Yankee Brew News December 2010/January 2011 : Page 1
M A top it off. As the honey and water mixture warmed up a bit, fermentation would start and mysteriously this elixir would bubble forth and froth like a magic potion. The local resident wild yeasts would do their thing, and after a short fermenta-tion period a sweet and alcoholic elixir would develop. I wish I were there to see that ﬁ rst caveman’s smile after he had a few conch shells of this great new stuff. I don’t remember when it happened to me, but I’m sure that ﬁ rst bite of chocolate I had as a baby probably put that same grin on my face. The origin of the word “honeymoon” comes from the tradition of newlywed couples See Mead & Cider p. 4 By Paul Zocco & Ria Windcaller Mead, Nature’s Nectar Mead has been documented as the old-est form of all fermentable drinks, dating as far back as Aristotle and Virgil. Its presence has been seen in ancient cave paintings where primi-tive man was depicted gathering honey from beehives. Honey was the major sweetening agent for thousands of years, until the advent of sugar cane. How did mead originate? Who was the ﬁ rst meadmaker? I’d like to imagine that perhaps a little rainwater found its way into a stash of honey that was stored in a carved-out wooden bowl or coco-nut shell. A gentle rain would then dorned with dried Cascade hops and overlooking the expansive, state-of-the-art craft brewery, the original black and white sign from Sebago Brewing’s ﬁ rst brewpub is displayed on top of the storage coolers at the Gorham Industrial Park brewery in Gorham, Maine. On a visit to the brewery, with an onslaught of hip-hop vibrating in the background, Kai Adams quickly and enthusiastically weaved by the copper brewhouse, fermenters and the bottling line to turn down the radio. “I prefer heavy metal,” Adams said as he points out the sign. “There’s the sign from our ﬁ rst South Portland Brewery.” See Sebago p. 7 Kai Adams of Sebago Brewing at the Local Harvest release in Portland. ALL PHOTOS BY HOLLIE CHADWICK Event Calendar ......................................3 Tasting Panel .......................................10 Beer Cooks ..........................................12 Alehouse News ....................................13 Homebrew ............................................18 Guest Tap .............................................20 Book Review ........................................19 Maps & Directories .........................22-27 Tasteless Panel ....................................46 Inside State by State News E Massachusetts ...14 Boston ..................16 W Massachusetts ..28 Maine ....................30 New Hampshire ...32 Connecticut ..........34 Vermont ................36 Rhode Island ........ 38 New York .............. 40 New York City....... 42
Paul Zocco & Ria Windcaller
Mead,Nature’s Nectar<br /> <br /> Mead has been documented as the oldest form of all fermentable drinks, dating as far back as Aristotle and Virgil. Its presence has been seen in ancient cave paintings where primitive man was depicted gathering honey from beehives. Honey was the major sweetening agent for thousands of years, until the advent of sugar cane.<br /> <br /> How did mead originate?Who was the first meadmaker?I’d like to imagine that perhaps a little rainwater found its way into a stash of honey that was stored in a carved-out wooden bowl or coconut shell. A gentle rain would then Top it off. As the honey and water mixture warmed up a bit, fermentation would start and mysteriously this elixir would bubble forth and froth like a magic potion. The local resident wild yeasts would do their thing, and after a short fermentation period a sweet and alcoholic elixir would develop. I wish I were there to see that first caveman’s smile after he had a few conch shells of this great new stuff. I don’t remember when it happened to me, but I’m sure that first bite of chocolate I had as a baby probably put that same grin on my face.<br /> <br /> The origin of the word “honeymoon” comes from the tradition of newlywed couples Drinking copious amounts of mead in the beginning days of their marriage. It sounds like a great way to start a long mead-filled relationship with someone — I think we should consider continuing this great tradition.The pleasant sweetness of the honey and the subsequent glowing effects of the alcohol would surely temper most marital disturbances.<br /> <br /> We’re all familiar with honey used as a sweetener. It’s around 80 percent sugars, with glucose and fructose being the most abundant types. Honey also contains other sugars including maltose and sucrose in smaller percentages. Organic acids, most notably gluconic acid results in a low pH ranging from 3.4-6.1.