Yankee Brew News February/March 2010 : Page 1
Bill Herlicka of White Birch Brewing. By Gregg Glaser “We still occasionally have customers asking about beer and the process,” said Phil Bannatyne, owner of Cambridge Brewing in Cambridge, Mass., “but there’s less of that now than a generation after craft beer began.” This comment is true for most of the country, but there’s still plenty of “beer education” going on at all levels — consumer and trade — in the Yankee Brew News region. At Cambridge Brewing, Bannatyne said educating his staff is vitally important and an ongoing project. “We want our staff well informed about our beer and styles,” Bannatyne added. “That’s why we have Beer School four times a year for our servers, teaching them about beer styles, the ingredients and how our beers pair with our menu.” Also in Cambridge, there’s Beer Skool at Cambridge Common, a beer-centric bar and res- taurant. “We change the world one beer at a time,” said Suzanne Schalow, General Manager at Cambridge Common for the past ten years. When Schalow began working at Cambridge Common, there were 24 taps. There are now 30, all devoted to U.S.-brewed craft beer. Along with Beer Manager, Kate Schalow, Beer Skool has evolved. “We were holding beer dinners,” Schalow said, “and I would see this glazed See Education p.4 By Jamie Magee to the Lakes Region, can now boast that it is home to one of New England’s youngest and most innovative breweries. White Birch Brewing was founded just over a half-year ago, yet it is already making waves with its H ooksett, New Hampshire, famil- iar to most New Englanders for its tollbooths or as a gateway artisan brews and “small is better” philoso- phy. “In some ways, I’ve captured the imagi- nation of every homebrewer, striking out with my own brewery,” said Bill Herlicka, who founded the brewery last June with his wife Ellen. Herlicka has worked with some big companies, but was tired of waiting on the next job. He credits his wife with the idea. See White Birch p.8 Tasting Panel ........................................ 10 Beer Cooks: Alehouse Mussels ............ 13 Also Young & Enthusiastic ..................... 14 The Alehouse: Prime 16 ....................... 15 Homebrewing ....................................... 20 Book Review: Drinking with George ....... 21 Tasteless Panel ..................................... 47 E. Massachusetts ................... 16 Boston .................................. 18 W. Massachusetts .................. 28 Maine ................................... 30 New Hampshire ..................... 32 Connecticut .......................... 34 Vermont ............................... 36 Rhode Island ......................... 38 New York ............................ 40 NYC & Long Island ................ 42
“We still occasionally have customers asking about beer and the process,” said Phil Bannatyne, owner of Cambridge Brewing in Cambridge, Mass., “but there’s less of that now than a generation after craft beer began.” This comment is true for most of the country, but there’s still plenty of “beer education” going on at all levels — consumer and trade — in the Yankee Brew News region.<br /> <br /> At Cambridge Brewing, Bannatyne said educating his staff is vitally important and an ongoing project.<br /> <br /> “We want our staff well informed about our beer and styles,” Bannatyne added.<br /> <br /> “That’s why we have Beer School four times a year for our servers, teaching them about beer styles, the ingredients and how our beers pair with our menu.” Also in Cambridge, there’s Beer Skool at Cambridge Common, a beer-centric bar and restaurant.<br /> <br /> “We change the world one beer at a time,” said Suzanne Schalow, General Manager at Cambridge Common for the past ten years.<br /> <br /> When Schalow began working at Cambridge Common, there were 24 taps. There are now 30, all devoted to U.S.-brewed craft beer. Along with Beer Manager, Kate Schalow, Beer Skool has evolved.<br /> <br /> “We were holding beer dinners,” Schalow said, “and I would see this glazed Look on the faces of some of the people attending.” This is when Schalow and Baker decided to offer the public an “underground beer” series a few years ago. These are now held the third Thursday of each month (they might be expanded to twice a month this year) and last for two to two-and-a-half hours. Schalow and Baker lead the sessions, but Schalow said all the Cambridge Common managers are capable of doing so.<br /> <br /> Brewers and beer writers from the Boston area also occasionally help out at Beer Skool.