Yankee Brew News June/July 2010 : Page 1

Karen & Sean Lawson of Lawson’s Finest Liquids PHOTO BY MEGAN SCHULTZ By Paul Kowalski By Jamie Magee ver the years, these pages have featured in-depth articles about both breweries and brewers. While Yankee Brew News strives to be the most comprehensive regional beeriodical you’ll ever lay your hands on, sometimes the mind just wants to meander. So we’ve gathered some random informa-tion here. O Back in the Day There are thousands of stories to tell about the backgrounds of the people in the beer business. While some of the younger brewers have only known brewing in their professional careers, the older ones (and older newcomers) hail from a diverse set of backgrounds. Rob Todd of Allagash Brewing in Maine was a geology major in college. Makes you wonder why he didn’t found ILLUSTRATIONS BY; HANS GRANHEIM Stone Brewing — or Rock Art. Maybe his specialty was fluvial geology. Of course, it’s not just the founder who brings experiences into the brewery. Allagash’s shipping/receiving guy, Jeff “Oly” Olsen, was a drummer in the 80s band Trouble. Jeff toured the world with groups such as Black Sabbath, Scorpions and even the Ramones. (Jeff is now recording with his own band called Retro Grave.) Great South Bay Brewery is a new brewery on Long Island. It’s founder, Rick Sobotka, is a board certified anesthesiolo-gist. He’s tackling ways to “Kill the Pain” on a different level. Another Long Island brewer, Tom Fernandez of Fire Island Beer Company, is a psychiatrist. One wonders what he discovers when he analyzes his beer. Dann Paquette of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project in Cambridge worked on CBS News and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous See Random p. 4 brews his Lawson’s Finest Liq-uids one barrel (31 gallons) at a time in a small brewery building patterned after a sugarhouse, the New England shed-like structure where maple syrup is tradition-ally made. He brews knowing that thanks to strong demand, his I INSIDE Voyages of Los Testigos..........................6 Tasting Panel.............................................8 Beer Cooks..............................................12 Home Brewing.........................................18 Guest Tap.................................................20 The Ale House.........................................20 Tasteless Panel.......................................46 Guest Tap 14 n a hillside brewery tucked away on a dirt road in Warren, Vt., the principles of economics are at work. Sean Lawson beers will not be on the shelf for long, and that he better make more soon. Lawson self-distributes his beers, and he is adept at promoting them. Thus, he creates demand for a product that is scarce, and he positions his beers as something that should be grabbed off the shelf while they’re available, because they’ll be gone in an instant — and they are. Fortunately for Lawson, he has the brewing prowess to back up that story. See Lawson’s p. 10 State by State News E. Mass..............14 Boston...............16 W. Mass..............28 Maine.................30 N. Hamshire.......32 Connecticut.......34 Vermont.............36 Rhode Island.....38 New York............40 NY City...............42

Random Facts, Amazing Stories

Jamie Magee

Ver the years, these pages have featured in-depth articles about both breweries and brewers. While Yankee Brew News strives to be the most comprehensive regional beeriodical you’ll ever lay your hands on, sometimes the mind just wants to meander.

So we’ve gathered some random information here.

Back in the Day

There are thousands of stories to tell about the backgrounds of the people in the beer business. While some of the younger brewers have only known brewing in their professional careers, the older ones (and older newcomers) hail from a diverse set of backgrounds.

Rob Todd of Allagash Brewing in Maine was a geology major in college.

Makes you wonder why he didn’t found Stone Brewing — or Rock Art. Maybe his specialty was fl uvial geology.

Of course, it’s not just the founder who brings experiences into the brewery.

Allagash’s shipping/receiving guy, Jeff “Oly” Olsen, was a drummer in the 80s band Trouble. Jeff toured the world with groups such as Black Sabbath, Scorpions and even the Ramones. (Jeff is now recording with his own band called Retro Grave.)

Great South Bay Brewery is a new brewery on Long Island. It’s founder, Rick Sobotka, is a board certifi ed anesthesiologist.

He’s tackling ways to “Kill the Pain” on a different level. Another Long Island brewer, Tom Fernandez of Fire Island Beer Company, is a psychiatrist. One wonders what he discovers when he analyzes his beer.

Dann Paquette of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project in Cambridge worked on CBS News and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Before he became a brewer.

Bill Russell of Just Beer in Massachusetts was baptized using a twoliter 1800s-era German beer stein. It’s the same beer stein used to baptize his grandmother.

And Harry Smith, the Head Brewer at Just Beer, is a descendant of the Murphy family of Cork, Ireland. That’s the Murphy family of Murphy’s Stout.

