Great Lakes Brewing News December 2015/January 2016 : Page 1
ENGINEERING CRAFT BREWING SUSTAINABILITY By Mark Garland ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM By Jim Herter I easonal beers have become me a major part of craft brewing. ng g. Everyone from the newest st nano around the corner to o established local, regional l and national craft brewers offer fer r a bounty of seasonal cre-ations, all of which seem to come out earlier each year. Most brewers now brew several seasonals for each season. Seasonal variety packs are multiplying on the shelves, and some brewers have even made seasonal styles their main focus. holiday, or Christmas beers in particular, But hol unique. More than any other brew, these are u un offerings offer rin are open to interpretation. A stout or pale ale can use a variety of malts malt ts and hops, but must follow (at least loosely) loos se established guidelines for the style—like dark and roasty, or pale and sty yl hoppy. Holiday beers can be whatever the hop h brewer imagines they are. When you order bre b your pint of Christmas beer, you may not yo y know exactly what to expect, which is k the where the fun begins for both the t brewer and the drinker. b See Holidays p. 4 INSIDE Event Calendar ............................. 2 Beer and Health ............................... 8 Homebrew ...................................... 10 Beer Beacon ............................... 11 Map/Directory.........................18-23 Überbrew wins Alpha King ......... 26 Beers To Us! ............................... 27 State by State News New York ....... 12 Illinois ........... 24 Chicago ......... 25 Indiana .......... 26 Wisconsin ..... 28 N Wisconsin .. 29 Minnesota ...... 30 Ontario .......... 32 Pennsylvania . 34 Ohio ............... 35 Michigan ........ 36 SW Michigan . 36 SE Michigan .. 38 ndiana has developed into a solid destina-tion for craft beer drinkers. Few consumers probably realize, especially those folks who have only recently discovered the amaz-ing world of hand-crafted ales and lagers, that Lafayette, Indiana is the home to the second oldest operating brewery in the state. Founded in 1993 by Greg and Nancy Emig, Lafayette Brewing Company continues to brew fine craft beer and serve a diverse menu of pub offerings. In the past decade they have added music, com-edy and a celebration space to further the mission of providing quality lity l ty beer and food, service, entertain-ter t rtain-ment and community un u nity support. Greg Emig is currently serv-ing his second stint in i nt as the President o of f the Brewers of Indiana Guild. His involvement with all aspects of Indiana craft b be beer er gives him a unique u e pe ue p perspec-rsp p ec-ec terview, Emig reflected on his tive. In a recent interview, twenty-two year journey: Where did you get started in the craft beer business? I took a job with the Broad Ripple Brewing Company prior to their opening back in 1990. I originally worked on the pub side of the operation before becoming the brewer in 1991. What was your most significant reason for starting a career as a brewer? Always wanted to own my own business, loved brewing and it presented a unique oppor-tunity. See Lafayette p. 7 Greg Emig, founder of Lafayette Brewing Co. at the Great Taste of the Midwest. PHOTO BY JIM HERTER
Brewing Up The Holidays
Seasonal beers have become a major part of craft brewing. Everyone from the newest nano around the corner to established local, regional and national craft brewers offer a bounty of seasonal creations, all of which seem to come out earlier each year. Most brewers now brew several seasonals for each season. Seasonal variety packs are multiplying on the shelves, and some brewers have even made seasonal styles their main focus.
But holiday, or Christmas beers in particular, are unique. More than any other brew, these offerings are open to interpretation.
A stout or pale ale can use a variety of malts and hops, but must follow (at least loosely) established guidelines for the style—like dark and roasty, or pale and hoppy. Holiday beers can be whatever the brewer imagines they are. When you order your pint of Christmas beer, you may not know exactly what to expect, which is the where the fun begins for both the brewer and the drinker.
“Christmas beers tend to follow three main approaches,” says Fred Karm, at Ohio’s Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Company: “The Belgian style, a Belgian ale with a subtle use of spices is my approach; an American ale with the spices out front; and the Christmas present approach, which is a special beer offered during the season, like Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale.”
Fred decided he wanted a winter warmer with plenty of malt to balance the spices. He brews Frosted Frog, an 8.6% abv imperial nut brown ale made with cinnamon, nutmeg and a little orange peel. “I want you to taste each spice in the beer,” Fred says.
