Yankee Brew News August/September 2013 : Page 1
“Lights, Camera, IN THEIR ELEMENT. Ben Anhalt and Dan Kramer holding their signature 750-ml bottles at Element Brewing in Millers Falls, Mass. PHOTO BY RIA WINDCALLER By Ria Windcaller ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM By Jamie Magee pening a bar is a regular fan-tasy among craft beer lovers, but the reality of owning a bar — licensing, investors, late nights, sticky floors, lifting kegs, among other things — is enough to burst anyone’s bubble. While some persist with the dream, others have taken that idea and built a bar into their home? Different from the traditional man cave, these home bars are dedicated to the enjoyment of beer and the company of friends. More often than not there is some collected breweriana — posters, glassware and signs — that the builder has collected along the way. And sometimes the bar builder even brews the beer that is on tap. Yankee Brew News found d a few good examples of what craft beer lov-ers can do if they are inspired. O The Basement Hangout Probably the most typical home bar set up, this bar takes advantage of that cel-lar space that would otherwise go unused or become a storage area for accumulated crud. A music system usually drowns out the dryer noise and the occasional plumbing sounds from above. Jeb Moore, who is a J local rep for Mayflower loca Brewing, said: “I was Bre inspired to build the bar insp during Hurricane Irene, dur as we were at home and there the was nothing much else els to do at the time. We knocked down a wall and kn put pu it in. We’ve added to it as we’ve moved along.” a Moore and his friends have a mug club f built on his basement b pegboard. pegboard “It’s great because See Build Your Own p. 3 crowd of people stand, clumped together outside the doors of Element Brewing. They are watching and wait-ing for glimpses of Hollywood stars. This isn’t downtown L.A., and yet just a stone’s throw away is Iron Man a.k.a. actor Robert Downey, Jr. He and actor Robert Duvall are in town shooting a major motion picture. Element is on tap at the now iconic Millers Pub across the street from the brewery that has been transformed into a Hollywood set. Large lights illuminate the exterior wall of the building to provide a daylight effect to the bar’s interior, and they also bring sun-light to the street on what was a rainy day. But who cares? There is fresh beer for the electrician on the set who keeps skipping into the brewery. The police have stopped traffic on the main street running between Element and the pub. The spectators are See Element p. 6 INSIDE Events Calendar .............. 2 Tasting Panel................... 8 Guest Tap .......................10 Homebrew ......................12 Beer Cooks .....................13 Maps/Directory ..........18-23 State by State News E. Massachusetts ....................14 Boston ......................................16 W. Massachusetts ...................24 Maine ........................................26 New Hampshire .......................28 Connecticut ..............................30 Vermont ....................................32 Rhode Island ............................34 NYC/Long Island ......................36 Upstate NY ...............................38
Build Your Own Home Bar
Opening a bar is a regular fantasy among craft beer lovers, but the reality of owning a bar — licensing, investors, late nights, sticky floors, lifting kegs, among other things — is enough to burst anyone’s bubble. While some persist with the dream, others have taken that idea and built a bar into their home? Different from the traditional man cave, these home bars are dedicated to the enjoyment of beer and the company of friends. More often than not there is some collected breweriana — posters, glassware and signs — that the builder has collected along the way. And sometimes the bar builder even brews the beer that is on tap. Yankee Brew News found a few good examples of what craft beer lovers can do if they are inspired.
The Basement Hangout
Probably the most typical home bar set up, this bar takes advantage of that cellar space that would otherwise go unused or become a storage area for accumulated crud. A music system usually drowns out the dryer noise and the occasional plumbing sounds from above.
Jeb Moore, who is a local rep for Mayflower Brewing, said: “I was inspired to build the bar during Hurricane Irene, as we were at home and there was nothing much else to do at the time. We knocked down a wall and put it in. We’ve added to it as we’ve moved along.”
Moore and his friends have a mug club built on his basement d pegboard. “It’s great because everyone has their own mug that they’re responsible for,” he said.
The bar doesn’t dominate the comfortable family room atmosphere. Moore typically stocks his bar fridge with craft beers, and “an occasional homebrew from his buddy Chuck.”
