Thursday, July 26, 2012

So long, Tallahassee!

Well, it's definitely been fun.

For those of you that haven't realized, or I haven't told - I have moved to Jacksonville. As you can see, that means I won't be keeping up on this blog anymore. Sorry, Tallahassee!

Will I do this in Jacksonville? Probably not. There are a billion more beer places in the metro area, and with my busy schedule, I don't think I can keep up.

More importantly, what do you need to know about Tallahassee as you read this?

Well, off the top of my head, I can only think of 2 things:

1). Proof Brewing Company launched their brewery tonight. They are having another release of 2 more beers in 2 weeks in honor of National IPA day. Though I couldn't attend, I was there for their first brew day, and I tasted a couple of the brews out of the fermenters. You're in for a treat, Tallahassee.

2). Ferm is opening a new location at some point in Midtown. Hipsters unite!

It's been fun! Thanks, everyone!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Interview with Golden Horn Brewing Co., Pt. 2

Greetings! Welcome back for part two of my interview with Golden Horn Brewing Company! If you haven't yet checked out part one, go ahead and click here!

I will also take this moment to release the details for our potential future collaboration. We hammered out the details to make what will hopefully be a chocolate orange milk stout, a combination of inspiration from one of their past beers and my love of the candy chocolate oranges! We're test batches and plenty of time away before anything goes down, but the idea is there!

If you had to choose something to change about one of your past beers, what would it be?

Jamie: Amaretto Porter… the very first version, but even the one that we did release. I think it had too much amaretto. I wanted when somebody drank the beer, if they’d ever had marzipan candy, to think of that – just that nice, mellow, yet somewhat pungent almond flavor. That’s what I was really looking for, but at that time we really couldn’t figure out a way to do it as far as finding that almond flavor, so we ended up using some amaretto extract in there. That put it a little too over the top. It definitely goes with the concept that there are times when we brew stuff, we’re trying to shoot for that bullseye. We think that we can miss the target when we give somebody something to drink, even if they say hey, this is an excellent beer.

Robert C.: We also disagree amongst ourselves. I liked the Amaretto Porter just where it was. Sue wanted more, and Jamie wanted less. So we had to compromise, and we often hit that. A lot of the beers I actually end up tweaking when we’re kegging. I will taste it at that point and a lot of times I will add simple syrup if it needs a little more sweetness, I will boil some hops down and add a hop tea if it needs more bittering. Sometimes I will do last minute adjustments as we’re actually kegging the beer. Often times, like the Amaretto Porter, it’s a rock-paper-scissors thing and we all have different opinions. At that point we have to say well, you want more, you want less, I’m happy, so let’s compromise in the middle. That’s the nice part about being a democracy – we all have equal votes and we all can express our opinions. It’s not Robert’s show, it’s not Daffin’s show, it’s not Jamie’s show – it’s Golden Horn’s show.

Any other beers you felt like changing?

Robert C.: The one thing I felt like changing, I changed when I kegged. I have gotten the beers to the point where I have been happy to serve them. There have been beers, like the first time we attempted to do the Amaretto Porter, that we could have served, but it wasn’t up to our terms. Some people were greatly disappointed and upset because we said we were going to serve it and we didn’t serve it – and that’s a risk that we took. My opinion was that we’d rather say we’re going to serve a beer and then and the last minute say it’s not up to our standards and say we’re sorry, we’re not going to serve it – than go ahead and put it out there. We could have put it on tap that day and we could have sold all ten gallons without a problem. We sold twenty gallons of the other beer in like 2 or 3 hours. We could have sold it. We let some people taste it and some of them were okay with it, some people were like “huhhh?” and it was varied – people were all over the place, but none of us were happy with it. We had a couple of small, technical mistakes and we have definitely learned from that.