<br /> <br /> On the employee side, Schalow said that all servers go through a “beer boot camp,” which is an intensive beer course. At the end of the training, a server has to pass three exams before he or she is allowed to be a Cambridge Common beer server.<br /> <br /> Beer dinners also serve a beer education function at Cambridge Common, where beer dinners have been held for seven years.<br /> <br /> There are 26 beer dinners planned this year, and Schalow said they almost all sell out to a group of about 40 people.<br /> <br /> Also for the Distributors<br /> <br /> At Redhook Ale Brewery in Manchester,<br /> <br /> N. H., head brewer Doug McNair said he and his staff have long had a pub staff training program at the brewery’s Cataqua Public House, teaching the servers how to describe beers to customers and how to pair beer with food.<br /> <br /> “This morphed into beer distributors wanting to send their sales staff for ‘Craft Beer 101,’” McNair said, “and this expanded into a two-day course in the brewhouse.<br /> <br /> We have them sample everything — the malts before they go into the kettle, the unfermented beer and all the stages of fermentation. We also teach them about draft systems and what spoiled beers smell and taste like. This has been successful with our distributors from all over the country, so we’ve been thinking about what to do next.” The “what next” question might be the same type of education program for the public.<br /> <br /> “Maybe we’ll do this in partnership with other New Hampshire breweries,” McNair said, “for a common voice. I think the time is ripe.”<br /> <br /> Beer Menus, Beer Ethos and Beer Table in NYC<br /> <br /> New York city is bubbling over with beer education.<br /> <br /> Will Stephens of beermenus.com works with Maggie Fuller of Beer Ethos to present monthly beer style classes at Rattle ‘N Hum, a midtown Manhattan beer bar. These sessions, which are about a year old, attract 15 to 25 people each time.<br /> <br /> “We present one style of beer at each session,” Stephens said, “with eight different samples. We talk about the history of the style and the background story of each beer we sample. Plus, we present the original beer of the style as well as newer, funkier versions. We’ve done 13 styles, so far.” Fuller, a Manhattan native, gave up investment banking for beer several years ago. She attended the prestigious University of California, Davis, Fermentation Sciences Program, concentrating on beer. After that, she interned as a brewer with Six Point Craft Ales of Brooklyn and Deschutes Brewery in Oregon.<br /> <br /> “Once back in Manhattan,” Fuller said, “I started Beer Ethos because I realized I loved beer styles and beer history and wanted to share this with others. And I think people enjoy something more when they learn about it. Plus, New York needed more beer focus, because there’s so much attention on wine.” Fuller conducts beer education classes in people’s homes for private groups, and last year during NY Craft Beer Week she co-presented three beer classes (malts, hops and yeast) at the Astor Center.<br /> <br /> At Beer Table in Brooklyn, Justin Phillips reserves Monday evenings for a combo of food and beer education.<br /> <br /> “I always have a food speaker,” Phillips said, “and I talk about beer, although we’ve also had brewers come in, such as Shane Welch from Six Point Craft Ales.” Phillips also conducts private beer classes in peoples’ homes, offering five to six beers for a group of about 15 to 20 people.<br /> <br /> Civilization of Beer<br /> <br /> Samuel Merritt, a former sales rep for the Brooklyn Brewery-owned Craft Brewers Guild distribution company, started Civilization of Beer in 2006.<br /> <br /> “My goal with Civilization of Beer is to close the gap between beer and wine studies in the culinary community,” Merritt said, “and to return beer to its proper place at the table.” To accomplish his goal, Merritt works with culinary school students, beer distributors, retail stores and bartenders. He also teaches beer classes for the public at the Institute for Culinary Education in Manhattan.<br /> <br /> A Focus on Beer and Food<br /> <br /> A longstanding force for educating the public and beer distributors about beer — especially the subject of beer and food — is Garrett Oliver, Master Brewer at the Brooklyn Brewery.<br /> <br /> “I’ve conducted many tastings and dinners at restaurants for ten years,” Oliver said. “These have also included cooking demos at supermarkets and even a class that was held over Skype. At the Institute for Culinary Education in Manhattan, I gave a four-hour class for 25 students at which I demoed five dishes with beer.” Oliver said that he’s also worked with the staffs of restaurants both large and small, explaining and demonstrating the paring of beer and food.