Moore noted that he has to be diligent to make sure other things don’t clutter up the bar. “I want to keep it open all the time.”
The First Floor Bar
For those who consider their home bar a functional and frequent part of their social life (along with the dining room and the living room), Greg McIntire built a great example with his very own pub room at his home in Central Massachusetts.
“Over discussions with my kitchen contractor, Bruce Brown, I was thinking of a small nook in the kitchen, but within minutes, we decided to take a room in the house and turn it into the bar,” McIntire said.
The former horse barn section of the house was well suited to be a bar and had been a sculptor’s studio in a recent incarnation.
“It has wide plank boards, post and beam and the outer wall is fieldstone,” McIntire said. “The old closet is a nice cool place for beers in the wintertime.”
Bruce built the bar in minutes and helped McIntire build some shelves for collectibles and Scotch.
The most noticeable feature of the bar is that it has its own door, with the McIntyre crest on the window.
“Traveling through Scotland, I saw our family crest and my friend Franny Steiner made a laminate logo to put on the window. It’s a nice touch,” McIntire noted.
Though it’s lined with bottles of Scotch — he is a McIntire, after all—Greg and his wife Ilona, often hosts friends so that they can taste new brews.
“We’ve had the ambassador from Mali there, as well as most of our local publicans and craft beer brewers including Ben Roesch from Wormtown Brewery in Worcester,” McIntire said. “It’s a great room for entertaining. I have six brothers who are all Scotch and craft beer enthusiasts, though I’m the only homebrewer.”
The Brewery Bar
Homebrewing is a great hobby. For some it becomes something more like a religion. Jeff Boot built a basement brewery in Sudbury to practice his art, and his beer recipes have even been brewed at City Steam Brewery in Hartford, Conn.
“It’s my man cave with seven faucets,” Boot said.
His home bar offers four taps and three beer engines with which to please his friends and fellow homebrewers. While the bar is really just a huge kegerator, it sits alongside his brewing equipment, a ten-year labor of love. It’s especially nice when he has the homebrew club over during a brew, but Jeff also hosts parties down there because there’s home entertainment. Boot said that it’s fairly simple to run all those taps, noting that it was second nature by now. But, Boot noted, “It’s hard to keep six flavors on all the time, though I usually have my IPA. Right now, I have a Kentish IPA, a West Coast Red IPA and a Vanilla Bourbon Stout.”
What’s nice, said Boot, is that he can compare his various brews on draft by having the latest brew and the previous one side-by-side.
The Breweriana Collector’s Heaven Bar
Collecting breweriana passionately can lead one to be accused of hoarding. But showing what’s been gathered over the years is a good thing; it sparks conversation and historical musings. Larry Anigian has amassed an astounding assortment of local and craft brew-related breweriana that he displays in his basement bar, which has four taps.
Anigian has been collecting since the 1970s. The home bar idea arose 17 years ago, and it has grown ever since. Sitting in the bar, the eye is confronted with 360 degrees of breweriana from neons to tins and mirrors; even the floor and the ceiling are covered. Anigian remembers collecting from his grandparent’s mom and pop store as a kid.
“There were things we’d throw away that I wish I hadn’t,” Anigian said.
Some of his coolest local items now include such Troy and Albany breweries as Fitzgeralds’, Stanton’s and Quandt. Items from the early craft beer days include Newman’s and Dobler Brewing. And these items don’t just gather dust, as Anigian changes what he is displaying yearly.
“I get bored with it, so I sell the neons I’m tired of and buy new ones.”
So Do It Yourself
Those who are up for building their own bar have many avenues to get it done. It’s probably easier for handy types, but a great reason to find a neighbor to help out — they can share in the fun once the bar is built. Local homebrew stores are the best bet for kegerator systems and brewing equipment.
Outfitting the bar with some fun beer items is a must. PubDecor is one of many companies that offers everything from coasters and key chains to neons and mirrors.
“Ninety percent of our business is residential,” said Desmond, who started the company in Kansas City in 1979. “We sell both functional and decorative items.”
