Thursday, January 24, 2013

Revolution Brewing, Brewery Tour

Last weekend, I had the fortune to be able to go to Revolution Brewing with my friends, sister, and husband. We had an amazing time. The food was AMAZING (you have to check it out), and of course, the beer was fantastic. Since we made it to Revolution Brewing early, we were able to sign up for their Saturday Brewery Tour. They do have a larger brewing and bottling facility that you can tour throughout the week, but only the brewpub is available for tours on Saturday.
View of the brewery from our table
Almost immediately after we finished eating our brunch, we were called to go on the tour. I can only say that our timing couldn't have been more perfect. After being instructed to head up a flight of stairs, and past the upstairs dining area, we arrived at the beginning of the brewery tour, with tasty beer samples waiting for us (The Rye IPA if you are curious).
Terrible picture of the brewer/tour guide
Most brewery tours are similar, you listen to the guide talk about how they choose the ingredients, how the brewing process works, and then you get to walk around and look at the equipment. What I thought was really cool and different was that we got to actually handle (and taste) some of the ingredients that are used. Not everyone wanted to handle the goods so to speak, but I thought it was great.

Cool copper boiler

Heading into the basement, looking into the dinning room
We got to walk around the building quite a bit, as part of the brewery in in the basement of the building, which of course meant Blake and Matt had to duck down to avoid being scalped by the ceiling.


Beer aging in whiskey barrels. Can you see the beer?
There is a bung in the bunghole!
After the tour, we decided to sit and have another drink. Revolution Brewing has quite an array of beers that they make. I decided to have their Coup D'Etat Saison (you can check the availability here).
Here we are sitting
If you have read my blog really at all, you know that I love a good saison. This one is quite a gem, smooth and flavorful, it was wonderful  The best part is my sister bought me a growler of it as a birthday present (THANK YOU!!!)
Coup D'Etat
The entire day was a great time. Great food, great beer, great company, great atmosphere. What more could a girl ask for?
If you are in the Chicago area, you should check out Revolution Brewery, both the food and the beer are great. Here is the info on the brewpub.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Chat with Bridgeport Brewing's Head Brewer, Jeff Edgerton

Recently I was lucky to have the opportunity to chat with Jeff Edgerton, head brewer for Bridgeport Brewing. Jeff is a great guy, and I really look forward to talking with him again soon, and hopefully getting to share a beer or two.

 I have to tell you that I am a big fan of your beer.  I am really looking forward to trying Smooth Ryed. How/where do you find your inspiration for new beers?

I’ve been in brewing for quite a while and think about beer, brewing, and food pretty much constantly.  In my position I am shown variations on malts and hops all the time so I do get a front-row seat to new ingredients.  I listen to my crew a lot.  The brewers here are very creative guys.  Brewers love food, drink, and the preparation of food and drink.  All of these things help to inspire us with new recipes.

Sometimes we tweak the process like when we make our fresh hop beers. Sometimes I want to build a beer around a particular ingredient.  An example for us would be Kingpin.  I ran across a hop called Liberty a few years back that I really liked.  When I took over the brewery in 2010 I was asked to formulate a new beer.  I suggested that we make a  “red” (reddish) beer and use Liberty hops liberally in it.  We did that and the result was Kingpin which is now our third best selling product.  With Dark Rain we used some great established hops, but a key ingredient in that beer was a malt called “Midnight Wheat”.  It gives a really nice smooth roasted malt flavor and mouth feel.

 I am really excited about Smooth Ryed.  We made a mid-range ABV pale ale (about 6.3) with some nice caramel malt and malted rye notes and gave it a big shot of Centennial hops in our hop jack.  We’ve used this hop before but never by itself until now.  My brewers and I really like the result and I think that the public will really enjoy this new beer.
 We do a lot of test brewing using Oregon State’s pilot brewery system.  We are working on some new ideas and hopefully you will see the result of those soon as well.

It sounds like you have a really great team that helps with the idea development. I really like to come up with new recipes too, though mainly with food, I haven't had much experience with home brewing yet. I can totally appreciate what you mean when you say brewers are always thinking about food and beer. :)
What did you do before you got into the beer industry? And how did you get into the beer industry? 
Is there any style of beer that you prefer to brew over any other?
This is a question I ask everyone, so you get it too (Sorry if I am asking too many questions); what beer would you give someone to get them "hooked" on beer? Is there a style, or a specific beer that you think would give someone beer nirvana, and make them beer lovers?

