Yankee Brew News June/July 2011 : Page 1
BREWING Engineering a Brewery Wachusett’s Shannon Quinn, Katie Fowler and Stacey Furtado enjoy the Green Monsta IPA promotion at Uno’s in Kenmore Square. P HOTO BY S AM S CHWARTZ By Jen Harmon ecause it w there!” was S So rings i the h cliché li hé f for those who have been to the mountaintop. But another breed of hiker is more likely to say, “Because I had beer in my backpack.”— or — “Because there was a brewpub nearby.” After the historic snowfall this past winter, the great outdoors awaits, and there is usually craft beer nearby. “B By Jamie Magee ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM To the Top Tom Rankin was inspired to cre-ate the Views and Brews website in 2004. After finishing his Catskill 3500 Club commemorative patch requirements, Rankin went to a local pub to celebrate with his fel-low hikers. “After downing a few cold ones” Rankin recalled, “it was put forth, ‘Hey, there should be a patch for visiting all the brewpubs in New York State and doing a hike nearby!’ I took that idea and ran with it!” Rankin and former wife Dawn Hamilton started the website and created a patch. Rankin then started See Hiking p. 4 s surprisingly, beer has a n always played a part in th the friendship of Ned L LaFortune, company president, Kevin Buckler, plant manager and Peter “Quinny” Quinn, sales manager. In the mid-1980s, years before the three formed Wachusett Brewing, they were students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. Kevin and Ned were engineering students, while Quinny studied b biology. Kevin and Ned built a draft beer system in their apartment. “That’s how the ﬁ rst component of t the friendship started. It started with beer,” N Ned said. “We did a lot of kegs on that draft system.” The beer served was mostly kegs of B Busch, purchased from WPI fraternities. “Cheapest kegs we could get were B Busch,” Ned recalled. “As soon as we could afford better beer, we bought it. That was after college.” See Wachusett p. 6 INSIDE Event Calendar ............................. 3 The Alehouse -Mahar's ............... 8 Tasting Panel .............................. 10 Beer Cooks ................................. 12 Homebrewing .............................. 18 Guest Tap .................................... 20 Maps & Directories ................ 22-27 Tasteless Panel ........................... 46 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
Beer And Hiking
Because it was there!” So rings the cliché for those who have been to the mountaintop. But another breed of hiker is more likely to say, “Because I had beer in my backpack.”— or — “Because there was a brewpub nearby.”
After the historic snowfall this past winter, the great outdoors awaits, and there is usually craft beer nearby.
To the Top
Tom Rankin was inspired to create the Views and Brews website in 2004. After finishing his Catskill 3500 Club commemorative patch requirements, Rankin went to a local pub to celebrate with his fellow hikers.
“After downing a few cold ones” Rankin recalled, “it was put forth, ‘Hey, there should be a patch for visiting all the brewpubs in New York State and doing a hike nearby!’ I took that idea and ran with it!”
Rankin and former wife Dawn Hamilton started the website and created a patch. Rankin then started to visit all of the brewpubs in New York State.
“Along the way, we discovered that New York has an amazing number of cool places to visit,” Rankin said. “From Montauk, to Plattsburgh, to Buffalo and everywhere in between.”
After finishing the New York version of the site, Rankin and his crew began expanding the site to other states.
“People from other states caught the vision and helped us create chapters in Vermont, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Maine — even Quebec,” Rankin said.
The Views and Brews website offers hikers of all experience levels a chance to find a hike near a brewpub or brewery taproom. Users can easily identify brewpubs near hikes they want to accomplish or hikes near brewpubs they want to visit. Serious hikers created the site, and those who peruse its pages will find plenty of interesting hikes and walks to be made during beer travels.
Qualifying for the Patch
Rankin admitted that the patch might seem a little intimidating.
“While we are hard core hikers,” Rankin said, “Views and Brews is not about marathon hikes. We only ask that you hike at least one mile and then go sample at least one of the local beers at a nearby brewpub.”
Rankin’s definition of a brewpub is simple: “A restaurant that serves its own beer.”
“While our web pages list suggested hikes for each brewpub, you can hike anywhere you want,” Rankin said. “Finding a hike for some places is tough, so we have to be flexible. For instance, where do you ‘hike’ in New York City? Our solution was the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brooklyn Promenade, which offer fantastic views of Manhattan on one side and million-dollar homes and fabulous gardens on the other.”
Rankin has been diligent in covering the territory the website serves.