I’m sorry that we upset some people, and we apologize for it, but the flipside of that coin – the other approach to take – is to not announce what or when we put it on tap and things are just spontaneously there without any information about how it’s made or what’s in it and customers have to roll the dice to see if there’s a beer or not. That’s a system with no promises and just putting things out there. We’re okay with saying hey, we’re going to serve a beer, and if at the last minute we have to say nay, we have the integrity to just say no. Both side has risks – you’re going to make people unhappy with either one of those decisions, but you have to decide which side you want to go with. I’m a very direct person, so I’d rather just say hey, we’re going to try, and if it doesn’t happen, I apologize – but at least we tried. And we changed our whole brewing schedule around because of it. We had other beers lined up for the schedule but we did the Amaretto Porter for the next one. When we do releases, we try to have 2 beers that are very different. We ended up having to change the other beer around because it was going to be too similar in profile to the Amaretto Porter. We changed everything so we could deliver that beer in our next go around. Hopefully people appreciated that, or we at least hope they understand we had the integrity to say this beer is unservable. It was maybe an 85 or a 90, and we’re not looking for an 85 or a 90. We don’t want a B, we want something that we’re proud of. We want to hit the flavor profile that we want.

Jamie: Exactly. I’m less worried about upsetting people because we don’t serve something than upsetting people because we served something. I’m not afraid to not hit the mark, but at the same time, I’m not going to serve something that we feel is technically flawed, which then leads to a beer that is completely not what we intended.

What’s the hardest thing about brewing at Ferm?

Robert C.: Multiple. For one, we’re using a homebrew setup to make ten gallons. To fill our 27 gallon fermenter, we have to do two batches back to back on a ten gallon setup. If we had bigger equipment, that would be easier. We’re also brewing outside on a sidewalk… not my preferred location. That’s one of the reasons our setup has pumps and is all closed. When we’re actually brewing, we’re using the pumps and hoses to move liquids around so we don’t have to open pots and let sand and whatever else is in the atmosphere get into our beer, so it can be as clean as we can possibly make it. It would of course be much easier if we were enclosed in an area with a professional setup. Fermenting in a bar, where the temperature is hard to control. We can get it to 70, but we can’t get it colder because it’s a bar and they don’t want to freeze all of their customers. So, temperature control is almost non-existent. It stays 70, but that limits us on styles and yeasts that we can do. Size. We’re making rather small batches of beer, which has the translation that the beer kinda sells quickly and some people don’t get to try it. We’ve all had situations where we have family or friends come into town and we really want them to try this beer. They get here on Saturday and we released it on Wednesday, so it’s gone. It would be nice if we could do bigger batches.

However, what we’re doing is within Ferm’s model. They opened to be an art house with movies that happens to serve beers. Two of the owners are very big into the film festival in town and wine, so they kinda wanted to follow that. One of the other owners was really into beer, so they said hey, we’ll have artisanal wines, we’ll have really nice craft beer, we’ll have a movie theater, we’ll show specialty art films, and they opened Ferm as a test project to see how that would do and then follow with a two screen theater. In a bar situation like that, you can’t hear what’s going on in the movie. You can see it, but you can’t hear it. What they quickly realized is that people were coming there for the beer, wine, and mead – they weren’t coming for the movies. Back when they used to do the Sunday night movie thing, it was a major flop. I loved it because me and a couple guys would hang out and we had the bar to ourselves, but other people would say, dude, I’m not going to a bar at 8pm on a Sunday night to watch Wild Thing… we were like, cool, wowee! It was not for everybody. They were able to say hey, the bar is doing well, so they kinda ran with that aspect of it. I look at it the same way with us now. It’s a test pilot. We’re showing that we can brew beer that’s interesting, that sells, and that people will go to a release of it and buy it. Once we can show that, then hopefully we can look at some investors, or someone that has a bigger setup that wants a brewer, or something of that nature and take it to the next level. This is a stepping stone for us, and that’s how we’re looking at it. Hopefully one day we’ll be on a nice, bigger system, but for now, it is what it is.

Any plans for the future?

Robert C.: I would love to be brewing on a 7-barrel system in the next year or two. Of course that’s going to depend a lot on money and right now people are being hesitant to invest, and there’s not a lot of money from banks and other resources.

Jamie: Yeah, hopefully within the next five years it’ll be a brewpub or a gastropub. I mean, just to be able to pair food with beers and beers with food – just to do that is a way to go.

