s a reason he brews excellent hoppy beers: Matt Cole knows about hops. Cole is part of a ten-person hop selection team for U.S. wholesal-ers, and the only mem-ber from Ohio. Others are from such brewer-ies as Green Flash, Bear See Head for Hops p. 4 INSIDE State by State News Michigan ........... 14 SW Michigan .... 15 SE Michigan ..... 16 Indiana .............. 24 Chicago ............ 26 Illinois ............... 27 Wisconsin ......... 28 Minnesota ......... 30 Ontario ............. 32 New York .......... 33 Pennsylvania .... 36 Ohio .................. 38 N Wisconsin ..... 39 Event Calendar ..................... 3 The Beer Queendom ............ 8 Homebrewing ..................... 10 Beer Beacon ....................... 12 Jolly Giant .......................... 17 Map/Directory ................ 18-23 Cooking with Beer ............. 25 uying (and drinking) locally” is a common theme for promoting craft beer, but Page Buchanan, owner and brewmaster of House of Brews in Madison, hopes to take that local emphasis one step further. In many ways, House of Brews is much like any other small local brewery, with beers available on draught at several local establishments, possibly including a tasting room of its own. But Buchanan wants also to develop his business as a “Community Supported Brewery” (or CSB), one of only two or three such craft breweries in the United States. So, what's a Community Supported Brewery? For readers who are already famil-iar with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, the CSB concept is similar. CSA subscribers buy a “share” of the upcoming season's farm produce for a fixed amount of money and receive a box from the farm every week or two, depending on the type of sub-scription. The particular vegetables or other produce vary with the time in the growing sea-son, and the quantity may vary depending on growing conditions that year. The farm may also offer special events to its subscribers, publish a newsletter, or promote other activi-ties to develop personal connections between the farmer and subscribers. A CSB is similar, except that the sub-scribers get beer instead of vegetables, and the amount of beer promised to the subscriber is LEAN ON ME-TAL. Page Buchanan, (above and lower right), owner and brewmaster of House of Brews in Madison, WI. PHOTO BY BOB PAOLINO fixed. The subscriber may, of course, choose to drink more or less beer depending on the weather, but the amount of beer provided as part of membership is a given. Building the Foundation The story behind House of Brews has been similar to many other craft breweries, with a passionate homebrewer seeking to turn See House of Brews p. 5
Madison's House Of Brews
Seeks to Build Beer Community
Buying (and drinking) locally” is a common theme for promoting craft beer, but Page Buchanan, owner and brewmaster of House of Brews in Madison, hopes to take that local emphasis one step further. In many ways, House of Brews is much like any other small local brewery, with beers available on draught at several local establishments, possibly including a tasting room of its own. But Buchanan wants also to develop his business as a “Community Supported Brewery” (or CSB), one of only two or three such craft breweries in the United States.
So, what's a Community Supported Brewery? For readers who are already familiar with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, the CSB concept is similar. CSA subscribers buy a “share” of the upcoming season's farm produce for a fixed amount of money and receive a box from the farm every week or two, depending on the type of subscription. The particular vegetables or other produce vary with the time in the growing season, and the quantity may vary depending on growing conditions that year. The farm may also offer special events to its subscribers, publish a newsletter, or promote other activities to develop personal connections between the farmer and subscribers.
A CSB is similar, except that the subscribers get beer instead of vegetables, and the amount of beer promised to the subscriber is fixed. The subscriber may, of course, choose to drink more or less beer depending on the weather, but the amount of beer provided as part of membership is a given.
Building the Foundation
The story behind House of Brews has been similar to many other craft breweries, with a passionate homebrewer seeking to turn a hobby into a business. Page Buchanan has more than 17 years of brewing experience; having first tasted friends' homebrews in 1994, he started homebrewing himself in 1995. Buchanan commented that having walked by the local homebrew shop almost every day when he was a graduate student contributed to his fascination with the idea of making his own beer. Wisconsin brewers that had gotten started in the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as Randy Sprecher of Sprecher, Kirby Nelson of Capital, Dan Carey of New Glarus, Dean Coffey of the former Angelic brewpub (now brewmaster at Ale Asylum) and the brewers at Great Dane also helped inspire him to appreciate good beer and to want to try homebrewing, purely for the fun of it. By 2005, he was developing a business plan to go pro, and he incorporated in June 2006.
Buchanan has a graduate degree in industrial relations and was a union representative with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) when he got the idea of starting a Brew-on-Premise (BOP) and nanobrewery as a part-time business, while keeping a full-time job. But Wisconsin law would need to change to allow for BOP establishments, and when the General Motors plant in Janesville closed, the broader impact on the local economy reduced employment for electricians and other construction trades, and Buchanan found himself out of a full-time job after 11 years. Friends in the brewing industry advised him that his original business plan for a nanobrewery and possible BOP would not generate enough income for a viable business— although BOPs enjoy some popularity in Canada, the idea of commercial establishments where customers can “homebrew” away from home has not really caught on in the United States, with few exceptions.
