Yankee Brew News June/July 2015 : Page 1
L-R: Jamal Robinson, Director of Sales, and Andy Schwartz, Head Brewer at Stony Creek Brewery. By Jimi Michiel Story and Photos by Gregg Glaser T to symbolize the intersection of these two vibrant communities, the link between beer and cycling is certainly alive and well. From brewery rides to bike names, New England is full of cyclists who are passionate about beer, brewers who love to ride and everything in between. Pedaling to Pints Central Massachusetts and the Pioneer Valley, with its rolling hills, open roads and beautiful scenery, is home to an active and vibrant cycling community. Unsurprisingly, it’s also home to several craft breweries and beer bars. See Biking p.4 he area codes 203, 860 and 401 still exist as telephone exchanges, but the beers of that name are gone. Stony Creek Brewery of Branford has come a long way in a short time since 2012 when it began selling 203, 860 and 401 beers contract-brewed at Thomas Hooker Brewing in Bloom ﬁ eld. Under the ownership of Ed and Peggy Crowley, Stony Creek Brewery now has a huge brewery and tasting room alongside the Branford River. The brand-new 30-barrel, three-vessel JV Northwest brewhouse is running three to seven times a week, and the 12 fermenters stay full for a capacity of 12,000 barrels of beer a year. There’s room See Stony Creek p. 6 he G German word for cyclist is radler . It’s no coincidence, though, t that radler is also the df word for a low ABV Bavarian drink consisting of half sparkling lemonade and half weissbier or pilsner. While the American equivalent (often times referred to as a shandy or snakebite) is offered as a summer seasonal or mixed to order at the bar, the European radler is both a delicious and refreshing drink as well as a symbol of the overlap between cycling and beer culture. Although New England doesn’t have a word like radler Mark Sigman, owner, brewer and bottler at Relic Brewing. Story and Photos by Paul Zocco Plainville, Conn., con ﬁ rmed. P The red tape and hoops one T must jump though to start a m small (nano) brewer is only s the beginning of the long and t complicated journey. The r required state and federal licensing takes at least a l year. Distribution is another See Relic p.8 INSIDE Events Calendar....... 3 Alehouse .................. 9 Tasting Panel ......... 10 Homebrew .............. 12 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 W hat homebrewer among us hasn’t thought of going pro? It’s not just the transition from hobby to commercial and having a bigger brew system, as Mark Sigman, sole owner, brewer and bottler of Relic Brewing in
Biking And Beer
The German word for cyclist is radler. It’s no coincidence, though, that radler is also the word for a low ABV Bavarian drink consisting of half sparkling lemonade and half weissbier or pilsner. While the American equivalent (often times referred to as a shandy or snakebite) is offered as a summer seasonal or mixed to order at the bar, the European radler is both a delicious and refreshing drink as well as a symbol of the overlap between cycling and beer culture. Although New England doesn’t have a word like radler to symbolize the intersection of these two vibrant communities, the link between beer and cycling is certainly alive and well. From brewery rides to bike names, New England is full of cyclists who are passionate about beer, brewers who love to ride and everything in between.<br /> <br /> Pedaling to Pints <br /> <br /> Central Massachusetts and the Pioneer Valley, with its rolling hills, open roads and beautiful scenery, is home to an active and vibrant cycling community. Unsurprisingly, it’s also home to several craft breweries and beer bars.<br /> <br /> Bringing them together is Pedal 2 Pints, an event held each June that combines a bike ride through the Pioneer Valley with visits to as many as ten breweries and beer bars in the area.<br /> <br /> Like a lot of good ideas, the concept for Pedal 2 Pints came about over beers. Brewers from the People’s Pint in Greenfield invited brewers from Element Brewing in Millers Falls out for beers after a farmer’s market they had both participated in, and the conversation eventually turned to biking.<br /> <br /> “The conversation turned to bikes, and when we realized that there really wasn’t an organized ride between all of the breweries in the area, someone said ‘We should do something about it!,’” said Element coowner and brewer Dan Kramer.<br /> <br /> The first Pedal 2 Pints ride consisted of about 30 people and has grown each year under the leadership of Kramer, Garth Shaneyfelt (co-owner of Artesian Beverage Cooperative) and Chris Sellers (head brewer at The People’s Pint). The sixth edition, scheduled for June 13, is expected to draw 300 riders completing routes of 33- ish, 45-ish, 70-ish or 90- ish miles. All rides begin at Berkshire Brewing in South Deerfield and, depending on the route, will visit (as well as tour and sample) Abandoned Building Brewery, Fort Hill Brewery, Northampton Brewery, Amherst Brewing, Carr’s Cider House, The Artesian Beverage Cooperative, The People’s Pint, Lefty’s Brewing, Element Brewing and Four Star Farms.