Yankee Brew News February/March 2014 : Page 1
TWO ROADS BREWING By Jack Kenny ROAD WARRIORS . L-R: The partners of Two T ad of Sales Roads Brewing -CFO Peter Doering, Head ter Phil Clement Pellani, CEO Brad Hittle and Brewmaster Markowski. Above-Two Roads interior. By Jamie Magee atrons waited patiently at Vermont’s Drop In Brewery: a couple of Middlebury College students, a few parents with babies in tow, a few others — all getting to know one another. At the counter, samples were followed by a usual decision. Drop In’s Sabina Hollaway raised the brown ves-sel and began the process. As it filled, she helped others start the process, all while art-fully keeping her eyes on the tap. Suddenly, as beer appeared at the top, she grabbed the growler and capped it. After a quick wipe-down, she penned an illustration of the beer that is contained within on the white cap. After payment, well wishes were exchanged and the customer exited, presumably to enjoy the fresh draft beer in the near future. As this scene is played out in one form or another across New England and New York every day, it’s hard to believe that growlers were once the exception — a beer geek’s way to bring something back from a far-away brewery. Growlers have become ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM P the signature of many breweries; perfect for fresh beer for the consumer, and perfect for the brewery to generate viral enthusiasm for its beers. See Growler p.4 pen for business for just over a year, Two Roads Brewing has released 15 individual beers under its own name and has launched a contract brewing business that continues to grow. With a staff of 32 in 60,000-square-feet of space in Stratford, Conn., Two Roads has also been at work on a promising line of experimental beers as well as wild ales using yeasts harvested from here and there in its 103-year-old building. See Two Roads p.6 PHOTO COURTESY OF TWO ROADS INSIDE Events Calendar .............. 3 Tasting Panel................... 8 Alehouse: Five Horses ..10 Homebrew ......................12 Guest Pint ......................13 Maps/Directory ..........18-23 State S by State News Trillium's Josh Slotnick ﬁ lls up a Boston Round. PHOTO BY JAMIE MAGEE 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
Culture: Ihriving At The Brewery<br /> <br /> Patrons waited patiently at Vermont’s Drop In Brewery: a couple of Middlebury College students, a few parents with babies in tow, a few others — all getting to know one another. At the counter, samples were followed by a usual decision. Drop In’s Sabina Hollaway raised the brown vessel and began the process. As it filled, she helped others start the process, all while artfully keeping her eyes on the tap. Suddenly, as beer appeared at the top, she grabbed the growler and capped it. After a quick wipedown, she penned an illustration of the beer that is contained within on the white cap. After payment, well wishes were exchanged and the customer exited, presumably to enjoy the fresh draft beer in the near future.<br /> <br /> As this scene is played out in one form or another across New England and New York every day, it’s hard to believe that growlers were once the exception — a beer geek’s way to bring something back from a far-away brewery. Growlers have become the signature of many breweries; perfect for fresh beer for the consumer, and perfect for the brewery to generate viral enthusiasm for its beers.<br /> <br /> Growlers Amongst Us <br /> <br /> Growlers harken back to the days when buckets were filled at the saloon or brewery. In the modern era, growlers are typically a 64-ounce brown glass (though sometimes clear), and metallic versions exist as well. And while the ritual of the fill is worth noting, it doesn’t come without a consumer ritual. People change their normal driving patterns and make free time just to visit a brewery and get fresh draft beer to bring home.<br /> <br /> Size Matters <br /> <br /> A growler is a manageable size for a couple of people; just a couple pints each. But a new trend at breweries is the sale of 32-ounce and 128-ounce vessels (see sidebar). The smaller growlers are especially appropriate when filling a higher ABV beer; the larger for those big weekends. Even if they don’t sell the smaller sizes, some breweries will let you fill them. It’s always smart to ask in advance.<br /> <br /> Brewery Tap Rooms <br /> <br /> “It’s amazing how long people will wait for a growler,” said Rob Leonard of New England Brewing in Woodbridge, Conn., noting that on the opening day of their new taproom, some waited for hours.<br /> <br /> The final day at the old location, patrons dodged the forklift as they waited, but the newer facility allows more people to hang out, has ample bar space and barrel tables for socializing.