<br /> <br /> Popular honey varieties for mead-making include orange blossom, tupelo, huajillo, mesquite, sage, buckwheat, raspberry, wildflower and clover. Honeys made from the nectar of fruit bearing plants don’t always taste like the fruit of that plant, but there may be subtle notes of the donor plant. Orange blossom or clover honey are two examples of distinct flavors that may carry over into the honey a bit more dramatically and henceforth into the mead. One must try various styles of meads made with particular honey types to see what suits your palate.<br /> <br /> Without too much science and tech stuff, simple mead is basically a mixture of honey, water and yeast but may contain other ingredients. Different mead-based drinks go by different names.<br /> <br /> Melomels are meads made with fruits, fruit purees or fruit juices. Common additions include fresh raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and black currant, which are added to the base mead. Cyser is a basic mead incorporating apple juice or cider instead of water in the mead-making process. Various types of apples as well as different honey types produce particular and individual flavors and aromas. Pyment is mead that incorporates grapes or grape juice in the basic recipe. Most pyments have a sweet finish due to their high residual sugar content, but dry versions are available. Metheglin, from the Welsh word “medcylglin” translates to “medicine”. These meads are made using various combinations of herbs and spices. I personally enjoy the flavors cinnamon and cloves, which seem to accentuate the sweetness of the honey. A rare style of mead is Hippocras, named after Hippocrates, the father of medicine. This version of mead uses includes both grape juice and spices. The final type of mead is Braggot, a medieval elixir made with honey, water and yeast with combinations of malt and/or hop additions.<br /> <br /> Mead in New England<br /> <br /> Meaderies in America are relatively rare but are beginning to emerge. There are currently 150 meaderies in the U.S., and the number is growing. Vicky Rowe, the developer of an informative website, gotmead.Com, said that the number of meaderies opening up in the U.S. is growing by about 10-15 percent per year. The last count in New England includes six operating meaderies, two each in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.<br /> <br /> There were 3,000 commercial beekeepers in the U.S. just three years ago. For various reasons, there are now only 600 remaining apiaries which produce 75 percent of the annual $17 billion crop. That’s a lot of honey and a lot of money.<br /> <br /> A meadery startup in Londonderry,N. H., is Moonlight Meadery. The owner is Michael Fairbrother, a longtime home meadmaker on the competition circuit who recently made the jump from backyard meadmaking to developing a licensed commercial meadery. Fairbrother is currently producing 14 styles of mead including many versions of traditional melomels, various spiced methyglins and unusual styles incorporating coffee, red pepper flakes and ginger.All of his meads are produced by hand, using old-fashioned sweat and muscle. They are also hand bottled and labeled, probably in the same fashion as emerging brewers did just a decade ago.<br /> <br /> “I’ve pretty much done everything here at the meadery myself, from artwork, website design, to producing and hand bottling my product,” Fairbrother said. “Having outgrown my current winery (honey wine), previously known as my garage, I’m in the middle of an expansion to a new facility that will have a tasting room and retail store.Hopefully, I’ll open in November and plan on direct shipping into several states in the near future.”<br /> <br /> There are a few other New England meaderies currently in production.<br /> <br /> Owner and meadmaker Jim Baranski of Shalom Orchard & Winery in Franklin, Maine said: “People must be educated about mead and what it is, its history and styles.All of our meads are made with organic honey, but because we’re located within two miles of active pesticide use at other farms, we can’t be certified as organic.” Shalom Winery is currently producing six varieties of mead.<br /> <br /> Also in Maine, the Bartlett Maine Estate Winery of Gouldsboro has been making mead commercially for 30 years.Owners Robert and Kathe Bartlett were the first in Maine to open a winery, and they actively lobbied at the state level to change various wine laws. Bartlett Estates currently produces both sweet and dry versions and are distilling mead into spirits such as Eau de Vie.<br /> <br /> “We’re making peach and pear brandy and also produce an apple brandy made in the style of Calvados,” Robert Bartlett said.<br /> <br /> Down south a bit in Massachusetts, Green River Ambrosia in Greenfield has been in business since 2007, currently producing 10 meads including melomels and cysers.