Yankee Brew News August/September 2010 : Page 1
By Gregg Glaser Vintage motorcycles on display in the Paper City Taproom. Inset-Owner Jay Hebert. Story and photos by Rita Windcaller We have dozens of great beer bars in the Yankee Brew News region, many of which carry multi-taps of excellent craft beers and lots of choices of bottled beers. A great number of these beer bars also serve excel-lent food. But what about the ‘fine dining’ restaurants, white linen tablecloth or not? How are they dealing with beer — or are they not and simply offering a few macro beers from the U.S. or abroad and remaining wine-centric? We decided to ask a few craft brewers in our region, and also a couple of importers of good beers, to tell us about their successes and frustrations in getting fine dining restau-rants to carry good beers and also to create beer lists, just as these restaurants all do with wine. We then asked a few people at fine dining restaurants — recommended by the brewers and importers — how they view beer at their restaurants. wo people sit on wooden steps, five flights up, A Shift for the Better “I’m lucky to have the benefit of a long term view,” said Peter Egelston, the owner of Smuttynose Brewing in Portsmouth, N.H. “There’s a shift for the better now with good restaurants carrying good beer. But there are still plenty of restaurants that carry 200 wines and many by the glass, however beer is a small listing or doesn’t exist.” Egelston recalled an incident that took place about five years ago. He made a sales call on the owner of a restaurant and dropped See Lists p. 4 waiting for the doors to the brewery to open. The couple who traveled from Greenfield, 30 miles up on Interstate 91, are willing to arrive a half hour early for the 6 p.m. opening in a non-air-conditioned stairwell on a hot June INSIDE Calendar ...............................................3 The Ale House .....................................8 Tasting Panel .....................................10 Beer Cooks ........................................12 Homebrewing .....................................18 Guest Tap ...........................................20 Tasteless Panel ..................................46 night. They smile coyly and explain, “We’re used to a crowd of people lining up to get in on Friday nights.” Is it brewery dedica-tion or the lure of ample beer? Who knows and who cares, because it’s another Thursday night Tour and Tasting two-hour session at Paper City Brewery (PCB). From the many volunteers over the years State by State News See Paper City p.6 E. Mass..............14 Boston...............16 W. Mass..............28 Maine.................30 N. Hampshire.....32 Connecticut.......34 Vermont.............36 Rhode Island.....38 New York............40 NY City...............42 Regional Beer Maps & Directories ...22-27
Good Beer Lists
We have dozens of great beer bars in the Yankee Brew News region, many of which carry multi-taps of excellent craft beers and lots of choices of bottled beers. A great number of these beer bars also serve excellent food. But what about the ‘fine dining’ restaurants, white linen tablecloth or not? How are they dealing with beer — or are they not and simply offering a few macro beers from the U.S.Or abroad and remaining wine-centric?
We decided to ask a few craft brewers in our region, and also a couple of importers of good beers, to tell us about their successes and frustrations in getting fine dining restaurants to carry good beers and also to create beer lists, just as these restaurants all do with wine. We then asked a few people at fine dining restaurants — recommended by the brewers and importers — how they view beer at their restaurants.
A Shift for the Better
“I’m lucky to have the benefit of a long term view,” said Peter Egelston, the owner of Smuttynose Brewing in Portsmouth, N.H. “There’s a shift for the better now with good restaurants carrying good beer. But there are still plenty of restaurants that carry 200 wines and many by the glass, however beer is a small listing or doesn’t exist.”
Egelston recalled an incident that took place about five years ago. He made a sales call on the owner of a restaurant and dropped Off samples. The owner wasn’t a beer person, so he gave the beers to his dishwasher to see if he liked them enough to add to the restaurant’s drinks list.
“That wouldn’t happen now,” Egelston said, “because of more beer coverage in the press and a growing beer culture. The foolish arrogance of wine is evaporating as young chefs are more knowledgeable and conversant with beer and food. It’s a generational shift. Also changing is the idea that one beer is the same as next, and that beer is an interchangeable commodity.”
Egelston also pointed out that restaurant owners’ fears that beer sales will eat into wine sales are wrong.
“They can make more money with a good selection of beers,” Egelston said.
It’s a Hurdle
“Selling our beer to restaurants has changed over the years,” said Matt Nadeau of Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, Vt. “It’s easier now, but it’s still a hurdle to get past the restaurant owners’ belief that ‘sophisticated equals wine.’ In Vermont, it’s an easier task, because people here understand beer.” Nadeau said another big hurdle for good beers to get on a restaurant’s list is logistics.
