Rocky Mountain Brewing News June/July 2012 : Page 1
L ENGTHEN YOUR DRINKING SESSION WIND RIVER BREWING CO. Small Town Brewery with Big Time Dreams with a Session Beer By Bill Downs “Now that would make a good session beer.” How many times have you heard that expression? It’s usually accompanied with a smile and a smack of the lips. Where did the expression come from? There is an urban legend about the origin of the term. The legend says that during World Ken Martin of Steamworks Brewing brews a session beer -Colorado Kolsch. PHOTO COURTESY OF STEAMWORKS . HOP HUFFING. Erick Berg weighs out the hops for another batch of tasty Wind River brew. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIND RIVER. By Tim Harland n 1997, 1997 , when when Mickey M ic ke y Lavoie La vo ie built b ui lt and a nd opened op en ed Lavoie L av oi e Brewing Br ew in ng Company, Co mp an y, he h e brought br ou gh t hand-crafted ha nd -c ra ft ed beer b ee r for fo r the th e first fi rs t time t ti me to the the 1,400 1,400 people peop ple of of Pinedale, Pineda ale , Wyo. Wy o. A quaint quai nt little pub with only only a couple couple of of house house beers beer s o tap on tap p and a nd simple simple bar bar food, food d, a small sm al l but bu t growing gr ow ing group gr ou p of locals loc al s found fo un d it easy e as y to make ma ke this t hi h s new n w ne craft cr a t brewery af br ewery their their watering hole. wa tering h ole. Lavoie L La vo ie e continued c on ti nu ed d operating op perating his brewpub br b ew pu b until until 2002, 20 02, when when he he sold so ld d the t he brewery b re e we ry y and building an d b bu il di ng to t o Gail Ga ill Kinnison K in i ni i so n and an d Lavoie’s La vo ie e ’s s became b ec c am a e Bottoms B tt om Bo m s Up Brewing Br r e ew w in ng Company. C mp Co m an y. y Kinnison’s Ki nn n is s o on n ’s s vision v iis io o n was w a s to wa o create c re r at a e place a pl a e for ac fo r the th e small s al sm a l community c mm co m un u it y of o Pinedale P Pi n da ne d a le e to t o meet, me e e et t , gather ga g a th t h er r and a nd d host h ho o s st t events e ve e nt ts that t at th a t would w o ou u ld d ben-b en en-efit e ef it the t h he e town. t o ow w n. n . She S he h also a ls l so wanted wa w a nt n ed d to t o see see her se h e r beer he be b e e er r sold s so old d throughout t hr h ou ugh g ou o t the th t h e state. st s t at a e. e But B ut after a ft f ter e their t he he ir r opening night op o e ing nigh en t revenues reve enu es exceeded e xc ee de d a whopping wh hop pi p ng $500, decided $5 00, she she de ci de d that th at for f or o her her e vision v is io n to become b ecom me reality, a re al it y, major m aj or improvements i mp ro ve me nts must be be made. made. In 2003, 20 03 , Bottoms Bo tt om s Up renovated ren ov ated the the e kitchen k itchen and and res-res s-taurant while ta ur an a t wh iile replacing re pl ac in g the the dated da ated 7-barrel 7-ba rr el e system system with 20-barrel wi th a 2 0-barrel brewing brewing unit uniit along al on g with w th adding wi adding Richard Strom Head Ri ch ard St ro om as the t he H ea d Brewer. Br ew er . The Th e pub pu b rap-ra p-idly id ly became b ec cam e one on e of Pinedale’s P in ed al e’ s busiest bu si es t entities en ti ti es in i n town. year to wn . A ye t a later, ar l at er , production prod uction had p had more more m e than than doubled doubled and an d a bottling a bo tt ling g line lin ne was wa s installed w in s stalled to help he h elp distribute d is s tr ib ut e their their beers beers throughout b throug gho ut the t he state. th st s t a at t e. Then T en Th e in i n 2006, tragedy 20 2 00 06 , tr ag ed dy struck with owner st ru ck kw it h ow ne r Gail G il Ga Kinnison’s K Ki n is on nn o ’s s unexpected u ne n e xp pec e te e d passing. pa p a ss s in i g. Strom states, S St ro o m st s at tes e , “The “T T he brew-b re ew-w ery continued operated er r y co c o nt n in n ue d but bu u t op p er e at e ed d under cloud un nd de r a cl c o d of uncertainty.” ou u nc c er e ta t in n ty t y .” . adds, “The bank man-He e a d s, dd s “ Th T h e ba b a n nk k m a -an aging Gail’s ag g in i n g G Ga a il l’s s trust t ru r st sold s ol o d the bottling th he bo o tt t lli ng n g l line i ne to in t raise r ai a se s See Wind River p. 5 I War I, the shell production workers were allowed two drinking “sessions” a day, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The idea was to find a quaffable beer that would not make workers too inebriated to do their job and that wouldn’t get them arrested for D and D (drunk and disorderly conduct). See Session p. 3 Calendar ......................2 Business of Beer ........3 Homebrew ...................7 Beer Directory ..... 