I am truly blessed with talented, dedicated people.  They do an incredible job.  

I spent my first year out of college floundering a bit, but I ended up working in a food plant for about a year.  During that time I was sending resumes to Blitz-Weinhard.  After 4 resumes they finally called me in for an interview.  I was hired as a QA Technician/Microbiologist in 1989.  I spent 10 years there, then was hired here at BP as QA Manager in 1998.  I really go my primary brewing education while at Blitz; from the old-school brewers and from various courses that I was offered and took. 

I enjoy working on all kinds of beers.  The fun of making beer for me is the variety and the challenge of adjusting processes and ingredients to create new beer experiences. 

I think that the experience of getting “hooked” on craft beer is different for everyone.  Some people never make it past the light lagers that the large brewers make while others cannot get enough of the variety that craft brewers make.  It’s a very personal experience. So I think that the best thing for someone to do when they enter a brewpub for the first time is to order a sample tray and try everything that the brewery makes.  I guarantee that the brewer has put his heart and soul into creating the recipes and brewing the beer.  That is just the nature of craft brewers.

In craft breweries and brew pubs you have your customers just steps away from where you ply your craft.  You are proud of what you do and want every beer to not just be good, but to be great.  But everyone has styles that they like and don’t like. I ask people to keep an open mind, and I never tell people that they are going like or dislike a beer when I hand them a sample.  I let them decide for themselves.

I agree very much with you. I think that everyone's palate is different, so one beer might not be the same to two people. That is why I got into writing about beer, because I love to hear the stories behind the beers. To me that is the best part of the beer, sharing in someone's passion.

I will have more on the newly released Smooth Ryed for you, but in the meantime, you should check out some of Bridgeport’s other fine offerings. I am a fan of Hop Czar, but Kingpin is my favorite at the moment.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trois Monts, Old Stock Ale, and Bam Biere

So today is my birthday. I am not one for grand gestures, but I am all about grand beer. As a birthday treat to myself, I wanted to share with you, all of the beer that we have had recently that was truly above and beyond our expectations. Happy birthday me, and enjoy reading about beer! 

Brasserie de Saint Sylvestre, Trois Monts 8.5% abv Bière de Garde, brewed in the Flanders region of France where such beers are traditionally termed Bière de Garde. The name of the beer refers to three hills in Flanders, Mont Noir in Belgium and Mont Cassel & Mont des Cats both on the French side of the border.

The flavor is amazing; it reminded me of apples on a warm fall evening. Nice hops taste, light, and refreshing. Buttery taste...  it was wonderful. I do love a good yeasty beer.

The color was almost gold. I think that this will be one I keep an eye out for in the future. The more of these Belgian style beers, the more I fall in love with them. Simple ingredients, making a complex beer.

This beer had a darker more rich color than I was expecting. Old Stock Ale has an alcohol per volume of 11.7 %, so it is more of a sipper. This beer has won many awards over the years, and has been highly regarded as a sophisticated and fantastic beer. There isn't much that I can say that hasn't already been said... but I will try anyways.

The rich malty flavor is wonderfully balanced, not a bitter beer at all. All of those chocolate flavors from the malts don't over power the fruitiness you get from the hops.

I didn't know before I opened it, that this beer is one that you are supposed to age... I guess I was too excited. The next bottle I get, and I will be getting one, will be stored for a while. I can't believe I just said that! I almost sound like a connoisseur. This was just an all around beautiful beer.

Farmhouse style ale, bottle conditioned and dry hopped. This beer won a  bronze medal for Session Beer in 2009 at the Great American beer Festival. It is easy to see why. It was light, and mildly spiced. The mouth feel was refreshing, it didn't linger at all. At only 4.5% alcohol per volume, this would be a beer that would be extremely easy to drink for hours.

The story on the bottle said the brewery made this beer in honor of a Jack Russell that got hit by a car, and got back up like nothing happened. This was a fantastic beer. If you are looking for a good session beer, this is a good bet.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Some Awesome Beer-How We Closed Out 2012

I have had quite a few fantastic beers over the last couple of weeks. It should have come as no surprise then, that Blake and I finished 2012 with some even more mindbogglingly tasty brews. We have been on a great beer streak lately, I am hoping that I didn't just jinx myself...

