Yankee Brew News February/March 2017 : Page 1

By Adam Krakowski ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM By Kurt Staudter BREWER OF THE ROOST. Top-Mark Babson, owner/brewer of River Roost Brewing. PHOTO BY KURT STAUDTER. Bottom-Growlers and frothing wooden casks at River Roost Brewery in White River Junction, Vermont . echnology has been maneuvering into every facet of our daily life. It is not uncommon to see smartphones recording every moment at a brewery or taphouse. Sure, we all have our favorite social media hangouts and apps for beer. We also have our favorite bartender(s) — that individual at our beer establishment who is working the taps; our resource to what’s good, what’s nearly kicked and to make recommendations. They are an important and integral part of the T S E L F S E R V craft beer experience. Unfortunately, the role of the bartender is diminishing as technology develops and expands. From the keg to the consumer, there have been important developments in dispensing beer. Let’s start with the basic draft list. Back more than a decade, there was a bit of excitement walking into a craft beer bar, a regular haunt or a new find. You would scan the draft list for anything new or interesting. Maybe a beer you See Draft p. 4 PHOTOS BY MARK BABSON Events Calendar.............. 2 The Alehouse .................. 8 Beer Cooks ..................... 9 Tasting Panel .................10 Homebrew ......................12 Maps/Directory ..........18-23 E. Massachusetts ..........14 Boston ............................16 W. Massachusetts .........24 Connecticut ....................26 New Hampshire .............28 Maine ..............................30 Vermont ..........................32 Rhode Island ..................34 NYC/Long Island ............36 Upstate NY .....................38 hen asked about the name of the brewery, brewer/owner Mark Babson laughed, “A friend told me that ‘He was the ruler of the roost, but his wife rules the rooster,’” then he adds that he wanted to “get the river in the name.” Opening in February 2016, River Roost Brewery in White River Junction, Vt., is down the block from where Catamount Brewery opened in 1987, starting the Vermont brewing revolution. “I’ve had lots of locals tell me they’re pleased there’s a brewery in town again,” Babson said. This has led to an almost instant local following with a lot of interest by area restaurants. Have You Heard This One Before? Born and raised in Williston, Vt., Babson earned a degree in Environmental Studies at University of Vermont. As a freshman, he moved into his first apartment with other students and developed an interest in homebrewing. “As soon as I got my own apartment, I went to the homebrew shop in Winooski and got all kitted up,” Babson recalled.” It turned out his roommates shared his interest. “It became somewhat overwhelming,” said Babson, “we had batches of beer all over the apartment.” See River Roost p. 6

New Tap Room Tech

Adam Krakowski



Technology has been maneuvering into every facet of our daily life. It is not uncommon to see smartphones recording every moment at a brewery or taphouse. Sure, we all have our favorite social media hangouts and apps for beer. We also have our favorite bartender(s) — that individual at our beer establishment who is working the taps; our resource to what’s good, what’s nearly kicked and to make recommendations. They are an important and integral part of the craft beer experience. Unfortunately, the role of the bartender is diminishing as technology develops and expands.



From the keg to the consumer, there have been important developments in dispensing beer. Let’s start with the basic draft list. Back more than a decade, there was a bit of excitement walking into a craft beer bar, a regular haunt or a new find. You would scan the draft list for anything new or interesting. Maybe a beer you were hoping to try was on draft or there was a rare beer on the bottle list. Unless you spent hours on a search, it was difficult to locate your prey.



The self serve "Pour My Beer" system at Amherst Brewing Co.

Tech Infiltrates

Technology then infiltrated and went beyond beer forums. In 2008, the online searchable database Beermenus.com launched. It allowed searchers to locate a particular beer, taking some of thrill of the find away. Just a few short years later, the technology would jump to the other side of the bar. In 2011, Lisa Marcus and Eric Sterling founded Digital Pour, a digital draft board technology. Digital Pour brought information from behind and under the bar to the consumer. Both these technologies continued to update and integrate. Beermenus.com upgraded to an interactive mobile application in 2015. In 2016, Digital Pour released its own mobile application. It was now easier than ever to get an overwhelming excess of information on the brews you love or are looking for.

Digital Pour, of Portland, Ore., introduced a digital menu that not only serves as a point of information, but also a point of social interaction. A sample of the data points presented to the consumer: name of the beverage, brewery or producer, ABV, color, glassware used, when tapped, volume in the keg and tapping soon. It also allows consumers to “check in” with the beverages they are drinking and share their comments. There are rewards for checking in with the draft list. You can opt to get notifications on beer tappings, special events, and other notifications. It also can set up expectations for their experience. Having real-time access of information of an establishment allows for fewer surprises and disappointments.