Tom Ryan & TJ Peckham work at Cape Ann Brewing in Massachusetts, where all the beers are named “Fisherman’s”. In a unique twist, the two actually were fisherman before came to Cape Anne. In order to earn money to start a brewery (not Cape Ann Brewing), the two moved to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to work on a ship in the Bering Sea to longline for cod off the coast of Russia. They worked for 80 days straight pulling 16-hour shifts with no weekends or sick days. Upon their return their buddy, Jeremy Goldberg, had opened Cape Ann Brewing, so they decided to work for him instead of starting their own brewery. Now they are more likely to spill beer than saltwater on their grunden (the orange fishing bibs, their signature apparel at beer shows).

Another tibit fron this micro: Jeremy Goldberg was on Wall Street on 9/11.

Perhaps the most amazing background story is that of Steve Hindy, the founder of Brooklyn Brewing. As a reporter for the AP in the 1980s, Steve was kidnapped in Lebanese by the Southern Lebanon Army (one month before the birth of his first child). He was eventually released, but still encountered life-threatening situations.

There was the time a car bomb exploded, shattering nearly every window in a Beirut hotel except the one left slightly ajar in Hindy’s room. His newborn son was tucked in to sleep beneath that window. There was the day in 1981 when Hindy sat just feet away from Egyptian president Anwar Sadat when he was assassinated during a military parade.

Those Were the Days

Given the longevity of the craft beer movement, practically every brewer has an amazing story to tell.

David Wollner of Willimantic Brewing in Connecticut remembers telling Larry Bell of Kalamazoo Brewing (better known as Bell’s Brewing) at a Craft Brewer’s Conference seminar years ago about how he tried to brew a Cock Ale from an old English recipe. The style, as descibed by Wollner and often seen in old recipe books, featured “Boiling a chicken, beating and flaying it. Then putting it in a sack with your strongest country wine with raisins, mace and cloves. Let it soak for three days while your beer was fermenting. Then put the sack in the beer for two weeks, bottle, as usual.” Wollner remembered the first batch tasted great (though a little flat). For the second batch he decided to experiment and used barbecued chicken. “It tasted FOWL!” he said.

What’s In A Name

Newcomers to the world of craft beer must be amazed at all the names of the beers. Back in the early days, style names were good enough. Nowadays it seems the name is almost as important as the recipe. Kate the Great is a beer brewed by Portsmouth Brewing in New Hampshire. Most everyone knows that name refers to a Russian Czarina. But what about Corkubita’s Gourdgeous Troika Ale? That’s Watch City’s (Massachusetts) dark red Belgian tripel brewed three different types of squash: Blue Hubbard, Buttercup and Butternut.

Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project Jack D’Or was inspired by the “blemya” (headless or bodyless mythical creatures) found in 15th Century carvings in Ripon Cathedral in Yorkshire. (These carvings also inspired Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland.)

Sometimes simpler is the rule.

Bill Herlicka of White Birch Brewing in New Hampshire said of his search for a company name, “I created my list. My wife created her list. We sat down and compared lists. My list sucked. My wife had a few good ideas including “White Birch Brewing.” We decided on this name due to our love of the White Birch trees on our property, which is a major reason we chose our home. Did I mention my list was burned for history’s sake?” Shipyard Brewing in Maine has some interesting facts, among them that Old Thumper is known to be an aphrodisiac. The Last ship built at the shipyard in Kennebunk where Federal Jack’s Restaurant & Brew Pub is located (this is Shipyard Brewing’s brewpub) was not the Federal Jack, but the Margaret B. And the brewery in Portland is built on the site of the birthplace of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

At Cave Mountain Brewing in New York, the wife of Founder/Brewer Tim Adams is named Amber. Her twin sister is named Crystal. Perhaps if there were more siblings, they would be named after other types of malt.

Sizing Up the Industry

Chris Lally of Berkshire Brewing in Massachusetts remembers how his company started with just two delivery vehicles. “A 74 International utility truck and my Chevy Beretta,” Lally said. “I could fit six halfbarrels in the car and the back end dragged every bump. I would pull up next to these monster Budweiser trucks and they would laugh at me, so I would give them a sample.

The rest is history.” Narragansett Beer is the oldest surviving New England beer and in 2010 celebrates its 120th year. Most of its beer is contract brewed in Rochester, N.Y., but some is brewed at Trinity Brewhouse in Providence and some at Cottrell Brewing in Connecticut. Narragansett Beer was also the number one selling beer in New England for much of the 20th Century, peaking at over one million barrels per year and a 65 percent market share in the early 1960s.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Theodore Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) illustrated some of the original Narragansett marketing icons, such as “Chief Gansett.” At Harpoon Brewery in Boston, which began life as “Massachusetts Bay Brewing Company,” the brewers remember bringing home grain to roast in their home ovens.

