Southwest Brewing News August/September 2013 : Page 1
In the Southwest PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM The Lumberyard crew: Front row, (l-r): Head Brewer Gene Almquist, Marketing Manager Kelly Hanseth, Owners Winnie and Evan Hanseth. Back row: Assistant Brewers Zack Held, Mike Devlin and Ollie Sexton. PHOTO BY BEN JONES By Ben Jones per ye year. The idea of production bre brewing took hold. “We co couldn’t produce enough b beer for the busy summer s season, so we started look looking into making more bee beer and selling it throughout th the state,” Evan Hanseth e explained. This also prompted the them to re-enter the com competition circuit after a severa several-year hiatus. “When we w were just a brewpub, we thought, ‘Why go to the expense of going to the Great American Beer Festival?’ Because we wanted to go into production, we went back to the GABF,” Hanseth informed. Beaver Street Brewery won a gold medal in 2007 for the hefeweizen. “We started winning By Bev Blackwood II o borrow from the Chinese philosopher Lao-Zi: “A journey of a thousand beers begins with one tour.” Indeed, for many the transition to a craft beer drinker begins with something as simple as a brewery tour. “I love seeing that person who previously only drank light beer coming and having an epiphany at the brewery as to what beer is really all about,” remarks Saint Arnold Brewing Company founder Brock Wagner. The Saint Arnold brewery tour is listed on Yahoo Travel as one of Houston, Texas’ top attractions and it’s little wonder. “We had about 75,000 people come through the tour last year and over 100,000 people visit the brewery when you include all of our events,” Wagner T See Tours page 3 From the Editor .................................. 2 Event Calendar ....................................4 Cigar City Chills Competition in GWO ....5 NEW! Homebrew News .........................6 Directories & Maps .........................12-15 Nevada ..........................8 Oklahoma ......................9 Arkansas .......................9 New Mexico ................. 10 Southern California ..... 16 San Diego .................... 17 S/C/E Texas ................. 18 Austin ......................... 19 N/W Texas ................... 21 Central Arizona ...........22 Northern Arizona ........23 Southern Arizona ........23 he temptations of f entrepreneurship include success and fulfillment. The inseparable partners of private enterprise are hard work and the risk of failure. The latter makes the former er all the more sweet. Yet, with ith success achieved, the vision on of destiny beckons to those who dream of what could be. Such was the circumstance facing the people behind Beaver Street Brewery. In 2004, husband and wife owners Evan and Winnie Hanseth managed the most popular brewpub in Northern Arizona. But their facilities in downtown Flagstaff had reached full capacity at 1,300 barrels of beer See Lumberyard p.5
Bev Blackwood II
In the Southwest
To borrow from the Chinese philosopher Lao-Zi: “A journey of a thousand beers begins with one tour.” Indeed, for many the transition to a craft beer drinker begins with something as simple as a brewery tour. “I love seeing that person who previously only drank light beer coming and having an epiphany at the brewery as to what beer is really all about,” remarks Saint Arnold Brewing Company founder Brock Wagner. The Saint Arnold brewery tour is listed on Yahoo Travel as one of Houston, Texas’ top attractions and it’s little wonder. “We had about 75,000 people come through the tour last year and over 100,000 people visit the brewery when you include all of our events,” Wagner Notes. Being Texas’ oldest craft brewery, Saint Arnold has had a lot of time to build a following. “We did not invent the brewery tour, but we did create the format that has been used by a lot of breweries throughout Texas including pioneering the concept of charging for the tour while giving away the beer,” Wagner states.
“The other element that we created was the tour as a gathering place with people bringing friends and family and big spreads of food,” he pauses. “Actually, we created the space but our customers created the environment. We are just the shepherds of it.” Their care for the ambience is reflected in the large beer hall that greets tour attendees, where long trestle tables and benches encourage people to sit down and interact with one another. In Saint Arnold’s old location, the entire brewery was open to wander through and guests often found impromptu seats on bags of malt when the tables filled up. The “tour” was more of an informal exploration of the brewery for those who were interested. In the new brewery, there are actual tours into the working areas That require closed-toe shoes, although the brewhouse is on display behind large glass windows adjacent to the main beer hall for those who don’t want to take the actual tour.