<br /> <br /> One difference with our mead making process is that we don’t heat our mixtures to above 100°F”, said co-owner Shaneyfelt, “and all of our honey is local. We use absolutely no preservatives of any kind.”<br /> <br /> Green River has been experimenting with bourbon barrel cysers, buckwheat honeys, a new winter warmer style strong Mead and is currently working on a braggot (a hopped mead).<br /> <br /> A winery in Massachusetts producing mead is Nashoba Valley Winery, located in Bolton. After obtaining the state’s first farm distiller’s license in 2003, owners Rich and Cindy Pelletier branched out and added mead to their portfolio of wines and spirits.A mead-based brandy called Baerenfang was developed in 2005. This interesting name came from a 200-year-old tale in which it’s stated that locals placed pans of fermented honey brandy in the forest to attract bears.It was believed that bears would be easier to capture when in a state of happy inebriation.<br /> <br /> Ash Fischbein and Matt Traham of The Sap House, located in Center Ossipee, N.H., have taken a different approach. Among the maple syrup-based products, The Sap House has produced a mead with a backbone of male syrup, honey and black tea, utilizing two of New England’s indigenous harvests.<br /> <br /> The startup process described by Fairbrother mirrors the journey many commercial craft brewers made just a few years ago. It was then (and still is) that enterprising homebrewers and investors had the vision to start their own craft brewery. There have been many stories about determined individuals scouring old dairy farms in search of used dairy tanks and equipment to be converted into breweries. With the same wit, resourcefulness and luck those brewers had a few years ago, we will be seeing more people like Fairbrother opening up successful meaderies in the near future.<br /> <br /> Move Over Beer, Cider is Back in Town<br /> <br /> Cider, cidre or what is commonly called hard cider is the middle child of fermentable beverages. Since the industrial revolution it has been ignored by the brewing industry and pooh-poohed by the wine sommelier.That is, until now. Never underestimate the middle child, who sits seemingly idle as the youngest gets flowered with attention and the oldest all the accolades. Cider’s day has come, and it is slowly but surely rolling into town like a thunderous hog to a Harley convention. You are forewarned.<br /> <br /> Like the micro beer boom of the early 1990s, commercial cidermakers are popping up daily from New England to Washington State. Meanwhile, government groups such As Michigan’s Agricultural department are falling head over heels at the prospects of supporting a locally sustainable product.Cider was once the most popular drink for every man, woman and child in colonial America, and now the middle child is back in vogue. It’s hip to be drinking cider, and it’s even stealing the hearts of beer lovers and brewers.<br /> <br /> Dan Young, who co-owned and founded The People’s Pint microbrewery in Greenfield, Mass., fell in love and moved to Michigan in 2004 to be closer to his wife Nikki Rothwell’s family and her job as Director of the Research Extension Service in Michigan. Young, who left behind a solid career as brewpub owner, looked to cidermaking as the solution to, “What the hell I was going to do with my life now?” He was stunned by the abundance of apple orchards in his new state. Michigan is a leading producer in the U.S. for fruits. There’s the Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo with daylong workshops on things such as asparagus and, of course, cidermaking. The Julian-Stille Agricultural Innovative Grant provided the monies for Young and Rothwell to do a feasibility study on starting a cidery, and thus in 2008 Tandem Ciders was born.<br /> <br /> Young meets and greets tourists in the cider tasting room year round and can barely keep up with the demand. He fills growlers of cider with names like Smacintoush and Lucky 13. The cider house sits comfortably on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, a “Park Place and Boardwalk” monopoly location, something every pub-crawler can appreciate — easily accessible libations.<br /> <br /> Back in New England<br /> <br /> Peter Mitchell of Headwater Cider in Hawley, Mass., would give his right toe to have such a location, location, location.Mitchell is the new cidermaker on the block in western Massachusetts, having just received his license to produce cider in January 2010. That makes this fall’s apple harvest the first legally viable batch that he can produce. Hawley, though is a “dry town,” forcing Mitchell to cart his wares out of town, but that appears to matter little to the man. He joked that he got into cidermaking For “the chicks and the money.” But this aquatic ecologist, who works for the state sampling streams, caught the cider bug after attending CiderDays, a two-day event held each November in Massachusetts’ Franklin County and is touted as one of the world’s largest cider events.