Rocky Mountain Brewing News June/July 2015 : Page 1
JUNE/JULY 2015 VOL.13/NO.3 FOR A cheering crowd celebrates Selkirk Abbey's success in front of their brewery. Photo courtesy of Selkirk Abbey. C OPYRIGHT J EROME A. P OLLOS By John Campbell Jeff Whitman, the son of an electrical con-tractor, received a gift from his wife for Christmas in 1999, unknowing at the time that it would change his life forever. The gift: a beer making kit plus Charlie Papazian’s book, The Complete Joy of Home Brewing . Jeff recalled, “I read Charlie’s book and became totally confused by all the terms such as sparging, mashing, extract efficiency -etc. It was two years before I attempted to get the kit out of the closet. Once I got up my nerve and actually brewed the stuff, and the beer was in the fermen-ter, I started doubting that I could do this, that maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this sort of thing. I figured the beer was probably going to get infect-ed and spoil anyway, especially after lifting the lid on the fermenter and seeing this bubbling mess that looked like muddy water -certainly not beer. When it was done fermenting I bottled roughly two Masses continued p.4 Montana filmmaker Carl Spurgeon (second from left) toasts to drinking local with a collaboration beer from Draught Works Brewery and Tamarack Brewing Co. P HOTO BY A LAN M C C ORMICK D By John Adams rink Local. It’s a short, easy phrase that conjures up a variety of images. Most involve a pint of beer in a friendly taproom filled with smiles and friendly banter. “Drink local” is an accepted virtue in the world of beer -an idea as readily embraced as an ice cream cone on a hot sum-mer day. But why is drinking local something we seek out, even as some of the best beers from around the world can be found at our local bottle shops? And how local can it get? “At a small, independent brewery, you can get a product that is vastly superior to the mass produced variety but that doesn't cost all that much more and was crafted by people you prob-Quest continued p.2 Colorado A Five Letter Word: Pride ably know,” says Bill Hyland, Water Enhancement Specialist (AKA Head Brewer) for Bozeman Brewing Co. in Bozeman, Montana. “Small craft breweries are the ultimate mom and pop establishments. They are primar-ily concerned with quality and their main goal is to satisfy their own home markets.” But Hyland is quick to point out it is more than just a freshness issue. “There is also, I believe, a certain sense of pride and loyalty that a consumer has for their home town brew,” explains Hyland. “I've seen this all over the country but not more so than here in Bozeman. Our locals seem to real-ly love our beer and what we're about. Everyone who works here also has other connections in the community so in a lot of ways it's a really big extended family.” Jeff Whitman, owner of Selkirk abbey, poses with a barrel bung hammer. P HOTO COURTESY OF S ELKIRK A BBEY AND B RET P ENSKI INSIDE Calendar of Events ....................15 Craft Beer Directory ................ 8-10 State by State News Montana..........6 Idaho...............6 Wyoming.........7 Utah...............11 Denver..............................12 Central Peaks..................13 Western Slope.................14 Four Corners...................14 Front Range................... 15
The Quest For Drinking
Drink Local. It’s a short, easy phrase that conjures up a variety of images. Most involve a pint of beer in a friendly taproom filled with smiles and friendly banter.
“Drink local” is an accepted virtue in the world of beer - an idea as readily embraced as an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.
But why is drinking local something we seek out, even as some of the best beers from around the world can be found at our local bottle shops? And how local can it get?
A Five Letter Word: Pride
“At a small, independent brewery, you can get a product that is vastly superior to the mass produced variety but that doesn't cost all that much more and was crafted by people you probably know,” says Bill Hyland, Water Enhancement Specialist (AKA Head Brewer) for Bozeman Brewing Co. In Bozeman, Montana. “Small craft breweries are the ultimate mom and pop establishments. They are primarily concerned with quality and their main goal is to satisfy their own home markets.”
But Hyland is quick to point out it is more than just a freshness issue. “There is also, I believe, a certain sense of pride and loyalty that a consumer has for their home town brew,” explains Hyland. “I've seen this all over the country but not more so than here in Bozeman. Our locals seem to really love our beer and what we're about. Everyone who works here also has other connections in the community so in a lot of ways it's a really big extended family.”
