Southwest Brewing News February/March 2013 : Page 1
BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse Senior V.P. for Brewery Operations Alex Puchner (L) and Bavik Head Brewer Yves Benoit, add hops to the first batch of Camaraderie at the Bavik brewery in Bavikhove, Belgium. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALEX PUCHNER. Going the distance can mean many brewing operations for BJ’s has come a long things, but in the case of BJ’s Restaurant way from his first batch of homebrew in and Brewhouse’s latest beer, it meant going 1986, but isn’t well known to BJ’s patrons. all the way to Belgium. Camaraderie is a Despite his impressive title, Puchner collaborative brew that combines the Old retains a passion for brewing rooted his World traditions of the Bavik Brewery in homebrewing days. “I was jealous of my Bavikhove, Belgium with BJ’s craft brewer colleagues who American brewpub tradition of had collaborated with European innovation. breweries and impressed with Bavik, an independent the results,” he recalls. That family-owned brewery, has provided the incentive to go been brewing since 1894 and is overseas, but “Why Belgium? one of the largest independent I’m a huge fan of Belgian ales breweries in Belgium. Even in general,” he smiles. so, they aren’t well known Indeed, Camaraderie in the United States for their reflects both traditions. “The namesake beers as much as BJ’s brewing team was they are for the Petrus line of envious of Bavik’s expertise in Belgian ales and Wittekerke , a Camaraderie, a collaboration traditional Flemish sour beers beer between BJ's Restaurant canned witbier. and classic Belgian styles, like & Brewhouse and Bavik Similarly, Alex Puchner, tripel.” Puchner observes. Brewery of Belgium. the senior vice president of PHOTO COURTESY OF BJ'S See Camaraderie page 3 RESTAURANT & BREWHOUSE. By Bev Blackwood II (L-R) Matt Covington from Dragoon, Austin Santos from The Address and Dragoon's Eric Greene tap into tequila barrels. T Why PHOTO BY DARREN CONNER. By Darren Conner he big boys are doing it. The little guys are doing it. There are local projects; there are international projects. It’s the latest trend to sweep through the craft beer industry. It is the joining of forces to make something interesting and different. One microbrew-ery teams up with another to create a brew -or even the ever-popular ménage a brew. It is -the collaboration brew. From the Editor .................................. 2 Event Calendar ....................................5 Best of Show ......................................6 Queen of Quaff ....................................7 Directories & Maps .........................12-15 Arkansas .......................8 Oklahoma ......................9 New Mexico ................. 10 Souther California ....... 16 San Diego .................... 17 S/C/E Texas ................. 18 Austin ......................... 19 N/W Texas ................... 21 C Arizona ....................22 S Arizona .....................23 N Arizona ....................23 A brewer may already make a great beer on his or her own, so what brings this idea to the kettle? There are all different types, sizes and scales of collaborations. What makes it happen and why? Perhaps the beginning of collaboration brews began with the homebrew contest. The winner comes up with a beer so tasty that a pro brewer decides to work with the homebrewer and scale up the recipe and put it on tap or even distribute the brew. The pro-am competitions at beer festivals followed. Somehow that morphed into collaboration brews between pros. One pro brewer approaches another pro brewer to work together on a beer. Brewers that decide to partner up and make something d together have definitely strengthened the craft beer community and create exciting new beverages. The motivation for starting a collaboration brew is interesting. The reason a brewer gets into the industry is the love of the craft. Somewhere along the line a brewer samples a tasty beer from some incredible brewery and wants to create something different for everyone to enjoy. Those special beers made by a brewery or brewer that you already enjoy become the driving force. There is a definite camaraderie between brewers and breweries. There can be a mutual See Togethe r page 4 ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM
Bev Blackwood II
SAYS IT ALL
Going the distance can mean many things, but in the case of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse’s latest beer, it meant going all the way to Belgium. Camaraderie is a collaborative brew that combines the Old World traditions of the Bavik Brewery in Bavikhove, Belgium with BJ’s American brewpub tradition of innovation.
Bavik, an independent family-owned brewery, has been brewing since 1894 and is one of the largest independent breweries in Belgium. Even so, they aren’t well known in the United States for their namesake beers as much as they are for the Petrus line of Belgian ales and Wittekerke, a canned witbier.