<br /> <br /> Destination: Vermont <br /> <br /> Vermont has always been a destination for those who love the outdoors as well as those who love great beer. Breweries like Hermit Thrush, Otter Creek and Hill Farmstead make great destinations or rest stops on longer rides around the state. When Harpoon Brewery opened its second brewery in Windsor in 2000, it drastically increased brewing capacity, but it also gave cyclists throughout New England a new destination in the Green Mountain State.<br /> <br /> The first major ride to Harpoon’s Windsor brewery was what was originally called B2B (Brewery to Brewery) and began when riders from Team Psycho, a group of completely reasonable triathletes that Harpoon was sponsoring, decided to ride from Harpoon’s Boston facility to the new brewery in Windsor. Harpoon originally suggested completing the ride over two days, but Team Psycho did it in one long day.<br /> <br /> “The ride started 14 years ago when Harpoon purchased the old Catamount Brewery in Vermont,” said B2B founder Carmen Monks. “We crafted the ride to be an epic one-day, no-frills point-to-point ride that echoed the healthy lifestyle patterns of folks who eschewed traditional mass production beers and wanted fewer, better tasting artisan beers as a post-event beverage. A bare bones 137-mile ride demanded a beer of the quality and craftsmanship of Harpoon, and it does still today.” Only 12 riders completed the ride that first year, but such a great idea was bound to grow quickly. In Monks’ words: “Once we hit 100 we realized that we had something!” As both Harpoon and the B2B grew, however, it became difficult to manage the ride in a way that worked for both the original organizers and the brewery. In a compromise that one has to assume was negotiated over a couple of Harpoon IPAs, Harpoon transferred rights for the original ride to the original B2B organizers in exchange for a donation to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The B2B continues on as the Battlefield to Vermont (B2Vt). While it now starts on the Historic Battlefield in Lexington and ends at the Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vt., the route contains much of the original B2B route, still features Harpoon beer and is expected to raise over $70,000 for a variety of charities this year.<br /> <br /> Harpoon has also continued to support its own ride, Point to Point. Taking over the original B2B, Point to Point is part of Harpoon’s philanthropic arm. Sponsored by National Life Group, the ride has raised nearly $1 million for the Vermont Foodbank.<br /> <br /> “Every year, cyclists and craft beer fans join us for the beautiful and well-supported Harpoon Point to Point ride,” said John Sayles, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank. “There’s great music and fresh Harpoon beer straight from the source, but most importantly, the event raises money that will provide meals for Vermonters in need of food help. This year the Foodbank will provide food enough to feed 153,000 of our neighbors, work that we couldn’t do without the generous support of businesses like Harpoon, National Life Group, The Point Radio Network and the hundreds of cyclists who ride against hunger.”<br /> <br /> Give A Brewer An Orchard …<br /> <br /> Veteran brewer Aaron Mateychuk started biking early.<br /> <br /> “I’ve been cycling seriously since I was about 10 years old,” Mateychuk said. “I use to live on the Connecticut border as a child, and my friends and I used to bike 30-40 miles a day, even at that age. By the time I was 13, I had bought my first road bike. I entered some local bike races through high school and college. I could bike 100 miles a day without realizing it.” <br /> <br /> The beer came later. After a brief stint at Harpoon, Mateychuk served for nearly two decades as the Brewmaster at Watch City Brewing in Waltham until it suddenly closed in 2014. Aaron is now head brewer at the Lookout Farm Hard Cider, a new cider brewery on the grounds of a nearly 200-acre cider farm in Natick.<br /> <br /> A short drive (or ride) from Boston, Lookout Farm is surrounded by quiet country roads that are a cyclist’s dream. While Mateychuk often commutes to work from his home in Framingham (just under 10 miles each way), the biking doesn’t stop when the commute is done.<br /> <br /> “Every day when I’m at work I look around at the awesome farm I’m working on,” said Mateychuk. “If I get time in between tank cleanings or running some process on the brewing equipment, I’ll take a quick ride on the property. I can usually get three to five miles in before I have to come back to do something else.” <br /> <br /> Those mid-workday rides got him thinking, though.