<br /> <br /> Cider has always been credited with making sane folks do crazy things, and Mitchell’s purchase of an apple orchard in the middle of February — “It was freakin’ cold up there [in Hawley]” — is right up there with insane pursuits. He has since built a 2,000-square-foot cider house, heated via geothermal heat pumps and a windmill.<br /> <br /> “If I don’t drop dead (read: from apple farming, cidermaking fatigue),” Mitchell said, he expects the 500 cider trees he planted in an already full orchard to start bearing fruit in four to five years. Headwater’s orchard is the only fully certified organic orchard in Massachusetts. Mitchell described his apples as pretty ugly looking, not ones you would want to bite into too, but that’s just fine with the cidermaker. Apples are the Imelda Marcos of fruits. Imelda had a pair of shoes for every occasion, and the apple has a variety for every use; there are eating apples, apples for pies and then there are apples specifically for cidermaking.<br /> <br /> If Steve C of Farnum Hill Ciders in Lebanon, N.H., had his way, more folks would be knowledgeable of “terrior” and not take apple varieties for granted. His 100-acre apple farm, Poverty Lane Orchards, weathered through the apple crash of the 1880s when China and Brazil took the lead in apple production. Now the guy is an apple evangelist touting the virtues of terrior.<br /> <br /> “Cider is like wine,” Woods said.“You have to think, what fruit can a piece of ground grow? We have ripped up acres of Macintosh and planted inedible apples.”<br /> <br /> Those inedible apples, though, are good for cidermaking, and Farnum Hill was one of the first commercially available ciders on local shelves. Thirsty Thursdays takes place year-round at the orchard, where cider lovers can buy or refill growlers.<br /> <br /> “We always have something going on, Woods said. “Though it is catch as catch can, where you might get the tail end of a Kingston Black cider (Kingston Black is a cider apple) to take home.”<br /> <br /> If Woods is on hand when you stop in, get him to tell you the story of his first meeting with Judith and Terry Maloney, founders of West County Winery, located in Colrain, Mass.<br /> <br /> “They showed up in a beat-up old station wagon to pick up a couple bushels of cider apples. Terry was making cider in five-gallon carboys in his basement. We completely disagreed about cider but had a great respect for each other.”<br /> <br /> Terry Maloney, who along with his wife, Judith, helped start CiderDays sixteen years ago back when it was only a one-day event. Since that time West County Ciders have been considered some of the best in the country, and Terry, who met an untimely death earlier this year, was held in high esteem.He’s considered to have been a major contributor to getting the cider revolution up and running.<br /> <br /> To ignore our neighbors to the north when talking about “sigh-dah” would be sacre bleu. Canada has been on the cusp of ice cider since Christian Barthomeuf honed the technique 20 years ago. With ice wine the grapes are left on the tree to freeze, something that doesn’t work well for apples.Instead, Ice Cideries such as Eden Ice Cider in West Charleston, Vt., take the pressed sweet cider and, according to the Quebec standard, leave the juice outside to freeze.The apple juice separates from the water and is then made into a dessert cider that has 13 percent residual sugar.<br /> <br /> Not everyone lives in a cold climate, so ice cidermakers like Stillwater Winery in Harvard, Mass., which boasts 80 apples in every bottle, puts its sweet cider in freezers.<br /> <br /> Is Stillwater true ice cider or not?Can only decent cider be made with a cider apple? Is terrior really so important to cider quality? Will one of America’s first fermented drinks succumb to hoitytoity ways? Is that a resounding “No stink’in way” heard from cider lovers near and far?You betcha. An apple a day may keep the Doctor away, but a pint of cider keeps you zesty and wild.<br /> <br /> Bartender, make that two pints of Johnny Mash Cider, tout suite!<br /> <br /> Ria Windcaller — Ms. CiderDays
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Sebago Brewing: Still Growing
