Monday, November 29, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Baying Hound Aleworks (Part 1)

While most of us have toyed with the thought of starting up a nanbrewery, others have taken the plunge.  To find out more about who these people are and what makes them do what they do, Jeff and I embarked on a series of interviews with regional nanobreweries to get their stories.
Baying Hound Aleworks
Rockville, MD

In the seventh installment of our Nanobrewery Interviews, we spoke with Paul Rinehart, the founder of Baying Hound Aleworks, located in Rockville, Maryland.  Paul is a trained professional chef who comes from a line of chemists, brewers, and bootleggers.  He began brewing at a young age and has continued homebrewing to this day.  Paul's interest in beer, along with his chef training, has pushed Baying Hound Aleworks's beers towards pairing well with food.  In fact, Paul offers recommended beer and food pairings, along with a number of recipes on his website.

The Baying Hound Aleworks began operation in Rockville in July 2010, though it only officially opened for business earlier this month.  Paul uses a 55-gallon brew house and two 42 gallon fermenters.  He bottles the beer and offers it for sale within Montgomery County, MD, though he hopes to eventually distribute in the District of Columbia and Virginia.  The brewery is named in honor of Marmalade, Paul's late bloodhound companion, who used to enjoy left-over spent grain from his basement homebrewery.

Below is our interview with Paul.

* * *

Lug Wrench (LW): What inspired you to start-up a nanobrewery?

Paul Rinehart (PR): I always wanted to open a brewery, starting a nanobrewery seemed to be the next logical step in the evolution of a homebrewer.  The only thing that sets me apart from a homebrewer is that I can legally sell my beer.

LW: How did you gather the required capital to start the nanobrewery?

PR: I took out a loan and got financial backing from my family and some of my savings.

LW: How have you involved the community in your brewery?  Do you interact with local homebrew clubs?

PR: Since I started my nanobrewery, which is actually the only manufacturing/wholesale brewery in Montgomery County, I have had a lot of homebrewers asking me what it would take to start their own.  I took part in a beer festival back in October, and will be doing a few other festivals soon.  I am responsible for some beer festival organizing so I've been given the job to try and contact other local brewers.  I love networking and this is a great way to do it.  The only interaction I have with a local brew club is being invited to a cask ale tasting put on by the Brewers United for Real Potables (BURP) homebrewing club.  I hope to have a little more involvement with them in the future.

LW: With regards to selling your beer, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced in getting draft accounts or shelf space?

PR: In Montgomery County, I went to places that specialized in craft brews and not the mass produced beers, not naming any names.  As for the rest of the DC metropolitan area, that is pretty much up to my distributor.  The biggest challenge is getting your foot in the door, but once you are in, you're in.

LW: Looking forward, what are the biggest hurdles you see your brewery facing?

PR: Keeping up with demand.  I currently produce two barrels per week, that's about 30 cases.  Last week I sold 40 cases.  But that's the beauty of a nanobrewery, because of its small size, its easier to upgrade.

* * *

The conclusion of our interview with Paul Rinehart and Baying Hound Aleworks will be posted shortly.

If you want to find out more about Baying Hound Aleworks, check out their website, read an article about them in the Washington Post, or stop by the brewery and buy some of their beer.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day

With this being a short week, we'll keep this a short post.  From our glasses to yours, have a pleasant and Happy Thanksgiving.

Goose Island's Sofie
One of many selections for our Thanksgiving table.



"What event is more awfully important to an English colony than the erection of its first brewhouse?"
-Rev. Sydney Smith

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beer Production & Consumption Around the World

Anyone that has been reading this blog knows I'm a sucker for statistics, especially ones that are presented in a visual format.  The image below I picked up from a post over on Daily Infographic.  Using data similar to what we used for our Beer Taxes Per Capita analysis, the graphic below ranks the nations based on the amount of beer brewed and the number of pints emptied within a respective country's borders.

Enjoy - if you can't read the text, click on the image and a high-resolution version should appear.



