Yankee Brew News December 2013/January 2014 : Page 1
By Hollie Chadwick By Jack Kenny ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM e that has been eer aged offers an experi-a ence unlike that of e fresh beer, and unlike f that of anything else t in life. The charac-i ter of a beer that is t capable of maturing c L-R: Casey Dohme and Andrew Hoenig in the beer cellar at The Ginger Man PHOTO BY JACK KENNY for several years will change, soften per-haps, develop more complexity. Thirst is not really a factor when facing a brew that has stood in a cellar unmoving as the calendar pages turned; old ale in the nose and mouth is a true gustatory event, something to tell your grandchildren about one day, perhaps. Pubs and restaurants with beer cellars for aging are few in number. It’s costly, it takes space, it requires considerable knowledge and loving care and it takes time. Glacial time. Real time. Knowledge about cel-laring beer can be gleaned from websites and other resources today (see side-bar), but when you’re engaging in the practice for a living it takes on a larger dimension. The investment in some bottles that might See Magic p. 4 rewpubs the world orld over look to emulate what Gritty G McDuff’s McDuff s has — longevity, ity y, community and loyalty. The heart ea art of Portland, Maine, the Old d Port, can be specifically pinpointed to the intersection of Exchange and Fore streets. In this funky seacoast town things are constantly changing, , but a few essentials stay y the same: the working waterfront, the cobblestone o one streets and Gritty’s. Arguably the most-recognized brewpub in the state, this world-renowned microbrewery y has made a significant impact since ce e opening its doors in 1988. Richard Pfeffer P and Ed Stebbins banded together er r 25 years ago to place their mark on the bi brewing industry. i d B It s been a 25 yea “It’s year marriage,” Ed joked. “Back Back in the day, if y you were going to open a brewpub, the Old Po Port was the obvious location. Back the en there were a lot then more young peo op in Portland than people th her are now. There there wer w were a lot of 20 some-th hin having a really thing’s goo g good time, including us. So we started looking S aro oun When we decided around. to ge get started, I was play-in g ru ing rugby with our attor-ney an and he happened to fi find us this location. It was just pure luck to get it. “Without this loca-tion, we prob bab wouldn’t have probably made it,” Richa Richard ard added. See Gritty p.6 INSIDE Events Calendar .............. 3 Tasting Panel................... 8 The Alehouse:Alewife ....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
Magic In The Cellar
Beer that has been aged offers an experience unlike that of fresh beer, and unlike that of anything else in life. The character of a beer that is capable of maturing for several years will change, soften perhaps, develop more complexity. Thirst is not really a factor when facing a brew that has stood in a cellar unmoving as the calendar pages turned; old ale in the nose and mouth is a true gustatory event, something to tell your grandchildren about one day, perhaps. Pubs and restaurants with beer cellars for aging are few in number. It’s costly, it takes space, it requires considerable knowledge and loving care and it takes time. Glacial time. Real time.<br /> <br /> Knowledge about cellaring beer can be gleaned from websites and other resources today (see sidebar), but when you’re engaging in the practice for a living it takes on a larger dimension. The investment in some bottles that might not survive the age test is one thing, but cellaring kegged beer is something else. A patron who orders a dusty ale from the cellar is probably not a casual customer, and would appreciate a knowledgeable voice on hand when that old baby is cracked.<br /> <br /> Novare Res Bier Café <br /> <br /> Both kegs and bottles are aging in the cellar at Novare Res Bier Café, located in the Old Port district of Portland, Maine. Shahin Khojastehzad, co-owner and manager, said that the cellaring process began when the place opened five and a half years ago.<br /> <br /> “We have different tiers in our storage,” Khojastehzad said. “One for the flagship beers on the menu, another area for longer storage and a third place for kegs and special bottles. We keep them dry, cool and dark.” <br /> <br /> The selections, of course, are those that will improve, or alter beneficially, with age.