Similarly, Alex Puchner, the senior vice president of brewing operations for BJ’s has come a long way from his first batch of homebrew in 1986, but isn’t well known to BJ’s patrons. Despite his impressive title, Puchner retains a passion for brewing rooted his homebrewing days. “I was jealous of my craft brewer colleagues who had collaborated with European breweries and impressed with the results,” he recalls. That provided the incentive to go overseas, but “Why Belgium? I’m a huge fan of Belgian ales in general,” he smiles.
Indeed, Camaraderie reflects both traditions. “The BJ’s brewing team was envious of Bavik’s expertise in traditional Flemish sour beers and classic Belgian styles, like tripel.” Puchner observes.
“Bavik’s brewers had never brewed with American hops and were eager to do so.” It doesn’t hurt that apart from Belgian beers Puchner is a fan of India pale ales, so when it came to the collaborative beer, he brought the hops. Camaraderie features over two and a half pounds of hops per barrel, comprised of Amarillo and Cascades. Getting them to Belgium wasn’t easy though. “It’s an agricultural product, so all kinds of paperwork is involved,” states Puchner. The hops ended up in Belgium by way of the United Kingdom via a hop broker that Bavik has a relationship with for imported hops.
“The hop schedule was BJ’s main contribution to the recipe,” Puchner informs. Bavik had never brewed with anywhere near the quantity of hops that we specified for the recipe.” This struck fear into the heart of Bavik’s head brewer, Yves Benoit. “Yves admitted that he was very nervous and skeptical about such a high hopping rate.” Puchner smiles. “I could tell by the dumbfounded look on the assistant brewer’s face [while adding the hops to the kettle] that he thought I was crazy.” That skepticism didn’t last too long. After returning from the brewing session in Belgium, Puchner started getting tasting notes from Benoit. “I am drinking a Camaraderie and it is super!” stated one such missive. “My only gripe about this collaboration beer is that Yves gets to taste it before I do,” Puchner laughs.
Bavik’s contribution to Camaraderie starts with the base beer. “The base wort used for our collaboration beer is the base for Petrus Tripel,” observes Puchner. However, there’s a lot more to it than that. After fermentation, the base beer is blended with their sour pale beer, aged for over two years in their giant oak barrels. “In its pure form, this sour beer is bottled for the U.S. as Petrus Aged Pale, which is one of my favorite beers in the world.” Puchner smiles. “The aged sour beer provides some of the balance in the finish, along with depth of flavor and a refreshing acidity.” That takes Camaraderie beyond a simple extra hoppy tripel. “I didn’t want to limit the appeal of this beer to hopheads,” he remarks. The end result is “something of a cross between American pale ale, tripel and sour beer,” Puchner notes.
It turns out Bavik and BJ’s have more in common than just beer. “Bavik is in the restaurant business just like BJ’s,” smiles Puchner. “In fact, Bavik owns hundreds of restaurants in Belgium and France, and they license the rights to serve their beer and beverages to hundreds more.” Add to that an extensive kegging and bottling operation and they are perfectly suited to supply Camaraderie to BJ’s ever-growing family of 100+ restaurants.
Camaraderie debuted as a draft-only beer, but there are plans in the works to make it a year-round offering. “We will introduce 330-ml bottles at BJ’s in early May and keep brewing at Bavik to maintain the bottles yearround,” Puchner states. “ [The bottles will be vintage] dated, it ages nicely [and will be] available for take-out where it’s legal.” The beer arrived in restaurants in late 2012 on draft and should last through January, but if you don’t get to try it on draft, don’t despair. “We will probably bring the draft back as a limited-edition beer, but not until 2014.” The biggest difference between the two is that the “draft version isn’t matured, which results in a super fresh hop profile,” he remarks. “The bottles were conditioned for a month before Shipping, then spent another month on the ocean.”
While collaboration beers aren’t anything new, good ones can be few and far between. Puchner reflects on what makes Camaraderie work. “I think there were three key elements to the success of our first collaboration beer: passion, respect and [of course] camaraderie. Both brewing teams shared a passion for designing and brewing great beer, as well as [having] a mutual respect for each other’s brewing expertise.” BJ’s and Bavik’s collaboration beer spans the distance between their breweries to create a unique blend of Belgian and American classic beer styles in (and thanks to) Camaraderie.
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/The+Name/1325038/148015/article.html.
Never Tasted So Good
The big boys are doing it. The little guys are doing it. There are local projects; there are international projects. It’s the latest trend to sweep through the craft beer industry. It is the joining of forces to make something interesting and different. One microbrewery teams up with another to create a breor even the ever-popular ménage a brew. It is - the collaboration brew.
