Thursday, December 13, 2018

Well, That Was a Mistake

By Owen Ogletree

"By seeking and blundering we learn." 
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We like to think of craft brewers as sudsy rock stars who crank out batch after batch of award-winning, creative, mouth-watering, perfect brews. In reality, craft brewers sometimes screw up, with many tanks of experimental brews going down the drain each year. Even Dogfish's Sam Calagione can run down a list of dozens of new brews that just didn't make the cut - like his infamous, salted, sour ale brewed with snail meat and shells. He swears that "Escar-gose" sounded like a bright idea at the time.

The best brewers and brewery owners examine and analyze all aspects of mistakes and work hard to see blunders as valuable learning experiences. This article features memorable missteps of four southeastern brewers who turned adversity into advantage. Check out the "Big Bang Theory" inspired titles...

Wayne Wambles (left) and John "JR" Roberts collaborated on a special brew at Wild Heaven Beer in Georgia. 

Cigar City: The Open Fermentation Excitation

It was a sweltering summer day in Tampa in 2011, and Cigar City's Wayne Wambles had installed a 30-barrel, non-pressurized tank with a loose metal lid in the back corner of the brewery to ferment Guava Grove sour ale using the local Saint Somewhere yeast. A few days later, Wayne noticed that a couple of bottles in every new six-pack of Jai Alai IPAseemed to be infected with a touch of funky Brettanomycesyeast.

"The open fermenter of sour Guava Grove was located right next to the packaging line," notes Wayne. "This was a pretty terrible idea. Brett was spreading around, and the sanitizing solution in our bottle washer was not set strong enough to killBrett, only to do a basic sanitization and rinse. Some bottles were getting an unintentional dose of Brett, and this led to aBrett Jai Alai that was delicious but not something we wanted in our Jai Alai six-packs."

Up until this point, most procedures at Cigar City were done by feel and instinct. The Brettanomyces infection convinced Wayne and the entire crew that Cigar City needed a quality control lab. "We brought in a consultant with a PhD in brewing microbiology," Wayne recalls. "He explained the lab processes that we needed, and we eradicated the Brett issue. Without this infection, I don't know how much longer it would have taken to get our lab going. The infection was pivotal in wrapping our heads around scientific quality control."

Cigar City now owns a wide array of lab equipment that includes a PCR analyzer. Instead of plating a beer sample on growth medium and placing it in an incubator for several days, the PCR machine carries out DNA sequencing of any wild yeast and acid-producing bacteria in the beer sample and determines in just a couple of hours if an infection exists. This has proven invaluable in keeping the brewery's beers in top condition.

 Old Rail brewer Matt Horney produces an outstanding range of classic beer styles in his Mandeville brewpub.

Old Rail Brewing: The Thermal Deviation

Brewer Matt Horney's beers at Old Rail brewpub in Mandeville, Louisiana are widely considered to be some of the finest in the state, but when the brewery was being constructed, the build-out consultant claimed that due to lack of space, a cold liquor (water) tank was not necessary.

"After working in larger production-style breweries in the South I knew that not having a cold liquor tank would be a major mistake," Matt recalls. "With city water temperatures reaching 90 degrees in the hot Louisiana summer, I quickly found how hard it was to cool our wort. The original system used glycol that would supposedly supplement the city water in the cooling process. We had a two-stage heat exchanger, but the glycol just couldn't keep up. It was ridiculous."

Matt's wort cooling was sluggish, the glycol system was stressed and the filtered water that passed through Old Rail's heat exchanger and collected in the hot liquor tank (HLT) exceeded the HLT tank's volume. Matt notes, "We were losing precious filtered water, and this was gut-wrenching, not economical and didn't make environmental sense. After some searching, I found two large poly tanks that could provide ample cold water. We now cool faster, recapture all our water, create less stress on the glycol and have cold water for other processes. The takeaway is to design your system with the local climate in mind and make sure all of your brewing needs are met."

Max Lager's: The Face Bang Collision

The now successful and popular Max Lager's Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery in Atlanta always seemed to be a little ahead of its time, and it was a struggle just to keep the doors open in the early years. In 2002, brewmaster and managing partner John Roberts (a.k.a. "J.R.") was holding down multiple duties at the brewpub that included brewing operations, floor management and kitchen supervision.