For establishments, this system creates a valuable marketing interface to directly and socially connect with their clientele. It also brings a new meaning to the term “informed-consumer.”

The consumer is bombarded with a plethora of information. But one data point in particular can be the most influential: keg volume. Presenting the volume left in a keg on draft can create an artificial demand for a beer. It is a domino effect. By seeing that a keg is low, consumers can be influenced into ordering a low volume beer before the keg empties. Since the board shows real time data, other consumers could also be influenced into ordering the beer that appears to be selling like hot cakes.



A screen shot of the Digital Pour draft display menu showing the different data fields possible.

PHOTO FROM DIGITALPOUR.COM

All this information is important and yet not important. Wouldn’t an astute bartender be on top of this information? If all this information is presented to the consumer, what is the role of the bartender? Further pushing the issue is technology that eliminates the bartender completely. The restaurant chain Chili’s has turned to interactive tablets for ordering at tables in recent years to expedite table turnover. This installation of technology has had collateral damage. By removing the human interaction at the table, the context of the dining experience has changed, for both staff and guests.

Self-Serve Draft Systems

A similar situation is working its way into bars. Self-serve draft systems remove the bartender through automated pouring stations where patrons can fill their own glasses. An option on the market is the “Pour My Beer” self-serve draft system, which utilizes a friendly touch screen and volume tracking software integrated with the draft lines. This allows the patron to select the beer and the volume that they wish to consume. The system creates a unique paradox in the craft brewing industry. These self-selecting systems allow the consumer to explore the beers, yet cannot educate them on the same beers.

From the viewpoint of the business, this system is precise. It accounts for every ounce of beer poured from the system. By doing so, it eliminates waste and lost beer. Additionally, the real time tracking of these systems allows staff to make calculated choices in deciding what kegs to line up for tapping.



This technology is creeping into New England. It has been embraced by a stalwart in the Massachusetts’s brewing industry, Amherst Brewing, which has installed a “Pour My Beer” system that allows patrons to use the touch screen system to pour the brewery’s beers. The system expedites service by eliminating wait times in packed bars to refill your glass. Through a touch screen interface, flow controlled draft lines and automated taps, the system eliminates the need for a bartender.

The Impact

In utilizing the technology — removing the human interaction — one can only wonder what the impact is on the consumer experience. At Amherst Brewing, a unique circumstance occurred. With a change in ownership, there was an expansion of food service at the brewpub. A new gaming area became isolated from the restaurant and main service bar. In seeing the automated system in use in his travels, the new owner realized that it provided the solution for dilemma in service gaps at Amherst Brewing.

Brewer Caleb Hiliadis realized the system was useful for more than ease of service. He noted that “the self pouring system allows people to sample up to 16 of the brewery’s beers without any predisposition or bias. Hiliadis is able to put experimental beers into an exclusive self-service system. Amherst Brewing calls this system Flight School. Through this system, the brewpub is able to get analytic data on beer pours and sales. Hiliadis added that at Amherst Brewing, a failsafe is programmed to avoid over-consumption. The total volume of self-service caps at a total volume of 32 ounces.

“When the cap is reached, the patron can have a server reset the card, giving us a way to monitor consumption,” Hiliadis said.

Sales on the Flight School system are good, but not as strong as the traditional main bar. At Amherst Brewing, automating the draft service was a good solution for their situation. They were able to use it in tandem with a traditional bar, but also realize sales are not likely to exceed those at the bar.

Not for Everyone

This setup is not for every brewery, though. While this technology is finding a role in sports bars and volume establishments, for breweries it is not always an answer. In the case of the Prohibition Pig Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont, brewer Nate Johnson is quick to point out, “it would not work for all of my beers.” He is reliant on the bartenders at the brewery to educate the patrons on the nuances and background of the beers he brews. One of Johnson’s beers, in particular, could be hard to entice a new patron due to the stigma of the style: malt liquor.

“I rely on the bartenders on describing and educating what Brass Monkey, (a popular malt liquor brewed with Amarillo hops with orange zest) is for people who are unsure of the beer,” explained Johnson.

Through the staff’s recommendation and education on the style, the beer has become a surprising favorite when it lands on the draft beer list. Without this interaction, this beer may fall to the wayside due to the negative stigma of the style. There are many more beers throughout New England that are in the same situation and are reliant on the staff to educate the consumer.

We are still early in understanding the role between technology and the bar experience. As these new platforms become available and popular, they will continue to find a way to work into and define the bar scene: allowing a patron at the brewery tasting room to sample and explore beers on their own; letting a publican cut down on expenses and get more information on the operations. Either way, digital draft technology has already found a niche in the marketplace.

Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/New+Tap+Room+Tech/2706880/382669/article.html.