"Give me a women who loves beer, and I'll conquer the world."
-Kaiser Welhelm

Friday, November 19, 2010

National Homebrewers Conference: Locations Over the Years

Something got me thinking the other day about the history of where the National Homebrewers Conference (NHC) has been located over the last decade or so.  Mostly for curiousity, I dug up the information and plotted it out on a map of the US for the fun of it.  To add a little more informtion to it, I swapped out the geographical map out for a population density map of the US.
NHC Conference Location vs. US Population Density

While there are many homebrewers who are willing to fly around the country to attend the NHC conference, I would argue that there are many more that would attend if the conference is within driving distance.  So the above map gives an idea of whether the yearly conferences doing a good job covering the US population as well as if there are highly populated areas that are being left out. 

Of course, the above logic is based on the assumption that the general US population distribution is equivalent to the population distribution of US homebrewers (which may or may not be a valid assumption).  And while I may also be a bit biased (being a New Englander), it seems that much of the Eastern Seaboard and the Pacific Northwest have not been getting a lot of love from the national conference. 

Obviously a lot more goes into the conference site selection, including a well organized hosting homebrew club, affordable accomodations, and a thriving beer scene.  This map was just another way to look at where the conferences have been located and how it relates to population densities.  I am sure I am not alone when I say that I am very interested to see where NHC 2012 will be hosted.



"An honest brew makes its own friends."
-John Molson

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bread Made with Beer

Home bread-making is one of my favorite hobbies.  Much like homebrewing, making your own bread is rewarding and allows the baker the flexibility to make a wide variety of different bread styles.  Traditional bread, which does not contain preservatives, is best eaten fresh and stales rapidly.  Baking bread at home allows the baker to enjoy it at its freshest state, and as such, I try to bake about once a week.

But, what does bread baking have to do with beer?  The Brewing Network's newest show is called The Homebrewed Chef.  The show features chef Sean Paxton, know as The Homebrew Chef, and he discusses many aspects of cooking with beer and pairing food with beer.  The show offers a nice departure from The Brewing Network's other shows, which are all strictly beer focused, and tries to pull foodies and chefs into the craft beer movement.

At the end of the show entitled Meat The Butcher, Chef Paxton mentions the fantastic idea that bread's flavor can be enhanced by adding beer to the dough.  I was dumbfounded - what a great idea!  Given that I bake bread often and have access to a constant supply of homebrew, I immediately started planning a baking session to give the idea a try.  The bread I selected was a simple white hearth loaf from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day, which I modified by switching 15 percent of the bread flour with whole rye flour for increased flavor.  I used an Irish red ale to replace all of the water in the dough and just followed the recipe as normal.

The dough definitely did not rise as high as normal, which I attribute to the beer's alcohol inhibiting the activity of the bakers yeast.  The dough was noticeably darker than normal as well, likely because of the darker color of the beer.  The resulting bread had a dense crumb and a rich and moist flavor that had notes of caramel and molasses.  It also had a bitter edge to the flavor, which could have come from the hops, though the Irish red only had 25 international bitterness units (IBU).  The bread was enjoyable and would make great toast.

I plan on continuing to experiment with beer in bread.  In the future, I would likely replace less than 100% of the water with beer, as an attempt to strike a balance between dough rise and beer flavor.  This would especially be true when using beer styles with higher IBU levels, like India pale ale (IPA).  I will also likely increase the bread's salt content next time I use a malt-forward beer like the Irish red, as it would provide a nice counter balance to the dense malt flavor from the beer.

Have you ever made bread with beer?  If so, leave a comment and let our readers know how it turned out.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poll: What's the oldest beer you've sampled?

Similar to what has been done for all our prior blog polls, this post takes a moment to memorilize the results we received on our most recent blog poll. The readers' responses to the question "What is the oldest beer you have been able to sample?" are presented below.

