Southwest Brewing News February/March 2010 : Page 1
By Erik Adams OVER AND UNDER A BARREL. Tomme Arthur of The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, Calif., shows off his barrel program. PHOTO BYERIK ADAMS. While the imperial trend continues, many brewers have responded to these extremes with a call for moderation. Recently, session beers have made a strong comeback. In what had once become almost a contest for the highest number, brewers have now ramped down their IBUs (International Bitterness Units) on many of their new beers. The response has been positive. The creativity hasn’t stopped, however. The craft brewing industry continues to evolve through its share of trends. Clearly, these trends are in part a testament to the artistic minds in this business. Roll Out the Next Trend Although it is inaccurate to consider the practice of using wooden barrels for aging beer new, the See Barrel p.4 FAMILY BRUING. Some of the Family Rue take a brief break for a photo. Bottom Row (L-R): Bryan Tetzlaff, Tyler King, Kevin Hammons; Top Row (L-R): Jay Goodwin, Rachel Rue, Patrick Rue, Travis Smith, Jonas Nemura, Doug Constantiner. PHOTO BYDAVID MULVIHILL By David Mulvihill P Calendar of Events .............................2 Nanos and Co-ops ..............................6 Best of Show: Irish Stout ....................8 Growing Chains .................................10 The Healthy Pint .............................15 Book Review ....................................31 Kansas...12 North/Central N. Mexico...13 S. New Mexico/SW Texas...14 Louisiana.......20 N.Texas...21 S/Central Texas....22 Austin....23 Oklahoma....24 Arkansas...25 Central Arizona....26 S. & N. Arizona...27 Nevada ....28 S. California...29 San Diego...30 icture an unassuming light industrial complex in Placentia, Calif…a craft brewery devoted to Belgian- style beers attaining tremendous growth and national recognition in its less than two years in business. Now meet The Bruery’s founder and CEO, Patrick Rue, who is putting his passion to work and realizing success with the assistance and joint contributions of his team. In the Beginning Rue started homebrewing as a diversion and respite during his first year of law school. The hobby helped give him a balance to get through school and he enjoyed it immensely. Rue latched on to Belgian- style beers because they afforded the creativity to utilize a vast array of ingredients. “I enjoyed brewing things that would allow me to incorporate odd ingredients. Like Trade Winds Tripel - I used the Thai basil that was growing in my backyard.” After also trying it in saison and other styles, he found it worked best in the tripel. See Bruery p.5
The Barrel Age
While the imperial trend continues, many brewers have responded to these extremes with a call for moderation.
Recently, session beers have made a strong comeback. In what had once become almost a contest for the highest number, brewers have now ramped down their IBUs (International Bitterness Units) on many of their new beers. The response has been positive. The creativity hasn’t stopped, however.
The craft brewing industry continues to evolve through its share of trends. Clearly, these trends are in part a testament to the artistic minds in this business.
Roll Out the Next Trend Although it is inaccurate to consider the practice of using wooden barrels for aging beer new, the Popularity to do so in the craft brewing industry is recent. Many centuries ago, brewers replaced their ceramic containers with wood barrels, which were so practical that they continued to store beer in them until the invention of metal barrels.
Barrel makers, known as coopers, have always used oak, as it bestows a complex range of flavors on whatever fluid is kept inside.
Winemakers traditionally use French oak, as it is quite porous. They allow the wood to air dry for years in order leach out the tannins, which will sour the wine if left in the wood. Once constructed, wine barrels are then toasted slowly over an oak fire. Distillers prefer American oak, a sturdier wood that they char over a gas fire to give a smoky flavor.
U. S. craft brewery to barrel age decided on filling Jim Beam bourbon barrels with a massive imperial stout, and so Bourbon County Stout was born. The beer enthusiasts of Chicago rejoiced, and Goose Island Beer Company had started a trend that would grow in popularity across the U.S. Double Barreled What do Goose Island Beer Company and Firestone Walker have in common?
Matt Brynildson. As the head brewer at their production brewery in the 1990s, Brynildson was able to sample some of the early batches that Greg Hall brewed of Bourbon County Stout. Brynildson later joined on at Firestone Walker, where they used barrels in their brewing process since the company’s inception in 1996. However, Firestone Walker first used oak barrels for primary fermentation, not barrel aging.
“Fermenting in oak and aging in oak are entirely different endeavors,” Brynildson informed. “We go to great lengths to try to separate these two barrel-related arts.” He went on to explain that Firestone Walker has been utilizing a modified version of the brewing process of Marston’s in Burton-On-Trent to make their magnificent Double Barrel Ale.