Building the House
Building the brewery has been a slow process on a small budget. The brewery is located in a light industrial area in Madison just to the east of US 51. Buchanan first occupied the space in May 2010 and began the build-out of the brewery with initial capital of about $200,000; he has since raised an additional $100,000 in small investments from almost 50 local investors, spreading the risk somewhat broadly. (In the interest of proper disclosure, the author has a very modest non-ownership investment in the brewery.) Buchanan did most of the work himself, with the help of some friends, putting in lots of sweat equity to compensate for having relatively few dollars. The 10-barrel brewhouse consists of used dairy equipment and used brewing equipment from Lake Louie, O'so, and Great Dane-Wausau. Buchanan is extremely grateful for the support he's received from the Wisconsin brewing community, praising Tom Porter of Lake Louie in Arena as being one of “the nicest guys in brewing in the state of Wisconsin,” and always willing to help out other breweries, and finding more praise for Marc Buttera of O'so and Don Vasa of Great Dane-Hilldale, who have contributed their expertise when he needed their help. He also has a used BOP system that he intends to use for making small custom batches for restaurants.
Buchanan brewed his first batch of beer on August 6, 2011, and released it at the Malt House on September 1. As of June 2012, House of Brews has produced about 300 barrels to date, 32 batches, mostly 10 barrels each, with some smaller batches. Buchanan says the whole process has been much slower than he has hoped, citing the difficulties of building a brewery on such a small budget and the challenges small breweries face with distribution issues—a new small brewery is not a high priority for a wholesaler.
Despite all the challenges, House of Brews beers are available at more than twodozen establishments in the Madison area and have been extremely well received, and local media have commented favorably on the quality of the beers. Also, in early July, the brewery received approvals for the licensing needed to begin to operate the taproom, which should be open by the time this issue is published.
Buchanan's plan for his brewery can be viewed as being a hybrid of four components. First, it’s a conventional 10-barrel craft brewery, complete with a tasting room, which distributes to local pubs and restaurants. Second, it’s a custom brewery that will develop and produce house beers for local restaurants. Third, it’s a subscriber-oriented Community Supported Brewery. And forth, it may still become a Brew on Premise business if state law changes to allow for BOPs.
What differentiates House of Brews from other small local breweries is the idea Of community Buchanan hopes to develop among local beer enthusiasts and others. The imagery of a “house”—which Buchanan credits to a suggestion by a musician friend of his in Lincoln, Nebraska—suggests a personal approach that extends to all four components of his hybrid brewery concept. The interactive aspects of the CSB also engender a more personal connection than the conventional craft brewery. Buchanan said that he got the idea for a CSB from a conversation with fellow Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild member Mike Ball, who owns a CSA farm. Why not try the same thing for beer?
At first, Buchanan thought that his might be the first CSB, but later discovered that one in New Hampshire preceded his business plan. Since the inception of the House of Brews, a third CSB started in Chicago. Although presales for CSB memberships are only at 11 so far, Buchanan said that Ball told him his CSA farm didn't start with many members either, and 11 sounds like a pretty good number, considering that $500 for a year's subscription (in the same ballpark as many CSA shares) may seem like a lot for a prospective member and it may take some time to catch on. But subscribers can get their beer in specified numbers of kegs or growlers, or even as pints in the taproom, there’s an annual appreciation dinner (for investors and subscribers), special CSBonly brews, and possible opportunities to provide input into what gets brewed, all of which could encourage more to join. As Buchanan explains, being a CSB member means “there's more to beer than simply consuming it.”
As a custom brewer for local restaurants or for special events, Buchanan wants to work closely with restaurant owners and chefs in formulating beers that complement their menus. In describing his approach to food and beer pairings, he explained that he would like to offer a chef the opportunity to direct some of the recipe design to complement the foods, rather than an approach that says, “Here's my beer, pair something with it.”
House of Brews has already developed a black India “pale” ale for Tex Tubb's Taco Palace, and a spiced wheat ale for a REAP Food Group event. During Madison Craft Beer Week, he did a beer-pairing dinner with The Coopers Tavern in downtown Madison (and his oatmeal stout is named after a seating area in that pub).
The BOP system gives House of Brews the flexibility to developing custom beers for its customers and to increase the variety for CSB subscribers. One way he intends to use the BOP equipment is to start with a base wort made on the main system, and do specialty mashes in each of the six 50-litre kettles (a little smaller than a half-barrel each) to to produce six different beers.
Buchanan envisions a personal connection between the brewery and its customers. Initial capacity of the taproom will be only 15 customers (primarily because of the single public washroom in the taproom space), which will make for an uncrowded experience, almost living room scale. He also noted that his “house”- themed bar in the taproom, which he described as a combination of bar and children's puppet theatre, is probably the smallest in the area. In appreciation for the area professional brewers who have helped him in building the brewery and putting his beers on tap, Buchanan intends to serve some guest draughts as well his own beers in the taproom.