A Larger Purpose
Those community connections are what drives Überbrew in Billings, Montana, at its local taproom and in its quest to enter new markets. Like many breweries, Überbrew contributes to charities and cultural experiences in the communities in which they sell beer. “We do not just send beer and expect it to sell,” says Mark Hastings, co-owner and Head Brewer. “We have two full time sales representatives who spend the majority of their time building relationships within these communities. Without these local community ties we are just another beer.”
Seth Swingley, coowner of Mighty Mo Brewing Co. in Great Falls, Montana, finds his customers seeking to “drink local” for the community connections as much as the ingredients. This is especially true in Montana, Swingley notes, where there is so much malt barley produced.
“Many consumers know someone who either grows or is involved in getting the malted barley to the local breweries,” says Swingley. “The community connection does not stop there. Many breweries are a community gathering spot, and often have charity nights, where proceeds from the beer sold are shared with local charities.
“Many of our customers never stepped foot in Mighty Mo's tap room until they attended a Raise-A-Pint night. The people come in to support a cause, fall in love with the beer and the community concept, and they come back again and again!”
Only for Love
Carl Spurgeon spent the past two years crisscrossing the state of Montana with fellow filmmaker Rob Truax documenting the local beer culture in the film Homebrewd. The two interviewed homebrewers, commercial brewers and historians to find out what drives the creation of beer.
“If there were a common theme it would be that everyone is doing this for the pure love of beer,” says Spurgeon. “Commercial brewers are working harder than they would at other professions while earning less. Hobbyists are experimenting and helping one another break new ground on styles, quality, and beer education.”
“When I hear the phrase ‘drink local’ it means drinking beer closest to its source,” says Spurgeon. “That means closest to where it is brewed, closest to where the barley is produced, closest to where the hops are grown, absolutely as close to every source as possible. For us here in the Northwest, that is pretty easy in general. In Montana, with all of our breweries as well as our excellent water sources, world class barley and proximity to the greatest hops on earth, it’s heaven!”
The Other Side of the Coin
Yet, while beer’s most prominent ingredient by volume – water – is usually as local as it gets, brewers commonly tout the use of ingredients from decidedly not-local sources. European base and specialty malts are frequent additions. American brewers’ demand for Southern Hemisphere hops like Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin turned into a frenzy in recent years.
Überbrew’s Hasting explains why using local products is not always the preferred choice. “The short answer is quality,” says Hasting. “We like to source locally made products whenever possible, but currently the barley that is bred, grown and malted in North America is mostly developed for cereal adjunct brewers like AB Inbev and SAB Miller Coors.”
“This is still world class malt but we are looking for low protein, heritage varieties of barley that are bred, grown and malted for all malt, single step infusion mashes like most small craft brewers use. Unfortunately, to source these malts we must import malt from England, Ireland and Germany.”
Überbrew recently began contracting with the Fort Collins Brewery in Colorado to brew and bottle its most popular brands, including White Noise Hefeweizen which took second place for the style at the 2014 World Beer Cup. It is a choice some might argue doesn’t fit within the “local” ethic.
Hastings notes the choice was partly made out of necessity to achieve growth, but also brought tangible benefits to the Billings taproom and production facility. “We simply do not have the millions of dollars required to build a facility like we have access to in Fort Collins. We went through an extensive vetting process of breweries. In the end The Fort Collins Brewery won out for many reasons including the quality of the operation and their willingness to let us participate in every aspect of the brewing process. We owe a great deal of our success to the mentorship we receive from the team at The Fort Collins Brewery.”
Hastings isn’t concerned that some contract brewing might reduce the local nature of Überbrew’s beer. “We are a Billings, Montana, born brewery that is expanding,” says Hastings. “As we expand we hope to create a regional business that is a positive presence in several Montana, Wyoming and Colorado communities. We strive to attain this growth while maintaining our quest to bring our customers a superlative pint experience anywhere Überbrew beer is served.”