River Roost

Kurt Staudter

Craft Beer Returns to White River Junction


BREWER OF THE ROOST. Top- Mark Babson, owner/brewer of River Roost Brewing. PHOTO BY KURT STAUDTER. Bottom- Growlers and frothing wooden casks at River Roost Brewery in White River Junction, Vermont.

PHOTOS BY MARK BABSON

When asked about the name of the brewery, brewer/owner Mark Babson laughed, “A friend told me that ‘He was the ruler of the roost, but his wife rules the rooster,’” then he adds that he wanted to “get the river in the name.”

Opening in February 2016, River Roost Brewery in White River Junction, Vt., is down the block from where Catamount Brewery opened in 1987, starting the Vermont brewing revolution.

“I’ve had lots of locals tell me they’re pleased there’s a brewery in town again,” Babson said.

This has led to an almost instant local following with a lot of interest by area restaurants.

Have You Heard This One Before?

Born and raised in Williston, Vt., Babson earned a degree in Environmental Studies at University of Vermont. As a freshman, he moved into his first apartment with other students and developed an interest in homebrewing.

“As soon as I got my own apartment, I went to the homebrew shop in Winooski and got all kitted up,” Babson recalled.”

It turned out his roommates shared his interest.

“It became somewhat overwhelming,” said Babson, “we had batches of beer all over the apartment.”

After graduation, he applied to Cape Cod Beer and was offered a job. He shakes his head: “I just wasn’t quite ready to leave Vermont.”



The Siren's Call of Craft Beer

Still an enthusiastic homebrewer and in-between jobs, Babson would take an entry level position at Magic Hat Brewing in South Burlington, Vt., washing and filling kegs. “Being in the right place at the right time,” Babson was quickly promoted first to cellarman and then into the lab, ending up being a floater capable of filling in anywhere in the brewery. Over his four years at Magic Hat, he was encouraged to make use of the pilot system, and some of Babson’s recipes would end up in production. He was even sent by the company to the Siebel Institute in Chicago to study the cold side of the brewing process.

Babson would leave Magic Hat in 2013 to take a job at Woodstock Inn and Brewery in North Woodstock, N.H., to be closer to his college sweetheart and fiancée, Sarah McKelvey, who had taken a teaching job at her old high school in Bradford, Vt. At Woodstock, he was brought on to help transition from contract brewing to the brewery’s own 30-barrel brewhouse.



Going It Alone, but Not Really

“With some help from the SBA (Small Business Administration) and conversations with lenders that always did their best to downsize my expectations,” Babson said he developed a business plan. The 10-barrel brewhouse was purchased from Von Trapp Brewery in Stowe, Vt. Some of the equipment is new, and everywhere one looks there seem to be things that are custom made. Yankee ingenuity runs deep in this family, and Babson is particularly proud of the cooler.

“My dad helped me build this,” as he pointed to the door. “We got that from a place that was going to throw it out, and we foamed the walls ourselves. The tap handles are made by my father-in-law.”

While Babson works the brewery alone, he stated with a degree of humility, “I don’t think I could be doing this by myself without the help from the family. As a startup, every little bit helps.”

Living the Dream

Catching Babson at the end of a long day, he displays a satisfying weariness that comes from an honest day’s work, or maybe it has to do with the fact that he and his wife added to the family with a set of twins just before the holidays. Either way, he perks up with a childlike enthusiasm when he starts talking about the beers. For almost a year now, he has been perfecting and scaling up some of his recipes, and as a result he still hasn’t settled on a flagship beer yet, but he said, “My Mas Verde IPA (6.7% ABV) has been made a few times, and so has Swamp Monster in Love, a pale ale.” On the board during that day were Dancing Goats Stout, and Glimpse (7. 8%) a double IPA.

Babson said he loves the “big and juicy IPAs,” but when pressed on what he had hidden out back in barrels, “There’s a saison in a wine barrel, a funky sour thing, and in one of the tanks there’s an experiment with lots of peaches.” Babson also plans a series of single hop beers: “And I’ve always wanted to make an imperial stout in bourbon barrels.”

What’s Next?

A one-man operation that selfdistributes, Babson looks to maybe being able to hire some help, or “who knows, I’d love to have a pub.” For now, he is living the dream, and said: “I’m keeping the costs down and going to enjoy this time while I can.”

When asked if he still homebrews, he laughed: “Not anymore.”

River Roost Brewery

230 South Main Street

White River Junction, Vt.

www.facebook.com/River-Roost-Brewery

Open for samples and growlers:

Thursday - noon - 6 p.m.

Friday - noon - 8 p.m.

Saturday - noon - 6 p.m.

during the summer on Wednesdays

Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/River+Roost/2706892/382669/article.html.

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