<br /> <br /> “Most of the beers we cellar are high ABV, sours or darker strong beers such as imperial stouts and quadrupels. These will improve with age,” Khojastehzad said.<br /> <br /> One example, he said, is Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout, “which is highly alcoholic. With aging, the burn will subside a bit. We’ll buy three cases of that this year, so that we’ll have a good vertical selection of several years.” <br /> <br /> Holy Smoke <br /> <br /> Holy Smoke is a beer and barbecue place in Mahopac, N.Y., that has a 2,700-square-foot cellar for its beer storage. According to Chris (“No last names here”), a bartender, the operation focuses mostly on kegs.<br /> <br /> “We’ve been doing it since we started 10 years ago,” Chris said. “Downstairs we have four different coolers. The kegs we keep at 34 degrees, dark, with high humidity. Usually in a commercial refrigerator the humidity is about 70% to 80%.” The oldest beer that was stored at Holy Smoke was Avery’s 15th Anniversary Ale, which aged for five years.<br /> <br /> “That was an outstanding Brett beer,” Chris said. “We don’t usually age bottles. It’s cheaper for the consumer when we do kegs. We go through a lot of bottles at the bar, but we have 30 tap lines and 500 gallons of beer available all the time.”<br /> <br /> Chris said that a common practice is to pair a cellared keg with an event.<br /> <br /> “It’s rare that we would put up something that’s bourbon barrel aged by itself. We generally do it in terms of a special event.” <br /> <br /> Ginger Man, Cask Republic <br /> <br /> In southwestern Connecticut, The Ginger Man has made a name for itself in Greenwich and Norwalk as the place to go for fresh and fascinating beer. But in a small climate controlled vault beneath the pub in Norwalk is a collection of great kegs, nearly all U.S. beers, mostly sixth barrels. There are Allagash Black logs from 2010 and 2011; Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stouts from 2008, ’09, ’10 and ’12; Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA from 2008, 2011 and 2012 and every year of Anchor Christmas from 2008 through 2012.<br /> <br /> Not long ago, Cask Republic was opened in New Haven by Ginger Man owner Christian Burns, and in December of this year a new Cask Republic is due to open in Stamford. Both restaurants benefit from the cellaring experience gained at the Norwalk location.<br /> <br /> “The keg is a better vessel for storing beer because it’s completely solid steel, it has no ability to be light struck; the only access point is one way in and one way out with rubber and steel together, which are a pretty good seal,” said Andrew Hoenig, who was general manager at the Norwalk Ginger Man for six years, having left just recently to open a pub by the same name in Boston. “On the other hand, with a bottle you have clarity through the glass, and you have metal caps sometimes meeting with glass, which is not a really well sealed vessel all the time. If you have a natural cork it can deteriorate. Statistics say it’s easier for oxygen to pass through a cork than a steel keg.” <br /> <br /> The one major benefit that bottles have over kegs is that you can open a bottle or two now and then to taste the beer.<br /> <br /> “You can’t do that with kegs,” Hoenig said.<br /> <br /> Casey Dohme, general manager of the new Cask Republic in Stamford, said his plan is to stick with the guidelines established by Hoenig over the years when it comes to vintage beer kegs.<br /> <br /> “It’s a matter of knowing the certain types of beers to bring in, when to release one, when to replenish,” Dohme said. “Sometimes seven beers will become available, and we want all seven. Do we then release all seven at one time, or half of them? Do we refrain from buying for a while? There are a lot of guidelines to work with.”<br /> <br /> At Cask Republic in New Haven, the keg cellar is visible from the dining room behind glass. The Stamford operation will be similar, though the kegs will share space with wine bottles.<br /> <br /> “In general,” said Hoenig, “We don’t put the bottle collection on the menu, but if a customer is here who is privy to what we have downstairs, then we can open up a dialogue, and it becomes a negotiation between the manager and the customer.” <br /> <br /> What happens to a beer that has been aged?