10-12 Upper Front Range ................................................... 13 Central Peaks ............................................................ 14 Western Slope........................................................... 15 Denver ....................................................................... 16 Four Corners ............................................................. 18 Lower Front Range ................................................... 19 Montana ....................................................................... 4 Idaho ............................................................................ 6 Utah .............................................................................. 8 Wyoming ..................................................................... 9 Colorado
Lengthen Your Drinking Session
with a Session Beer
“Now that would make a good session beer.”
How many times have you heard that expression? It’s usually accompanied with a smile and a smack of the lips. Where did the expression come from?
There is an urban legend about the origin of the term. The legend says that during World War I, the shell production workers were allowed two drinking “sessions” a day, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The idea was to find a quaffable beer that would not make workers too inebriated to do their job and that wouldn’t get them arrested for D and D (drunk and disorderly conduct).
These beers were very low in alcohol, mildly bitter, and the theory was you could have eight or so English pints or in a reasonable amount of time and remain relatively coherent and in control of yourself.
True or not, the term has survived many years, but oddly enough has never really been defined. Another expression batted around referring to this type of beer is the “lawn mower beer.” That would be a beer that is light, thirst quenching, and refreshing, but won’t allow you to get drunk enough to cut your hand off in the mower! I heard several different definitions passed around in email among the staff here at the Brewing News, but nothing defined it succinctly.
So…what do beer-drinkers say about session beers? Neal, a beer aficionado, told me, "Less filling, tastes great.” But seriously, to me, a good session beer would be a nice summertime beer that’s refreshing to have while mowing the lawn or doing stuff in the hot outdoors…a beer that would quench the thirst without giving you a buzz on only two to three beers. It’s more like a Kool-Aid type of beer, but with a great taste. Ryan, a homebrewer said, “I love session beers... actually working on one right now. It's always nice to be able to enjoy a great tasting beer without worrying about too much alcohol. That also allows for tasting more than three without compromising your sobriety!”
What do the professional brewers say? Jeff Albarella, Head Brewer for Carver’s Brewery in Durango told me, “…these are the beers that we sell the most of…not surprising considering the nature of a ‘session’ beer--a beer which you can enjoy more than one of responsibly.” He continues, “It's good for the customers to know that they can always come in to Carver's and have multiple options of lower alcohol beers to choose from. We want our customers to be able to come in and enjoy a few pints and still be able to get home safely.”
Indiana Reed from Steamworks Brewery in Durango told me, “In the brewpub environment, we want patrons to be able to have convivial experience with friends and other guests, so being able to have more than one beer that does not overwhelm with flavor and alcohol is important.”
Based on my research, the consensus seems to be the following. A session beer contains less than 5% ABV, is balanced between malt and hops and has a clean finish.
The average ABV of a beer brewed in the United States is about 5.9%. Researchers found that drinkers could discern the difference of that 1% in their senses and can feel the physical effects much more than earlier suspected.
Okay, so now we have a pretty good idea of what a “session beer” really is. Put simply, it is a beer that tastes good, one that you can drink a lot of, and is tasty and refreshing.