Robert C.: I actually cook a lot with beer, and since I’ve been brewing, I’ve actually made beers just to cook with them. I’ll make certain beers and wines that are really more for flavoring things or marinating something, and that’s a nice part about making your own. If you want to make five gallons of wine to marinate chicken… you can. But you may not want to drink peppered lemongrass wine. Other people might… but either way, it makes a great chicken marinade… but drinking, maybe not so good. I experiment with things of that nature. I have a recipe for beef stroganoff that I make, which I wall “beer stroganoff” and beer is pretty much all the liquid that’s in it, so there’s a lot of things you can do. I’ve taken IPAs and made chicken herb soups. The IPA bitterness blends really well with the fresh herbs. It’s fun to play with it.

If you end up growing, do you hope to distribute at all?

Robert C.: Well, like I said, I’d like to be on a 7-barrel system, and that would be enough that we would distribute in kegs. I’d like us to do kegs, growlers, and maybe a bottle release once or twice a year. Optimally, I’d like to do a seasonal release every three months – like a seasonal bottle release. Maybe do a saison in the summer, a brown in the winter, or a stout. Kinda following the classic pattern of seasonal beers, because to me, it’s all coming back down to local, seasonal ingredients, and I really like that aspect that I can highlight those, just like I did when I was a chef – now I’m just doing it in a different medium.

Where would you distribute to?

Robert C.: Just locally. It’d be nice to throw beers on at Proof, or Ray’s, etc. There are some bars in town that are interested in good beer and they serve good beer. If we have a smaller system like that, we can distribute out a couple sixth barrels or half barrels to some of these bars and they would go over well. I think it kinda fits the theme of all of this. I hope that when Proof gets up and running and distributing, I hope we can get some of that beer at Fermentation. These bars in town are all about good beer.

Have you thought of doing specially treated casks or anything like that to serve at Ferm?

Robert C.: Absolutely. Again, it’s a capacity problem right now. We have talked to the owners about doing casks and things like that nature. What I would actually really like to do is make 30 gallons of beer and doing the same beer four different ways. Having a plain old keg and taking the remaining beer and splitting it between three different casks with different treatments. So have the beer and in this one we add fruit, this one we add oak chips, and this one we add dry hops… something completely different and really try to showcase the same beer multiple different ways. I think that would be fun and experimental. We talked about it, it just hasn’t really seemed to happen yet, and it may not, probably because of the capacity issues. We’ve only got so much we can brew and ferment at one time and we can’t take both fermenters out of production for three or four weeks to do these casks.

If you could make love to one beer or one beer style, what would it be and why?

Jamie: Oh man, I would make love to a stout because it’s strong, black, and bitter.

Robert C.: Just like you like your women! I would do a rauchbier because it’s hot. I like the fire! Hot and steamy.

Robert D.: I got nothing!

Robert C.: He would do an IPA because it’s bitter! …but he would always drink an IPA anyway.

Jamie: Then again, just maybe perhaps I might like a little ménage-a-beer-trois, adding in a bock. Weltenbergur Kloster is probably one of my top five beers. If I could make a sex doll out of Weltenbergur Kloster, I think that would probably be the beer that I would use.

Robert C.: Of course if you wanted to be completely misogynist, you could say Bud Light because I want it cheap and then it goes away. One and done!

Robert D.: I just can’t draw the sex and beer parallel! I can’t!

Robert C.: Can I change my answer to eisbock because it’s thick and creamy?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Events at Proof

Greetings! I'm working on finishing my interview with Golden Horn and you can expect to see that soon. In that post I will announce the details of our potential collaboration brew!

Well for whatever reason nobody has really been announcing any events except Proof, so I'll go ahead and fill you in with all of those.

Tonight they are having a Friday happy hour with some good stuff. If you haven't been to Proof around 5pm on a Friday - it's awesome. Smaller crowd, older clientele, etc. If you love good beer but want to avoid the nightlife, this is a good time to visit. Also, it's the weekend which means BOTH bars will be open, baby!

Anyway, tonight they will have lots of Bells Hopslam bottles, Bells on tap, Dogfish Head 120 Minute (and more) on tap, and some Terrapin stuff. It's also dollar off all drafts from 5-7 every day, so this would be a good time to stop by for sure!