The local craft brewery may seem like enough beer for your palate, but how big is that brewery in comparison to others? Brent Ryan of Newport Storm/Coastal Extreme in Rhode Island said, “For every small brewery like Troegs or Boulder selling beer across the country, there a literally dozens of Wachusetts, Berkshires and Coastal Extremes patiently brewing beer for their local markets, keeping it fresh by shipping smaller quantities more frequently and moving it through the supply chain in areas that it sells well in. I just saw a Sam Adams commercial last night with Jim Koch talking about how small they are (0.9 percent of the beer market). How small are we? A-B makes more in 15 minutes than we do in a year — that’s literally the difference.

Just Scratching the Surface

These stories just scratch the surface of what one can learn during a few hours of being in a brewpub or brewery.

Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Random+Facts%2C+Amazing+Stories/412049/39918/article.html.

Scarcity And Demand

Paul Kowalski

In a hillside brewery tucked away on a dirt road in Warren, Vt., the principles of economics are at work. Sean Lawson brews his Lawson’s Finest Liquids one barrel (31 gallons) at a time in a small brewery building patterned after a sugarhouse, the New England shed-like structure where maple syrup is traditionally made. He brews knowing that thanks to strong demand, his beers will not be on the shelf for long, and that he better make more soon.

Lawson self-distributes his beers, and he is adept at promoting them. Thus, he creates demand for a product that is scarce, and he positions his beers as something that should be grabbed off the shelf while they’re available, because they’ll be gone in an instant — and they are. Fortunately for Lawson, he has the brewing prowess to back up that story.

Last April at the World Beer Cup, where 642 breweries from around the globe submitted 3,330 beers to compete in 90 beer style categories, Lawson took home a bronze medal in the Specialty Beer category for his Maple Tripple Ale (10.1% ABV). An artisan brewing at the smallest professional scale, Lawson scored a huge victory for himself and the nanobrewery movement that two years ago he helped pioneer.

Staying Local

Lawson’s Finest Liquids beers are occasionally found in stores as far away as Burlington or Montpelier, but Lawson commits to regularly supplying only one shop — The Warren Store — with his 22-ounce bottled beers. This eclectic landmark of a rural country store is a destination in its own right (with great sandwiches), but it’s now also a place to which beer pilgrims set their GPS.

“Lawson’s enjoys a wild following, both locally and out to neighboring towns and far beyond,” said Jack Garvin, manager of the Warren Store. “We have people who come from the Burlington area and people from Massachusetts who call and ask that we set it aside for them. We have no problem selling Sean’s beer, and we’d like to sell more.” Lawson’s Finest Liquids beers don’t gather dust.

“From the time that Sean brings them in, it’s not very long before they’re gone,” Garvin said. “He aspires to having us stocked for the weekend. It goes quickly.” Consumers respond to the scarcity of Lawson’s beers by buying four or six bottles at a time, according to Garvin.

“Or if they’re coming from far away, they’ll buy more,” Garvin added.

An Original Nanobrewery

Lawson’s model of starting small — extremely small — and growing slowly while developing a strong local market has been embraced by a growing number of small brewers around the country. We are in the age of the nanobrewery. Depending on how that term is defi ned (some say it’s for breweries producing batches of three barrels or less), there are 24-four to 30 nanobreweries currently operating in the

U. S., and more are on the way.

On his website’s blog, Lawson notes, “Heck, I didn’t even know [we] are a nanobrewery or that the term existed until about six months after we opened and people started calling us that. At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was an insult or a compliment.” Of the recent bronze medal, Lawson said, “We’re honored to be recognized among the world’s best beers.”

Homebrewing and the Outdoors Life

Lawson was an avid homebrewer for nearly 20 years and had racked up a number of awards for his recipes at homebrew competitions, particularly for his Chinooker’d IPA (6.9% ABV), which is part of his current portfolio. His parallel life as a naturalist/outdoor educator allowed his development as a brewer to fl ourish with stints at Breckenridge Pub & Brewery in Colorado and at Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff, Ariz.

His job as a naturalist at a park in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom led to his getting to know Dan and Laura Gates of Trout River Brewing, which further inspired him to start his own brewery.

Lawson chose to self-distribute his beers and does so almost exclusively in Vermont’s scenic Mad River Valley, home to Sugarbush Resort and the Mad River Glen ski area. Vermont law required him to create a separate entity as a distribution company.

“Whenever there is a delivery at an account, they say, ‘The beer guy is here,’ so I decided to call my wholesale business, The Beer Guy LLC,” Lawson said.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids offi cially opened on St. Patrick’s Day 2008. In the two years since, he’s learned a few things.