Hopping Onto the Scene
Tom Britz did not set out to grow hops, but the Flathead Valley rancher now finds himself at the forefront of small-scale hop growing research in Montana. A chance conversation with local Extension Agent Pat McGlynn kicked off the idea and Britz’s Glacier Hop Ranch will grow more than 45 varieties for testing this year.
“This year will be the third year of our research plot and we're finding varieties that are vigorous and also varieties that don't do well in Montana, like the Southern Hemisphere varieties, which all winter-killed here,” explains Britz. “By contrast, we're seeing solid and vigorous growth from almost all of the U.S. aroma varieties, and some European varieties.”
Britz was elected this spring to the Hop Growers of America board of directors and will chair its new Small Grower Council. He is well versed in the challenges facing small growers, but sees an opportunity to create a niche through different processing methods.
“We looked at several alternative drying options to improve the aromatics, and began collaborating with a producer in Michigan who developed a low heat/no heat method, says Britz. “He brought some of his samples from last year's harvest to us this winter and said ‘this is exactly what yours will be like.’”
“We sent these samples out to about a dozen of our in-state brewers and the feedback we got was black and white, extremely positive. The difference showed up in the beer. So we are betting on this low-heat/no-heat drying method that has been proven to retain more of the aromatic oils.”
While this "artisan-crafted" drying method takes longer and is more expensive, Britz believes the better quality product will help set small growers like Glacier Hops Ranch apart.
Helping beer become more local is also at the top of Britz’s work. “Glacier Hops Ranch, like many small acreage growers that have popped up from coast to coast over the last several years, has a completely different business model compared to the large-scale growers in the legacy production states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho,” says Britz. “We do not have economies of scale and we do not benefit from multi-generational institutional knowledge. However, we do offer a ‘locally-grown ingredient’ option which I have found to hit a raw nerve - the same raw nerve that has allowed craft breweries to proliferate in recent years.”
And that’s a proliferation we can all embrace in our quest to “drink local.”
Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/The+Quest+For+Drinking/2027851/261452/article.html.
It's For You!
Jeff Whitman, the son of an electrical contractor, received a gift from his wife for Christmas in 1999, unknowing at the time that it would change his life forever. The gift: a beer making kit plus Charlie Papazian’s book, The Complete Joy of Home Brewing.
Jeff recalled, “I read Charlie’s book and became totally confused by all the terms such as sparging, mashing, extract efficiency - etc. It was two years before I attempted to get the kit out of the closet. Once I got up my nerve and actually brewed the stuff, and the beer was in the fermenter, I started doubting that I could do this, that maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this sort of thing. I figured the beer was probably going to get infected and spoil anyway, especially after lifting the lid on the fermenter and seeing this bubbling mess that looked like muddy water - certainly not beer. When it was done fermenting I bottled roughly two cases and put it in a closet and forgot about it. One day my wife asked me if I was ever going to try it. So I put a bottle in the fridge. A couple days later I grabbed the bottle out of the fridge and opened it. I was amazed. When I popped the cap it had that magic smoke under the cap just like real beer. I grabbed a glass and started pouring. A big, white, fluffy head appeared. Little bubbles climbed up from the bottom of the glass. It looked like…beer! It smelled like beer! It even, frick’n, tasted like…BEER! How was this possible? I was HOOKED.”
Training the Palate
Jeff began brewing more and more. “I started this mad scientist mission to figure out where all the flavors were coming from. At the time I was brewing with an old Navy buddy, and we were making some pretty bad beer. I started doing some experiments to learn the flavors of different malts and hops by using only one malt variety and one hop variety for a brew. Then I’d repeat the process using a different malt and hop. This kind of brewing was getting to be a pain at times, but it taught me a lot about what the different malts and hops give you in flavor, color and balance. I also experimented with a number of different yeasts which can alter flavors in a big way as well.”