Total Votes: 21

So half of the particpiants in the poll have never tried a beer that was brewed before 2007, with a select few who have probably tried and old barley wine or similar brewed in the 90's.  While this was basically the expected result we envisioned, I can't help but think that if this was a wine blog with a similar wine poll, that the results would inherently be different.  They would be skewed a bit more to the right.  So why is it more acceptable for aging wine, but not beer?  For some reason this is a phenomenon that has taken off in wine, but has yet to take hold in beer yet.

Let us know your thoughts, either as a comment or an email.  And if you are reading this, the next poll has posted and awaits your response.



"I like beer.  On occasion, I will deven drink beer to celebrate a major event such as the fall of Communism or the face that the refrigerator is still working."
-Dave Berry

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Rocky Point Artisan Brewers (Part 2)

While most of us have just toyed with the thought of starting up a nanobrewery, others have taken the plunge. To find out who these people are and what makes them do what they do, Tom and I embarked on a series of interviews with regional nanobreweries to get their stories.

Rocky Point Artisan Brewers Inc.
Rocky Point, NY

As a follow-up to the first half of our interview with Donavan Hall, partner in the Rocky Point Artisan Brewers (RPAB), this post presents the conclusion of our Q and A with Donavan.  RPAB, which was founded in 2008, is planning to sell its first beer by the summer of 2011.

*  *  *

Lug Wrench (LW): Getting back to the 'Local' theme, are you able to source any of your brewing  ingredients from local suppliers in the Long Island area?

Donavan Hall (DH): Another way we are looking to "keep it local" is by using locally produced ingredients. We have been talking with a couple of local farms about sowing a few acres of barley, but given that there are no malting facilities nearby we would have to malt the grains ourselves. We will probably experiment with malting our own for a special "harvest" release once a year. Our harvest beers already make use of hops grown right here on Long Island. Ultimately, we would like to make at least one "All Long Island" beer that will include only ingredients grown on Long Island -- and that includes the microflora we'll use to ferment it.

LW: In order to sell your beer local, have you looked at other programs/means to distribute your beer outside the traditional channels (bars and bottle shops)?

DH: Because nanobreweries only produce a single digit number of barrels per week, it's preferable to sell directly to the end user than to a wholesaler (like a pub or beer store who expect nanobrewed beer to be as inexpensive as industrially, mass-produced beer). Of course, breweries are not allowed to sell directly to the public unless they get an additional license to do so. Fortunately, small breweries can get such a license.

LW: Where did you get the inspiration for the beers you are planning to commercialize? How are you picking your offerings?

DH: When Mike Voigt and I started RPAB, we began experimenting with different strains of yeast. We discovered that a particular strain of lager yeast consistently produced fantastic beers. So we built a walk-in fermentation room and two large conical fermenters and concentrated on lager production. We now have a standard repertoire of a half dozen lager beers: two types of Pilsner, a Helles, a Vienna, a Munich, a Doppelbock, and a Schwartzbier.

Each summer we brew as much Hefeweizen as possible (mainly for consumption at the beach, only two blocks away from the brewery). We have brewed other ales, mainly English-style bitters and ESBs for cask conditioning, since the brewery has an English ale yeast that is very reliable. During the cooler months we brew a Bitter, a Pale Ale, and a Porter (all for cask conditioning). We also love Belgian-style beers, but have yet to develop any particular beer for eventual commercial production. Currently, the brewers are experimenting with five different strains of Belgian yeast to determine which works best in their brewery.

LW: Looking forward, what are the biggest hurdles you see your brewer facing

DH: The biggest hurdles that face RPAB at the moment are associated with production. Given the limited quantity that the brewers can produce, the number of regular "accounts" that can be supplied will have to be small. For small breweries, initially, demand out-paces the ability to supply. Brewers often scramble to meet the demand by expanding production. This can lead to mixed results. Staying small will probably be the biggest challenge.

LW: Would you be willing to provide a favorite recipe, whether it’s from your professional recipe book or homebrewing days?

DH: One of our more popular beers is our Black Lager which is modeled a little on what beer geeks call Schwarzbier. For that beer we mainly use Vienna malt and Munich malt with a smaller percentage of Melanoidin and Carafa Special I. We bitter with Magnum hops and add Hallertauer for flavor and aroma (but not too much). To make this beer a little more special, sometimes we bump up the grain bill and add oats to the mash.