“The restaurant owner has to print the list, create the timing of the list and determine how to pair beer with food items on the menu. How much effort does an owner want to put into it? It’s more work on their part.” But Nadeau said he doesn’t think it will be too long before consumers start expecting better beer lists.
“And beer travelers are a great idea for restaurants to appeal to,” Nadeau said.
“These people will travel for good beer.”
Craft Beer Has Broken Beer Out of Its Old Mold
Bill Leahy is the Fine Dining Specialist at Harpoon Brewery in Boston.
“Before me, my position was part-time at Harpoon,” Leahy said. “Now one person is doing this job because of Harpoon’s commitment to fine dining, white linen tablecloth restaurants. It’s good for craft brewers to be represented in these places.”
Leahy said he’s having success with local restaurants, especially those catering to the locavore movement, in which the restaurant serves locally grown and produced foods.
“These types of restaurants need a good craft beer to go with their mission statements of sourcing locally,” Leahy said. “It makes no sense to ship a beer from Holland or to slap together a beer list when local craft beer is available. This is counterproductive. It’s good for us to be associated with local and sustainable restaurants. Craft beer has broken beer out of its old mold where macro beer put it.”Gas Station Beer List, Not the Norm.
“There are now certainly good restaurants with more beers, and a few have a well put together beer list,” said Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn. “The gas station beer list is no longer the norm.” Oliver said that sometimes beer is an afterthought for a restaurant, but the owner is leaving good money on the table.
“Restaurant owners think they can’t afford for even a small percentage of wine sales to be lost to beer,” Oliver said, “but no restaurants we’ve worked with have lost wine sales to beers.”
When he calls on a restaurant, Oliver concentrates on convincing the owner or drinks manager how beer pairs well with appetizers, cheese plates and desserts.
“I let them sell wine for the entrée, and they’re happy,” Oliver admitted. “I don’t have to concede beer for the entrée, but I’ll do so.” Oliver also commented on how there’s a different relationship with a customer for the restaurant when good beer has been paired with food at the table.
“The customer remembers the excellent beer pairing that was a surprise and leaves talking about that,” Oliver said. “They don’t remember the wine.”
Wine Guys Don’t Push Beer
“Many of our distributors in Maine overlook beer because they send their wine guy to the restaurant,” said Bruce Forsley of Shipyard Brewing in Portland, Maine, “and the wine guy doesn’t push beer — he sees it as a competitor to wine sales.” Forsley said that big format beers (largesized bottles) at higher alcohol by volume levels are a good opportunity for higher sales at a restaurant.
“These types of beers are dominated by Belgian ales,” Forsley admitted, “and they are formidable opponents. And some restaurant chefs and owners are not yet educated on beer. They’re still wine-centric.”
Beer is the New Wine
“Getting good beer onto a restaurant’s drinks list starts with getting the awareness of the restaurant owner that beer is the new wine,” said Joe Lipa of Merchant du Vin, a pioneering importer of good beers, beginning in 1978.
Lipa said that the task of selling good beers to restaurants is merchandizing and educational sensitive.
“For merchandizing,” Lipa said, “a beer menu is needed. And the restaurant staff has to be educated. Today, there’s a lot of restaurant staff training from breweries and importers. This is needed to reach success with customers.”
Lipa also stressed the importance of a properly put together beer list.
“This has to be done by beer style, not by country,” Lipa said. “When done by style, this gives the restaurant two or three beers for each style, and then the list grows with more and different beers. It gives credibility to the beer list. Listing beers by country is a joke.It’s like listing wines from California with reds and whites together.”
Lipa said he’s also noticed some restaurants putting mass-market beers at the bottom of a beer or wine list — sort of relegating them to a ghetto.
“Many restaurant owners now know that without a good beer list they’re not cool,” Lipa added. “Younger customers want it. It’s a pull, not a push.”
Exploding in No-Man’s-Land
“Tremendous progress has been made in earning good beer a decent place on the menus of serious restaurants over the past two to three decades,” said Wendy Littlefield of Vanberg & DeWulf, another pioneering import firm with an emphasis on Belgian ales. “The pace has accelerated considerably in the last five years and has particularly exploded in markets that were a no-man’sland for specialty beer until quite recently — often due to alcohol limits. Just about every town of any size in any state in the nation now has at last one decent place for good food and a fine array of beers. What a change, and what a relief.”
Littlefield said that some of the growth of good beer lists at restaurants has been driven by the trend towards the opening of gastropubs.
“Quite often these establishments have a bit of a Belgian accent,” Littlefield said.“Almost invariably, gastropubs strive to have decent beer lists — and a good representation of Belgian beers. The saison style seems to be particularly well represented in this class of restaurant.”