Jeff’s mad scientist mission was paying off. A chef has to develop his palate to know which spices and herbs go best with certain dishes. A brewer has to develop his or her palate to learn the flavors of grains, hops and yeast. To further his education about beer flavors he began sampling a wide variety of styles from around the world. He found that the Belgian-style beers intrigued him so much that he began searching for, and reading about Belgian beers to try. Belgium is a country known for its chocolate, waffles, fries, and their national drink - beer. He bought some Belgian yeast and gave it a try. He liked the results. Jeff’s brewing was going well and he was brewing more and more - too much for a happy home life. His increasing dominance of the kitchen was taking its toll. Sound familiar to anyone?
A Brewing Club
He needed to find space somewhere out of the house where he could brew, have a few friends and guests over for a beer or two and just have fun. He came up with the idea to rent a small space and make it a club – or something. To cover expenses, maybe he could charge a membership fee. He found a place to rent but the wheel came off that cart fast, as he discovered he would need a brewery license since it would be open to the public. He bit the bullet and applied for a license, only to discover the licensee had to be either the owner of the building or have a signed affidavit from the owner allowing a brewery to be operated on the site. The owner wouldn’t sign. By now Jeff was starting to think bigger. His beers were turning out well, and he was having more fun than he’d had in years.
His dad and granddad both owned their own businesses. His day job paid good money, but he was growing to hate it. The thought of owning his own business – like his dad and granddad – started to mature. He had been visiting other breweries, asking questions, and looking at equipment. He consulted with a good friend who owned a brewery and who encouraged him to go for it, if that was what Jeff wanted.
The Birth of the Brewery
Jeff began searching online for brewing equipment and a building for the brewery. He found a commercial building in Post Falls that would work and signed the lease. Selkirk Abbey Brewing Co. Was born. He already had his brewer lined up - Steve Milnes. Jeff referred to Steve as the perfect brewer. He made awesome beer, plus he was an electrician and a plumber. He could do the plumbing, control wiring - everything. Steve was also a clean freak who would throw Jeff out of his own brewery if he made a mess. A bonus was that the two guys have the same palates.
No Corners Cut
To create the proper pub atmosphere at the brewery, a great amount of research and planning went into the aesthetics. The results: an abbey-themed tap room with a warm, comfortable environment of stone, wood and glass with soft colors on the walls. The bar is African mahogany. Antique cathedral lights hang on chains from the ceiling. A massive stone fireplace warms one corner. A mind-blowing feature is the beautiful 16-inch high crown molding that borders the ceiling and walls…it’s a work of art. The tap handles are custom made from granite. Beer is served in specially shaped glasses to enhance maximum flavor. Quality is everywhere you look.
Where the Work Gets Done
The brewhouse is a custom-built, oversized 15-barrel direct-fired system plus nine 15-barrel fermenters and two 15-barrel brite tanks. More fermenters are now needed as demand has increased. Belgian-style beer requires longer fermentations and aging, therefore requiring more fermenters and brite tanks. Selkirk Abbey has also started a barrel aging program for some of their beers. They distribute their beer in bottles and on draft in select markets in Idaho, Washington and Montana.
The Finished Product
Four year-round beers are offered, including Guilt (8.3% ABV), a winning recipe from a 2013 homebrewing contest, Chapel, a Belgian-style witbier, Deacon, a Belgian-style pale ale, and Infidel, a Belgian-style IPA (ABV 8.2%, 85 IBUs).
Seven seasonals grace their tap handles during the year, including one with a local flair - Huckleberry Chapel – and a whopper – 12 Degree, a strong dark weighing in at 11.8% with 50 IBUs. Look for 8 Degree as well, an abbey dubbel (8.3%), Saint Steven, a saison, and St. Thomas, a black saison. Rounding out the list are two IPAs, Afterlife and St Augstine Rye, and Selkirk Grace, a Scottish ale.
If you love good craft beer you owe it to yourself to get into your car and drive to Post Falls, Idaho, and seek out this wonderful little brewery. You’ll know Jeff when you see him. He’s the guy with a big smile that you’ll remember long after you leave.
Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/It%27s+For+You%21+/2027859/261452/article.html.