A brewer may already make a great beer on his or her own, so what brings this idea to the kettle? There are all different types, sizes and scales of collaborations. What makes it happen and why? Perhaps the beginning of collaboration brews began with the homebrew contest. The winner comes up with a beer so tasty that a pro brewer decides to work with the homebrewer and scale up the recipe and put it on tap or even distribute the brew. The pro-am competitions at beer festivals followed. Somehow that morphed into collaboration brews between pros. One pro brewer approaches another pro brewer to work together on a beer. Brewers that decide d to partner up and make something together have definitely strengthened the craft beer community and create exciting new beverages.
The motivation for starting a collaboration brew is interesting. The reason a brewer gets into the industry is the love of the craft. Somewhere along the line a brewer samples a tasty beer from some incredible brewery and wants to create something different for everyone to enjoy. Those special beers made by a brewery or brewer that you already enjoy become the driving force. There is a definite camaraderie between brewers and breweries. There can be a mutual admiration and respect. The craft beer industry wants to promote the craft as much as brewers want to promote their own brewery. According to Jason Davis at Freetail Brewing in San Antonio, Texas, “The idea of collaboration fascinates me; it should be a synergistic event, bringing together different brewer perspectives, whether alike or complementary, and achieving something greater together.” Large breweries can benefit from working with a smaller brewery to make a specialty brew on essentially a pilot system. Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, Texas and Freetail have an annual collaboration project.
The motivation might just be a wellestablished brewery reaching out to help a new brewery. Mitch Steele from Stone Brewing in Escondido, Calif., says, “Being able to help make a smaller brewer who is brewing amazing beers become more visible through our distribution network plays a role.” Some breweries find a way to complement each other. The Address Brewing in Tucson, Ariz. Is currently working with a one-barrel system. They teamed up with Dragoon Brewing, also in Tucson, and were able to use a 15-barrel system to make a version of their Imperial Porter. The Address brought a couple of palettes of tequila barrels to share.
The major draw is getting to try something new or different. A brewery will make the same beer over and over once the recipe is set. An opportunity to break new ground with ingredients, equipment or techniques is exciting and it’s the chance to put a new twist on a traditional style. Getting to learn from someone who is an expert or leader in the industry or style will give the other brewer a chance to improve his or her chops. Having a different set of eyes involved in the process allows everyone a chance to see a different path to a common goal. Most brewers are pretty adventurous when it comes to making beer already. There are no limits when it comes to ideas. There is just an intense desire to try something new.
Along with all the good reasons to collaborate on a brew come possible obstacles involved in taking on an effort of this magnitude. After the decision is made to create a collaboration brew, there are a lot of details to explore. To start, you need a recipe, ingredients and equipment. Both sides have to agree on the recipe and determine if there are any rare or special ingredients that have to be procured. Is there a long lead-time for those special ingredients? Is there any special equipment needed? After that, they need to pick a date to make the brew and ensure there is space to age it. Is the other brewery in the same city, state, region, country? Stone Brewing has a few international projects under its belt. [BJ’s also has an international collaboration going on – see the other cover feature for more on that project.] They’re all kinds of reasons to not make collaboration beers. The last thing anyone would want in the collaboration brew is to have the other party or the beer drinker end up disappointed. The goal is to make a delicious brew that everyone can be proud of. Everyone involved wants to pick up his or her game. No matter what kind of obstacles exist, they don’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm and certainly haven’t slowed the trend.Collaboration beers are becoming very popular among the craft beer industry and beer aficionados. What makes them so popular? The rewards are greater than the risks for all involved. American craft beer drinkers always want something that pushes boundaries or limits. They want to enjoy something that isn’t normally in the lineup. Seasonal beers or special releases or even a change in weather will excite a beer connoisseur. Stouts and other big malty beers rise to the top in the winter and give way to wheat beers or session beers in warmer weather. A new collaboration beer just adds to the already-changing selection for the drinker and the brewer. According to Eric Greene of Dragoon Brewing, “I think the benefit of collaborations for consumers is that through these joint efforts, more of the interesting, unique and inspired beers that they want to drink are available in the market.” The benefit for the brewer and brewery is being able to expand their brewing knowledge, possibly reach a new market, and spread their wings and create something completely new or different. There are many reasons to not do it, but we can be thankful that they do and that the rewards often outweigh the risks.
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Working+Together/1325045/148015/article.html.