<br /> <br /> Not every brewery tasting room is so spacious. Trillium Brewing’s in Boston is narrow, and its long wooden bar architecturally repurposed. Yet the crowd that fills the taproom doesn’t mind waiting a while and Enjoying a few samples of Trillium’s latest brews. And a few of them are not just waiting there.<br /> <br /> “Some customers make a circuit,” said Trillium’s Josh Slotnick. “They come here, then to Harpoon and then go to Night Shift and Idle Hands.” <br /> <br /> Double Means Less Trouble <br /> <br /> Jack’s Abby Brewing in Framingham, Mass., has seen some outstanding growth since it opened two and half years ago. In December, Jack’s rebuilt the taproom with extra taps to mitigate the tap traffic created by growler fills. The new tap system is daisy-chained so that the most popular beers have two taps.<br /> <br /> “The middle taps will be used for specialty beers, even some one-off, breweryonly beers,” said Rob Macy, the taproom’s new general manager.<br /> <br /> Macy thinks it’s great that people can taste a full or a half-pint and get a better idea of what growler they want.<br /> <br /> Filling Up at Half Full<br /> <br /> At Half Full Brewery, located just south of downtown Stamford, Conn., the Saturday afternoon crowd had dwindled. Suddenly, a group of 30 beer fans wandered down the Stairs. They had arrived on the Connecticut Beer Trail Beer Bus Tour, which plans extra time to fill growlers.<br /> <br /> “We typically have a good amount of folks buy growlers at the stops along the bus tour,” said Byron Turner, the bus company founder. “And more often than not, they share samples with the folks sitting with them on the bus.” <br /> <br /> Big Fans<br /> <br /> The anonymous patron at Jack’s Abby was loading up a box of six growlers prior to a December storm forecast.<br /> <br /> “I guess you’re all set for the month?” someone asked.<br /> <br /> “Actually, I’ll be back in a couple days,” he countered.<br /> <br /> Such is the enthusiasm of the modern era growler fan.
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Two Roads Brewing
ROAD WARRIORS. L-R: The partners of Two Roads Brewing - CFO Peter Doering, Head of Sales Clement Pellani, CEO Brad Hittle and Brewmaster Phil Markowski. Above- Two Roads interior.<br /> <br /> Open for business for just over a year, Two Roads Brewing has released 15 individual beers under its own name and has launched a contract brewing business that continues to grow. With a staff of 32 in 60,000-square-feet of space in Stratford, Conn., Two Roads has also been at work on a promising line of experimental beers as well as wild ales using yeasts harvested from here and there in its 103-year-old building.<br /> <br /> Thirsty fans of the brewery’s fine beers can watch most of the operations, including the packaging line capable of filling cans and bottles of many shapes and sizes, from the comfort of the balcony tasting room, where all available beers are sold along with a wide range of Two Roads merchandise.<br /> <br /> For the four active principals and a handful of investors, Two Roads is a big dream come true. Not for them a brewpub or a smallish craft brewery. No, these folks came armed with decades of experience in various aspects of the beer industry and a business plan that works.<br /> <br /> Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference <br /> <br /> Robert Frost’s well known poem inspired the name of the business, and for those involved it has intimate meaning. CEO Brad Hittle and Clem Pellani, Director of Sales and Marketing, worked together at Rolling Rock and at Pabst in the distant and recent past. Back in the 1990s they met Phil Markowski, Two Roads’ brewmaster, when he was making beer for the first incarnation of New England Brewing in Norwalk, Conn. Phil then spent 16 years at Southampton Publick House on Long Island, making a name for himself as a different thinker and tinker among craft brewers. The quartet is rounded out by CFO Peter Doering, yet another who wanted to take the road less traveled and become an entrepreneur of a distinctly different kind.<br /> <br /> They acquired the 100,000-square-foot building that originally housed US Baird Corporation, a maker of machinery for the metal forming industry. The main structure was erected in 1911 and expanded in the 1940s and ’50s. Today Two Roads utilizes two-thirds of the space, the remainder leased to The Norwalk Company, a manufacturer of specialty compressors. The brewers also own the 6.5 acres of land on which the building sits, just a few hundred feet from Interstate 95.<br /> <br /> Brewing capacity at Two Roads initially was to be 35,000 barrels, but the partners quickly enlarged that number. Realistically the capacity today is around 80,000 barrels, but it could easily grow beyond that, Markowski said.<br /> <br /> “We wanted to start our own brands, but we had the full intention from the conception that we would contract brew as well for craft breweries,” said Markowski. “We had mutual experience with contract brewing at other locations, which gave us insight into the need for it, the demand, as well as the frustration that craft brewers had felt trying to reproduce their products at an old regional brewery.