J.R. learned a painful lesson in 2002. "I was always stressed with hours of daily work and minutes to do it," he says. "One day I was transferring a beer into a serving tank. I finished a bit early and decided to clean the source tank before I had to work the floor for lunch. I opened the bottom drain, dumped the yeast and sediment, and assumed the tank was empty. I climbed the ladder to pop open the top manway to begin rinsing. On the way up, I noticed I hadn't opened the racking port to ensure pressure was off the tank. The pressure gauge was on zero, so instead of being safe, climbing back down and opening the racking port, I decided to go ahead and open the manway."

J.R. had barely cracked the seal on the manway when he heard a deafening hiss followed by a boom like a cannon being fired. The manway blew open and caught J.R. directly in the jaw. "I shouted 'F%$K! I've broken my jaw!' When I stood up I felt blood rush across my chin and neck. After six hours of bleeding on an emergency room floor, I got eight internal and eleven external stitches where the manway had split my skin down to the bone. I felt like I had gone eleven rounds with Mike Tyson. After a few days and a few strong pain killers, I went back to the brewery to see that my chin had actually bent the steel manway."

The injury reinforced in J.R. the principle that safety in a brewery should always come first. No matter how much there is to do, safety procedures should never be rushed. J.R. also learned he was pretty good at taking a punch.

 Highland Brewing's president Leah Wong Ashburn proudly displays her lineup of rebranded ales and lagers. Photo courtesy of Highland Brewing.

Highland Brewing: The Head Brewer Departure

After taking over the reins from her father and becoming president of Highland Brewing in 2015, Leah Wong Ashburn began plans to revitalize and rebrand the pioneering Highland beers. In August of 2017, Leah sat in her office looking over new beer brands and label ideas when Highland brewmaster Hollie Stephenson walked in with unexpected, distressing news. Hollie told Leah that she had accepted the head brewer position at the new Guinness facility near Baltimore.

Considering Hollie's successful two and a half years at Highland, Leah had no idea that her brewmaster might be looking for other prospects. Leah points out, "A great opportunity simply fell into Hollie's lap. When she told me she was leaving, we both cried for a minute, and then I was in a panic. We are still friends and we love Hollie very much, but I felt a deep loss. My mistake was that I wasn't aware she was looking for something that she wasn't getting at Highland. We moved so far ahead with Hollie that it was easy for me to be content and happy, and I stopped asking enough questions about improving relationships and operations."

When Hollie departed, Leah began tightening up the job description of Highland's brewmaster and soon realized the advantage of having multiple people fill the role and work together. "Our brewers love to make new, creative beers," notes Leah. "With more than one lead brewer, we now get the best creative outcomes with multiple sources of input and ideas, and our new brewing team is simply brilliant. The company now feels more engaged about what's brewing in our pilot system, and we have involved the entire staff in this renewed creativity. Mistakes can be stressful and scary, but with creativity and teamwork, mistakes often lead to innovation."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Georgia Bites & Brews Winners

Graduate Athens
November 4, 2018

Congratulations to the beers chosen by the crowd as the best pairing with each food item. Brewers: I will have your award plaques to you soon!

Station 1:
Cranberry Smoked Gouda with Pita
Arches Mexican Empire - toasty Vienna-style lager

Station 2:
Smoked Potato Soup
Dry County Old 41 Stout - creamy oatmeal stout

Station 3:
Southern Corn Crab Cakes with Old Bay Aioli
Oconee Brewing Mean Machine - Irish-style red ale

Station 4:
Blackened Grilled Shrimp
Akademia Hoprodite NE IPA - hazy/juicy IPA with pungent citrus notes

Station 5:
Fried Pork Belly Tacos
Red Hare Tangerine SPF 50/50 IPA - IPA blended with house-made tangerine soda

Station 6:
Lamb Lasagna
 Terrapin So Fresh & So Green, Green 2018 - wet-hopped IPA with spicy Glacier hops

Station 7:
Fried Mushrooms with Horseradish Aioli
Savannah River Brewing Dynamite Brown Ale - American brown ale with balancing hops

Station 8:
Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Figs
Cherry Street Coconut Porter - notes of cocoa, vanilla and coconut

Station 9:
Beer Brined Grilled Wings
SweetWater 420 Strain G13 IPA - terpenes and natural hemp flavors enhance the hops

Station 10:
Kalamata Olive Tapenade with Toast Points
Orpheus Brewing Over and Over - American sour wild ale with pineapple complexity

Station 11:
Citrus Bread Pudding Bites  
Steady Hand Circles of the Sun - toasted coconut blonde stout

Station 12:
Chocolate Torte (gluten free)
 Southern Brewing Co. Red & Black - raspberry/blackberry sour Berliner weisse

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Vintage Beer Tasting

In October of 2018, Owen Ogletree gathered The Beer Wench, Dean and Gail Graves, Ian Meents, Ashton Smith, Flavia Costa and Andrew Borchert to taste and comment on ten strong craft beers that were aged for several years. The tasting was done in blind fashion, with the group only knowing the style and age of each beer.

