Southwest Brewing News June/July 2011 : Page 1
BACK TO BASICS PART 1 – WATER AND MALT Beer is simple. Only four ingredients are necessary: water, malt, yeast and hops. Therein lies its complexity. A brewer must select each ingredient carefully. Any change in a single ingredient results in a different beer. We’ll explore two of these ingredients now, and two more in the next issue. T he Pioneering Spir it of Rich and Suzanne Weber By Jim Petrosino WATER Water is more than H2O. It contains trace minerals and ions, and an unlimited number of other things both good and bad. The amounts of these items depend on the water’s source, its path to the brewer, and any treatments it may have undergone. The final composition of the water is known as a profile. PHOTOS BY JIM PETROSINO. A brewer needs to know what the water profile is, so he or she can predict how it will interact with ingredients in the mash. “Soft” water, with very few minerals in it, may need minerals added. “Hard” water, with lots of minerals, may need specific grains to achieve the desired result. See Basics p. 4 PHOTOS COURTESY OF RIO GRANDE & SIERRA BLANCA BREWING CO. INSIDE Event Calendar ...........................2 From the Editor ..........................3 Best of Show ..............................5 Directories & Maps ................12-15 State by State News Arkansas .......................8 Oklahoma ......................9 N Mexico/SW TX .......... 10 S California ................. 16 San Diego .................... 17 S/C Texas .................... 18 Austin ......................... 19 N Texas .......................20 Nevada ........................ 21 C Arizona ....................22 N Arizona ....................23 S Arizona .....................23 By Tammy Pluym Go West, Young Man, and Brew Great Beer! That’s what the famous westward migration quote meant to Richard Weber. He and his wife Suzanne traveled west from New Jersey in 1995 with the pioneer spirit and intentions of starting up a brewery. Weber completed his engineering degree and wanted to move to the Southwest to “manufacture something, so why not beer?!” They settled in Carrizozo, a small town of just over 1,000 thirsty people in south-central New Mexico near the Sierra Blanca mountain range. Rich and Suzanne See Pioneering p. 6
Part 1 - Water And Malt
Beer is simple. Only four ingredients are necessary: water, malt, yeast and hops. Therein lies its complexity. A brewer must select each ingredient carefully. Any change in a single ingredient results in a different beer. We’ll explore two of these ingredients now, and two more in the next issue. <br /> <br /> WATER<br /> <br /> Water is more than H2O. It contains trace minerals and ions, and an unlimited number of other things both good and bad. The amounts of these items depend on the water’s source, its path to the brewer, and any treatments it may have undergone. The final composition of the water is known as a profile.<br /> <br /> A brewer needs to know what the water profile is, so he or she can predict how it will interact with ingredients in the mash. “Soft” water, with very few minerals in it, may need minerals added. “Hard” water, with lots of minerals, may need specific grains to achieve the desired result.<br /> <br /> The only way to know any water's profile is to have it tested by a laboratory, like Ward Labs. You send in a sample, and a nominal fee, and you will receive a report on exactly what is in the water, regardless whether it came from an apartment faucet or a mountain spring.<br /> <br /> Once a water profile is obtained, recipes can be tailored to produce a beer of a specific style. Many famous brewing cities, like Pilsen, use their water to their advantage, by brewing styles that the water is suitable for. The soft waters of Pilsen can produce a crisp, clean beer because the brewers have developed their mash recipes and brewing techniques specifically for the water available to them.<br /> <br /> Another approach to brewing water is creating the water profile. A brewer starts with reverse osmosis (RO), or distilled water, and "builds" the profile by adding in exactly the minerals and ions wanted. Since these waters have been processed to be very pure, they offer a clean slate that can be adjusted to produce a beer in any style. Rather than tailor the grains used in a brew to meld seamlessly with a water profile, the water itself is tailored! Many microbreweries, like Old World Brewery in Phoenix, Ariz., are using this technique today. Old World's Head Brewer, Matt Mercer, says his reverse osmosis system allows him to brew from a known starting point since Phoenix city water comes from different sources throughout the year. His water is run through a large boiler, and the RO system, then he adds gypsum back in to bring it to the profile he desires.<br /> <br /> Water chemistry is a very complex subject. Whether you are looking to find out what style of beer a certain profile is good for, or want to start from scratch and build a profile, one great resource is John Palmer's "How to Brew." You can get it in print form, or you can read the first edition of it online.<br /> <br /> Water is the main ingredient in beer, but surprisingly it seems to be the least understood. It can be tailored exactly to a brewer's needs. Its profile can be altered through heating, filtering, dilution, with chemical additives, or other methods. It can also be left as-is, and recipes tailored specifically to it. Different water makes different beer. Knowing what is in the water in the first place is a key factor in good brewing.