PubDecor opens seasonal stores around the holidays in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Seasonal stores solve the shipping problem, according to Desmond, and let people browse the inventory and make impulse buys for Yankee swaps.
“An average sale is $25 or so,” Desmond said, “but neons and mirrors are popular. A big mirror will cost from $200 to $500. The neons have gone down in price — they average $99 — and last forever. We offer a lifetime guarantee on those, excluding breakage.”
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Build+Your+Own+Home+Bar/1477312/170844/article.html.
Brewing Company Element
A Crowd of people stand, clumped together outside the doors of Element Brewing. They are watching and waiting for glimpses of Hollywood stars. This isn’t downtown L.A., and yet just a stone’s throw away is Iron Man a.k.a. actor Robert Downey, Jr. He and actor Robert Duvall are in town shooting a major motion picture. Element is on tap at the now iconic Millers Pub across the street from the brewery that has been transformed into a Hollywood set. Large lights illuminate the exterior wall of the building to provide a daylight effect to the bar’s interior, and they also bring sunlight to the street on what was a rainy day. But who cares? There is fresh beer for the electrician on the set who keeps skipping into the brewery. The police have stopped traffic on the main street running between Element and the pub. The spectators are asked to keep it “quiet on the set.” Robert Downey, Jr. Looks over at the spectators and then walks inside the pub. There is nothing ordinary about this day, like there is nothing ordinary about Element Brewing.
The Beginnings & The Beers
Owners and brewers Dan Kramer and Ben Anhalt met when Kramer brought Anhalt onboard to assist with brewing at Maplewood Brewery in Amherst in the early 2000s. While Maplewood beer was flowing and business was booming, the owner known locally to be eccentric and wealthy had other projects in mind and closed the brewery and restaurant. When Kramer had to leave behind fermenters filled with perfectly good beer and lock the door at Maplewood, the disappointment was palpable, but he and Anhalt had to move on. And so both men did. Anhalt brewed next at Paper City, and Kramer helped the Opa Opa label expand in leaps and bounds. Like all good brewers there was an ongoing dream to run their own brewery. A couple of years later their pint dream became reality when they teamed with Tom Fields, who brought to the company construction know-how.
The three men re-vamped an old and empty first-floor storefront in the village of Millers Falls. Element is a four-barrel brewery making beer that packs a punch in taste and alcohol by volume. Currently, there are two four-barrel fermenters and two new 15-barrel fermenters. The charming storefront could easily fit into a Hollywood director’s mind of “Anytown USA,” thus the film crew from the upcoming feature, The Judge, situated right out front for three days of shooting. Once inside Element, patrons are catapulted from small town Millers to a well laid-out store for beer enthusiasts. There is a three seat counter to chat and try samples of Element’s flagship brews: Extra Special Oak (7.75% ABV), Red Giant (8.1%) and Dark Element (8. 95%). Hued lighting on the back wall makes the pint glasses for sale shine. The store is fun, inviting and quirky with headless mannequins hung on the wall wearing t-shirts for sale and books to peruse on a science-themed bookshelf.
Fields left the brewery a year ago for the slopes of Colorado, but Anhalt and Kramer’s dream is going strong. Theirs is a conceptual brewery with a clear theme: the art and science of beer.
“We make beers for the well-educated beer lover,” Kramer said. Each of the flagship beers — Extra Special Oak or ESO, Red Giant and Dark Element — are fusions of beer styles, with Dark Element being named an “American Black Ale” before anyone was calling anything by that term.
“We’re thinking out of the box and constantly trying our hand at new styles,” Kramer continued.
The newest beer, Plasma, is impressively delicious and deceptively smooth, masking its high 9.0% ABV kick. All of Element’s current beers are at least 7.0% ABV or higher, and yet the beers rarely taste hot. Brewed with brown rice and saké wort hopped up as a double IPA and with a blend of malted millet and buckwheat plus Aramis hops, Plasma is hands down one of the tastiest gluten-free beers on the market.