The tasting concluded with the group choosing the top four beers that seemed to stand up the best to aging. Look below for winners and tasting notes...

Photo by Ashton Smith

FIRST PLACE: 2011 Phantom Canyon Winston Smith's Barleywine-Style Ale aged in whiskey barrels.
Comments: deep brown color; light wood, vanilla aroma; dark fruit sweetness; bitter fruity flavors; lightly burnt toffee; moderately dry; nice hop bitterness; warming; whiskey and caramel are both subtle. 

SECOND PLACE: 2011 Southern Tier Oat Imperial Oatmeal Stout.
Comments: beautiful black color; chocolate; sherry; prunes; dates; espresso; roasty; toasted caramel; burnt sugars; maple hint; dark fruits; mineraly; lingering cocoa/roasted malt notes; tastes great; bittersweet finish; could be a bit thin for style, but nice. 

THIRD PLACE: 2011 Widmer Brothers' Reserve Galaxy Hopped American Barleywine.
Comments: nice brown color; light, old hop note; woody; earthy hops; dry finish; light toffee and caramel; herbal hoppy hint; light butterscotch note; caramel hard candy; pleasing bitterness. 

HONORABLE MENTION: 2013 Olde Hickory Irish Walker Barleywine. 
Comments: deep, dark brown in color, almost black; too dark for style; toffee; hint of coffee; lightly bitter; chocolate hint; burnt toast crust; bitter finish; burnt cocoa nibs; smooth and creamy.

2012 Samichlaus Bier Helles - Blonde Doppelbock.
Comments: dark amber in color; plums; prunes; creme brulee with plums; candied apricots; sweet toffee; butter hint; rich, earthy honey; pleasant; rum hints; cognac note; sweet, malty finish. 

2010 Terrapin Iron Tankard Old Ale.
Comments: dark amber in color; prune; figs; sherry; sweet; raisin; light chocolate; caramel; toffee candy; mild alcohol; dry finish; malt driven; milk chocolate; held up well. 

2013 Smuttynose Gravitation Belgian Quad.
Comments: dark amber hue; paper note; earthy; light fruit; light malt; sherry nose; mild kumquat; nice fruity esters; caramel; figs; oxidized note; lemon; some sweetness. 

2009 Great Divide Old Ruffian Barleywine Whiskey Barrel Aged.
Comments: dark brown; clove hint; toasted bread; somewhat thin mouthfeel for style; oak tannin note; winey; toasty; wet cardboard hint; dull flavors; did not hold up well over time; herbal; dark fruit; dry and slightly astringent in the finish.

2008 Weyerbacher XIII Imperial Stout with Belgian Yeast.
Comments: black in color; Belgian esters come through; nice complexity; spicy; raisins; warming alcohol; caramelized sugars; dark chocolate finish; medium/full body; clove hint; loaded with dark fruit notes; earthy hint; coffee nuance.

2011 Victory Dark Intrigue Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.
Comments: black color; paper-like; alcohol character is big; minty; clove; lots of bourbon barrel; not too complex for style; wood tannins; menthol-like warmth; roasty; dark, bitter chocolate finish; dry and bitter; might be a bit thin for style; light fruit complexity in the background. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

2018 Craft Beer Reviews for Fall

By Owen Ogletree
- Akademia Brewing Hunker Down Brown is an American-style brown ale loaded with brown malt complexity that provides notes of roasted nuts, dark biscuit crust, light caramel and balancing hops. This ale goes down extremely well during UGA football season.

- Atlanta Brewing Company Soul of the City American IPA is a smooth, pleasing, thirst-quenching IPA with hops that give wonderful nuances of citrus, pine and pineapple. Light esters provide an elegant complexity.

- Creature Comforts Context & Memory Pale Ale is an easy-drinking, 5.5% ABV American pale ale with generous additions of Mosaic, Citra and Galaxy hops that provide juicy, herbal, tropical fruit notes backed by pleasing malt complexity. "Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life." - Anthony Bourdain.