<br /> <br /> “The farm is a beautiful piece of property and history that could be utilized in a lot of fun ways during the off-season,” Mateychuk added. “One of my ideas that’s in the early stages of development is to do a New England cycle-cross circuit race here.” <br /> <br /> Regardless of when formal bike racing comes to Lookout Farms, the tasting room is a fantastic destination for cyclists to take a quick stop or end their rides while enjoying some of the best cider in New England.<br /> <br /> Affy and Aleta: A Love Story<br /> <br /> Aleta Wiley swears that she isn’t a craft beer expert or even “into craft beer,” but it’s not unusual to see her sipping one of New England’s many craft brews (Allagash is a favorite) or a tasty Belgian ale (Affligem’s beers are another favorite). She’s less coy about her passion for biking — a cycling trip to France in 2008 cemented her love for road biking, and she has been riding ever since.<br /> <br /> A funny thing happened in France, though.<br /> <br /> “The other people in my group all drank wine at night,” Aleta said,” but I looked forward to the delicious Belgian beer on tap instead.” She not only returned home with a passion for beer, but a strong connection between her love for cycling and Belgian beer.<br /> <br /> “When I came home,” Aleta said, “I was so excited about biking and went out to buy my first real road bike, a beautiful blue and black Fuji. I promptly named her Affy, for Affligem.” <br /> <br /> These days, Aleta and Affy can be found cycling through the streets of Boston and throughout Eastern Massachusetts, sometimes to a brewery or beer bar but always with an incredible passion for cycling that began with a crisp, golden Belgian ale following a long ride through the French countryside.<br /> <br /> At press time, Affy could not be reached for comment.
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Stony Creek Brewery
The area codes 203, 860 and 401 still exist as telephone exchanges, but the beers of that name are gone.<br /> <br /> Stony Creek Brewery of Branford has come a long way in a short time since 2012 when it began selling 203, 860 and 401 beers contract-brewed at Thomas Hooker Brewing in Bloomfield. Under the ownership of Ed and Peggy Crowley, Stony Creek Brewery now has a huge brewery and tasting room alongside the Branford River. The brand-new 30-barrel, three-vessel JV Northwest brewhouse is running three to seven times a week, and the 12 fermenters stay full for a capacity of 12,000 barrels of beer a year. There’s room in the spacious brewery for 20-22 more fermenters, which would allow for 60,000- 62,000 barrels a year.<br /> <br /> “This brewery was built for growth, all hand-piped,” said Head Brewer Andy Schwartz. “Our engineer is Al Triplett, a former Redhook brewmaster, and this brewery is built right. We’re on track to brew 4,000-5,000 barrels this year.” <br /> <br /> Because the building is in the flood plain alongside the Branford River, it was constructed to withstand a flood. There were 120 pilings driven into the bedrock before the concrete foundation was poured, putting the building about 15’ above ground.<br /> <br /> Staying Local <br /> <br /> “We wanted to maintain a country and also a local feel,” Schwartz said. “About ninety percent of our tasting room guests are local, all the contractors that built the place are from Branford and just above everyone who works at the brewery lives in Branford or nearby.”<br /> <br /> Ed Crowley is a former co-owner of Dichello Distributors in Orange, Conn., the area’s Anheuser-Busch distributor. Ed Crowley, Jr. Is president of the brewery. Many Rodriquez is Director of Operations, with 30 years of sales and business management experience, most recently with Clear Channel Communications.<br /> <br /> Schwartz, who started at Stony Creek in May 2014, moved to Branford from Portsmouth, N.H., where he was Senior Innovation Brewer at Craft Beer Alliance (Redhook-Widmer-Kona) brewer for the past nine years. Before that, he brewed over the years for Boulder Beer and Left Hand Brewing in Colorado and Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing and Left Coast Brewing in California.<br /> <br /> The Director of Sales is Jamal Robinson, former head of sales for Blue Point Brewing on Long Island. He’s recently hired several additional salespeople for the brewery.<br /> <br /> Rounding out the staff are Lead Brewer Jay Kendig (Head Brewer for Appalachian Brewing in Pennsylvania for 10 years), QA Tech/Cellarman Russ Meister (with a Masters degree in microbiology from UCONN) and Packaging Manager Del Morel (with 20 years packaging experience at Redhook Ale Brewery in Woodinville, Wash., and at Coca Cola; he also has training from the Krones School of Krones, the German packaging and bottling equipment manufacturer).<br /> <br /> “The Crowleys put serious investment in this place,” Schwartz added. “We had to go 180 degrees in the other direction from the first two years of the contracted beers and make our beers bold and impressive. That’s reflected in our slogan, ‘Aggressively Laid-Back Beer.’ That incorporates what we’re doing here and also my past brewing in California and Colorado.”<br /> <br /> The Tap Room <br /> <br /> On the right side after entering the brewery is a large, 2,500-square-foot tap room with a 200+person capacity at the tables and bar. The ceilings are huge, a fireplace is on one stone-faced wall and there’s a wall of windows on the river side of the space opening up to an outside deck (1,500 square feet) with more tables and seating that then goes to a landscaped ground-level area with Adirondack chairs, five fire pits and a bocce ball court plus kan jam and corn hole games. Beyond this are docks on the river where guests coming by boat can tie up their vessels.<br /> <br /> The tasting room is BYO food or purchased from food trucks, and the space is open Tuesday-Thursday from 3 p.m.-8 p. m., Friday from 3 p.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday from noon-7 p.m. Brewery tours are Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. <br /> <br /> Beers are served in 16-ounce and 10-ounce (for high-ABV beers) glasses as well as in samplers. Guest beers from Connecticut breweries and wine are also served, and entertainment will be provided at times.<br /> <br /> Upstairs is a similar-sized room (dubbed the Celebration Room) with another fireplace and a wall of windows facing the river. This space, with an approximate capacity of 150 people, is used for private events. A prep kitchen is available for caterers.<br /> <br /> From both the downstairs and upstairs spaces, the non-river side faces the brewery, which is completely visible through all-glass walls.<br /> <br /> The 160-spaces in parking lot have already proven to be not quite enough for the weekend crowds. Extra parking is available at the nearby train station. Special features in the brewery’s lot include a bike maintenance station complete with tools and an air machine plus electric car charging stations<br /> <br /> The Beers<br /> <br /> Stony Creek’s beers are currently sold in Connecticut and Rhode Island. The company logo, designed by local artist Lisa Sotero, is a Great Blue Heron — somewhat funky in style, with a hint of tattoo art.<br /> <br /> Year-round beers include: <br /> <br /> Dock Time Amber Lager (4.8% ABV, 24 IBUs), a Vienna-style lager with rye malt and Sterling hops — 12-ounce bottles and draft <br /> <br /> Little Cranky (4.5% ABV, 50 IBUs), a session IPA with Lemon Drop and Bravo hops — 12-ounce cans and draft <br /> <br /> Cranky (6.8% ABV, 68 IBUs), an IPA with Columbus, Falconers Flight and Equinox hops — 12-ounce cans and draft <br /> <br /> Big Cranky (9.5% ABV, 95 IBUs), a West Coast-style double IPA with Falconers Flight, Calypso, Chinook, Cascade, Magnum, Mosaic and CTZ hops — 16-ounce cans and draft <br /> <br /> The Nitro Series is a rotating draft-only line of nitrogenated beers of all styles such as Black Ale, Nitro Belgian Blonde and Nitro Pale Ale.<br /> <br /> Seasonals beers on the schedule include: <br /> <br /> Sun Juice (5.3% ABV), a Belgianstyle “Summer Ale” (witbier/saison hybrid) brewed with wheat and with added orange and grapefruit peels, coriander and chamomile — April-August in 12-ounce bottles and draft <br /> <br /> Snowhole (8.5% ABV, 85 IBUs), a “Double Red” ale with Falconers Flight, Mount Hood, Columbus and Chinook hops — November-March in 12-ounce bottles and draft <br /> <br /> Crum (6.5% ABV), Schwartz’s interpretation of a classic apple crumble with fresh apple cider, oats, Ceylon cinnamon and nutmeg — Late August- October in 12-ounce bottles and draft <br /> <br /> The Flip the Bird Series will, according to Stony Creek, “flip traditional beer styles on their heads as a series of limited release brews that raise a middle feather to convention.” These beers are draft-only this year but will be available in 22-ounce bottles next year. They include: <br /> <br /> Reposado Negro (9.2%), a “Black Wheat Wine” aged in tequila barrels — October-November <br /> <br /> Chahklit (8.5% ABV), a Baltic-style porter brewed with almonds, Ceylon cinnamon and cacao nibs, then aged in Caribbean rum barrels — December-January <br /> <br /> Lichtenlizzy (3.5% ABV), a Germanstyle Lichtenheiner Weiss, a hybrid of a Berliner weissbier and a rauchbier that’s lightly soured and uses two types of smoked malt (beachwood and oak) — August- September<br /> <br /> Crimsang (9.5% ABV, 95 IBUs), a Belgian-style take on Big Cranky Double IPA with Blood Orange juice and a soured wort fermented with the house saison yeast — May-June. The name Crimsang comes from crimson (as in the color of blood orange juice) and sang (the French word for blood, as in Blood Orange).<br /> <br /> “This is the healthiest brewery environment I’ve ever worked in,” Schwartz said. “There’s lots of pressure and we must perform, but the owners gave this to us to build, create and design. These are perfect conditions. It’s built off passion.” <br /> <br /> Stony Creek Brewery, 5 Indian Neck Avenue, Branford, Conn., www.Stonycreekbeer.com, 203-684-3150