In the same e-mail they announced their next couple of events as well. On Wednesday, March 28th they will be having a Southern Tier Glassware giveaway and the next week, Wednesday, April 4th, they will be having a Stone glassware giveaway. If you're wondering why my dates are different, it's because they typed the wrong dates in the e-mail, but it's always on Wednesdays, so I'm assuming these are the dates they meant.

Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of the Golden Horn interview!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Interview with Golden Horn Brewing Co., Pt. 1

I was recently lucky enough to sit down with three members of Golden Horn Brewing Company. I have to say, if you've never talked to any of these folks, catch them at the next release and you're definitely in for a good time. We had a lot of fun chatting about beer, their philosophies, how they got started, and oh so much more.

Golden Horn Brewing Company consists of four members: Jamie Hanuka, Robert Daffin, Robert Clark, and Sue Humphries. Currently they brew at/for Fermentation Lounge as a contract brewer of sorts. Right now they are waiting for some Federal red tape to clear before they get brewing there for the year, but we're hoping to see more soon!

Alright, enough jabber, let's get down to it! Because there were often 3 people answering, and because Robert C. is a windbag (just kidding!), this interview got quite long (I was there for almost 2 hours), so I opted to split this interview into two parts.

Part 1 will cover a lot about their histories and philosophies.
Part 2 (released later this week or next week) will cover brewing at Fermentation Lounge and future plans

I sat down for my chat with Jamie, Robert C., and Robert D.

Where did the name come from?

Robert C.: Sue and myself are both kinda history buffs, as well as Jamie, and Sue and I are both into making mead. There’s a story about a Germanic god named Odin who stole mead and put it in a golden chalice, well for them it was a golden horn, and if you drank that mead, basically it gave you the gift of poetry, and in that culture the gift of poetry was very revered because they had the gift of words and language. So, we tend to make higher gravity beers and use lots of honey – we definitely have a mead background. I always make the joke that I make beer so that I have something to drink while my mead is maturing. So that came from that concept of the golden drinking horn and getting the gift of poetry. And since we make higher gravity beers, if you drink enough of it, you might just get to talking!

Any particular beer or moment that got you into craft beer?

Robert C.: I think we all have our own individual stories. For me, both my father and my grandfather homebrewed. One incident that very clearly sticks out in my mind is when I was about 6 years old and my dad caught me pilfering his homebrew stash. I would take a bottle and me and my brothers would run out into the woods and we would all take turns drinking it. Well he caught me one day and he made me drink two bottles and I got sick. I enjoyed the flavors and the fact that he was making it. I remember helping him cap it - that was my favorite job. He had one of those big lever cappers and I would grab the handle and pull up my legs and let my body weight pull the capper down. I remember having lots of fun doing that because he would make about 10 gallons at a time. That’s my memory – capping the beer, watching them ferment, and occasionally explode.

Jamie: I would say my memory is really the first time I had my first homebrew. Like all college students, it’s all about Natty Lights and consuming in mass quantities the cheapest beer you can afford and I met some guys that were homebrewing here. You think everything is yellow, crisp, and watery until I had that first homebrew. It was just like “Oh my God” this is absolutely amazing! It pretty much opened the flood gates and convinced me to get a kit and start doing homebrewing stuff.

Robert D.: I was born and raised in Marianna, Florida, which is not exactly a bastion of anything, short of prisons. They changed the laws in Alabama some 20 years ago to allow the opening of brewpubs and one actually opened in Dothan, Alabama of all places, which I’m still rather surprised happened. But anyway, Poplarhead Mule Company opened up (not 100% sure of the name he said). A friend of mine told me I had to go there and try this beer. I did, they had 3 different beers on tap. One was a Budweiser clone that was not that interesting, one was a Bud Light clone that was not that interesting, but they had one called Downtown Brown and it was one of the best things I had ever had. We made regular pilgrimages to buy Downtown Brown by the pitcher. Me and my buddy Tommy would get… well, the quality of the night depended on the quantity of pitchers we had. A 2-pitcher night was probably pretty good. A 3-pitcher night was probably pushing it, and a 4-pitcher night… probably not gonna end well. In fact, I actually have a problem now because of that, and this was over 20 years ago. I have a problem now with browns because I’m still trying to find that beer. I’ve not found a brown that measures up to that… and I probably never will, because it’s a memory, you know. That was the point where I woke up and said, you know, there’s probably a lot more out there than just the mass market adjuncts that everybody else is drinking.