Spice is Nice
Frosted Frog represents the most popular category of Christmas beers—amber to brown in color, lots of maltiness, alcohol, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel, but also ginger, coriander, allspice, vanilla, clove and anise, among others. Any combination of these ingredients and how they are used, from boil times to measurements, makes a big difference. Even the brewer’s choice of yeast, be that American, British, Belgian, or a lager strain, will make a difference.
Matt Cole at Fathead’s Brewery in Ohio points out that while repeatedly brewing a beer exactly to spec is usually the goal of most brewers, that isn’t the case with Christmas beers. Matt started with Holly Jolly Christmas, a 7.5% abv, deep amber beer brewed with clover honey, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and coriander. But he varies the recipe from year to year, and explains that he doesn’t really have a choice. “There are practically no two (holiday beers) exactly alike, even the same one, year to year. We have plenty of malt stats, and plenty of info on the hops we use, IBUs, essential oils, but you don’t have that with spices. There aren’t any stats, and the same spices can vary from year to year, harvest to harvest. So it’s sensory driven. You taste the beer young. Sometimes you have to blend that with another batch to get it right.”
Matt says tastes are regional, too. His spiced Holly Jolly is extremely popular in Ohio, but on the west coast, for example, it might not sell. “They tend to like their Christmas beers malty and more hop-forward.”
Matt’s second Christmas beer, Pimp My Sleigh, is a 10.5% abv traditional Belgian style strong dark ale, which has grown popular enough to bottle this year. He thinks this one would be popular anywhere.
Sticking with a Belgian theme, Steve Sloan of Pittsburgh’s Roundabout Brewing brews The Gui, a 10.5% abv strong dark Belgian ale made with a lot of dark candi syrup that attenuates quite well in their open fermenter. “We use the Unibroue yeast to keep the phenols down and add just a hint of coriander and nutmeg for complexity— but not enough to cover up the fruit and citrus from the yeast and the nice toffee flavor from the candi syrup. It’s dangerously drinkable for a fairly high ABV.”
Steve also brews his 7.2% abv New Zealand Summer Winter Warmer, more his take on the west coast American styles. “The wort makeup is actually typical with plenty of caramel malt, oats and brown sugar for body and sweetness, but then we add a good deal New Zealand Pacific hops— Gem, Wakatu, Rakau and Motueka, around 40 IBUs—and post fermentation to balance the the malt/adjunct bill.”
Out of the Past, Into the Now
Brewing Christmas and holiday beers is a tradition that goes back centuries, originating with ales brewed to celebrate pagan holidays. The winter solstice, which was translated by Christianity into Christmas, was truly a time of celebration, requiring plenty of food and ale. For hundreds of years, those ales were unique from town to town, village to village, and often from house to house. And beginning around the 8th century, beer was brewed by the church.
Everyday beer was a mainstay, but through the centuries holiday brews became a tradition, and in some cases a requirement. A thousand years ago, the Vikings made Yule, and well into the Middle Ages, European cultures brewed holiday beers. Warm ale in a bowl with fruit and spiced breads was a favorite and the inspiration for the spiced ales of today. In the 17th century, Europeans brought holiday brewing traditions to America.
Hops weren’t used in brewing until about the 6th or 7th Century AD. For centuries before that, and centuries after, everything else available to brewers was used for flavoring and as preservatives— every type of spice, herb and fermentable, like honey and sorghum, went in the brew. Especially the holiday brew.
When a Style is Not a Style
The Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines give a general description of the style, but many new and traditional holiday beers, domestic and imports, color outside those lines, and countless brewers ignore them all together. It is mad-scientist time, Christmas-style.
Dave Berg, brewer at August Schell Brewing Co in New Ulm, Minnesota, brews a beer called Snowstorm. “In the beginning I would tend to try styles I was interested in that we hadn’t done before. But with Snowstorm changing every year, you eventually run out of styles. The past couple of years it’s been more of a focus on a particular malt or yeast. For example last year I was intrigued with Best Red X, and decided it would be a nice malt to use in a beer. Then you start thinking about its flavor contribution and what would work well with it, and you just go down that path, thinking of each ingredient and its contribution, regardless of style.”