<br /> <br /> “I believe in the transformation of beer’s place with American food,” Oliver said.<br /> <br /> College of Beer<br /> <br /> Daniel Stampone created College of Beer in New Hampshire. He’s worked with Jason Bourasa, owner of Kettle To Keg, a homebrew shop in Pembroke,<br /> <br /> N. H., since last spring, videotaping the brewing process on the homebrew level and also visiting established breweries such as nearby Manchester Brewing.<br /> <br /> “We have lots of ‘how-to’ footage for the homebrewer,” Stampone said, “and at the beginning of 2010 we launched free podcasts of College of Beer. We’ll also be visiting and taping at other craft breweries.”<br /> <br /> Educating Potential New Commercial Brewers <br /> <br /> Kevin Bloom of Manchester Brewing in New Hampshire offers a course for people who want to take the leap from homebrewing to professional brewing and open their own microbrewery or brewpub.<br /> <br /> “I started these courses to save people from the pitfalls of a start-up,” Bloom said.<br /> <br /> “I wish I had all these questions answered when I started.” The course, which Bloom has given twice, allows people the chance to brew on his four-barrel system and covers topics such as financing, sourcing equipment, finding a location, understanding local, state and federal laws, common choke points, brewery design and writing a business plan.<br /> <br /> “We also visit a brand new brewery and a good beer retailer,” Bloom said. One of our visits was to White Birch Brewing in Hooksett, N.H.<br /> <br /> Drink a Better Brew<br /> <br /> “The culture of craft beer intrigued me,” said Matt Webster of Massachusetts, who started Drink A Better Brew.<br /> <br /> Webster, who worked for Dogfish Head Brewing of Delaware (he said he learned his intrinsic beer values from Dogfish) as a beer salesman and who also worked with Unibroue of Québec, likes to work with culinary professionals, “showing chefs that beer also deserves a place at the table.” He also teaches beer classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education and has taught such classes in the past at Worcester Adult Education. This year he’ll begin working for a network of five New Hampshire beer distributors as the “point man” for craft breweries, launching and building brands.<br /> <br /> Teaching the Good Side of Beer<br /> <br /> Bill Dunn, the head brewer at Elm City Brewing in Keene, N.H., has taught an interesting beer class for seven years at Keene State College.<br /> <br /> “The class is called Alcohol and Chemical Dependency,” Dunn said, “and it’s for students studying to be counselors. I speak to the good side beer — how beer is made, its history, its flavors and how it pairs with food.” At the brewpub, Dunn holds a tasting each year for about 50 people at which he invites eight other craft brewers.<br /> <br /> “We always hold this tasting on a Tuesday just before or after Valentine’s Day,” Dunn said, “and each brewer presents one beer. It’s a great way for people to learn about beer.”<br /> <br /> Nutmegers<br /> <br /> In Connecticut, Paul Zocco of Zoc’s Homebrew Supply in Willimantic, Conn., (he’s also the Yankee Brew News homebrew columnist) has been teaching people how to brew for many years.<br /> <br /> “I’ve taught many different Beer 101s at my shop every Saturday for years from November through April,” Zoc said. “I’ve also taught basic beer styles to restaurant staff, beer distributors, liquor stores and private groups.” Further downstate, Yankee Brew News Editor in Chief, Gregg Glaser, has been involved in beer education for over 12 years. He’s taught Beer 101 and different beer style classes at adult education centers And the Astor Center in Manhattan, and he’s spoken about beer styles and history at museums in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, as well as for the Danish Beer Enthusiasts (in both Copenhagen and Århus) and for many civic and business organizations. Like Zocco, he’s conducted training sessions with beer distributors and restaurant bar staff. This spring he’ll present beer talks and tastings at the Clinton Library in Clinton, Conn., on March 3, and at the Asia Society in Manhattan on April 14.