Robert C.: Daff and I want to work together with his memory and we’re going to try to make a brown that he considers worthy. So we’ll try to live up to that memory. If not, we’ll hopefully get very close or something that he’s happy with.

Jamie: Gentleman, you’re chasing the dragon!

What breweries have had an influence on your brewing or tastes?

Robert D.: Let’s see… Stone was probably one of the ones that really turned me around. I’m one of those that’s a bit of a hophead. I love Sublimely Self Righteous. I love Ruination for that matter. Lagunitas does some pretty amazing stuff. I really, really liked Lucky 13 when it first came out. I’m slightly less happy with their reformulation – the Lucky Alt version. Basically, I skew very hoppy. California hoppy styles, too – you know, Pliny the Elder is a wonderful thing. Ballast Point does some wonderful beers.

Me: Did you have Lagunitas Sucks? I thought that one was really good.

Robert D.: I did, and I thought it was very good. Of all the holiday beers this year, I really thought Lagunitas Sucks was the best of it. In fact, I’m kind of disappointed because we were supposed to be getting leftovers at some point and I’ve never seen them!

Jamie: Definitely Dogfish Head. It’s either hit or miss sometimes with their beers, but their bold brewing style and their desire to go way out there is really influential. The kind of beer that I really love is the kind of beer that I’ve never had before. They will usually make something I’ve never had before, so I’m definitely going to go ahead and give it a try. Samuel Adams, it’s funny that you’re wearing a Sam Adams shirt (I was wearing a Longshot t-shirt) because for many years, I was a big time snob on Samuel Adams in that my opinion was that whatever they brewed, somebody else brewed better. Robert C. here told me, you know, you have to look at Samuel Adams as the stepping stone to craft beer. Everybody who drinks the Budweisers and all of the big lagers and pilsners will then go to Samuel Adams to get something a try and it’ll then open up the door for them. But the Chocolate Bock that they made, the 25oz bomber they did with the silver label on it. When I had that, it just completely changed my mind about them and that was like, man this is just an amazing beer. The maltiness, the chocolate, everything just layered perfectly, blended perfectly, it’s like your Downtown Brown, Daffin, unfortunately now that they’ve retooled it and put it out as a part of their winter Brewmaster’s pick, now it’s like it’s not the same thing and it’s really disappointing. The other one that really got me and you can’t get this in the US – when I was traveling across Europe 12 years ago, I stopped off in Salzburg, Austria, and I went to this brewery called The Augustiner Brewery, which was in a converted monastery. The beer there – and it was most likely just the fact that they gave me a tour of the brewery and just the entire atmosphere of it, to watch them take this 3 barrel keg of beer and tap it – classic wooden style. It was the entire process, the entire atmosphere, but that was one of the best types of lagers I’ve ever had and it was absolutely amazing.

Robert C.: For my breweries, I’ll stick mostly with American ones, mostly some of the ones we’ve already heard and for some of the same reasons. Dogfish Head because they don’t brew to style and because they’re always trying to do something that noone’s ever done before, and that kind of epitomizes my brewing style. I really like that about them. Some of their stuff, like that Egyptian one, it smelled like tuna fish, but once you got past the smell, it was interesting… I don’t think I’d buy a second bottle, but I like the fact that they tried. They tried something completely out of the box. They said we don’t care how you categorize it, we don’t care what style, we’re just gonna do this weird thing.

I like breweries like Cigar City and Seventh Sun, that take a beer and then they say, okay this beer is good, so let’s try it with coffee, let’s try it with blackberries, let’s try it with honey, let’s try it with peppers. They’re not afraid to take something that’s already good and think outside the box. Oh, we have an oatmeal brown, let’s put cinnamon and raisins in it. Let’s put milk sugar in it. I like that creativity. Sometimes it gets a little derivative – how many versions of Maduro Brown can you have? But at the same time, I respect that they’re not just sitting back and saying, oh we have Maduro Brown, we’re done in browns. They’re like, no, we’re gonna try this and we’re gonna try that. Cubano Espresso came out of it, which I love. So, thankfully, they took that Maduro Brown, which is interesting and good, and they said, hey, put this in it! I like that kind of experimentation.