The Krampus bottle says, “Brewed with the spirit of Krampus, the fanged, goat-horned bully that is, as European tradition suggests, the evil sidekick of St. Nicholas and enforcer of the list. While St. Nicholas delivers presents to the good boys and girls, Krampus is there to punish the naughty children.”

Talk about a good story to read while enjoying a good beer! We opened this on Christmas evening, and the 9.0% alcohol per volume definitely helped make us merry and bright. This was a strongly hopped beer, as you would expect, but was so perfectly spiced that it was really easy to drink…my only problem was that the bottle ended. Another fine beer by Southern Tier.

I purchased this beer because it was tagged, one of the top 25 beers of the year. Figured, How can I go wrong with that? Well let me tell you, this was one of those life changing beers. It only gets better as you drink it, it opens up as it warms up, but never becomes overwhelming. I was amazed that a saison could be both so simple, and so complex at the same time. This is definitely on my list of buy again beers, and best beers for 2012.  We cracked this one open and toasted the new year in with it. What a great way to finish 2012!

I hope that you all had a great end to 2012, I know that I am looking forward to all the adventures that 2013 will bring.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Five Rabbit- Ki'Chun

I wanted to write this last week, but the peanut and I were both very sick (a great way to spend my week off).
Blake and I went to a launch party for a very exciting, and very awesome brewery, Five Rabbit, on the 20th. I was very excited to go to this, because one of the partners for this brewery is Randy Mosher, you know, the guy I was totally gushing about in my last post

Awesome metal work!

The whole picture, isn't that gorgeous!?

Five Rabbit is a newer brewery; they hadn't even begun to bottle their own beer when we went there. This was a great chance to show off their new brewery, and celebrate their most recent creation, Ki’Chun. Here is a bit about the beer:
Poorly taken photograph of Ki'Chun in my glass

…a strong beer made with a very unusual ingredient: chanterelle mushrooms? The Mayan name, Ki’Chun, aptly means “tasty start.”

Ki’Chun blends the apricot perfume of chanterelles with three malts and toasted oats. These are united by the exotic fruitiness of New Zealand Rakau hops and accented by a Belgian yeast strain. Dark Thai palm sugar lightens the body a bit and makes this 9.5% alc/vol beer dangerously drinkable, dry and creamy.”

Both Blake and I thought that this was one tasty beer! It was so smooth, and fruity in a really great way.  Ki’Chun is one of those beers that has me wanting more. I thought this was just a phenomenal beer. If you are in the vicinity of Chicago, you HAVE to look for this beer, or any of the Five Rabbit beers.

While we were having the Ki’Chun, we got to walk around and see the new brewery. It is really a huge facility that will give the Five Rabbit team room to grow, and I hope they do grow. Andrés was who we spent most of our time talking to, and looking at the brewery. I have to say that Andrés was so nice, everyone was so nice, and the love for what they are doing really comes through when they talk to you about it. You can read about Andrés and the rest of the Five Rabbit crew on their website, they have a very interesting story.

Ki’Chun wasn’t the only beer that they had available to try. We also got to try Five Rabbit, which is really good. It was so light in the pitcher that I thought it might be juice, but it was a really delicious wheaty beer.
Five Rabbit, mostly gone

I won’t lie; my favorite of the night was Five Grass. The other two beers were amazing, but the smell alone of Five Grass blew my mind. I even told Andrés and his wife that they needed to make it into a perfume (Seriously, I would buy it). Billed as the hoppy beer, I was expecting something like an IPA, but this was so smooth, and the flavors were just perfect. I can’t wait to get my hands on a few more bottles of this one!

Table with beer, Five Grass in my glass

Truly, I hope that you look for Five Rabbit wherever you are. This is one amazing group of people, and they are making amazing beers. Their passion is something that I admire greatly, and they deserve all the success in the world. We had such a great time meeting everyone, and tasting everything, and the tacos were beyond description (even if they made me flush from the spice). It was fantastic. Now, go out and get some beer from Five Rabbit!

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