“Currently, my wife, Laurie, and I have earned ‘The Patch’ for nine states, visiting over 125 brewpubs together,” Rankin said. “The most recent being a one-day marathon in Delaware, which has four great brewpubs.”
Naturally, Rankin has a million stories to tell about the hikes he’s been on, as every hike is an opportunity to see nature, make friends and even see weirdness.
“One weekend on Long Island is worth relating,” Rankin said. “We started out Friday night at Chelsea Brewpub in Manhattan. Then we went to Black Forest and sampled Jalapeño/Cilantro Ale. Wow! The first beer that ever made me sweat. The next day, we were walking on Fire Island when we encountered a man with a shirt on but no pants! After that, we drove out to Montauk point, where we found some cool places to hike. We then visited Southampton Brewpub, where we met some stereotypical ‘Hamptoners” and also managed to have a few good pints. We worked our way back to the Brick House and John Harvard’s, both of which were so good that we had to walk around the mall that houses John Harvard’s before we felt it was safe to drive home.”
Can You Say Ascend?
The renaissance of canned beer makes taking beer up the mountain easy. Tim Broderick, one of the Views and Brew contributors, said that’s how his passion for beer and hiking began.
Back in the late 80s and early 90s, he used to go on an annual backpacking trip to Mt. Chocorua in New Hampshire with a couple friends.
“Since we were camping out for the night,” Broderick said, “we divided up a couple cases of Budweiser to carry up the mountain. At the time, it was an easily accessible beer that was available in cans and didn’t cost a lot. The hike up was a tough workout with all the extra weight in our packs, and we quickly learned that hiking down from a summit with a buzz wasn’t a good idea. Once camp was set up we started a fire, cooked dinner and enjoyed the beers under the stars. Typically, the hike out the next day was much faster, since all we were carrying was empty cans.”
In the mid-90s, Broderick said, as the craft beer craze started taking off, he and his future wife, Danielle, would plan camping trips in areas near breweries.
“We spent a lot of time exploring the mountains of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont,” Broderick said, “and also visiting breweries such as Long Trail, Otter Creek, The Woodstock Inn, Sunday River Brewing and Moat Mountain Inn & Brewery. We were even lucky enough to visit Catamount Brewery before they closed.”
The brewery visits weren’t the only locations where there would be beer on those trips.
“We always carried an extra cooler full of Harpoon IPA, Blue Moon, Sam Adams and Pete’s Wicked Ale, which were enjoyed around the campfire,” Broderick recalled. “Choices for craft beer were somewhat limited in those days. Plus, before we headed home, we always picked up several six-packs of the local beer to enjoy later.”
Today, Broderick said, he and his wife still camp and hike in the mountains, and more often than not, finish up at a favorite brewpub.
“Nothing tastes better than a fresh craft ale after a long walk in the woods,” Broderick said, “and besides, it’s much easier than carrying all those cans in our packs. On some occasions, we’ll still bring a few beers with us into the woods, usually in the spring or fall when the weather is cooler and the beers won’t warm up during the day. Luckily, today’s choice of beer in cans is much better than the early days of 60-pound backpacks and cases of Bud.”
Broderick often meets up with fellow hikers at pubs to talk about their adventures and destinations.
“The hiking community definitely enjoys craft beer,” Broderick said.
For those who are less athletically ambitious, the good news is that New England and New York are awash in places where beer can be enjoyed outdoors and not just via hiking. From the mountains to the sea — as well as in urban canyons, beer gardens and backyards — beer adds a crowning touch to summer’s outdoor endeavors and is a great companion to tasty outdoor meals.
Visit www.viewsandbrews.com for info.
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Beer+And+Hiking/746183/71354/article.html.
Engineering a Brewery
Not surprisingly, beer has always played a part in the friendship of Ned LaFortune, company president, Kevin Buckler, plant manager and Peter "Quinny" Quinn, sales manager. In the mid-1980s, years before the three formed Wachusett Brewing, they were students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. Kevin and Ned were engineering students, while Quinny studied biology. Kevin and Ned built a draft beer system in their apartment.
"That's how the first component of the friendship started. It started with beer," Ned said. "We did a lot of kegs on that draft system." The beer served was mostly kegs of Busch, purchased from WPI fraternities.
"Cheapest kegs we could get were Busch," Ned recalled. "As soon as we could afford better beer, we bought it. That was after college."
"There wasn't much for better beer. It wasn't readily available," Kevin added.
"We had no idea what a porter was, no idea what a barleywine was," Ned said. "We were buying mixed cases of imports from Wayne Ronn, who now runs the brewery store. He was known back then as the beer specialist. Anytime we'd go camping, canoeing or hiking, we'd go there first."