The brewery is clean, quiet and, frankly, not the typical brewhouse scene of haggard brewers wiping sweat from their brows and barely keeping up with the demand. This macro-nano brewery (small production Brewery) has shipped beers as far as Denmark and yet still maintains an air of ease and consistency, leaving one to wonder just how they can do it all? Kramer and Anhalt first look to their respective stable homes.
“Debbie enforces balance in my life,” Kramer said, as he fondly speaks of his wife Debbie Timberlake. “Maybe enforce isn’t the right word,” he added quickly. “Let’s just say we both have a loving stable home life.”
Anhalt came to his business partner’s rescue and added: “We’ve already done the Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse scene at brewhouses, where you’re hanging out after hours drinking lots of beer. We don’t stay here drinking after work, because we like going home.”
“We’ve both been kids in the candy store of brewing,” Kramer said. “Now we’re into creating and making styles that have not been done before.” Element sells bottled conditioned beers.
Each 750-ml bottle is corked and wrapped in paper. At the storefront they fill fresh growlers to go. The handy-dandy beer map online leads customers to the hotspot beer bars that serve Element on tap. If the beer tour rolling through town finds Element closed for business, Millers Pub serves the brewery’s beers on tap. Movie buffs may be interested in knowing that the bar furniture used for The Judge has been left on site, replacing the old furniture at the pub.
Seasonal & Special Beers
Beyond the brewery’s three flagship beers, there’s a seasonal beer series called Interval. The summer Interval brew is Summer Pilsner Fusion (SPF). The brewers wondered what it would be like to blend a stout and pilsner and settled on what they call an “Oatmeal Pilsner.” SPF is rich and again deceptively smooth for a 9.0% ABV beer. Come fall it will be time for Altoberfest (8.35%). This brew is a fusion of an altbier and an Oktoberfest — hoppier than an Oktoberfest with all the ale components of an altbier. Winter Ion (9.1%) is called a Belgian wheat beer and is made with coriander, curaçao orange peels, white chocolate and cocoa nibs. The spring Interval brew is Vernal (11.8%). This beer is called a dunkel wheat wine, and it’s brewed with local wheat and maple syrup.
With the two new 15-barrel fermenters, Kramer and Anhalt are excited to begin making yet another beer series called Absolute Zero. The temperature of absolute zero is -459 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping in the science theme, this series will only have 459 bottles available for retail sales.
“If there is beer left over from bottling, we’ll keg the rest for draft sales,” Kramer said.
The first beer in the Absolute Zero series is LESO (7.5%). With LESO, the brewers took ESO and dry hopped it with local lavender.
Every year Element throws an anniversary party to commemorate the first beer sale on December 16, 2009, at 6:56 p.m. This year the party at the brewery will be December 14. At exactly 6:56 p.m. or somewhere in between depending upon how wild the party gets, a cask of the anniversary brew, appropriately called 6:56, a barrelconditioned beer, will be tapped. In 2010, it was aged as Double-Dark Matter, or what is now named Dark Element. In 2011, Red Giant was doubled and aged as the 6:56 brew of the year. In 2012, it was a double of ESO, and this year Altoberfest is aging as a double coming in at 15% ABV.
At the brewery’s store, there is a limited supply of the past three years of 6:56 anniversary beers in 750-ml bottles, making this gift box just the ticket for the beer lover who has had it all and for those who love Element beer. Tickets to the anniversary party this coming December can be bought on the day of the party at the brewery.
Success isn’t easy to come by for a small production brewery, yet Kramer and Anhalt keep adding beers and intrigue to their label. Not only are they introducing the Absolute Zero series this year, the brewers will have for sale at the storefront this fall vinegar from Dark Element’s wort (the unfermented beer).
And if Hollywood keeps filming outside Elements’ doorsteps as it did for The Judge and the upcoming fall movie starring Kate Winslet, Labor Days, which was on location a year back at Millers Pub, maybe the next Absolute Zero brew will be a fusion of East and West Coast hops called Action!”
Element Brewing, 30 Bridge Street, Millers Falls, Mass., 413-835-6340, www.Elementbeer.com, Storefront open Monday- Saturday, noon-6 p.m.
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Brewing+Company+Element/1477327/170844/article.html.