I also like places like Funky Buddha Lounge down in Boca. They’re doing the same stuff - hey nobody has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich beer! No Crusts is awesome! Last year at Hunahpu Day they had their maple breakfast beer and I was like, wait, that’s too many words in one beer title, and then I had it and it tasted like somebody took the best pancakes I ever had with some bacon and some maple syrup and coffee and blended it and put it in a bottle. It was amazing. Wow, it is breakfast in a bottle… it’s really good! They went out there on the edge and tried it.

I also like local breweries like Terrapin, and what I like most about Terrapin are their side projects. Again, they’re doing the same kind of thing – okay, we have our stable of beers, but we’re going to try something new and interesting every so often, and they do sometimes really push the envelope. Some of them, like the pumpkin Oktoberfest, are not so great, but they keep trying. I’m okay with a brewery if they try to push the envelope and the envelope kicks back. It’s gonna happen, but I’d rather them make that leap and try than never try at all. There are a lot of breweries out there that got their stable of beers and then they’re kind of stagnant at that point. Where’s their innovation? What are you doing now? Thankfully Sierra Nevada, who I like, has kinda jumped off that bandwagon the last couple of years and came out with Kellerweiss, their 30th Anniversary beers, they’re now doing some new stuff. But for years, it was like, these are their beers, nothing new.

I want, like Jamie, to try a beer I’ve never had before. I tried the Clamato just to try it, yes, Bud Light mixed with clam juice and tomato juice… and it’s really as bad as it sounds. I will try it because I want to try something I’ve never had before, even if I know it’s gonna suck, and it did. I looked at it and said well maybe there are some things I can learn from it. I pull a lot from my chef background and I’m always trying something just to see how it is because if nothing else, I’ve learned a lesson – never add clam juice and tomato juice to a light lager… EVER! So, lesson learned, check that little box off, and I can move on.

You were all homebrewers – what caused you to make the jump into commercial brewing?

Robert C.: I’ve been a fan of Fermentation since right after they opened. I just really liked the vibe there – it’s small, kinda cozy, and it’s usually an older clientele. It’s a very quaint bar. There’s a core of regulars that goes there and it’s really awesome. So I went to Ferm all the time and I started bringing in some of my mead and homebrews and the bartenders were really appreciative and I kinda just hit it off with one of the bartenders. I would go on Sunday nights when they were playing movies back in the day. Often times it’d just be us and the bartenders. We’d sit around, drink mead and watch the stupid movie and just have a blast at basically our own private bar. So I got really familiar with the bar staff and was bringing in a lot of my homebrew. The bar staff told the owners, so a couple of times one of the owners would be there and they would pull a sample to give to the owners and the owners were like “this is good stuff!” and they’ve tried a lot of homebrew, as I’m sure you’ve tried, and some of it’s… not so great sometimes. I’ve worked in a kitchen so I know sanitary methods and I’m very meticulous about it, and I’m very high on flavor profiles. I want to make sure there’s certain flavors here or there and that it hits certain notes. So, they kinda hadn’t had anything like that. I was talking to one of the owners one time and I mentioned that I wanted to get more into brewing – maybe do more of a meadery, and when we first started talking we were actually talking more about opening a meadery than a brewery, but because of laws and regulations, we decided to go more of a brewery route. So basically it was just by bringing my homebrew up there, talking to the bartenders and owners, and they had kinda wanted to add that aspect anyway, so it was just a matter of working that out with them. It slowly evolved over maybe a year or a year and a half and then it took another year or year and a half to get all the paperwork done.

How do you come up with these crazy beers and where did this philosophy come from?