* * *

If you want to find out more about Donavan or Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, check out their website, or better yet, if you are in the Long Island area, stop by the brewery.



“A little bit of beer is divine medicine.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Iron Brewer

I first heard of the concept of Iron Brewer on Basic Brewing Radio back in January.  The Garage Brewers Society homebrewing club, located in O'Fallon, Missouri, conducted an innovated homebrewing competition.  Similar to Iron Chef, now on the Food Network, contestants were given "mystery ingredients" and asked to brew a beer with them and present the results for tasting at the next club meeting.  Contestants were paired head-to-head, with the winner of each pairing advancing to the next round.  Beers were selected for highlighting the mystery ingredient and overall flavor.  Memorable mystery ingredients included: iced oatmeal cookies, breakfast cereal, sweet potatoes, and rice.  The overall champion was Kent Critchell, who brewed a Potato Ale.

There is another Iron Brewer competition that is conducted nationwide, amongst interested homebrewers.  Iron Brewer, run by Simply Beer, is a similar type of event, but it is not tied to a specific club.  The folks at Simply Beer send out a tweet and an email announcement of a given round and the first six people to respond are selected.  Each round has three mystery ingredients that must be used and the brewers have eight weeks to brew and present their beers.  Then, the brewers send beers to each other and everyone, including the moderator from Simply Beer, votes for their favorites.  Like the Garage Brewers Society event, beers are evaluated for highlighting the selected ingredients and overall flavor.  The winner of each of the six rounds advances to the finals.

I heard about the Simply Beer competition from a friend, Jamey Barlow, who got second place in Round 3 (ingredients: smoked malt, vanilla bean, and centennial hops).  Jamey brewed a smoked baltic porter and was the only contestant of the round to try a lager.  The baltic porter, which I tried at a recent CAMRA meeting, is smokey, rich, and delicious.  It is a fantastic beer, though the centennial hops did not come through as much as Jamey hoped.

I must say that I love the Iron Brewer concept.  It highlights all of the things that make homebrewing great: innovation, brewing without bounds, and camaraderie through beer.  Having listened to the interview with the Garage Brewers Society and reading on the Simply Beer site, organizing such events takes a good deal of work.  Still, the results seem worth it.

Would you ever consider organizing or participating in a Iron Brewer competition.  Post a comment and let us know.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Rocky Point Artisan Brewers (Part 1)

While most of us have just toyed with the thought of starting up a nanobrewery, others have taken the plunge. To find out who these people are and what makes them do what they do, Tom and I embarked on a series of interviews with regional nanobreweries to get their stories.

Rocky Point Artisan Brewers Inc.
Rocky Point, NY

Next in our series of nanobrewery interviews, Lug Wrench got the opportunity to speak with Donavan Hall, one of the partners of Rocky Point Artisan Brewers (RPAB) in Long Island, NY. RPAB is still in the opening stages of the brewery's life. Incorporated in 2008, the company is still working through the process for all its licensing before the first sale. 

Brewing on a 55 gallon Blichman system, the RPAB partners have embraced the local movement and intent on only selling the beer as close as possible to the brewery (within 20 miles) while still being commercially viable. The brewery is planning to be online and generating sales by the summer of 2011.

Below is the first part of our two part Q and A interview with Donavan.

*  *  *

Lug Wrench (LW): What inspired you to start-up Rocky Point Artisan Brewers?

Donavan (DH): Rocky Point Artisan Brewers started as a homebrewing partnership between Mike Voigt and I in 2006. The inspiration (if you can call it that) for starting a nanobrewery came from two directions. Mike Voigt felt that the beer he was brewing was better than most commercial beers, so he didn't feel like a homebrewer anymore. He thought it would be a good idea to take the necessary steps to give the public access to the best possible beer. For me, an avid homebrewer and beer writer (I'm the author of the Long Island Beer Guide), I believed that E.F. Schumacher was right when he said, "Small is Beautiful." So when Mike Voigt approached me about the possibility of starting a nanobrewery, I said, "Heck, yeah!"