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The Heart And Soul Of A Chef
What homebrewer among us hasn’t thought of going pro? It’s not just the transition from hobby to commercial and having a bigger brew system, as Mark Sigman, sole owner, brewer and bottler of Relic Brewing in Plainville, Conn., confirmed. The red tape and hoops one must jump though to start a small (nano) brewer is only the beginning of the long and complicated journey. The required state and federal licensing takes at least a year. Distribution is another obstacle to deal with. The likelihood of failure always hovers on the horizon. There are long, trying hours of planning to make this venture work.<br /> <br /> Pride of ownership carries a stiff price. We ask, “Why do brewers take the plunge?” We know it’s a labor of love and probably a good way to become a brewing “rock star.” Mark’s relentlessness and perseverance got all of the necessary approvals in ten months. He admitted that the approval was a surprise he never expected to happen.<br /> <br /> Relic Brewing was born in an old industrial complex in February 2012. After a five-year jaunt as an IT supervisor, Mark traded in his Dockers and button downs for jeans and a T-shirt, attire more suited for a six-hour brew session. Back in 2012, Relic’s startup system was a basic one-barrel brewhouse; sort of a large homebrewing system. Relic has the distinction of being the first “nano” brewery in Connecticut. As of February 2013, with increased public interest in Relic beers, a new three-barrel brew system was put in place. Mark was soon brewing around 200 gallons of beer a week and growing. The projected annual production in 2015 is expected to be in the neighborhood of 300 barrels in-house with a local area brewery — Thomas Hooker Brewing in Bloomfield — producing another 400 barrels a year.<br /> <br /> Mark provides all of his own hops, malts, yeast and beer specs to the offsite location, keeping complete control of how his beer is made. He wouldn’t have it any other way.<br /> <br /> Relic and Traditional Old School Beers<br /> <br /> The name “Relic” was chosen to refer to brewing old, antique and traditional beer styles that were influenced by Mark’s international travels, especially in the Middle East. In various parts of the world, beers are commonly brewed using indigenous ingredients, showing the ability of the brewers to incorporate diverse local ingredients. Traveling to domestic and foreign breweries and sampling their offerings was the inspiration Mark carried to Relic. There are plans to incorporate clementines, blood oranges and various teas in future beers. A pineapple gose-style beer is also slated for production.<br /> <br /> Beer styles currently brewed at Relic run the gamut from Huntsman, a conventional oatmeal stout, to Tropicale, a honey-based IPA infused with hops known to have tropical characteristics.<br /> <br /> “I wanted to open a small boutique brewery specializing in unusual, rare and complex beer styles,” Mark said, “ that would keep people on their toes.” <br /> <br /> This shows in Mark’s use of rye malts, honey and novel varieties of hops, yeasts and special ingredients. Spices, such as lavender, straight from the brewer’s garden, are used in conjunction with “wild” yeast strains to produce some unusual Belgianesque beers <br /> <br /> A Chef with a Beer Menu<br /> <br /> Confessing to enjoy cooking, Mark once had a deep interest in becoming a professional chef. In the mid-1990s he homebrewed while living in Wyoming and Colorado and carried out his desires of developing unusual flavor characters in his beers. Some of his unusual “What is that flavor?” scenarios inspired by past homebrews has carried over into Relic’s signature beers. All are expressions of a “Beer Chef.” Finding that marriage of flavors is the ultimate goal of a chef. It starts with imagination and develops with lots of experimentation.<br /> <br /> Mark will brew many Belgian-inspired beers for this summer. As was once a common practice in Scotland, Belgium and Finland, some of the new beers may have similarities to old style gruit beers that typically use additions of various spices and botanicals.<br /> <br /> A Relic of the Future<br /> <br /> “I have a brand new three-barrel system that I love,” Mark said, regarding future expansions and developments. “I’ll continue to brew and bottle special small batches and have Hooker produce the flagship beers that are getting the Relic name on the brewery map. My bottle labels have won national awards and are also helping make the public aware of the brand.<br /> <br /> “There is interest in expanding to other New England states and beyond, but all in time. With a large distribution area, Hooker has been helpful in getting the Relic flagship beers out there, but the three-barrel home brewery is where the heart and soul of Relic lies.”
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