In 2006, Firestone Walker released 10, the genesis of their venture into barrel aging, to celebrate their first decade in business. Now, each year Brynildson blends several different strong ales that have been aged in different barrel formats, such as bourbon, brandy, and wheat whiskey to create the next anniversary ale (13 hit the shelves in late 2009).
Although these beers have been critically acclaimed, Brynildson has discovered several issues with practicing barrel aging. First of all, new barrels can be expensive and in limited quantity.
They are also labor intensive, as they are difficult to maintain and can be prone to infection.
“The use of used bourbon barrels is ideal for brewers who want to age beers because they are readily available, inexpensive and contained high alcohol spirits which render the barrel microbiologically sound,” he explained. However, bourbon barrels can still become infected during the aging process, and barrels can be a spatial problem as well.
Holy Wood Another pioneer of using barrels in the brewing process, Tomme Arthur, first barrel aged in 1998 as the head brewer at the original Pizza Port in Solana Beach, Calif.
“I had gone to the Real Ale Festival in Chicago, and the flavors in the barrel-aged beers from Goose Island and Flossmoor Station influenced me,” Arthur recalled.
Now at The Lost Abbey, Arthur oversees an enormous barrel-aging program of over 600 barrels. “We have two sides to our barrel program,” he noted. “The spirited side and the wild side.” Meaning, that he uses bourbon, brandy, or other spirit barrels, and then the French oak of winemaking for sour beers.
Arthur enjoys working on both sides.
For the spirit side, he never reuses barrels.
“We are one and done,” Arthur commented.
But on the wide side, barrels can be reused, because the French oak is usually neutral after winemakers dispose of it. When he makes a 40-barrel batch, they sample every one, and sometimes Arthur has to throw out a barrel or two because of infection. He recognizes that this comes with the territory.
The upside, however, is that these beers have earned him a cult-like following.
Aging Gracefully Several breweries have recently made a name for themselves in barrel aging. In Placentia, Calif., The Bruery began barrel aging with their fourth batch of beer. “We put Saison Rue into two wine barrels that we still have aging ‘til this day,” observed Tyler King, head brewer. Their fifth batch was the first dedicated to oak, which became the instant classic Papier, The Bruery’s first anniversary brew. King likes the ease of barrel aging, as it takes less time to fill up oak barrels than it would to fill kegs or bottles. He prefers the sour ales, though. After allowing the wild yeast and bacteria living in the wood to ferment their beer, King most enjoys waiting to see the results. “I want to see what survives in the barrel and how it will change the flavor of our beer,” he said.
The allure of barrel aging has tempted brewers across the Southwest. It allows for the opportunity of complex flavors, but also the risk of unpredictability, as each barrel has its own “cask character.” Now, they can be found from Lovejoy’s in Austin to Four Peaks in Tempe. “We are simply keeping old brewing traditions alive and adding our own creativity to them,” said Matt Brynildson. “It is a great time to be a brewer in this country!”
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/The+Barrel+Age/324223/31838/article.html.
The Belgians Of Orange County
Picture an unassuming light industrial complex in Placentia, Calif…a craft brewery devoted to Belgianstyle beers attaining tremendous growth and national recognition in its less than two years in business. Now meet The Bruery’s founder and CEO, Patrick Rue, who is putting his passion to work and realizing success with the assistance and joint contributions of his team.
In the Beginning Rue started homebrewing as a diversion and respite during his first year of law school. The hobby helped give him a balance to get through school and he enjoyed it immensely.
Rue latched on to Belgianstyle beers because they afforded the creativity to utilize a vast array of ingredients. “I enjoyed brewing things that would allow me to incorporate odd ingredients. Like Trade Winds Tripel - I used the Thai basil that was growing in my backyard.” After also trying it in saison and other styles, he found it worked best in the tripel.
As time passed, Rue’s increased devotion to the skill developed and changed his career outlook. After graduating and starting a job in the law field, he also wrote his brewery business plan. As Rue tells it, “…[I] decided to find a way to make it out of a legal career and do something that wouldn’t exactly make me rich or anything, but at least make me happy with the career choice I’ve chosen.” He spent time interning at the breweries Left Coast and Back Street to assure he would/could be comfortable brewing on a larger scale. He also enlisted the business expertise of other professionals, including Phil Sutton of Skyscraper Brewing and Greg Koch from Stone. “I visited Russian River several times and bugged brewer Travis [Smith], who now works here… I used to bug him and ask him questions. Vinnie [Cilurzo], at Russian River Brewing Co., and Tomme [Arthur], at Lost Abbey were really very helpful.” Next, came lining up financing and location, and starting the build process.