<br /> <br /> “You never know what the beer will taste like when you tap it,” Dohme said.<br /> <br /> “You have the groundwork for what types of beers age well, and which breweries are making beers to age, but when you tap something five years later you don’t know what it’s going to taste like. So let’s all taste it together. The customer is experiencing it at the same time we are experiencing it. The brewer doesn’t tell us that after one year it will taste like this, and after five years it will taste like that. Some brewers don’t even vintage their beers.” <br /> <br /> “Softer is one way to describe it,” Hoenig added. “If there is any hop character, its intensity dissipates over time.” <br /> <br /> “A lot more of the flavors become present,” Dohme said. “The intense, sharp notes soften, and new ones come in. With high alcohol beers that are fresh, it’s heat in your face. But let it sit for three to four years and the flavor notes will come through. The alcohol won’t go away, but its presence will differ.” <br /> <br /> Ebenezer’s Pub <br /> <br /> Chris Lively said that he can tell you what you will taste when he opens an ancient bottle of beer for you. It’s in his blood, and it’s his job. He and his wife, Jen, own Ebenezer’s Pub in the hamlet of Lovell, Maine, near the New Hampshire border and in view of the White Mountains, and they possess what might be the most amazing beer cellar on earth.<br /> <br /> In the cellar beneath Ebenezer’s is a 2,500-square-foot beer storage area, soon to be expanded by another 1,500 square feet. Security is heavy, with steel doors, a guard dog and a former Marine sergeant living on the premises. Well over 1,000 bottles of beer live there, some so old that they might have become forgotten to all but Chris Lively. But they are available to purchase and to drink, be you ever so bold.<br /> <br /> “My family has been in beer-related industries for 211 years” Lively said. “Some beers have been passed down, especially some of the ancient ones. We pride ourselves that our beer performs. That’s why our reputation has grown; that’s why we have people come from all over to drink. We can open beers that are over 100 years old with the customer or the brewer. I can tell you what you can expect from that beer.<br /> <br /> “Every time a light goes on it potentially damages the product. There’s a lot of science behind it, but the most important thing with cellaring is the most simple: It’s a very long, very slow process. When you have to age something it sucks, it’s time and time and time. You can’t have shock happen to the cellar. Every time a beer gets hit with light, or there’s a big temperature fluctuation, the beer goes through shock. It’s critical that that not happen.” <br /> <br /> Chris Lively loves to talk about beer with customers and friends.<br /> <br /> “When it comes to critiquing beer, I don’t pull any punches, but I try to find something positive with every beer. With aging, however, it’s a different process, and a very lonely process. I can name maybe two or three other people in the world with whom I can even discuss what I do, and have them be able to relate and share information. When it comes to these beers that are 150 years old and older, I have no one to help me, no one to ask. I’m sitting there constantly looking at bottles, staring at them, asking what do I do? Some of these are the final two or three bottles in the world.<br /> <br /> Do I open them? Preserve them? What’s the answer?” The Livelys recently opened a second restaurant (Chris is a trained chef) in Brunswick, a much busier town than Lovell, located on U. S. 1. Right now the cellar isn’t ready, but work is in progress, and on an attached brewery as well. <br /> <br /> Despite their age and beauty, vintage beers in the U.S. have had a short span of popularity. <br /> <br /> “All of these beers weren’t worth anything 15 years ago, 10 years ago,” Lively said. “I couldn’t sell lambic back then. Nobody wanted it. All of a sudden, five or six years ago people started coming and asking for them. It’s a different world; it’s not craft. It’s vintaging. A cellar is its own weird thing.<br /> <br /> “Everything you could possibly ever want, things you absolutely never knew about, are down there. Beers made by craft brewers who passed away and left their cellars to us. We find notes from one brewer to another when we open up cases. It’s amazing.”