Going a Different Route
Santa Fe Brewing Company in New Mexico offers a somewhat more intimate connection to the brewing process, as noted by Brian Lock, the brewery’s owner. “We do something called ‘Small Batch Saturday,’ Which is a chance for homebrewers to come in and brew on our pilot brew system. We then ferment the beer here at the brewery and put it on tap a few weeks later at which point the homebrewer can come back, invite all their friends, and then try the beer on tap.” That more “hands-on” experience is unique, as in many breweries there’s no actual brewing going on, on Saturdays or the brewing area isn’t accessible without a guide. Unlike Saint Arnold, “Our tours are free and they last about 30-40 minutes,” Lock notes. “We then offer a tasting tray of all the beers on tap at the end for [a fee].”
That “pay to taste” arrangement wasn’t available in Texas until a recent revision to state laws. With the change, some Texas breweries will offer a feature more common to the rest of the Southwest - the taproom. Jester King outside of Austin was among the first breweries to switch to a brewpub license and make plans for a taproom. “We foresee being open five days a week starting in the fall,” notes Jester King President Jeffrey Stuffings. “We can have bottle releases at our brewery [with the license change].” That doesn’t mean they will no longer offer tours though. “There's no better way to tell people what you're about, what you stand for, what you do and how you do it,” Stuffings remarks. “Our barrel room is fun to see, smell and geek out on,” he smiles.
Fun Out of the Sun
Barrels of a different sort are a highlight at Firestone-Walker’s tours in Paso Robles, California. “We can boast being the only brewery in the U.S. doing primary fermentation in oak,” states Firestone-Walker Communications Director Erica Nolan. “The tours highlight that feature and even give a taste of that beer right on the tour.” Unlike the more “open house” nature of many tours, due to the constraints of the Firestone-Walker brewhouse, reservations are encouraged when visiting. There are plenty of opportunities though, with multiple tours offered Tuesday through Sunday.
No California trip would be complete without a tour at Stone’s Brewery and Bistro in Escondido. The tours are very well-organized, with “indoctrination specialists” making use of wireless mikes and speakers strategically placed throughout the brewery to explain the process. Naturally, you get a range of samples at the end, along with a tutored tasting. Stone also offers a more lengthy bus tour to their organic farm that supplies produce for the Bistro and includes special beers brewed with farm ingredients.
Making a Connection
Of course, the most intimate tours are the ones that many beer lovers remember the most fondly. Outside the west Texas town of Alpine, Big Bend Brewing owner and brewer Steve Anderson has a more philosophical bent. “People who come to a brewery to take a tour look forward to getting free samples of the beer made right before their eyes,” he Observes. “Being in such a remote location with so few people, we rely almost solely on tourists passing through the region who stop by at random, usually unannounced. However, we see about six to 10 people on an almost daily basis.”
By contrast, Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas has set themselves up as a twice-weekly party on Thursday nights and Saturdays. “We have live local bands on our stage, food trucks for getting your grub on,” states Tait Lifto, brand and sales ninja for Deep Ellum. “I believe our beer garden is the best beer garden in North Texas – we had it specially made just to have an inviting place for people to come hang out.” It’s proven to be very popular. “We typically get around 150 people on Thursday nights and 400-500 on Saturdays,” he smiles. “Nothing like having hundreds of like-minded individuals together in your home to celebrate your beer.”
If there’s one thing in common with every tour, it’s the excitement of connecting people to craft beer. Pedernales Brewing Company’s head brewer, John West, can relate. “I wasn't too happy about not ever having Saturdays off, but after the first day, I got really excited about it. Seeing the intrigue in people's eyes, hearing their well-educated, well-stated questions, I realized how much fun it is sharing what I do with others.”
Brewery tours serve to connect you with what you drink and also with the people who make it and the passion they feel for their beers. While the path to enlightenment may not be found on your local brewery tour… It’s a start.
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Brewery+Tours/1477375/170857/article.html.
Lumberyard Brewing Co.