Robert C.: We all have our different approaches. I would say that I come from a strong culinary background. I’m a chef – I was trained at Culinary Art Institute of America in New York. I was an executive chef at a restaurant for years after working my way up from a sous chef. So I have a really strong culinary background. For me, I consider beer as food, and that is a central part of my philosophy about brewing. Just like when I was at the restaurant, I would take my interpretation of something and flip it around and do different things with it, and I like chefs that do that. I also like chefs that are really focused on local, seasonal ingredients. If you notice the beers that are my recipe are all highlighting local, seasonal ingredients. If it’s in season and I can go get it – and by the way, I do consider South Georgia local because I can drive to Thomasville food market in 40 minutes, so for me I can get fresh peaches from them, I consider that local. Some people would say Georgia isn’t local, but it’s Tallahassee and we’re basically South Georgia (I’m thinking he was referencing my own comment on the blog). If I can drive 30 or 40 minutes and buy fresh peaches that were grown a couple of miles from that site, I consider that local. For our watermelon wheat, I drove down to Perry. So I take that brewing philosophy – I like to do seasonal beers, I like to use fresh local ingredients, and I like to highlight local ingredients. Whether I’m using Bradley Country Grits in a beer (had to look that one up), watermelon, or persimmons from a local farm. I even use stuff from my own garden – our chipotle beer had jalapenos and peppers from my garden – it can’t get much more local than that. That’s my philosophy and it’s coming from that culinary background.

I don’t really concentrate so much on the beer style I’m making, or making it fit in a box. I’m totally okay and go, “Is this a brown ale? Is this an amber ale?” I’d just say… sure! I’m totally okay with that. When I design a beer recipe and flavors, I start with how I’d want it to taste, look, and smell, and then I backwards engineer it and I make a grain bill based on what I want those characteristics to be. A lot of times I think brewers start the opposite direction. They start with a grain bill and then they start altering that grain bill. I start with what I want the finished product to be. I do the same thing with cooking. I’ll go somewhere and I’ll have a cannoli. I’ll taste it and I’ll say okay I like this, but I want more of this and less of that and I’ll make my own version through backwards engineering. That’s how I approach it. A lot of times Jamie and I come up with beer ideas because we’re sitting around brewing, or drinking, and we’re like, hey, this beer is interesting, but how about this, or how about that. Sometimes we’ll be eating something and we’ll say how can we make a beer that will go with this? One of the beers, Cerveza Lima, which I know you weren’t a big fan of (he’s referencing my first big article) was a tailgaiting beer. We liked Mexican food, we liked tailgating, and we wanted a beer that goes really well with Mexican food at a tailgate. It’s hot, so you want something light, a little bit crisp and dry, the lime and honey play well with the salsa and the tacos and other things that we’re eating. Sometimes beers form that way – wanting a certain flavor for an event or an activity. Other times it’s just like, hey, we want to try something completely different. We once came up with a chocolate hefeweizen. It’s hefeweizen with some chocolate flavors, so we kinda wanted that chocolatey banana thing going on. It evolves a lot of times.

Jamie: For me, as far as brewing and everything goes, I think of the road. There was a brewery that came by that cemented my thought on that. You look at a road or a highway and you look at those two yellow lines that go down the middle, there are so many breweries that just stay right in between those two yellow lines in the middle of the road. My brewing philosophy is that I never want in between those lines. We all shoot for beer that’s in the fast lane, but I am not afraid to make a beer that might end up in the gutter. That’s not a problem because at least I know that it’s not what everybody else is trying to do. I think Robert kinda hit the nail on the head. I’m more of a foodie in that I like food, but I don’t have a chef’s background. A lot of the beers that we come up with is just sitting around talking, drinkoing, and for me, it’s might even be a simple phrase or word, like when Robert was talking about the Chelada earlier and later mentioned tuna death. I kinda thought to myself, what if we come up with a gefilte fish style of beer (oh please God, don’t) with lime… maybe something Kosher or crazy, or something like that. My brain just kinda takes words and twists everything around to see what I can come up with.