In 2009, Voigt and I added another partner, Yuri Janssen, a relatively new homebrewer and fellow Rocky Point resident.

LW: What made you select the name Rocky Point Artisan Brewers for your brewer?

DH: Most breweries pick names like X Brewing Company. While that's fine, Mike and I thought that it wasn't so much the brewery that was important, but it was the brewers. We always thought of ourselves as Artisan Brewers since the word "homebrewer" and "homebrew" had acquired a slightly negative connotation over the years. The word "craft" is overused and is close to being a tired modifier of the monosyllabic word that stands for our favorite beverage. So "artisan" seemed like a good term to substitute for craft. Of course the grammarians might complain and say it should be Rocky Point Artisanal Brewers, since artisanal is the appropriate adjective form, but they think artisan works not as a modifier of the word brewers, but as a co-noun.

LW: How have you involved the community in your brewery? Do you interact with local homebrew clubs?
DH: Early on, Mike and I were looking for ways to involve the community in the brewery. Since Janssen and I were members of local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), I asked, Why don't we try to run our brewery like a CSA? We'll call it a CSB! Well, the state of New York doesn't recognize CSBs, but Mike and I want RPAB to be the community beer. Mike insists that the beer must be affordable. One way to keep prices down is by offering beer shares to people in the community. The details of how this will work and how the state of New York will view it are unknown.

As for homebrew clubs, Mike and I have long been involved in the homebrew clubs on Long Island. Together with Rich Thatcher, we started the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME) which is now an AHA recognized homebrew club with well over 100 members. LIBME is one of three active homebrew clubs on Long Island, but it's now the largest and most active.

LW: You mentioned the concept of a Community Sponsored Brewery (CSB) - can you describe a few ideas on how to implement something like a CSB?
DH: The East End of Long Island is farming country. Unfortunately the farm culture is under siege by the cancer of what folks call "development" -- that is the destruction of perfectly good land by bulldozing the top soil, knocking over all the trees, and building a clutch of McMansions, a fake pond, and an unnaturally green golf course. Despite the threat of development, there are still a number of farms out on the East End and one of the models that is helping them survive is called Community Supported Agriculture or CSA.

We've been involved with a couple of the local CSAs for several years. We get pretty much all our food from CSAs including all our meat which is supplied by local livestock farm. The idea is that we purchase everything we need as close to home as possible. This means avoiding supermarkets and especially "national chain" brands (and that includes brands like Whole Foods that are using their international muscle to wipe out local Long Island-based markets). We try to operate our brewery as sustainably as possible. For example, we have a bunch of chickens that we feed our spent grains to. The chickens love the spent grains and they in turn make these wonderfully flavorful eggs with the deepest yellow yokes you've ever seen. In the future if we start brewing multiple times a week and we have more spent grain, we'll probably add a goat. Being cheese lovers as well as beer lovers, we're looking forward to making goat cheese.

Given that our brewing stems from a commitment to "keeping it local", we thought that a Community Supported Brewery model might actually help small, local breweries (like ours) to function. It's a simple idea. Like a CSA, members of our CSB would get a share of our production. Members would "subscribe" for a period of time (6 months or a year) and they would receive their share of whatever beer we made.

LW: If you were speaking to an individual who is considering the prospect of opening their own nanobrewery, what advice would you give them?

DH: Don't go too fast. Look for ways of starting cheaply. In the state of New York, they expect you to do without revenue for almost a full year, so make sure you can pay the rent on your brewery all that time.

*  *  *
Part 2 of our interview with Donavan and Rocky Point Artisan Brewers will be posted shortly.
If you want to find out more about Donavan or the brewery, check out their website or better yet, if you are in the Rocky Point area, stop by the brewery.



“Anyone can drink beer, but it takes intelligence to enjoy beer.”
-Stephen Beaumont
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