Engineering a Brewery
After college, the three landed jobs in their WPI majors. Kevin moved to Connecticut, Ned to Colorado and Quinny took a job in Massachusetts. Kevin bought a homebrew kit, and Ned soon followed suit.
"I wasn't gonna let him get the jump on me," Ned joked. "I'd bring my homebrewed beer back from Colorado to taste-test against Kev's, and his was always better." "Marginal beers, though," Kevin added. Their weekend trips often involved visiting New England craft breweries.
"On our trips to New Hampshire and Vermont, we visited breweries that were starting up, like Otter Creek, McNeill's, Catamount, Long Trail," Ned said. "We saw how those were taking off, and that's how we got the idea for ourselves."
One of their major inspirations was Ray McNeill, owner and brewer at McNeill's Brewery in Brattleboro, Vt.
"Ray encouraged us to take our homebrewing to a whole other level," Ned recalled. "He'd be brutally honest and question us about our technique, how we possibly could have created this phenolic flavor, what we possibly could have done wrong. Back then for us, it was awesome. He was practically spitting it out on the floor. We knew it wasn't that good."
Lawrence Miller of Otter Creek Brewing also became a friend and valuable resource.
"Lawrence was great to us," Ned said. "Even after we turned the corner and got started in '94, Quinny would call him up and ask questions."
The guys had to make a decision whether to remain in their engineering and biology careers or fully commit to starting a brewery. "I was looking to make a transition from working at a large corporation," Kevin said. "We were going to try to keep our jobs at first."
"Then we decided we were going to make the commitment," Ned said. "When I announced to my parents I was leaving my engineering job, we were already pilot brewing at my parents' farm."
By the early 90s, their homebrewing had evolved into the pilot brew system. They incorporated Wachusett Brewing in 1993 and officially opened the brewery at the end of 1994. Their first beer was Country Ale.
For the first five years, Quinny brewed all of the beer. Much of the equipment they brewed and bottled on came from other beverage-specific industries. As soda companies got out of using glass bottles, the guys were able to acquire soda bottling lines and retrofit the fillers to bottle beer.
"We applied the best technology and operations to older equipment that we could. That's what we are known for," Ned said.
"It's pretty straightforward why we went with English-style pale ale," Ned added. "It's universally acceptable to entry-level craft drinkers, which we were. We knew our market was Worcester County."
"We needed to transition a lot of drinkers," Kevin said."We knew we were going up against Bud drinkers. We wanted something easy-drinking."
Wachusett Blueberry Ale, another beer, is the most popular Wachusett brew outside of Worcester County. "We're up incredible numbers this year already," Ned said. "Staggering growth for Blueberry."
Wachusett's lineup also includes IPA, Black Shack Porter, Nut Brown Ale, Ryde and Green Monsta IPA. The seasonal brews are Quinn's Amber Ale, Summer Ale, Octoberfest and Winter Ale.
Wachusett's philosophy has always been to brew drinkable craft beers. It's the second largest packaging brewery in the state, and 93 percent of its beer is sold in Massachusetts. The beer formulas had been well received for a long time. So why the recent additions to the Wachusett beer line-up? "Kevin was bored," Quinny joked. In 2009, Wachusett's hometown of Westminster celebrated its 250-year anniversary. This happened to coincide with Wachusett's 15-year anniversary.
"We decided to start doing some small batch beers and experiment right here to support the town with a series of beers that were available only on tap in Westminster," Ned said. "It was called the Hometown Brewery Series."
The first beer in the series was California- style IPA.
"It was an opportunity to experiment with yeasts and different hops within the realm of our own IPA formula and create an Americanized version of that," Ned said.
Hometown Haze was a Belgian-style white ale and the first beer brewed with a Belgian yeast strain. It evolved into what is now Wachusett's seasonal 22-ounce bottled beer, Belgian-style White. Hometown Hop Ale was a wet-hopped beer that used hops from Kevin's hop garden, as well as hops from other local amateur hop growers. The final beer was Sweet Sixteen Milk Stout.
"Sweet 16 marked the beginning of our 16th year brewing, and actually it was our 16th style we commercially brewed," Ned said. "It went on to become our Milk Stout."
The Hometown Series was a real turning point for Wachusett.
"It created a perfect forum for us to try doing new stuff. We had to do full batches because we no longer had a pilot brewing system," Ned said. "It was going so well, that's when we decided to make the investment to fit the bottling system to 22-ounce bottles."
