Southwest Brewing News August/September 2015 : Page 1
August / September • 2015 Volume 23 / Number 4 ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM W hat makes local so significant? The term local is typically synonymous with pride, loyalty and sentiment. Whether a reference to the country you are from, where you grew up, or the team that you root for, it calls to everyone at some level. It is a way that we become unified in a segmented world. Craft beer is a little more difficult to define. It can be loosely described as a small batch brew made with traditional methods and ingredients or interesting non-traditional ingredients that add a distinct flavor. The craft brewer is allowed creativity and innovation without being driven by outside interests. It is about the craft; it is See Field p.2 Amos Lowe (L) and Brian “Swifty” Peters are living their dream of owning a brewpub and brewing the beers they love in Austin, Texas. PHOTO BY BEV BLACKWOOD II. By Bev Blackwood II a rare occurrence when a new brewpub can be termed an instant success. When The ABGB (which is a h handy acronym for the more cumbersome Au Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company) op opened in August of 2013, it had a brewing pe pedigree with roots extending back into the ea earliest days of Austin’s craft beer scene, en ensuring a warm reception. Brian “Swifty” Pe Peters is one of Austin’s brewing icons, hav-ing brewed at Live Oak, the late Bitter End and at Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smoke-house. “When we opened the doors, we were packed,” comments co-owner Amos Lowe. “We didn’t have to ﬁ gure out how to get people to show up because everybody knew who we were already.” Amos Lowe was a lager-obsessed homebrewer who started out picking Peters’ brain at Bitter End before eventually being invited to brew with him at Uncle Billy’s, and then taking over the brewing himself at the original Barton Springs location. All that time working and brewing together has See ABGB p . 4 From the Editor ........................ 3 Event Calendar ..........................5 Homebrew Beer Stylist .............. 6 Directories & Maps .............. 12-15 New Mexico ...................8 Oklahoma ......................9 Nevada ........................ 10 Arkansas ......................11 S/C/E Texas ................. 16 Austin ......................... 17 N/W Texas ................... 18 Central Arizona ........... 21 Northern Arizona ........ 22 Southern Arizona ........ 22 Southern California .....22 San Diego ....................23 It’s
Field To Firkin
What makes local so significant?
The term local is typically synonymous with pride, loyalty and sentiment. Whether a reference to the country you are from, where you grew up, or the team that you root for, it calls to everyone at some level. It is a way that we become unified in a segmented world.
Craft beer is a little more difficult to define. It can be loosely described as a small batch brew made with traditional methods and ingredients or interesting nontraditional ingredients that add a distinct flavor. The craft brewer is allowed creativity and innovation without being driven by outside interests. It is about the craft; it is about the beer. Craft brewers are always looking for something new and interesting.
What is the next big thing? There are a number of trends leading that charge: collaboration brews, sour beers, barrel aging, new styles, hybrid styles, session beers, etc, etc.
One thing that has been getting some attention is the effect that the craft has on the environment. The awareness of the impact that the making of craft beer has on the surroundings is important. Trying to be green and sustainable are objectives that are considered admirable in the industry. Buying locally grown and produced products is part of this commendable effort.
So Many Reasons
Why the interest in locally sourced ingredients? According to brewmaster Eric Greene from Dragoon Brewing in Tucson, Ariz., “It is great to support local businesses and the quality is out of this world; it helps tell the story of what Dragoon is all about.” Some of the advantages are things that you can’t get anywhere else. He continues, “It is awesome to know the farmers and local producers we work with. Real relationships make it easy to support them and vice versa. A rep from BKW teaches Sunday morning yoga class in the taproom. The guy that mills the blue corn sends pics of the grind to see if it is the right coarseness at the start of the milling run.” These perks are not available with bigger suppliers. Head brewer JP Vyborny from Tucson’s 1055 Brewing adds, “We like to support the community that supports us. The macro agriculture system is broken; the future of agriculture is local.” Using local ingredients helps build a sense of community.
And community is important. In the craft beer world, the community is tight. The general thought is that if you make good beer the craft beer scene looks good and will continue to grow. Brewers are quick to offer help, be it advice, ingredients or equipment, to other brewers. Creating that feeling and relationship between business owners is what it’s all about. People who make the effort to sell their products in the community are special. The people that make an effort to use those products are special. Everybody wants to be part of something special. People like thinking, “I made part of that happen.” It’s their chance to be a co-star in the product, to be part of the story. You might hear, “Did you try the new porter? They used the mesquite smoked malt from X and black strap molasses from Y.” People are interested in trying something in which their product has been used, too. It’s a way to get everybody on the team involved. John Adkisson from Iron John Brewing in Tucson likes the chance to get to match up the different products - see what each one has to offer that can propel both parties. It’s also a good way to get some mutually beneficial marketing.
Restaurants are trying to source the best freshest ingredients to provide the best dining experience to the patrons. Why would we think that the beer industry would be any different?
Using fresh, high-quality ingredients can only make the end product better. There are ingredients that may only be available to a certain region. Vyborny from 1055 has sourced some Arizona red limes and Sonoran white wheat to use in their beers. Iron John makes small batch artisan-style beers. Adkisson is constantly searching for ingredients that are interesting or can be folded into a new brew. What does the brewer look for when deciding what would match up with a beer style? Greene from Dragoon informs, “Local and regional ingredients that are used in the beer respect the traditions and history of the beer. It needs to make sense from a flavor/aroma profile. Blue corn from Santa Fe for the saison fits with the rustic, farmhouse traditions of using grains that were available, possibly grown right on that farm.” Adkisson looks for something that will match the style and balance the brew. It doesn’t really matter if the ingredients or the beer is chosen first. The execution is the important part.