“I’ve learned how to make better beer and that you can never make enough beer with a one-barrel brewery,” Lawson said, “although I realized going in that a one-barrel brewery was always a pilot phase as a plan.” Brewing, distributing and promoting are taking up increasing amounts of Lawson’s time, yet he keeps his day job working part time in environmental education and forestry at Mad River Glen. He directs an educational snowshoe outings course and hosts school trips in the winter, as well as an all-day adventure camp for kids in the summer.

Lawson loves both making beer and talking with those who try it.

“The smell of a good mash, or the smell of the brew … it never grows old for me,” Lawson said. “I’m also really happy when I’m connecting with people enjoying our beer or sampling it for the fi rst time. They may have researched it or know nothing at all. When they tell me it’s of the highest quality, that makes me smile. That’s why I do what I do.” When asked, Lawson admits to having a lot of brewing heroes.

“Of course, the late Greg Noonan,” he said. “Also, I love what John and Jen are doing at The Alchemist. It’s hard to single any of them out. Paul Sayler (of American Flatbread/Burlington Hearth in Burlington) is a mentor and a great spirit and friend.

Across the country, the brewing heroes are all the people you never hear about that are making great beer, who folks are going back to and visiting week after week.”

“The moment that stands out the most for me was being at the Vermont Brewers Festival with a booth at the main festival for the fi rst time,” Lawson said. “To be at the opening session and have people lining up as far as I could see was an exciting, exhilarating and slightly nerve wracking moment, but after the fi rst beers were poured I could enjoy it and knew we had arrived as a Vermont brewery.” “He’s a bit of a rock star in the brewing world, these days,” said Garvin of The Warren Store. “And it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. He’s a great guy and a great family guy. Plus, he’s always pushing the envelope with new fl avors.” www.brewingnews.com 11 Lawson has seventeen beers in his portfolio, but few are made year-round.

“I never know exactly what he’s bringing in,” Garvin said. “It’s always a surprise, but that being said, everything he brings in gets sold.”

Back to Economics

Scarcity combined with high demand will lead to a premium price. Garvin said that Lawson’s Finest Liquids mostly sell at $6.99 per 22-ounce bottle, $9.95 for BIG HAPI Imperial Black Ale (7.5% ABV), and 2010 Maple Tripple (expected out in August) will likely sell for $19.95 a bottle In another two years, Lawson would like to have a larger brewing system with a little more capacity to distribute more widely.

“Instead of appearing in Burlington or Montpelier for a few hours, I’d like to have my beers on the shelf more continuously,” Lawson said.

In ten years, Lawson envisions a brewpub in the Mad River Valley with enough capacity to continue with distribution within Vermont.

“It’s been a great journey thus far,” Lawson said. “The plan to start small, to produce the highest quality beer I could make and to focus on developing the recipes and developing the market for a premium price beer in Vermont has gone very well for me.”


“You gotta come here to drink the beer,” Lawson said. “My vision is always to be a Vermont beer that you have to come to Vermont to get. Of course, the beer traders have already proven me wrong on an extremely limited basis.” Lawson and his wife and partner, Karen, have had some great moments over the past two years.

“The moment that stands out the most for me was being at the Vermont Brewers Festival with a booth at the main festival for the fi rst time,” Lawson said. “To be at the opening session and have people lining up as far as I could see was an exciting, exhilarating and slightly nerve wracking moment, but after the fi rst beers were poured I could enjoy it and knew we had arrived as a Vermont brewery.” “He’s a bit of a rock star in the brewing world, these days,” said Garvin of The Warren Store. “And it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. He’s a great guy and a great family guy. Plus, he’s always pushing the envelope with new fl avors.” www.brewingnews.com 11 Lawson has seventeen beers in his portfolio, but few are made year-round.

“I never know exactly what he’s bringing in,” Garvin said. “It’s always a surprise, but that being said, everything he brings in gets sold.”

Back to Economics

Scarcity combined with high demand will lead to a premium price. Garvin said that Lawson’s Finest Liquids mostly sell at $6.99 per 22-ounce bottle, $9.95 for BIG HAPI Imperial Black Ale (7.5% ABV), and 2010 Maple Tripple (expected out in August) will likely sell for $19.95 a bottle.

In another two years, Lawson would like to have a larger brewing system with a little more capacity to distribute more widely.

“Instead of appearing in Burlington or Montpelier for a few hours, I’d like to have my beers on the shelf more continuously,” Lawson said.

In ten years, Lawson envisions a brewpub in the Mad River Valley with enough capacity to continue with distribution within Vermont.

“It’s been a great journey thus far,” Lawson said. “The plan to start small, to produce the highest quality beer I could make and to focus on developing the recipes and developing the market for a premium price beer in Vermont has gone very well for me.”

Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Scarcity+And+Demand/412055/39918/article.html.

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