<br /> <br /> Beer and Billiards<br /> <br /> “We have an eight-part series of beer education for our customers that began last November,” said Anthony Costanzo III of Rhode Island Billiard Bar & Bistro in Providence. “We’re re-starting this in 2010 at 6 pm on Fridays.” These sessions include a visit by a brewery owner or brewer, rather than a sales rep, and last about two hours. There’s an informal talk for about 20 minutes before the tasting begins, after which the brewery owner or brewer goes around the room answering questions.<br /> <br /> “We give the customer a certificate at the end of the evening,” Costanzo said. “We might hold these every two weeks this year.<br /> <br /> Call ahead to find out who’s coming.”<br /> <br /> On the Island<br /> <br /> On Long Island, Donavan Hall and Rich Thatcher hold beer education classes through the local homebrew cub, the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts.<br /> <br /> “We began doing this a few years ago to encourage local beer places to hold beer dinners,” Hall said. “This has evolved into more formal classes at monthly meetings at private homes for about 15 to 20 people.” Hall brings about four different beer samples to each class and he works through the styles in the book, A Taste For Beer, by Randy Mosher.<br /> <br /> The Culinary Schools<br /> <br /> The region’s culinary schools, where tomorrow’s chefs are being trained, are also on the beer education path.<br /> <br /> Jennifer Pereira, Associate Instructor, Beverage and Dining Services, at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., Is the faculty advisor for the JbreW Club, which began in 2004. The club has a halfbarrel brewhouse donated by Coors Brewing many years ago. This spring she’s teaching, for the first time, a beer survey course titled Brewing Arts. It’s an 11-week elective for juniors and seniors that will use the brewing system and cover the analytical process of brewing plus sensory analysis. She’ll also teach about saké, cider and mead.<br /> <br /> At the New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Montpelier, Vt., John Barton has the students in his Extending the Senses class brew once each semester. He’s being doing this for two-and-a-half years.<br /> <br /> “There’s tremendous excitement by the students with brewing,” Barton said. “We have two five-gallon homebrew kits and we usually brew a German or Belgian style wheat beer — because I really like these beers and they ferment quickly during the weeks the class takes place. We’ve even used lemon verbena and Cascade hops gown in the NECI gardens in some of our beers.” Barton said that students also learn about beer in the Beverage Studies classes.<br /> <br /> “Once they catch the good beer bug,” Barton said, “they get excited to pair beer with food both here at school and when they begin working in restaurants.” Barton added that many of his students would like to intern at Yankee Brew Newsregion breweries to learn more about beer and professional brewing.<br /> <br /> John Fischer, an Associate Professor at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, N.Y., teaches a course called Contemporary Casual Service in which he covers the origins, production and service of all drinks, including beer.<br /> <br /> “In the Public Restaurants classes for second-year students,” Fischer said, “I teach the differences between ale and lager, and we taste six to eight basic beer styles. In An advanced class, we cover beer and food pairings and craft beers.” For those on the bachelor’s degree level, students in the Beverage Management Course visit local breweries, such as Keegan’s Ales in Kingston.<br /> <br /> “We’ll be adding brewing equipment in the future for a class,” Fischer said.<br /> <br /> A winter dining series at CIA includes lectures with food and drink pairings, including several beer dinners, at which about 80 people usually attend.<br /> <br /> “The beer dinners are almost always the most popular,” Fischer said, “and we hold two or three each season. In our fanciest restaurant, where we have a Belgian chef, we’ve partnered with Brewery Ommegang on a beer dinner.” There’s also been a student Brew Club for many years at CIA.<br /> <br /> Jim Olson, whose main job is Coordinator of Technology at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., has taught a beer appreciation class, The Beer Necessities, at the college during the winter session for seven years. This year it’s being scheduled during the spring semester for four weeks. He’s also taught beer classes at Cambridge Adult Education.<br /> <br /> “My students at Wellesley are regular college students as well as staff, faculty and spouses of staff and faculty,” Olsen said. “I usually have about 40 to 60 students in each class. I’ve been surprised at the sophisticated palates many of them have.”