Adorned with dried Cascade hops and overlooking the expansive, state-of-the-art craft brewery, the original black and white sign from Sebago Brewing’s first brewpub is displayed on top of the storage coolers at the Gorham Industrial Park brewery in Gorham, Maine.On a visit to the brewery, with an onslaught of hip-hop vibrating in the background, Kai Adams quickly and enthusiastically weaved by the copper brewhouse, fermenters and the bottling line to turn down the radio.<br /> <br /> “I prefer heavy metal,” Adams said as he points out the sign. “There’s the sign from our first South Portland Brewery.”<br /> <br /> This centralized brewery was built in 2005.<br /> <br /> “The brewery has grown 45 percent this year,” Adams said, “We’ve installed two new tanks with another one on the way.”<br /> <br /> Growth at Sebago is strong, and looking at the current Maine beer landscape it’s hard to imagine Sebago was once just one small brewery and restaurant with 35 employees. In the New England state known for its rocky coastline, forested interior and where Ringwood-yeasted beers were the standard in the late 1980s, Adams founded Sebago in 1998.<br /> <br /> Rocks to Beers<br /> <br /> The bottom is the best place to start. Before the first brewpub next to the Maine Mall was a thought, Adams studied Geology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.His career began by hand-applying labels and filling bottles at the Oasis brewery, tending to the tanks and then being promoted to the brewhouse. He quickly learned that brewing beer fulfilled his creative nature, and he also enjoyed the mechanical process of the brewery. The real reward was the ability to interact with customers and see them enjoy the toils of the workday. Adams knew that brewing great beer would soon take over his geology studies. An almost simultaneous battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma was a key turning point in his life.<br /> <br /> “Understanding the precious time we have fired me up,” Adams said.<br /> <br /> After returning home to Sebago Lake and some time soul searching, Adams gained the ability and strength to see his plans through onto the fast track of brewing.<br /> <br /> “When I was 13, I played hockey,”Adams said. “I wasn’t very good at first, but my mother gave me the simple advice I’ve been applying to all I do. She told me to keep my eye on the goal and always visualize where I was going to put the puck.”<br /> <br /> Adams has been a great force in visualizing goals to helping the team attain them.<br /> <br /> Working the bottling line at D.L Geary Brewing in Portland, he later got a break as a brewer at the original Sea Dog Brewing in Camden. It was there that he gained the experience to operate his own brewpub. With the knowledge of operating a brewery under his belt, restaurant management experience was a must. Adams took a position at Chili’s Bar and Grill at the Maine Mall in South Portland. It was great timing. The stars were aligned, and the Sebago supernova was triggered by being amongst the management team of Brad Monarch and Tim Haines.All three held a common dream of opening a brewpub. Monarch had a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Haines’ experience was in running restaurants all over the country.After two years, they opened the South Portland brewery. They knew something most didn’t — a missing late night Happy Hour in the area geared for the local mall-side restaurant workers. The partners invested $20,000 each and received a Small Business Loan plus $75,000 from investors who were promised triple returns. After five years, they repaid all investors a year earlier than promised.<br /> <br /> Sebago now employs 150 people in the Scarborough, Kennebunk, Portland and Gorham restaurant and brewery locations, where most have a median tenure of five years. As part of the orientation, each employee is given a tour and tastings at the central brewery<br /> <br /> “They meet Tim, Brad and me and get a tour of the brewery,” Adams said. “It’s important they understand the process and see how excited we are to be doing it.”<br /> <br /> Tiffany Caron bartends at the Portland restaurant and shares a common enthusiasm along with other long-term Sebago employees.<br /> <br /> “I’ve been with Sebago nine years this November,” Caron said. “Kai, Tim and Brad are truly inspiring to not only work for, but to call friends. I thank them so much for offering such a great place like Sebago to work at. I’m proud of them and the company they’ve built.”<br /> <br /> The Beers<br /> <br /> For a restaurant with a brewery, Adams is focused on increasing the beer element in the business.<br /> <br /> “We’re making a conscious effort and have confidence in our beer,” Adams said.<br /> <br /> Always known for brewing with all American ingredients, Sebago’s beers are brewed in small 20-barrel batches using the methods Adams learned in Colorado. Adams is committed to using American (two-row) malt and hops and water from Sebago Lake.The original recipes are still brewed today.The flagship beer is Frye’s Leap IPA. Boat House Brown, Northern Light Ale (now named Saddleback Ale) and Lake Trout Stout are among the newer full range of beers and year-round lineup of seasonal brews. The winter seasonal, Slick Nick Winter Ale, named after the Fishbone song Slick Nick You Devil You, is a deep copper ale hopped with Tettnang and Northern Brewer hops.