This leads to a beer that keeps customers interested, but which can be difficult to identify. “The problem is you end up making something that is not really any style,” says Dave. “It’s not a real problem, per se, but that makes it more difficult to tell the consumer what kind of beer you made. Thus, describing the beer becomes important, rather than simply saying, “This is a stout.”
Staying in Style
At FX Matt Brewing Co. In Utica, NY, they make long-time favorite Season’s Best Winter Lager, one of the original U.S. craft holiday or seasonal beers. Brewed since 1992, it’s light brown and deliciously malty. “I can honestly say that Season's Best is a beer I look forward to brewing each year,” say Saranac Brewmaster, Jim Kuhr. “We have a tradition of changing it up a bit each year, but honestly we do not stray far from the proven formula that includes a complex decoction mash, which really highlights the malt character.”
Jim divides holiday beers into one of two camps, big and malty or some take on spicy. “We have done both over the years. The trick is to come up with some combination of ingredients, procedure and image that evokes the season to most consumers. We often take our inspiration from seasonal foods or local favorites, and try to brew something that either carries a character reminiscent of that food, or complements it.” Jim says it’s rarely an easy task, but usually worth it. This year’s “Christmas present” beer is called West End Winter IPA, a full-flavored beer hopped with plenty of Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Chinook. “We’ve also brewed our Holiday Ale, which has some spices.”
Steve Berthel at New Holland Brewing Co. In Holland, Michigan says that as a homebrewer and an avid skier in 1990, some Telefest skiing friends in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula asked if he would brew and bottle a special elixir for the following year’s event. “I had a whole year to think about it and came up with a brown ale, about 7% abv, dry-hopped with Ccentennial and Cascade hops. It was probably around 60 IBUs. I continued making this beer every year at home, then professionally in 1997 at the first brewery I was involved with, but I never had a name for it. We decided to call it Telewhacker. A friend from Negaunee, Michigan drew a really great image of a teleskier turning through the birch trees with snowflakes all around. Every year since, I hauled a lot of cases up for our festival. I still brew it, though we’ve changed the name at New Holland, where we call it Bert’s Up Track. The beer has remained a holiday favorite everywhere Steve has gone. This year marks the first time it will be brewed with 100% Michigan grown barley and hops. “The recipe has changed a little through the years, like many Christmas ales, but it basically remains true to the original idea, and the passion of backcountry skiers everywhere!”
Tis the Season
For many brewers, the holidays present an opportunity to brew several seasonal beers, which often stay on through the winter months. Matt Conron of Old First Ward Brewing Company in Buffalo, NY takes the seasonal approach. “When the weather gets cold and the days get shorter, the beers I brew get darker, maltier, and I might add a little spice.” Matt makes Rosemary’s Snow Baby, a rosemary mint porter, just before the holidays, and High and Rye, a rye stout. “I also brew lagers in the winter,” says Matt. “So this season I’m making a smoked märzen and a schwarzbier.” He’s planning a doppelbock as well. Matt likes the idea that all these beers double as winter seasonals and Christmas beers.
Whether imported, nationally, regionally or best of all, locally brewed, holiday beers are a welcome treat for beer lovers. So treat yourself. A lot of thought, planning and passion went into that beer in your glass. They are all Christmas presents in the end.
Read the full article at http://glbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Brewing+Up+The+Holidays/2342239/283727/article.html.
Engineering Craft Brewing Sustainability
Indiana has developed into a solid destination for craft beer drinkers. Few consumers probably realize, especially those folks who have only recently discovered the amazing world of hand-crafted ales and lagers, that Lafayette, Indiana is the home to the second oldest operating brewery in the state. Founded in 1993 by Greg and Nancy Emig, Lafayette Brewing Company continues to brew fine craft beer and serve a diverse menu of pub offerings. In the past decade they have added music, comedy and a celebration space to further the mission of providing quality beer and food, service, entertainment and community support.
Greg Emig is currently serving his second stint as the President the Brewers of Indiana Guild. His involvement with all aspects of Indiana craft beer gives him a unique perspective. In a recent interview, Eming reflected on his twenty-two year journey:
Where did you get started in the craft beer business?