<br /> <br /> “We wanted to build a place that was geared toward craft brewers, with dry hopped products, hop heavy products, different yeast strains, that sort of model. For our own brands we didn’t want to go through the exercise of becoming successful, outgrowing this brewery and having to build another one. We wanted To start out with a big facility that could be expanded, to accommodate our growing volumes across the board.” <br /> <br /> Thus far, he said, “the demand has exceeded our expectations. We have had the luxury of being selective as to whom we partner with. One thing we said we’d avoid if possible is start-ups. We get calls every day. These are very heady times in the craft brew business. We are going after proven brands, those that are very viable. It’s obviously risky to align yourself with a startup.” <br /> <br /> Today, Two Roads performs contract brewing for 11 breweries, and early this year a couple of high volume clients will be added.<br /> <br /> Among the contract clients that can be named are City Steam, Hartford, Conn.; Twelve Percent Imports from Brooklyn, N.Y., which manages the Evil Twin and Stillwater brands, and soon the Swedish beer Omnipollo. Two Roads also makes session beers for Notch, in Ipswich, Mass.<br /> <br /> Markowski distinguishes Two Roads from other, older contract brewing businesses in several ways. First is the focus on craft products.<br /> <br /> “What makes Two Roads better equipped to do craft contract brewing is that we routinely dry hop our beers, we heavily hop our beers, we have cylindriconical tanks which tend to preserve the hop character better than traditional regional breweries’ layouts might allow. They have the beer in a primary fermentation tank, then transfer it to a secondary fermentation tank, then to a pre-filtration tank and finally to a packaging tank, so there could be as many as four transfers per beer.” <br /> <br /> Multiple moves, he added, can have a negative effect on beer quality.<br /> <br /> “We have quite a bit of flexibility in the different yeast strains that we use. The large regional brewery might say that they have one yeast strain. We can accommodate a wider variety of products and replicate them truthfully. We can more faithfully recreate somebody’s recipe here versus at a large regional brewery that is not built for contract brewing but has taken on contract brewing as a means of survival, as opposed to it being an integral part of their business.” <br /> <br /> Another advantage, he said, is the automated brewhouse.<br /> <br /> “With computer control, we can have the process the same every time, meaning that the time and temperature steps are the same with every batch. Human error is minimized, if not eliminated.” <br /> <br /> Year-Round Beers<br /> <br /> The Two Roads metaphor applies not only to the choices of the business partners, but is also reflected in the products that bear the Two Roads name.<br /> <br /> “We respect tradition and we borrow from tradition,” Markowski said, “but we are not beholden to it. We do things that are a little offbeat, to give our beers our own stamp.” <br /> <br /> They also give their beers some great names. Right now the Two Roads brands are available in Connecticut and Rhode Island.<br /> <br /> Olfactory Pils is a classic German pilsner, but makes use of some American hops, and unlike its ancestors it is dry hopped.<br /> <br /> Road 2 Ruin Double IPA uses some Northwest hop varieties that are less common, such as Summit and Palisades.<br /> <br /> “We get a pronounced tangerine characteristic, not the usual heavy grapefruit character that other IPAs have,” Markowski observed. “We wanted to have a different flavor profile, and I think it has good hop complexity, but clearly different from classic IPA, if there is such a thing.”<br /> <br /> Honeyspot Road White IPA: “We wanted to do something that was a different treatment Of an obscure style, some say not a style at all,” said the brewmaster. “It’s a wheat based IPA. We use almost 50 percent raw wheat in the grist, so it has a classic Belgian white grist profile, but the similarities depart from there. We tasted some white IPAs that in my mind have opposing flavors and too much going on, with lots of hops and spices, and they use an expressive yeast that has a lot of spice and fruit character. We wanted to do something more simplified but not lacking complexity. We use no spices, and we use a neutral ale yeast. But we do use some hop varieties that have citrus characteristics, so it’s kind of reminiscent of a Belgian white ale but we’re not trying to make what most people might call a white IPA, we’re making a wheatbased IPA. It has hop complexity but the hops are a little restrained because the wheat is a more delicate than barley, so you have less of a toasty malt profile and more of a softer doughy profile that isn’t overwhelmed with hops.