<br /> <br /> MALT<br /> <br /> Malt's primary job is to turn water into wort, upon which yeast can feed and produce alcohol. Its secondary, although equally important job is to make that wort into something that tastes good, feels good in your mouth and looks great in a glass. Like water, it seems pretty straightforward, but again, there's a lot going on behind the scenes.<br /> <br /> Malt, for brewing purposes, is a grain that has gone through a process that involves soaking the grain until it germinates and then quickly halting that germination process by drying it, tumbling it and kilning it. Sprouting the grain causes enzyme production, which in turn is responsible for breaking starches and proteins down into something usable by yeast. The drying stops the germination, stabilizing the enzymes until they are re-hydrated in the brewing process. The kilning is much like roasting coffee in that you are roasting to obtain a desired color, acidity and taste.<br /> <br /> Like water, each type of malt offers its own profile. Whether it is two-row or sixrow malted barley, malted wheat or malted rye, a brewer must know the characteristics his malt has. Highly acidic, dark grains can counteract hard water and produce a dark stout; light grains can be used alone to produce a crisp, pale lager. Understanding the science of water and malts allows a brewer to push the envelope as an artist.<br /> <br /> Over the centuries, many types of grains have been bred and malts produced from them, for brewing purposes. They are available in grain form, powdered form and even liquid extracts. A brewer may keep a dozen or more specialty types on his shelf to tailor a beer's color, body and flavors, while maintaining a huge grain silo of tworow barley just outside the brewery door because that is the grain nearly all of his recipes are based on.<br /> <br /> Malt can be broken down into two main categories: base and specialty malts. Base malts, such as the aforementioned two-row pale malt, are responsible for converting starches into sugar when they are soaked in hot water during the mashing process. Specialty malts, like black and chocolate malts, are used primarily for flavoring or coloring a beer. These malts do not need to be mashed; they aren't responsible for starch conversion, so they must be used in conjunction with one or more base malts. Highly specialized malts, such as Carapils® from Briess, contribute to a beer's head retention and mouth feel without affecting its color.<br /> <br /> It is up to a brewer to balance the flavors and colors of malt, or malts, with the water he or she is using to produce an end result that a person finds palatable and pleasing to drink. That is the art of brewing. A brewer's skill as a flavor artist means nothing if it's not built on solid science that creates a nutrient-rich environment in which yeast can thrive.<br /> <br /> If it tastes good, but yeast can't live in it…it will never be beer. It will just be flavored water. Malt turns water into wort.<br /> <br /> Next time, we will take a peek at the other two ingredients that transform our wort into beer: yeast and hops.
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The Pioneering Spirit
Go West, Young Man, and Brew Great Beer!<br /> <br /> That’s what the famous westward migration quote meant to Richard Weber. He and his wife Suzanne traveled west from New Jersey in 1995 with the pioneer spirit and<br /> intentions of starting up a brewery. Weber completed his engineering degree and wanted to move to the Southwest to “manufacture something, so why not beer?!” They settled in Carrizozo, a small town of just over 1,000 thirsty people in south-central New Mexico near the Sierra Blanca mountain range. Rich and Suzanne<br /> <br /> Weber opened the doors to Sierra Blanca Brewing Company in 1996 and have not looked to the East again.<br /> <br /> Shortly after the brewery began production, the Webers opened a brewpub in nearby Ruidoso and were granted the first off-premises brewing license in the state of New Mexico. They developed new beers under the Sierra Blanca brand and increased production and sales over the years until they reached a point where the isolation of southern rural New Mexico was limiting their dreams of brewery expansion. They wanted to move their operation where they could scale up production and ship the final product to thirsty customers in other hot and dusty states, while still enjoying the country lifestyle. So in 2006, the Sierra Blanca Brewery moved to Moriarty, N.M., right on Interstate 40 about 45 minutes from Albuquerque. The brewing company has grown like a rolling tumbleweed on a windy springtime day ever since.<br /> <br /> HAPPY TRAILS AND ALES <br /> <br /> The brewery is now called the Rio Grande and Sierra Blanca Brewing Company since the acquisition of the Rio Grande Brewing Company lineup of beers in 2007. Weber currently offers 12 bottled beers and two more on draft only. Yes, 14 styles of beer from the not-so-microbrewery in Moriarty. There are two styles with the Sierra Blanca label: Nut Brown Ale and Pale Ale. There are four Rio Grande offerings: Outlaw Lager, the Englishstyle Rio Grande IPA, Desert Pilsner and Pancho Verde Chili Cerveza. The newly crafted Roswell Alien Wheat is quickly gaining popularity, but it’s the Roswell Alien Amber that earns top billing at the brewery, as it alone accounts for 51% of total sales. The brewery also collaborates with the Benedictine monks in Pecos, N.M., to produce the Belgian styles of Monk’s Ale and Monk’s Wit. You can enjoy the brewery’s Isotopes Slammin’ Amber and Isotopes Triple “A” Blonde in bottle and on draft at an Isotopes baseball game at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque. The beers offered only on draft are Imperial Stout and an American IPA featuring the tangerine flavors of Amarillo hops in 420 IPA. The high quality of the beer produced by SBBC was recently confirmed by winning both the Best Ale award for Sierra Blanca Nut Brown Ale and the Best Lager award for the Desert Pilsner at the 2010 New Mexico State Fair Pro-Am Competition. Over 100 professional beers were entered in the competition.