<br /> <br /> Sebago makes a point to keep six-packs at an attainable price point, and sales this year at Hannaford Supermarkets are up 78 percent. Dry-hopped casks of Frye’s Leap IPA have been keeping the locals happy and recharging Full Moon Cask nights at the brewpub. Sebago beers are now distributed in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.<br /> <br /> “Our new wholesalers are fantastic,” Adams said. “They’ve really embraced our beers and are presenting them to new customers all over New England.<br /> <br /> The People<br /> <br /> Ingredients and operations remain consistent.Jon Clegg, lead brewer at Sebago, has been onboard for 10 years. Clegg was the original brewer at South Portland’s first brewpub. Tom Abercrombie, a Belfast, Maine, native, has worked with Adams since the Sea Dog days. Abercrombie is credited with the stronger of the limited 22-ounce bottle Single Batch Series beers, Full Throttle, a double IPA (8.2% ABV, 85 IBUs), and American Barleywine (9.2%).<br /> <br /> The recipe for Milestone Ale was described by Adams as a reflection of Jon Clegg and Tom Abercrombie’s past 10 years of brewing together.<br /> <br /> “Milestone Ale is a collaboration beer brewed using a non-traditional process of stoning the beer,” Adams said, “using granite stones that were heated until red hot and lowered into a wooden vat of unfermented beer. This process caramelizes the sweet sugars that then taste of caramel and light toffee. Tom selected the hops to add hints of pine, citrus and tropical fruit to complement the complex body of this historic Single Batch beer.”<br /> <br /> To keep up with demand, a new full-time brewer was hired this year. Mark Fulton, a UVA graduate, interned at Sebago and relocated to Maine with his wife to work with Sebago.<br /> <br /> “Our brewing team is the best,” Adams said. “We have such an amazing group of people who are passionate about beer and spreading the word about our beers.”<br /> <br /> Working Local<br /> <br /> A part of a strong local network, Adams and the brewing team can be found supporting Portland Green Drinks, Portland’s Downtown District and Portland Buy Local events and at promotional events with customers and participating in each of the annual brewfests. At this summer’s Maine Lakes Brew Fest, voting coupons are given out as part of the admission package for participants to choose a favorite brewer. Sebago has won two years in a row.<br /> <br /> “Sebago was the winner again this year,” said Jim Mains, Executive Director of the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. “as a local brewer very popular with the Portland area crowd. They all dressed with logo shirts and were interested in answering any questions the people had.I also heard good reports on Sebago from others who attended. Good beer and a wide variety are probably two more reasons they did so well. Kai called me a few weeks before the festival and offered to sell tickets at his brewpubs. We took him up on the offer, and he sold quite a few in a short time, a sign of a good promoter. I think they have the whole package.”<br /> <br /> Coming Soon<br /> <br /> Coming Soon In late spring of next year, the Portland restaurant will move to a new six-story building on the lot that was home to Jordan’s Meats in the 122-room Hampton Inn.The built-to-fit restaurant will offer a better atmosphere than the current location with the new dining areas split into two levels.The larger area is downstairs and away from the bar.<br /> <br /> To sustain the strong presence, the newest addition to the team, Elise Loschiavo, has been hired as the new Marketing Manager. Loschiavo brings experience from working as the Special Events and Public Relations Manager at Portland’s Downtown District, coordinating festivals and concerts such as the summer Alive at Five Free Concert Series where Sebago hosted the beer garden.<br /> <br /> “Elise is a fantastic addition to our company,” Adams said. “She’s always been a champion for Portland and our local community, while being extremely organized and motivated. Her love of people, beer and food is very much in line with the Sebago Brewing purpose of creating a good time.She’ll definitely help bring our company and brand to a whole new level.”<br /> <br /> Adding a marketing component will free Adams up to be out in public sharing the enthusiasm for Sebago.<br /> <br /> “Something is always going on, and we are always up to something,” Adams said. “I have the same passion as 10 years ago. Now we are in an even better position to be communicating with wholesalers and customers.”
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