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Brewpubs the world over look to emulate what Gritty McDuff’s has — longevity, community and loyalty. The heart of Portland, Maine, the Old Port, can be specifically pinpointed to the intersection of Exchange and Fore streets. In this funky seacoast town things are constantly changing, but a few essentials stay the same: the working waterfront, the cobblestone streets and Gritty’s.<br /> <br /> Arguably the mostrecognized brewpub in the state, this worldrenowned microbrewery has made a significant impact since opening its doors in 1988. Richard Pfeffer and Ed Stebbins banded together 25 years ago to place their mark on the brewing industry<br /> <br /> “It’s been a 25 year marriage,” Ed joked. “Back in the day, if you were going to open brewpub, the Old Port was the obvious location. Back then there were a lot more young People in Portland than there are now. There were a lot of 20 something’s having a really good time, including us. So we started looking<br /> around. When we decided to Get Started, I was playing rugby with our attorney and he happened to find us this location. It was just pure luck to get It “Without this location, we probably wouldn’t have made it,” Richard added A Spark Was Lit <br /> <br /> Ed and Richard met through mutual friends, and Ed’s inspiration to brew beer started early in his childhood. Having grown up in England, and living just next to the Bourne Valley Brewery of Hampshire, brewers of Andover Ale, left an indelible mark. It was here the sights and smells of brewing drew him in, and his college days continued to bring him into the presence of good beer.<br /> <br /> “I went to college in New York,” Ed said. “I loved Manhattan Brewery in Greenwich Village. It was the East Coast’s first brewpub. Back then, Garret Oliver was the brewer and bartender there.” <br /> <br /> The East Coast brewing community is a cooperative and tight-knit one. Nearly all the brewers in the area have worked for one brewery or another, and most of the breweries continue to give guidance to each other. Richard Wrigley, the founder of Manhattan Brewery and Boston’s Commonwealth Brewing, had a positive influence on Ed and Richard’s careers.<br /> <br /> “He was exceedingly generous, helpful and kind to us when we first opened,” Richard said. “In addition to this, we could have never opened Gritty’s without the advice and training we received from both David and Karen Geary of Geary’s Brewing and Alan Pugsley, who was the head brewer there at the time.<br /> <br /> “The three of them served as both mentor and muse to us, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for all that they did to help make Gritty’s a success,” Ed added.<br /> <br /> The Bookends <br /> <br /> In 1851 Maine became the first state to ban the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. Many states and other countries followed Maine's lead, and in 1987 brewpubs were still illegal in 23 states.<br /> <br /> “We were truly the first brewpub to open in Maine since the repeal of Prohibition,” Ed said. “Prohibition lasted 80 years longer in Maine than it did in anywhere else in the country. It started 80 years earlier before the Volstead Act, so it had been a really long time before anyone brewed and served in Maine.” <br /> <br /> “Legally,” Richard added.<br /> <br /> In 1988 Gritty’s Old Port community consisted of now defunct places like the Bar of Soap, Peanut House and Sloppy Joes. Another key player was Three Dollar Dewey’s, Portland’s original ale house that is still here to this day but in a new location not too far from where it originally stood on the opposite end of Fore St. <br /> <br /> “Al Diamond referred to us as the two bookends of the Old Port,” Ed reminisced.<br /> <br /> Dewey’s had a big influence on Ed and Richard choosing the location because of Dewey’s strong beer element. But in the 80s, good beer was considered imported beer, and there was no built-in awareness of what a brewpub was.<br /> <br /> “Dewey’s was the first to bring good beer to the community, and they started teaching people how to drink good beer,” Richard said, “but we started teaching people how to drink craft beer. We invented quarter beer night, just to teach people about craft beer.<br /> <br /> “Plus, I spent so much money there I had to open my own place,” Richard joked.<br /> <br /> Ed remembers long days of brewing, long nights of tending bar and getting people used to the idea of craft beer.<br /> <br /> “I was so excited to come up and serve the beer I brewed,” Ed said. “It was before we served any other American beers of our own, and I’ll never forget this one night a customer came in. He said. ‘I would like a Budweiser please.’ I told him we don’t serve Budweiser beer here. We only serve the beer we brew right here on premise. And he looked me right in the eye and said, “Ok son, brew me a Budweiser, then. That’s how it was back in those days.”