<br /> <br /> “I believe in balance. Even with our Road to Ruin, which uses over three pounds of hops per barrel, it’s still got balance with the malt. It’s not one sided. No matter what the style is I believe in balance, and all of our products are built on that. It’s harder to make a balanced beer than one that is one-dimensional.”<br /> <br /> Workers Comp Saison: “Back in the early days of saison brewing, on farms in northeast France, they probably brewed with what was on hand at the time. One can imagine that they weren’t necessarily brewing with barley all the time. So we have a blend of different grains: barley of course, both raw and malted wheat, raw and malted oats, rye and spelt. And it’s 4.7% ABV. But there is a lot of complexity from the different grains, and we use an expressive yeast, which generates a lot of tropical fruit characteristics, some spicy clove characteristics and then some hops that give similar aroma and flavor characteristics.” <br /> <br /> No Limits Hefeweizen: This brew is based on a traditional Bavarian hefeweizen, but Two Roads uses small amounts of rye and spelt, “something a traditional German brewer wouldn’t do,” plus a small amount of finishing hops.<br /> <br /> Seasonal Beers<br /> <br /> Route of All Evil is a highly hopped black ale for the winter months. Markowski said that they did not want to produce a robust porter, imperial stout or black IPA, so this brew “kind of fell between all those cracks.” It has a full body and a good amount of hops.<br /> <br /> Roadsmary’s Baby, a pumpkin ale aged in rum barrels, was an autumn surprise. “We did not anticipate that feeding frenzy,” Markowski recalled. “We knew that a pumpkin ale was an obvious choice for a fall seasonal, but had no idea that it would be that much in demand in our first year of existence. Needless to say, we plan to brew a lot more in 2014.” <br /> <br /> Spring will bring Rye 95, a rye-based tripel, not coincidentally brewed at 9.5% ABV. “It will use a judicious amount of rye but enough to get the rye character, a classic Belgian yeast and more of an American level of hoppiness: Mosaic, Amarillo and Hallertau, both New and Old World. Summer’s beer, as yet unnamed, will be a beer brewed with real black and red raspberries.<br /> <br /> Occasional seasonals include Igor’s Dream, named for Igor Sikorsky, whose Stratford helicopter factory still provides many regional jobs. The next version of the rye Russian imperial stout, aged in rye whiskey barrels, will be released January 25. This year’s offering will be 1,900 bottles, available from the brewery only, 400 bottles of last year’s vintage to the first 400 customers, and six draft barrels issued to six loyal bars.<br /> <br /> Christmas featured a “Bière de Noel,” in the bière de garde style. Henry’s Farm doppelbock will be released in February, and a barrelaged version of the same will be available in April. A wine barrel-aged version of Workers Comp, called Workers Stomp, will be released in bottles near the end of 2014.<br /> <br /> But wait, there’s more.<br /> <br /> Specialty Beers<br /> <br /> A sour beer, called Sour Power, will be launched in early April. Also that month we’ll see a berlinerweisse called Crazy Pucker. A couple of lambic beers will be released in November of this year, and one of those will be brewed with sour cherries picked from a farm in East Haddam, Conn., whose cherry trees were imported from France in the 1950s.<br /> <br /> Perhaps most exciting, though it’s hard to tell with such an enticing menu, is a beer to be called Urban Funk. The beer will be ready in April, but first consider this little fact: An immature version of the brew was entered into competition at the Great International Beer & Cider Competition in Providence, R.I., last year and won a silver medal. That should tell you something.<br /> <br /> Urban Funk is brewed with indigenous yeast. That’s right, yeast from Stratford, specifically from the Two Roads property.<br /> <br /> “We’ve been working with the microbiology department at Sacred Heart University (in Fairfield, Conn.),” said Markowski. “We tried to capture indigenous airborne yeast from inside and outside of the brewery. The beer was primarily fermented from that. We’re hoping to do a series of beers, completely fermented in steel.”<br /> <br /> Working with the local yeasts was challenging, he added; many of them were too weak to withstand fermentation beyond 1% or 2% ABV, though eventually they succeeded with the experiment. Only a few hundred bottles will be released.<br /> <br /> Markowski is already looking for the road less traveled with the indigenous brews.<br /> <br /> “In the future, we’re hoping to produce Country Funk, aged in barrels, and capture the yeast from a rural setting.”
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