Rue’s father, Michael (The Bruery’s president), who coincidently also has roots as a lawyer, has spent much of his career in real estate development. This likely helped when it came to finding the location, building out, and getting the business side up-and-running.
With the addition of Tyler King, a professional brewing presence was given to the “homebrewing” operation. During construction, Rue met King - formerly brewer at BJ’s West Covina - and was able to bring him on board. King is now head brewer, director of brewing operations.
Meet the Belgians Several factors led to the decision to go with the Belgian Style product line. Rue liked brewing and drinking Belgian beer.
The “Belgian” niche would allow a wide variety of styles and flavors. The attention to packaging and the appropriate glassware would stand out, on the shelf or in a bar, and lend an aura of respect for the beer, and build a following. The Bruery officially opened to the public in May, 2008.
The Bruery offers four regular beers: Orchard White, a wit with lavender, oats and wheat, Black Orchard, a black wit with chamomile, and Saison Rue, a farmhouse ale. They also have four seasonals with Unique and flavorful ingredients, and various special releases distributed either through their regular channels or directly through the brewery tasting room. Their biggest special release, to date, was Black Tuesday, a mega imperial stout, which coincided with the anniversary of the stock market crash of 1929. Over 500 people showed up on release day to try and get some of the special brew. Their current special is Oude Tart, a tart-sweet-sour woody blend of bruin and Flemish red, aged in red wine barrels. Next up in the Melange series is Melange # Sex, a local release for Valentine’s Day, with rose petals, cocoa nibs, chocolate resins and deep red color from beets blended with Flemish red to lend tart and sweetness to the brew.
New Brews Typically, special releases and new beers are planned far in advance. Given that many beers will spend six to 36 months aging in various oak barrels (bourbon, brandy, rye whiskey, wine, etc.) prior to being released, or blended for release, definitely takes forethought. Company growth is also a factor. At the rate they continue to grow, if they brew these new beers in accordance with current size and distribution, supply will be limited at release time next year. Rue’s 10-gallon homebrew system is used for some test batches, and 15-barrel pilot brews are made for new “one-off” beers being considered.
These may also be tested with tasting room patrons prior to wide release.
Staggering Growth Since its humble beginnings in 2008, the “Family Rue” has grown to a staff of 14. They have distribution in 20 states, with 29 distributors, and recently signed an agreement with Microstar for increased keg distribution.
Current 80% bottle and 20% draft distribution will likely double on the draft side as a result of Microstar contract, so you can look for increasing Bruery keg offerings in your locale. The brewing team works staggered shifts to extend the brewing day and output to meet increasing demand.
Capacity is at 100% with expansion plans set for fall, 2010.
The Bruery is very conscious of the need to maintain quality and controls at each stage of development. Growth at the expense of quality or product is not an option. Assuring he has experienced, conscientious and caring staff in place is key to maintaining and improving quality.
Rue depends on his team and recognizes that their efforts are translating into positive feedback, an increasing fan base and continued growth.
How much bigger? Per Rue, “It’s always a moving target. We want to be true to what we are doing; we don’t want to dumb ourselves down…” He doesn’t want to sacrifice quality for quantity. Similar to a winery, he’d like to grow and transition to a point where about half of The Bruery’s product is something more interesting that can be aged: Bruery barrel-aged beer.
“I’d like to see those styles become more common on the shelves rather than only at the breweries.”
Giving Back Since Rue is a confessed beer geek, he likes to take opportunities to give back to support the community and hobby that helped get him to where he is. The Bruery regularly hosts Beer Geek Show and Tell events. During these sessions, people bring and share treasured hard-tofind brews from the area or around the globe, or some special homebrew. Also, The Bruery Provisions opened last May to supply homebrewers with equipment And ingredients, including everything The Bruery uses in its own formulations.
To keep things interesting and fun, impromptu Tasting Room events are often scheduled; things like ice cream socials, charity drives, or a visit from the Kogi BBQ Korean Taco Truck. Firkin First Fridays celebrate a special cask every first Friday of the month. Fans are encouraged to join their Mailing List at www.thebruery.com in order to receive weekly e-mail updates from Tasting Room Manager Stef Ferrari, or Public Relations Manager Benjamin Weiss, about upcoming events, releases and other Bruery news.
The Bruery Team is working hard, having fun, and growing fast. In Rue’s own words, “It’s really exciting. We’re stoked to be doing what we’re doing.”
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/The+Belgians+Of+Orange+County/324224/31838/article.html.