For us what makes a good beer list is one that is intelligently researched, imaginatively keyed to the food that is served and clearly explained to the clientele by a well informed staff,” Littlefield said. “The good restaurants always have something local and well made on the menu, and that reflects the personal predilections of the owners and managers.The more passionate, individualistic and entrepreneurial the restaurateur, the better the beer list is likely to be.
Black Trumpet — Pairing with Food
Pairing with Food “I’m a big believer in pairing beer and food, and we have food that’s complimentary to beer,” said Evan Mallett, the chef and coowner of the Black Trumpet in Portsmouth,
N. H., which he described as a Mediterranean bistro.
“We have one page of beers in a book of wines,” Mallett said, “and the list includes four draft beers and five or six bottles.These beers are always funky with a mix of craft beers and imports. We update this list monthly.”
Mallet also has a special program with the local microbrewery, Smuttynose Brewing, in which the Black Trumpet receives five-gallon logs (small kegs) of all of Smuttynose’s special beers through the year.
“We talk about beer and wine interchangeably to our customers,” Mallett said. “Why should beer be secondary? We don’t treat our food like that.”
Brahm Callahan is the Beer Director at Post 390 Restaurant in Boston, which he described as serving “upscale comfort food” in an “urban tavern style.”
“We print a beer list and update it every two weeks,” Callahan said. “We have 12 draft beers, one cask ale and 35 bottled beers with lots of craft beers of all styles and regions.” Having a dedicated Beer Director says a lot about Post 390s’s dedication to maintaining a good beer list.
“People don’t know beer is so food friendly, more so than wine,” Callahan said.
Draft and Bottle
“We began with 22-ounce bottles of good beers two years ago,” said Adam Coulter, owner of The Perfect Pear Café in Bradford, Vt., which he described as a casual fine dining restaurant. “We serve these bigger bottles like table bottles of wine, and we’ve had a lot of success selling higher-end beers this way.”
Coulter said he rotates his draft beer selection a great deal, which consists of four taps.
He also maintains a list of about 10 bottled beers. As of this year, The Perfect Pear Café also became a brewpub serving house-brewed beers under the name of the Vermont Beer Company.
“My beer advice to restaurants is to get specialty beers and rotate,” Coulter said.
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Good+Beer+Lists/470391/44339/article.html.
Paper City Brewing Co.
Two people sit on wooden steps, five flights up, waiting for the doors to the brewery to open. The couple who traveled from Greenfield, 30 miles up on Interstate 91, are willing to arrive a half hour early for the 6 p.m. opening in a non-air-conditioned stairwell on a hot June Night. They smile coyly and explain, “We’re used to a crowd of people lining up to get in on Friday nights.”
Is it brewery dedication or the lure of ample beer? Who knows and who cares, because it’s another Thursday night Tour and Tasting twohour session at Paper City Brewery (PCB).From the many volunteers over the years Who help run the two-night event and the Wednesday night bottling line, the scene has a familial feel that is all Holyoke all the time.
Once the doors open at six, 20 people filter into the cavernous hall and belly up to the bar. Seven bucks gets you endless samples of beers from eight different taps.On the way out, you’re entitled to a fourpack sample of bottled beers to go. Bring a can of nonperishable food in and save yourself a buck while helping a needy family.And so it goes each week from February to December; locals and tourists alike descend upon the 15-year-old brewery. There is flowing beer, card games on Thursday and live bands on Friday.
From the street level there is no sign on the five-story building that says brewery, or even a tasting taking place. If not for directions to the brewery on every six-pack of PCB beer sold, the place would be easy to pass by. The canals that surround the postindustrial section of Holyoke and the mammoth buildings up and down the waterways all seem to look alike. It’s a city on the cusp, waiting for the renaissance.
To get into the brewery’s parking area, each car must creep along a narrow brick cobblestone path dating back to 1871 when Holyoke was a thriving mill town much like Lowell, Mass. The door leading into a massive stairwell doesn’t have an entrance sign. If geocaching and high adventure is your cup of tea, this brewery will not disapPoint. There’s a pot of gold for all thirsty palates that hike five flights up. Once done, it would be almost harmonically convergent if a sliding window opened and the guard to the Emerald City greeted you. No such luck, but Martha, who will collect your money and check ID, is a close second with the warmest of smiles.
The Local Boy
At the helm of Paper City Brewery is Jay Hebert, a local boy who has seen the potential of Holyoke since he was a wee boy.“My dad had a vending company dealing with juke boxes and pool tables that my brother and I still run today,” Hebert said.“At ten I would fix a cover for a pool table and then sit down and have a soda with my dad. I’ve been in bars my whole life.”