<br /> <br /> Weber has help with producing all of this beer. He has two assistants for brewing and packaging. Jimmy Vermilion has been with the company since the Carrizozo days and Marty Brown has been with the company for almost a year. Zach Guilmette is the new head brewer at Rio Grande and SBBC. Guilmette is originally from Vermont but he heard the call to head out West also. Guilmette is a graduate of the University of Vermont and the American Brewers Guild Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering Program. He brewed for a couple of years at Kelly’s Brewpub in Albuquerque and then went back home to brew for Otter Creek Brewing in Vermont. New Mexico pulled him back though. Guilmette says, “Beer culture is continuing to mature in New Mexico and I want to be a part of it.” That plus, “The green chile brought me back.” Guilmette formulated some recent specialty brews for SBBC, including a doppelbock, a Belgian tripel, and a hoppy Muddy Waters Porter, which was very popular at the recent Albuquerque Blues and Brews festival.<br /> <br /> TRUCKIN’<br /> <br /> The four brewers produced 5,200 barrels of beer last year on their 20-BBL system. That’s a 42% increase in production over the previous year. New Mexicans have tried hard to drink it all and keep it fothemselves, but they recently had to learn to share. Several styles are now shipped down the I-40 corridor to Texas to the east and Arizona to the west. And you can find Rio Grande and SBBC brews in Oklahoma and Louisiana now also. Weber’s goal is to eventually produce 15,000 barrels per year on his existing system.<br /> <br /> Weber’s engineering background is definitely put to use in the brewhouse. He is very proud of several of his engineering achievements. Weber designed what he calls his “halo” system for bottling, which leaves only 0.15 to 0.45 milliliters of airs in the bottle, where industry standard is one milliliter of air per bottle. The oxygen in the air can cause off-flavors and spoilage, so reducing the air content in the bottle to less than half the standard is quite an accomplishment and now the “big guys” are contacting Weber for advice. He also has a water treatment system where he “vacuums down the water and rebuilds it” to suit different styles of beer. The chile roaster used to roast all the green chile for the Pancho Verde Chili Cerveza was also designed and built by Weber. They roasted 1,200 pounds of green chile last year! Weber says,“It smells like New Mexico in the fall,” at the brewery during roasting time. His next plan is to install wind generators at the brewery.<br /> <br /> The beers brewed at Rio Grande and SBBC are very diverse and complex. Weber is not a hophead and produces many malty and unusual styles along with the two IPAs. Four yeast strains are maintained in the brewhouse for all the various styles. The Outlaw Lager is a California common (steam-style) beer, which means it’s brewed with lager yeast but fermented at higher ale temperatures. The Outlaw uses German Northern Brewer hops and a large percentage of Munich malt. Weber uses eight types of barley malt in the recipe for the Alien Amber with Fuggle and German Northern Brewer hops to create a very complex and flavorful beer. The green chile beer is an American lager with the green chile roasted and placed in tea bags and steeped in the beer to impart the roasty goodness with only a slight bite at the finish. The chile cerveza contains 12% corn in the recipe, since Weber states, “What goes better with chile than corn? Nothing!” Weber says his goal is to never stop producing a diverse lineup of beers and he strives to not have a “house flavor.” <br /> <br /> SALOONS<br /> <br /> Rich and Suzanne Weber opened ABQ Brew Pub in the uptown area of Albuquerque last fall in collaboration with Adam Krafft. The establishment features fine pub food including the New Mexico State Fair firstprize- winning Best Green Chile Cheeseburger. This is a very coveted award in New Mexico, which cannot be overemphasized, seriously. The brewpub has a small pilot brewing system and specialty beers are designed and brewed by Ben Miller to be served on draft. Miller won the Sam Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest last year and he creates some unique and tasty beverages at the brewpub, but word gets out and they do not last long.<br /> <br /> Travelers through the Albuquerque International Sunport will soon be able to enjoy Weber’s beers at the Rio Grande Brew Pub and Grill. Layovers and flight cancellations will now be fun! Look for the opening at the end of this summer.<br /> <br /> Heading out West was a smart decision for Rich and Suzanne Weber. All the folks in New Mexico and surrounding states are sure happy there are here. We wish them and their pioneering spirit many more decades of success.
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