<br /> <br /> “Back in the 80s everyone wanted to open a brewpub, because they had just become legal. We were so busy getting this place going and just doing this, this was a life. It just wasn’t a project. All our friends came here, and some worked here. My sister worked here and all her friends came here.<br /> <br /> “The Old Port was a community, and we had friendly and interesting rivalry with Dewey’s” Richard added.<br /> <br /> “It was a commune, but instead of growing lots of dope, we brewed lots beer,” Ed joked.<br /> <br /> The Beers <br /> <br /> The first beer brewed at Gritty’s was Best Bitter, a straightforward American version of the classic English-style ale. Portland Headlight Pale Ale, Blackfly Stout and the Lion’s Pride Brown Ale, which was originally a recipe from the Golden Lion Brewpub in Lennoxville, Quebec, were the next in the lineup. All but Headlight, which was retired, are still staples.<br /> <br /> In the last year, a number of new beers were introduced to celebrate Gritty’s 25th anniversary. The latest in these 25th Anniversary Series is Monster Mash, which is the original recipe for Halloween Ale.<br /> <br /> Aside from the celebratory heritage beers, Gritty’s intentionally keeps the ABV on its beers low and sessionable.<br /> <br /> “Back in the day, you couldn’t come up with a beer that was 7.0%, people wouldn’t drink it,” Ed noted. “A high gravity brew was a shot of whiskey,” he joked.<br /> <br /> Gritty’s sister brewpubs are in Freeport and Auburn, opening in 1995 and 2005, respectively. All three locations are true brewpubs (brewing on premise), each with its own Peter Austin brewing system. Greg Sansone heads brewing operations in Freeport, and he brews on the largest system of the three.<br /> <br /> “We call it a Peter Austin bootleg, because it was built in Maine,” Ed said. “It’s a 14-barrel system with a couple of tweaks built in there to make it better. It’s still brewing great 19 years later.” <br /> <br /> Freeport boasts 4,057 batches of beer brewed, and Portland is up to 4,700. All of Gritty’s packaging is done at the Freeport brewery, with the exception of the 12-ounce beers, which are brewed and bottled at Shipyard Brewing.<br /> <br /> Gritty’s also works with local meadery Maine Mead Works to produce the new Gritty McDuff’s Cider. The apples are from Richer Hill and are fermented with ale yeast. Ed said that the outsourcing is necessary: “You can’t make a cider and beer under the same license in Maine. Cider is considered a wine, a brewery can’t be a winery and a winery can’t be a brewery in Maine. We love cider, and we’d love to do more.” <br /> <br /> Moving forward, Ed and Richard’s plans include expanding into new beer styles while continuing to make great session beers and supporting local agriculture.<br /> <br /> “We’re definitely interested in using more and more Maine grown products,” Ed said. “We’ve started using Maine-grown hops from Aroostook Hops, which is located in Westfield, and we want to use Mainegrown malted barley. And of course, we’ve always used Maine-grown water from Lake Sebago.” <br /> <br /> Ed also revealed that Gritty’s is working with the other Portland’s (Oregon) Deschutes Brewery in a ‘Class of ‘88’ collaboration beer. The brewers will travel to each other’s breweries to make two editions of the same beer.<br /> <br /> “They are going to brew their Bachelor Bitter here, and we’re going to brew our Best Bitter over there in December,” Ed said. “The beer will be available only at the respective Portland brewpubs.<br /> <br /> The Yeast <br /> <br /> It’s no secret to Ed and Richard that the Ringwood yeast, which they use and which has been around for more than 150 years, is polarizing to beer fans.<br /> <br /> “There’s a fairly large faction out there that stares down their nose about the Ringwood yeast,” Ed said, “but if you look at how many beers that were brewed with it over the past 25 years, and many outside of Maine, I think it would be hard to be negative about it, because it’s been a significant factor in building this industry.”<br /> <br /> Harvesting and repitching yeast is common practice in most breweries — reusing the yeast from the bottom of the primary fermenter from one batch to the next. Ed’s thoughts on the evolution of Gritty’s house Ringwood yeast are forward thinking.<br /> <br /> “I would argue that after almost 5,000 brews that our yeast culture downstairs is no longer the Ringwood yeast. It’s the Gritty McDuff’s yeast strain. I don’t think there are many breweries out there that have brewed over 5,000 times and re-pitched their yeast. It is definitely our house strain. Twenty-five years ago it was the Ringwood yeast, but today it’s the Gritty McDuff’s yeast, and we’re excited about that.”
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