One of the beers I came up with recently is I want to do a barbecue beer. I want to be like when you drink it it’s not going to be like drinking barbecue sauce, but almost like hanging out in a good southern barbecue all day long – getting that aroma and the sensation of being right there. It’s really just sitting around and talking and being creative – I’m sure that’s where a lot of brewers come up with ideas. It’s thinking about the concepts first, or the end product first like Robert said, and then figuring out a way to reverse engineer and coming up with the different ingredients we have to use to achieve that final product. A lot of our beers are something where you try one or two and then you want to try something else and I think that’s important for my philosophy related to my personal search for beers. I want to have something and then I want to move on to something else and try it. I don’t want to drink the same thing over and over and over again. So I don’t want to make beers that people want to drink over and over and over again. Maybe they do want to have it and then pick up a six pack to keep in their fridge and go back to once in awhile, but if somebody drinks our beers and they don’t want to buy two or three pints afterwards, that’s perfectly fine with me because there’s so much more out there that I want people to be able to enjoy than to stick with one particular beer style.

Robert C.: That kinda fits into how we drink beer as well. When I go into a bar, whether they have 12 taps or 50 taps, I almost never have the same beer back to back, unless it is something that is ultra limited and there’s only one cask in the whole world and it’s phenomenal and if I don’t get a second glass now, I may never get a second glass… and even then I may intersperse something in the middle of them. I think when you do that, you get more of the flavors in the beer. If I’m drinking a stout and then I have another stout, they tend to run together. If I have a stout and then I have an IPA and then I have a stout again, both the IPA and the stout are going to be more intense and flavorful than if I had them back to back. That’s why we’re drinking craft beers – we want the flavor, we want the experience of craft beer, we’re not just shotgunning beer to shotgun beer. It’s all about the flavor and the experience of drinking it.

That's all for now, folks. Tune in later this week or the middle of next week for PART 2!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Well, folks, we have lots of new events on the horizon!

Momo's has a new beer on tap - Rocket Rye Pale Ale. Perhaps the most exciting news, though, is that they actually sent out an email about it! HOLY JEEBUS!

Next, in chronological order, don't forget that Proof is having a cask of Oskar Blues Deviant Dale's IPA on Wednesday, March 21st (that's this Wednesday!) at 8pm, along with a glassware giveaway. It's a special double dry-hopped cask and they're getting this cask before the cans of this brew even hit our market! Expect to see me there, as I want to be one of the first to try this brew! This brew is dry-hopped with Columbus and people have been saying it's quite dank. The cask will happen in the upstairs bar.

Speaking of, the hot topic as of late is when Proof Brewing Company will start brewing and when Golden Horn will be brewing again. Long story short, they're both waiting for the Feds to approve some stuff and nobody is really sure. There is a lot of red tape when it comes to businesses and the government does not help the matter.

Fermentation Lounge announced that on Friday, April 13th (Friday the 13th!) they will have an event titled "Friday the Firkinteenth" (personally, I would have went with Firkteenth, Thirkinth, Thirkinteenth, Thirkeenth, or something of that sort, but we're splitting hairs here). They will have 4 casks (yet unannounced) that night. Let's just hope they don't get plugged, tapped while the spout is on, and the spouts aren't broken (just kidding, gents!). Depending on what they get, you can bet to see me there as well.

Lastly, I promise to get my Golden Horn interview up later this week. I had a great time talking to those guys and we certainly had some interesting conversations!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quick Updates

First of all, don't forget about everything going on this weekend!

Second, I just wanted to throw out a quick note saying that I am working on getting my interview with Golden Horn Brewing Company up soon. We also hammered out plans for a test batch of a collab brew that should get brewed in the next couple of months, I hope. If the test batch goes well, then maybe you'll see it on tap some day, which would be the first ever commercial brew with my name attached to it in any way, shape, or form!

I'm not going to say anything now, but over the last couple of weeks some very exciting news has started developing for me (involving beer, not that other thing that many of my friends may think I'm talking about). As details unfold, I may let some details loose here, but only time will tell!

I also intend to get some interviews going soon with the other breweries in town. I will have more on that as I get details.


Monday, March 12, 2012


I just wanted to say that I've been out of town for a few days, but the calendar on the right should be up to date for now. Momo's new wheat beer is still on tap as of a couple of days ago, and both Ferm and Proof have a lot going on this week with parties and St. Patrick's Day and all that!