“I started brewing when I was seventeen in the late 1970s right after Jimmy Carter made it legal to homebrew,” Hebert continued. “I got the ingredients from the Northampton homebrew shop (Beer & Winemaking Supplies), and I would use all of my mom’s pot and pans. We didn’t know what an IPA was supposed to taste like back then. My friends all drank it down, so at least it tasted good.”
Hebert started a construction company and kept making beer for himself. Some time around 1994 or 1995, he went to a beer course lecture by Michael Lewis in Cambridge, Mass. Lewis said, “You’d be a fool to start your own brewery,” Hebert remembered.
Hebert took the advice in stride, but when the building that now houses the brewery became available, fate made its choice for the then 33-year-old soon-to-be brewery owner.
“The story about the building is quite a tale,” Hebert said. “It had been used to store tobacco and before that it housed looms for the Farr Alpaca Company (F.A.C.). It went up for auction for $70,000 when tobacco plummeted in price. The building didn’t have a title, so the Original buyer bowed out of the sale. A year later I was asked if I wanted to make an offer. My attorney figured out how to make title. I made an offer of $40,000 that was accepted.”
Hebert and his brother, Jon, had a limo business at the time. The ground floor of the five-story building is known as the Winter Palace, a huge theater room where F.A.C. had put on performances. It has a huge stage complete with a balcony, and to the Hebert brothers it looked like a good place to park their stretch limos. With four more floors of open space overhead, Hebert knew he had found just the space to start the brewery.
An industrial-size elevator is tucked away into one corner of the building, which is used to truck up grains and machinery.Besides brewery supplies, the elevator moved Hebert’s collection of vintage Indian and Harley motorbikes up to the tasting room. Ten bikes flank one wall and would make a trip to the Holyoke brewery worthwhile even if you didn’t get a sip of beer.
Hebert has finally come full circle and is now the head brewer after always having hired someone else to do the brewing.
“I’ve finally stepped into brewing fulltime,” Hebert said. “We’re contract brewing for High & Mighty, Rapscallion and Landmark and increasing the supply of our own beer. I wish I could have done it differently from the get-go, but here I am.”
Paper City is known for its malty beers, and Hebert has no qualms about it.
“I like malty beer,” Hebert admitted.
“We’re coming to the point were hops are a bit over the top.” With the hop shortage from the year past, Hebert talked about how you have to work a beer with the ingredients that you have.
“Consistency is important,” Hebert said, “but not so much that small changes can’t be made, if say the usual hop isn’t available.”
Notable Paper City beers are Holyoke Dam Ale, India’N Pale Ale IPA and Cabot Street Summer Wheat. Holyoke Dam and IPA are brewed year-round. Cabot Street Wheat is out now, and for the fall PCB has brewed one heck of an Oktoberfest. Winter Palace Wee Heavy is a Scotch ale that is named after the first floor Winter Palace that Hebert hopes to someday turn into a brewpub.
Belgian Brown Ale has been bottle conditioning since last winter. It’s spiced with nutmeg and sweet gale, an aromatic herb that wafts up and teases the senses. The beer’s high alcohol content (9.0% ABV) is well hidden, so watch out.A two-year beer project is in the works, which is hush-hush for now, but if all goes well and it’s as good as Belgium Brown Ales tastes, then PCB fans are in for a big treat in 2012.
True to the welcoming and laid-back nature of PCB, a Tuesday night Scotch tasting is now being held at the brewery. Hebert selects a bottle, the cost is five bucks for a 2-ounce taster and cigar smokers are welcome.The next scheduled dates are August 17 and September 14.
Besides keeping up with the demand of making beer, onsite projects include putting in a new boiler, getting some new chillers online, putting a new floor down in the brewery and getting a part for the persnickety bottling line. If volunteering to work at a brewery is a doable prospect and getting free beers is payment enough, Hebert encourages people to give the brewery a call.
Meanwhile, nobody should delay in getting to a Tour and Tasting sometime this fall. The bartenders are sure to remember your name, good looks and tips. This is one experience that should be on everyone’s todo beer trips.
The last call has come and gone.
Reluctantly, the revelers leave the taproom and head down the flight of stairs. Some are headed home, others head to Hebert’s other venture, Stony’s Bar, across the river for pizza and more beer. The lights dim and the massive building becomes quiet. Hebert is behind the bar now, pouring Belgium Brown Ale for the tasting. His quiet reflection and tales of Holyoke show the depth of his love for the city. All in all, life is getting better at Paper City Brewery, or as Jay Hebert said, “We’re back. Stronger than ever.”
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Paper+City+Brewing+Co./470393/44339/article.html.