- Creature Comforts The Silent World. This smooth, clean, black lager gets its inspiration from classic, roasty, German schwarzbiers. Expect a dark malt-focused brew featuring roasted malt, caramel hints, mild cocoa and nuances of toasted bread crust. Classic German hops provide a pleasing balance in this 5.5% ABV lager.

- Gate City 1864 IPA is a malty, slightly sweet ale with pleasant malt complexity backed by mild American hop additions. The aroma is malt-forward. Pair with roasted chicken or grilled scallops.

- Monks Meadery Abstinence in the Abbey is a Belgian-inspired mead with coriander, orange peel, grains of paradise and Belgian ale yeast. Light additions of Nugget and Mt. Hood hops are included for bitterness and flavor, and the mead offers beautiful notes of clove, spice, fruit and witbier coriander complexity. Monks Meadery is even looking into producing the mead with chickpea bean water for added complexity and mouthfeel.

- Pontoon Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries is a rich, fruity Berliner weisse with strawberry, blackberry, black currant, vanilla and sweet lactose. Like a tart fruit smoothie, this 5.1% ABV ale packs a mouthful of fresh fruit character and mild lactic acidity.

- Red Hare Hasenpfeffer Oktoberfest is a classic German-style märzenbier with an elegant nose and palate of toasted bread, light nutty malts and hints of toffee and caramel. This clean lager comes across as malty, with no fruity esters. Pop a can alongside a salty, soft pretzel with mustard.

- Southern Brewing Company Mulberry Grove Golden Sour Ale is part of the brewery's Southern Woodpile Series. Aged in oak for more than a year, then dosed with a load of fruit from Lexington, Georgia, this reddish hued, tart brew offers notes of stone fruit, crisp lactic acid, strawberry jam, cranberries and mild Brettanomyces. An elegant fruit ale.

- St. Feuillien Grisette is available now in cans. This version was inspired by a light-bodied, yet complex, Belgian ale that was popular with Belgian miners early last century. Notes of wheat, fruity esters and mild bittering hops make for an extremely impressive session ale that goes well alongside light cheeses and buttery fish dishes.

- SweetWater 420 Strain G13 IPAcontains special terpenes and hemp oils, providing a mildly dank, cannabis-like aroma and palate. The 6% ABV IPA offers a medium body, slight haze, and an even greater depth of dankness from additions of resiny Columbus and Simcoe hops.

- Terrapin Touch of Grisette. Terrapin's version of this historic style of Belgian ale boasts hints of wheat, farmhouse complexity, light bittering hops, and a touch of acidity. This low gravity ale goes extremely well with goat cheese or raw oysters.

- Wild Heaven Fest Beer. Brewed in the style of an Oktoberfest märzen lager, this beer from Avondale Estates, Georgia also contains a slightly pungent, experimental German hop called Greungeist that provides a unique, interesting twist. Greungeist is a Hallertau derivative. The beer comes across as quite poundable.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

2018 Great American Beer Festival: Favorite Moments

By Owen Ogletree

Even having judged for several years at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, I still find the entire experience enjoyable and exhilarating. GABF ranks as the largest and most impressive craft beer festival in the USA, and brewers from all over the country enter beers in hopes of bringing home a coveted medal. 

In 2018, the GABF festival hall was arranged in simple alphabetical order (unlike the regional layout of past years), and attendees cruise the massive aisles looking for beers that strike their fancy. Beers are served in one-ounce pours, allowing patrons to sample from a multitude of booths and chat with GABF volunteers and brewers. 

GABF judging is carried out in a nearby hotel, with hundreds of knowledgeable judges from all over the world coming together to sip the beers and award medals to the top beers in each category. Judges provide valuable feedback to brewers, and all judging is blind, with judges only being told about any special processes or ingredients for beers in each specified category. Judges look for off-flavors or any aspect of a beer that might make it not entirely true to style. 

Here are just seven of my favorite things about GABF...

1. THE PEOPLE. Craft beer people are the best people. Interacting with brewers, judges, other media, and festival attendees brings a great deal of joy. Thousands of people coming together in one city to celebrate craft beer is absolutely amazing.

2. THE DIVERSITY OF BEER. Craft beer in the USA is a creative, artistic phenomenon, with thousands of small breweries making fun, interesting, eclectic styles and brands. "Hazy, Juicy IPA" was the largest GABF category this year - even though 2018 was the first time the category existed. Beer styles are always being updated.