The temptations of entrepreneurship include success and fulfillment. The inseparable partners of private enterprise are hard work and the risk of failure. The latter makes the former all the more sweet. Yet, with success achieved, the vision destiny beckons to those who dream of what could be. Such was the circumstance facing the people behind Beaver Street Brewery.
In 2004, husband and wife owners Evan and Winnie Hanseth managed the most popular brewpub in Northern Arizona. But their facilities in downtown Flagstaff had reached full capacity at 1,300 barrels of beer year. The idea of production brewing took hold. “We couldn’t produce enough beer for the busy summer season, so we started looking into making more beer and selling it throughout the state,” Evan Hanseth explained.
This also prompted them to re-enter the competition circuit after a several-year hiatus. “When were just a brewpub, we thought, ‘Why go to the expense of going to the Great American Beer Festival?’ Because we wanted to go into production, we went back to the GABF,” Hanseth informed. Beaver Street Brewery won a gold medal in 2007 for the hefeweizen. “We started winning Awards. We got three medals at the World Brewers Cup in one year,” head brewer Gene Almquist related.
Their New Old Home
With brewing credibility in hand, the search for a new Flagstaff location began. At that time, a cityowned historical landmark opened up for proposals, only a block away from the Beaver Street brewpub. The 1890 structure was one of the last remaining buildings from Flagstaff's lumber era. Used as an actual lumberyard until the mid-1990s, it is now part of the Historic Railroad District. It was a good fit for what the ambitious trio wanted. The high ceilings caught the eye of Almquist. “The first thing a brewer does is look up; it’s the most cost-effective way to expand,” he motioned with his hand. And there was a large yard behind the building. “You have to try and see 10 years down the road,” Almquist added.
The building required expensive retrofitting that had to satisfy its historical designation. The Hanseths were able to demonstrate to the city that they could undertake the renovations and were handed the keys. “It was a big financial commitment. You have to have courage to take that much risk. The owners allowed me to go for it,” noted Almquist.
In 2009, the Lumberyard Brewing Company opened with a new brewhouse and restaurant. The first year saw 800 barrels produced, and the trials of establishing a new business began. “It was the typical first year growing pains,” Almquist recalled. “We had enough cash and worked hard. If we weren’t busy, I told the guys in the brewery, ‘Let’s get out there and peddle our beer, old school.’”
Their efforts paid off, as shelf space expanded and distribution spread across the state. “This year we should produce 5,000 barrels, and we are preparing to double that,” Almquist said. “Production brewing is a growth industry; you have to grow. Now we’re adding tanks, expanding vertically. It’s almost out of control,” he added.
The Path Forward
The transition to production carries its own pitfalls. “These are kegs, bottles and cans, not the beer across the bar. We do the best we can before it leaves the door. The added challenge of that is to make the cleanest, best beer possible. We are hypersensitive to things that can go wrong in distribution, like sanitation and oxygen pick-up. Mistakes will rear their ugly head,” Almquist explained.
Once a tap is claimed or a shelf is made available, downstream beer merchants expect it to be stocked. This is where demand creates its own problems. Almquist added, “There are consequences of going too fast. I found myself cutting corners and we had agreed we wouldn’t do that. Cutting corners can change the character of the beer. So we agreed to invest in more capacity instead of taking short cuts.”
This approach coincides with Hanseth’s plans for the company. “Personally, I want controlled growth,” he informed. Almquist concurs, “We don’t want to grow indefinitely. We’re not out to be the biggest brewery.” Yet Hanseth allowed that Lumberyard might add another facility some day.
If this all sounds like a complex forest of problems and solutions, that’s because it is. Ultimately, an independent brewery is a business - a business where you’re only as good as your last beer. “There’s the romantic notion of brewing, and reality,” Almquist explained. “There are the all-important jobs of bottling and filling kegs. There’s lots of information you have to absorb: the mechanics of the brewhouse, producing a perishable food product. The brewing process continues 24 hours a day. You have to work hard and smart. It’s a unique occupation.”
So what’s it all for, this risk taking and effort? Almquist summed it up, “We partnered with the right people. It was a lot of work building this from the ground up. But we get the benefits of living in Flagstaff, making clean beer and a few bucks.”
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Lumberyard+Brewing+Co./1477382/170857/article.html.