As for the brewery itself, Buchanan wants it to be open to local beer enthusiasts to let them experience something of the brewing process, and hopes to offer tours not just of idle equipment, but of the brewery while it is actually at work, so people can enjoy the “sights, smells, and sounds of a brewery while brewing is going on.” For customers who have a more intense interest in brewing, Buchanan hopes to offer “beer camps” in which groups of people can schedule to pay to brew at the brewery for a day.
In multiple ways, House of Brews intends to encourage community among those who enjoy craft beer, or as Buchanan put it, “Connect with the customers, give them an appreciation for the beer and how it's made.”
Read the full article at http://glbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Madison%27s+House+Of+Brews/1138141/121206/article.html.
A Head For Hops
It seems to be all about the hops these days, and it’s no different for Fat Head’s Brewery. The award-winning Head Hunter IPA is the flagship beer for Fat Head’s. When you’ve talked with brewmaster Matt Cole for more than a few minutes, you find out there’s a reason he brews excellent hoppy beers: Matt Cole knows about hops.
Cole is part of a ten-person hop selection team for U.S. wholesalers, and the only member from Ohio. Others are from such breweries as Green Flash, Bear Republic, Three Floyds, Elysian, and Ithaca. This team visits the growers and discusses craft brewer’s needs. They have learned that the same variety of hops can vary significantly depending whether it was grown in the upper or lower Yakima valley, or in Oregon. It can vary also depending upon when the hops are harvested. An early harvest might improve the aromas and oils, but may lack some the tropical fruit and pine notes that the hop variety is known for. Kiln temperatures for drying the hops can also affect the flavors and aromas. The team has also discussed making blends of various hops to get the combination of aroma, oil, and flavors they desire. The ultimate advantage of being on the hop selection team is that Cole can hand pick the hops he wants to design his beers.
As hoppy beers grow in popularity, so grows the demand for Head Hunter IPA and Fat Head’s newest IPA, Sunshine Daydream, a session beer that’s kind of a supercharged pale ale, dryer than Head Hunter. Eager to meet this demand and grow their market coverage, Fat Head’s owners last year purchased a 25-barrel Brau Kon state-of-the-art brewing system from Troeg’s Brewery. Enlisting the help of Chris Allmont, now assistant brewer, Cole started planning his new brewery. By April of this year they were brewing their first batch at the new Middleburg Heights brewery, which was a challenge for Cole, after spending the last 10-12 years brewing on small brewpub systems.
Our recent visit was on a day that had started at 3 am for Cole and Allmont. It was the first time they were brewing three batches in one day—all of Head Hunter IPA and all destined for one of their 100-bbl fermenters. We were greeted by Brewno, the beer-loving Black Labrador watchdog and brewery mascot. (Why is it breweries almost always have a dog?) The facility is about 22,000 square feet and only about half-filled with the brewing system, tanks, grain storage, and cooler. Capacity right now is about 12,000 barrels/ year, but with the addition of a few more 80-bbl fermenters (on the way), and aroundthe- clock brewing, their capacity could be 25,000 bbl., with room for more expansion next door. In some of the now empty space, a tasting room is in the works, which they hope to have open by fall. Plans now include opening Thursday and Friday evenings and all day Saturday for tastings, sales, and tours.
Special events are also scheduled at the brewery. The Son-of Brewzilla homebrew competition will be held here, the Head Strong Festival is planned for next March, and a Cask, And You Shall Receive cask ale festival is also being contemplated.
Fat Head’s Saloon has long been a good beer bar in Pittsburgh, and in 2009 they expanded to the Cleveland area with the Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon brewpub. Within 4 months, brewmaster Matt Cole had won a West coast IPA festival with his Head Hunter IPA. Since then, the beer has won medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, and it has since won the Brewing News National IPA Championship— twice. The demand for this and his other award-winning beers has driven aggressive expansion plans for Fat Head’s. They have barely begun bottling and already have plans for a new 100 bottle per minute packaging line.
Although it’s easy to focus on the hops and hoppy beers, Cole has also won medals for his Battle-Axe Baltic Porter and Up-In- Smoke (smoked porter). He brews one of the best Hefeweizens around (Gogglefogger), an extremely popular Bumbleberry Ale, an excellent Pilsener (Gudenhoppy Pils), and a mean Belgian-Style beer, called Sorcerer. He wants to focus more on Belgian styles and barrelaging in the future, and also to experiment with some sour styles.
Cole says he is dumbfounded by the meteoric growth Fat Head’s has seen in just three years. One can only imagine where they will be in another three years at this rate.
One last note: If you want Cole’s recipe for Head Hunter IPA, you only have to get Mitch Steele’s (Stone Brewing Co. Brewmaster) upcoming book on IPAs, “For the Love of Hops,” scheduled for September 2012 release.
Read the full article at http://glbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/A+Head+For+Hops/1138161/121206/article.html.