I took a job with the Broad Ripple Brewing Company prior to their opening back in 1990. I originally worked on the pub side of the operation before becoming the brewer in 1991.
What was your most significant reason for starting a career as a brewer?
Always wanted to own my own business, loved brewing and it presented a unique opportunity.
What do you see as the most significant change from the early LBC days to the present?
Our food. We thought we were going to focus on beer and a few bar snacks, but the expectations of the community meant we needed to have a more quality-focused and diverse menu.
Who or what has been your biggest influence in the brewing business?
Lots of folks have influenced me in the brewing business, but John Hill of the Broad Ripple Brew Pub was definitely my mentor. He hired me to help do miscellaneous construction around the pub before it opened and then brought me on board to work in the pub, and then the brewery. I got a first-hand look at how he pulled it all together, and used that to put together LBC. John and Nancy Hill were most gracious in sharing knowledge and insights of the industry with us, and we are deeply grateful. We’ve tried to continue that spirit of sharing information with many of the folks that have come through our own organization.
What is your favorite beer to brew?
I think lagers present the biggest challenge to brewers and are my favorites to brew.
What are LBC’s core values?
Quality beer, food and customer service; community involvement; having fun.
Would you agree that LBC has made an important contribution to the Lafayette/West Lafayette market?
A local magazine ran an article a few years ago that credited us with starting the beer renaissance in the Lafayette area. While I choose not to believe everything that gets written about us, I do feel that was an accurate statement from a commercial standpoint. There were plenty of local home brewers who led the way for me from a personal perspective.
Many people have stated—mostly from outside the craft beer industry—that the craft beer bubble will burst. As one of the elder brewers in Indiana, what is your opinion on that, and how has LBC weathered the challenges?
The industry has already been through one “bubble burst” back in the late 90’s. The majority, certainly not all, of breweries that closed back then had a pretty common theme: beer quality issues. Quality remains an issue today. Better have it, or you’re not going to be around for very long. Otherwise, the industry is growing at a much different pace than it was back in the 1990’s, so there are going to be some new issues arising regarding shelf and tap handle space, brewery consolidation, etc. LBC is in a unique position because we don’t have any outside distribution. This allows us complete control over our products from production through service, and thus, we control our own fate when it comes to quality issues with our beers and food. We make sure we’ve got that right, first and foremost, to weather down times. After that, you do the same thing that any other industry does: tighten spending as much as you can, and just try to survive it one day at a time.
What are your thoughts on the upward progression of bigger, maltier, hoppier beer? how has LBC reacted to this trend?
We’ve sort of come full circle on that. While we’ve been offering mega-hoppy beers since our opening—we’ve been brewing an 85 IBU IPA with Centennial and Cascade hops since prior to the release of 3Floyds Alpha King, and still offer a full range of beer styles—we’re actually focusing more on session strength beers these days. With the advance of age, I’ve gained an appreciation for a well-made beer brewed in the 4. 5% ABV range.
Is that your favorite beer style to drink? Brew?
Beer is such a seasonal thing that, like most brewers, I enjoy a full range over the course of a year. But as I mentioned above, I am gaining a much greater appreciation for a full-flavored session beer.
How old were you when you had your first beer? What was it?
I can remember picking up a can of PBR when I was about five or six. I sipped the dregs from the can and thought it was pretty good. The second can had some cigarette butts in it, so I was turned off beer pretty quick after that. I drank plenty of beer in high school without any real appreciation for the quality of the product or the responsibility that came with consuming it. I finally found that appreciation in college while working at the Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette. It was a home brewers’ hangout, and those guys got me into learning about beer and brewing my own.
Do you have an exit plan? How long do you intend sticking with the craft beer business?
We’re in the process of talking about that, but the time frame is fairly stretched out at this point. There are lots of options to weigh and of course, the business needs to maintain viability, but I’d like to be around for another 8-10 years. That is, unless AB INBev wants to come in and drop a big pile of cash on us!
Over the past two-plus decades of Lafayette Brewing Company’s existence, the craft beer industry has seen slow growth, rapid growth, and shifts and corrections in the market. Undoubtedly the values set forth by Greg Emig and his team have carried this college town institution through the prosperous and lean times: More importantly, it will carry Lafayette Brewing Company through many years to come.