With the new interest in session beers, there are several breweries now producing them. Here are a few examples.
Avery Brewing in Boulder, Colo., has Avery Joe Pilsner – and this is a company known for its high gravity beers like Mephistopheles and Hog Heaven Barley Wine. They are marketing this 4. 7% ABV beer and advertised it as “a year-round pils[ner] that is clean and crisp, with a lovely grassy-hop aroma that makes this so much more than a typical lawnmower beer.”
Indiana Reed from Steamworks Brewery reports, “Our year-round Colorado Kolsch (5.2% ABV) and Steam Engine Lager (5.6% ABV) are both beers that a person could have more than one of. We currently have on tap as a seasonal our One Wit Wonder (4.7% ABV) and the What In the Helles (4.9% ABV). Each style is unique, but truly sessionable. Of course the Kolsch, Steam and Helles have all won multiple medals at the Great American Beer Festival.” Pateros Creek Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo., opened their doors last June with the idea of doing only session beers. Brewer Steve Jones currently has Old Towne Ale, a Kolsch, coming in at 4.5%, Car 21 Best Bitter, a traditional English Bitter with an ABV of 4.5%, and Remittance Ale, an English Mild that comes in at 4.5%.
Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, Colo., has five of their “Home Fleet” beers permanently on tap that are under 5.1% ABV, including S.S. Minnow Mild Ale, a silver medal winner at the 2008 GABF. A perfect session beer, this dark amber, lightly carbonated ale has plenty of toasty, barely sweet malt flavor, while remaining light bodied and low in alcohol with a 3.3% ABV.
Nimble Hill Brewing Company at Nimble Hill Winery is in Mehoopaney, Penn. According to brewer Michael Simmons, "Our first brew as a new brewery will be an English Mild called Fuggle, at 3.5% ABV. It will be available in draft only, at restaurants near Tunkhannock, Penn."
Strike Brewing based in San Jose, Calif. Is a three-month-old brewing company in the Bay Area. They started their selection of beers with a series of session beers. They have a blonde ale at an ABV of 4.6%, a wit with a 4.3% ABV, and a brown with an ABV of 4%.
So what started the “session beer” craze that we’re living in? Here are some conventional thoughts. With some states cracking down on driving while intoxicated, you can still drink good craft beers without the effect of heavy alcoholic craft beers. They have fewer calories. Whatever the reason, many breweries are now at least looking into producing more session beers. It’s more than a fad and seems to be sweeping the nation.
In my research, I even found a “Session Beer Blog, which is fast-growing and highly rated. They declared April 7 this year as “Session Beer Day.” Below are some of the breweries that participated.
Cape Ann Brewing, Gloucester, Mass., tapped their 3.5% Rauchbier to celebrate. Pratt Street Alehouse, Baltimore, offers three session beers year round including a blonde ale at 4.3% ABV, Dark Horse Mild at 4% ABV and Bishop's Breakfast Stout at 4.4% ABV. Prism Brewing in North Wales, Penn., brews White Lightning, (4.2% ABV), a wit brewed with chives.
I think that sums it all up, don’t you? People like session beers because they can drink and not feel guilty about drinking too much!
Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Lengthen+Your+Drinking+Session/1087837/114981/article.html.
Small Town Brewery With Big Time
In 1997, when Mickey Lavoie built and opened Lavoie Brewing Company, he brought hand-crafted beer for the first time to the 1,400 people of Pinedale, Wyo. A quaint little pub with only a couple of house beers on tap and simple bar food, a small but growing group of locals found it easy to make this new craft brewery their watering hole. Lavoie continued operating his brewpub until 2002, when he sold the brewery and building to Gail Kinnison and Lavoie’s became Bottoms Up Brewing Company.
Kinnison’s vision was to create a place for the small community of Pinedale to meet, gather and host events that would benefit the town. She also wanted to see her beer sold throughout the state. But after their opening night revenues exceeded a whopping $500, she decided that for her vision to become a reality, major improvements must be made. In 2003, Bottoms Up renovated the kitchen and restaurant while replacing the dated 7-barrel system with a 20-barrel brewing unit along with adding Richard Strom as the Head Brewer. The pub rapidly became one of Pinedale’s busiest entities in town. A year later, production had more than doubled and a bottling line was installed to help distribute their beers throughout the state.