There can be issues with trying to source local. Some ingredients may only be available seasonally or in limited quantities. A macrobrewery may struggle trying to search out and use a local farmer to provide the grains and hops needed to make their beer. The craft beer market is more forgiving and curious about finding something interesting or different when they are looking over a beer list. As long as the beer is good, it doesn’t necessarily have to be identical to the last batch. A beer with an interesting ingredient is more likely to be sought ought than a new brewery’s offering of a typical lineup of brews using the same yeast strain.
The benefits of using local ingredients definitely seem to outweigh the drawbacks. When you look at the amount of breweries starting up, it is a little bit staggering. To look at the long-term health of the industry and the environment, local makes a lot of sense. Cutting down on shipping costs, working with suppliers, using high-quality ingredients, keeping the money at home, are all major positives. If you look at the popularity of local beers and farmers’ markets, you can easily draw a parallel. They’re both searching out a local person who has put some blood, sweat and tears into bringing something special to the table. Back in the boom of the brewing industry in the early 1900s, when there were over 4,000 breweries in the U.S., it was likely that a brewer could stand on top of his brewery and see where his patrons were coming from. Here’s to hoping we all get to look out our windows and raise a glass to support the local little guy who made that beer possible. After all, it is a local, unified effort.
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Field+To+Firkin/2241489/268533/article.html.
Old Friends And New Brews At The ABGB
Bev Blackwood II
It’s a rare occurrence when a new brewpub can be termed an instant success. When The ABGB (which is handy acronym for the more cumbersome Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company) opened in August of 2013, it had a brewing pedigree with roots extending back into the earliest days of Austin’s craft beer scene, ensuring a warm reception. Brian “Swifty” Peters is one of Austin’s brewing icons, having brewed at Live Oak, the late Bitter End and at Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse. “When we opened the doors, we were packed,” comments co-owner Amos Lowe. “We didn’t have to figure out how to get people to show up because everybody knew who we were already.”
Amos Lowe was a lager-obsessed homebrewer who started out picking Peters’ brain at Bitter End before eventually being invited to brew with him at Uncle Billy’s, and then taking over the brewing himself at the original Barton Springs location. All that time working and brewing together has given them each a strong sense of what they want to accomplish at The ABGB. “The goal is to be able to bike to work and make great beers and serve them fresh,” smiles Peters. Described as “stumbling distance” from home, their South Austin location is tucked into a largely residential area, surrounded by trees and beside a train track separating it from the more commercial South Lamar corridor. Lowe considers the neighborhood “more laid back, a little more gritty… not quite as polished and clean” as Austin north of the lake.
Indeed, The ABGB has a very workman-like feel to it, from its warehouse exterior, to the no-frills stage for live music that uses the brewhouse fermenters as a backdrop, to the western cedar trestle tables that encourage people to sit together. “[The seating] helps produce that energy and warmth we’re looking for that is sometimes hard to get,” Lowe notes. The warehouse even has a beer history behind it, as Peters recalls, “It was the Chimay building for a long time,” referring to Mannekin-Brussels importers use of the structure to store the famous Belgian beer there before they moved into the space.
There’s not much Belgian about the beers you’ll find on tap at The ABGB. “We make what we want to enjoy.” Peters relates, “It sounds really selfish, but it’s really, I think, a great way for a brewer to approach it, because then you’re more motivated and you’re more passionate about the beer you make.” There are five “always “ beers in The ABGB lineup. Hell Yes - a helles lager, and Industry - a straight-up pilsner, are the lagers. The ales are: Day Trip - a hoppy pale ale, Superliner - an IPA and Big Mama Red - a hoppy red ale. “It’s obvious we’re into lagers,” Lowe remarks, “and hoppy ales,” which is not to say you won’t find the occasional stout or sour popping up on tap. The ongoing You’ll See series of beers is just such an experiment. “Swifty had the idea for making a real light, lemony-type beer without putting lemons in it,” Lowe recalls. “Then we started doing whatever [fruit] was in season.” The resulting lactobacillus-based beers have been a success according to Peters, “This one [a strawberry version] sold so fast we had to double production to try and keep up.” The fruit used in the beers is seasonal and above all, fresh. “When it comes to produce and fruit, if it’s not sourced locally, it’s not going to be ripe. When the strawberries are a few miles away and allowed to ripen on the vine, they’re completely different from what you buy in a store,” Lowe explains.
That obsession with fresh ingredients also carries over to their daily menu, which is focused around salads, sandwiches and pizzas. “Jesus [chef Tim Stevens’ ABGB nickname] does a great job working with local suppliers when picking out stuff and changing the menu every day,’” Peters informs. “It’s not like most places where the food kind of takes a back seat and is sort of adequate. Our food is great,” Lowe adds. Using local farms, butchers, bakers, dairies and charcuteries is one way of giving back to the community that has supported them over the years, but The ABGB also gives back by hosting benefits for a variety of groups like Austin Pets Alive and Save Our Springs Alliance through their Hell Yes Projects initiative. Lowe leans back with his beer, “If we can make a living and also help some people, it feels pretty good.”
Like the fans who followed Brian Peters and Amos Lowe to The ABGB, many of the tanks in the brewhouse are old friends of Peters’. One he’s bought twice, the first time with Chip McElroy when they were at Live Oak together, then again from McElroy when it was no longer needed there. Amongst these old friends, Peters smiles, “This is the best job we’ve ever had. It’s fun to work here. It’s fun to brew beer. It’s fun to work with these people. I love working here and all of it comes out of that. We genuinely have fun here every day. We’re laughing and we’re making jokes and it’s a lot of fun and part of it is not taking yourself too seriously. “ He pauses a moment to take a sip of Rocket 100 from a half-pint “swifty,” a habit that inspired his nickname. “We are super crazy serious about the beer though, which I think is kind of funny, ‘cause we’re not serious people,” he declares.