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White Birch Brewing
Hooksett, New Hampshire, familiar to most New Englanders for its tollbooths or as a gateway to the Lakes Region, can now boast that it is home to one of New England’s youngest and most innovative breweries. White Birch Brewing was founded just over a half-year ago, yet it is already making waves with its artisan brews and “small is better” philosophy.<br /> <br /> “In some ways, I’ve captured the imagination of every homebrewer, striking out with my own brewery,” said Bill Herlicka, who founded the brewery last June with his wife Ellen. Herlicka has worked with some big companies, but was tired of waiting on the next job. He credits his wife with the idea.<br /> <br /> “She said, ‘You love to brew beer. Your friends love to drink your beer. Why not open a brewery?’”<br /> <br /> Brewing Belgians<br /> <br /> Though he’s the new professional brewer on the block, Herlicka’s experience with homebrewing dates back to 1994. Always interested in different styles (he started with Belgian ales), his take on building the brewery was not to get saddled with debt or set false expectations. He settled on a onebarrel system.<br /> <br /> “Our goal is to brew a broad range of our favorite beers; focusing on barrel aging and fewer mainstream styles,” he said. “Volume is secondary to getting the recipe right. We hope to grow, but in a slow and steady manner.” Herlicka is basically a one-man band at the brewery, which is housed in a business warehouse on Route 3. Surrounded by his brew kettles, fermenters, various carboys (filled with aging beer and different strains of yeast) and bourbon barrels aplenty, the lanky and bearded brewer has a mad professor quality. But Herlicka’s only mania is brewing.<br /> <br /> “We’re not constraining ourselves to the popular notion of what a brewery is,” he added.<br /> <br /> And right off the bat he chose Belgian Style Pale (~8.0% ABV) as White Birch’s flagship beer, instead of a more ubiquitous style, such as IPA.<br /> <br /> “There are so many good IPAs out there, why would mine be any different?” Herlicka asked. “The Belgian Pale is about doing something fun, showing off the house yeast vs. doing something hoppy.<br /> <br /> Belgian Style Pale is just the beginning of a tasting journey that Herlicka has in store for the craft beer lover. AKA American Ale is a barrel-aged whopper.<br /> <br /> Named for Herlicka’s parents (Al and Kathy), it’s described as a “rich malty brew with soft whisky barrel notes” and a “smooth finish that belies the<br /> <br /> 11. 9% ABV.” White Birch continues its Belgian-style line-up with Dubbel (~6.6%), Tripel (~10.5%) and Saison (~6.7%). Two other flavors of Tripel are brewed: Oak Aged Tripel (~10.5%), which is aged with oak chips that were conditioned with rye whiskey, and Barrel Aged Tripel (11.6%). The journey continues with the Wild Ale<br /> <br /> (8. 0%), which is brewed with two strains of Brettanomyces yeast, and Barrel Aged Barley Wine (10.8%). Herlicka just acquired Some heavy-duty steel racks, which he plans to use to expand his barrel-aging program.<br /> <br /> “I love the taste of the beer that’s been aged in a bourbon barrel,” he said.<br /> <br /> “Some of the wild ales will not see the light of day for up to three years. ” White Birch’s newest beer is Cherry Quad<br /> <br /> (11. 7%), a beer that’s crafted using spontaneous- fermented cherries following an almost 100-year-old Romanian recipe.<br /> <br /> “We’ve made this beer three years in a row,” Herlicka said. “Now we’re scaling up the recipe for the brewery and making sure it stays within state limits.” Herlicka’s innovations aren’t just at the brew kettle. For 2009 Holiday Ale (a special one-off batch of Tripel), Herlicka was inspired to release a personalized gift labe.<br /> <br /> Labeling Logistics<br /> <br /> “People love to give and receive good beer, but there are no good ways to give a bottle that is personalized,” he said. “Writing on bottles with pens does not look good.” Using White Birch’s short-run labeling machine, which Herlicka found in the wine industry, he offers customers the ability to add a custom “To” and “From” right on the label. The concept and the label were approved by the state and well received by the public.<br /> <br /> “We sold out in two days, through the brewery and word of mouth,” Herlicka said.<br /> <br /> White Birch recently added more fermentation capacity (and hopes to bring an re-purposed seven-barrel soda fermenter online).<br /> <br /> “We’re starting 2010 with an additional set of 60- to 200-gallon fermenters and 15 bourbon barrels,” Herlicka said. “Plans call for more new beer styles, more barrelaged beers and larger batches of everyone’s favorites so far. If we’re lucky, we may even see some additional wild beers reaching maturity.” Most batches will definitely be small and sell out quickly.<br /> <br /> “We’re working on adding more stores and doing select events in and out of New Hampshire,” he added.<br /> <br /> Herlicka is excited at the reception his beers have received at events like the Beer Advocate Return of the Belgian Beer Fest.<br /> <br /> “To get out and meet beer enthusiasts has been one of the great pleasures of working in this industry,” Herlicka said.<br /> <br /> Robert Frost, familiar with New Hampshire forests and famous for the poem Birches, would no doubt admire Herlicka’s approach to brewing and appreciate the way that Herlicka goes about his business.<br /> <br /> “Without the support of my family, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Herlicka admitted. “It’s a delicate balance, but it’s what I want to do.” With apologies to the master poet — one could do worse than be a swigger of White Birches.
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