Then in 2006, tragedy struck with owner Gail Kinnison’s unexpected passing.
Strom states, “The brewery continued but operated under a cloud of uncertainty.” He adds, “The bank managing Gail’s trust sold the bottling line to raise Cash and we got to the point where we weren’t sure if our keys would work in the morning…so we did everything we could to keep the doors open because we felt that if it closed, Pinedale would lose its pub forever.”
Fortunately for Strom, in late 2008 a group of locals consisting of Sean and Tamra Watts, Samuel Neher and Jim Oriet, who called themselves “The Brewgroup,” purchased Bottom’s Up from the bank and quickly changed the name to Wind River Brewing Company (WRBC). The name was not the only forthcoming change, however, as over the next few years, WRBC continued to expand its brewing capacity while renovating the restaurant, hiring Assistant Brewer Eric Berg out of the UC Davis Fermentation Science Program, bringing on board MBA grad Greg Mottashed as General Manager, and installing a new canning line to boot.
The first beer to roll off the canning line was their Wind River Blonde Ale, which remained the only offering from WRBC for nearly two years.
Owner Sean Watts states, “Our number one priority after taking ownership was to create a phenomenal menu to match our incredible beers, while focusing on service to our customers, thus enabling us to reach our goal of being the best place in town.” He adds, “By the spring of 2010 we had a new patio, more tanks and a new canning line along with an assistant brewer and GM in place.” Mottashed adds, “After these improvements, we saw record-breaking numbers and our initial expansion had already paid for itself, so we jumped right ahead and began planning an even larger expansion for both the pub and the brewery.”
Before that, though, another decision was made to self-distribute their kegs and cans. Watts states, “We felt that we could do a better job than our distributor with customer service, delivery and market presence along with getting better customer feedback.” He adds, “We brought Cooper Balke on in early 2011 and he effectively managed to service all our existing accounts while increasing sales across Wyoming as a one-man army.”
That summer WRBC added a second beer, Wyoming Pale Ale (WPA) to their canned portfolio which doubled the demand for their packaged beer. By year-end, their delivery pickup truck and trailer combo was replaced with a dedicated 8-bay delivery truck with Balke at the helm.
As you read this article, WRBC is approaching the end of their largest expansion to date. The pub is adding 1,600 square feet of indoor dining and adding around 100 indoor seats. Presently, you must be over 21 to enjoy the restaurant but these 100 seats will accommodate all ages.
Another 100 exterior seats are being added via a 1,900 square foot rooftop deck, also available to the under 21 crowd. Mottashed raves, “The deck has a wonderful view of the Wind River Range and for the first time ever, we will have yearround family service.” He adds, “We are planning on introducing a much needed music scene to Pinedale as well, with a diverse mix of entertainment from all over the country.”
Along with the pub expansion, Strom’s brewing capacity has been upscaled by adding multiple 40-barrel tanks for production batches with room for a few more as well. Future plans include maxing out the available brewing area and adding a couple more selections to their canned beer portfolio. Strom states, “We are currently working on saturating the entire state of Wyoming with our canned beers and then selecting which lucky states we should place our beers in next.” He adds, “Since we are on a thoroughfare to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, we get a good deal of national exposure. We’ll make that decision when the time comes, but we are excited for the opportunity to reach out to other states with our award-winning beers.” Their award-winning beer portfolio includes Great American Beer Festival Awards in 2004 For Buckin' Bitter (silver), in 2006 for Blonde Ale (silver) and in 2011 for Out of Order Porter (gold). They also snagged a gold in the World Beer Cup in 2006 for Strom Bomb Stout!
The restaurant features a full menu with items from pub grub to choice hand-selected steaks, and they have 12 of their own beers on tap. So if you find yourself in or even near Pinedale, Wyo., it’s definitely worth stopping by the Wind River Brewing Company and seeing for yourself how something so small can become something so great.
Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Wind+River/1087841/114981/article.html.