The Hometown Series also motivated Wachusett to brew a beer more "extreme" than it had before. Larry is an imperial IPA that was brewed in 2009 in collaboration with David Ciccolo of the Publick House in Brookline for his annual HopHead Throwdown.
"We would never have been able to do that if we hadn't done the anniversary series and gotten into the mindset of 'let's see what we can do'," Ned said.
Wachusett's evolution continued with the relaunch of Green Monsta this year. It was originally brewed in 2004 as a draftonly English strong ale (7.5% ABV).
"It's been such an evolutionary beer for us," Ned said. "We love the name, and we wanted to make it into a beer that really suits the name."
"We anticipated it needing to be yearround," Quinny added.
"We switched it to an American strain of yeast," Ned continued. "We refined it to what the market wants. It's been a complete relaunch. We've never done that before. It's been incredibly more successful than I could have expected, and we're not even trying to sell it. It's just being asked for."
The relaunch of Green Monsta coincided with the Red Sox home Opening Day this year. Wachusett had representatives promoting Monsta at Fenway Park-area bars Cornwall's and Uno's.
"When baseball season rolls back around, we make a conscious decision to bring the light back to Monsta," Ned said.
Brewmaster David "Howie" Howard has been with Wachusett since 1995. He took over from Quinny, who trained him. He's assisted by brewers Dave "Higgie" Higgins, a former homebrewer, and Ron Gamble, previously of Milly's Tavern in New Hampshire. The founders consider Howie the Director of Brewing Operations. "He never has and he never will compromise if it's quality-related," Ned said. "All of his proposals to us are based on 'I think this will make a better beer.' He's our biggest critic."
The newest beer in the works for Wachusett is a 22-ounce pumpkin ale. There's a large demand for it in the craft beer market.
"Our wholesalers are killing us to make one," Ned said. "Pumpkin stout's been kicked around. We talked about a straight-up pumpkin. The brewers are working on all the details right now. Dave has been with us for many years. He does a lot of research. Ron has brewed some pumpkin, so he'll collaborate with Howie."
"It may come out in a can. We may call it PumCan," Quinny joked.
Wachusett currently has three wholesalers - two in Massachusetts, who also deliver to New York and New Jersey, and one in Rhode Island. They recently bought a nearby warehouse that will offer them more efficiency and the ability to grow. A new 360-barrel fermenter has been ordered, and there's a 120-barrel copper German brew house that they've had since the early days. "For us, it's always been about calculated and methodical growth that we can support," Ned said. "We don't expect to have a geographical change in the near future. We're focusing on Massachusetts. The new line of beers has caused people to figure out who we are. They might try Larry first, and then try other beers."
Marketing and Promotions Coordinator Stacey Furtado has helped Wachusett reach a younger audience over the years she's been with the brewery. At 25 year old, social media and networking is a part of her everyday life. She's made it a major part of Wachusett's identity, as well. The Wachusett Facebook page is frequently updated. There's an active Twitter account, too.
"Stacey is great for the whole industry," Ned said. "She keeps us connected to our peer brewers. She does such a great job with social media. I like when I get information back from someone in the trade that I know started with her."
Ned, Quinny and Kevin also understand the importance of interacting with Wachusett fans in person. Throughout 2011, they'll embark on the Founders Tour. The three of them will be visiting various accounts in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
"We started on the North Shore with Seaboard Products, our wholesaler," Ned said. "We went to 32 of their accounts in the first two tour dates. It's nice to go out as a group. 'Enjoy with friends' is our slogan. That's what it's all about."
"Enjoy responsibly with friends," Quinny joked.
In light of several craft brewers pulling beer out of markets they can no longer support, Wachusett seems to be ahead of the times. Quinny mentioned being pursued by wholesalers in other states. Wachusett has no plans to expand its distribution, never mind nationally. The plan is to grow within the current geographical footprint.
"We can't support those markets like we can Massachusetts and Rhode Island," Ned said. "These two markets are calculated, planned. As far as where we're headed, it's really about quality of life. There are so many opportunities. There are so many wholesalers that want our beer. But what's the effect on us? We've achieved what we wanted to do."
With such methodical planning and passion for carefully formulated craft beer, the success Wachusett Brewery has achieved is no accident. Ned, Quinny and Kevin knew the importance of this path from the beginning.
"We recently dug up a quote from me, saying that by 2010, we could be a 2,000 barrel brewery. And in 2010, we hit 2,000 barrels," Ned said. "We've almost followed our predictions from way back when."
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Wachusett+Brewing/746202/71354/article.html.