3. DENVER BEER EVENTS. During the entire week of GABF, the city is abuzz with special events, tappings, side events and open houses. Check the GABF website for a full list of special events taking place during the festival.

4. EPIC BREWING'S 50 FIRKIN FIASCO. During GABF, Epic Brewing always throws a huge party featuring food trucks and 50 special cask ales made from the range of Epic beer. Each 10.8 gallon cask contains a few special ingredients to make the beer tickers and untappers super excited.

5. HITTING BREWERIES ALL OVER TOWN. It's so much fun to Uber and Lyft all over Denver during GABF week to sip beer flights at the extensive list of breweries. Each brewery offers a unique atmosphere and lineup of house beers.

6. EXPERIENCING THE PROFESSIONALISM AT GABF. This event must be seen to be believed. Every aspect of GABF is professional, and the event runs like a well-oiled machine. The Brewers Association puts in an impressive amount of work to make this massive festival go off without a noticeable hitch each year, and attendees seem to take notice.

7. THE GABF PRO-AM BOOTH. One of my favorite spots at GABF is the Pro-Am area that features a tasty range of beers produced by partnerships of professional brewers and amateur homebrewers. These guys work together to produce and showcase a delicious array of interesting recipes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Celis Brewery - Austin, TX 2018

History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man. 
 ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Early in the twentieth century, Belgian witbier (white beer) was quite popular in Brabant, Belgium, but around 1950, Belgian witbier brewer Pierre Celis watched witbier breweries in the country begin to close their doors.

Longing for the return of witbier made with with wheat, milled coriander seeds and Curacao orange peel, Pierre Celis produced a batch of homebrew that was so popular, it inspired him to produce the beer on a small retail scale in 1966 in the Belgian town of Hoegaarden. Circumstances forced him to eventually sell the Hoegaarden brand to Stella Artois.

Celis moved to Austin, Texas with his daughter in the 1990s and opened his own Celis Brewery that cranked out over 22,000 barrels of award-winning Celis White in its most productive year. Pierre eventually sold this brewery to Miller, who soon closed the Austin facility.

But lovers of the classic witbier style now have reason to rejoice. Celis' daughter Christine is proud to have recently resurrected Celis Brewery at a different location in Austin, and her daughter Daytona has expressed great enthusiasm in brewing at the facility.

Click on the video below for a walk around the resurrected Celis Brewery in Austin with Celis president Bill Mulroy and's Owen Ogletree...

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Terrapin Beer Co. UK Collaborations 2018

Terrapin Beer Company's Spike Buckowski travels to the UK for collaboration brewing sessions with Wadworth and Banks's Breweries. Check out Owen's video...

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

New Breweries in The Big Easy

First Published in Southern Brew News in 2017

By Owen Ogletree

Despite being known for its vibrant ambiance, music and food that are loaded with local flare and rich flavors, New Orleans tended to lag behind other regions of the U.S. in terms of craft beer appreciation over the last several years. Fast forward to the past few years that have seen an eruption of exciting craft beer bars and breweries all over the Crescent City, and it seems that a multitude of residents now realize just how well a saison or IPA pairs with crawfish etouffee or a shrimp po' boy. Following is a rundown of six of the latest New Orleans craft breweries that should not be missed.

Port Orleans Brewing Company
4124 Tchoupitoulas Street

Brian Allen, brewer and president of Port Orleans Brewing Company, held brewing jobs in Missouri, Massachusetts and Wisconsin before opening his Uptown New Orleans brewpub in May of 2017. "While studying geology in college, I worked at a pub in Maine that served Bud, Bass and Guinness," notes Allen. "I started wondering why I was drinking these beers, when we had new craft breweries just down the street. I realized I really didn't want to be a geologist, and thought that brewing would be a great way to apply science to a meaningful career."

Housed in a good-looking building with a tasting room and kitchen, Port Orleans fits right into New Orleans' culinary culture. Allen rents the brewery's kitchen to chefs who named the space "Stokehold" and crank out mouth-watering food items to pair with Port Orleans' brews.

With 14 beers in the tasting room, the brewery's best sellers include Riverfront Lager with a touch of Calypso hops, Slack Water Brown Ale and the West-Coast-style Storyville IPA. Also look for these brews around the area in 12-ounce cans. As 2018 is New Orleans' 300th anniversary, Allen plans exceptional seasonals that include an amber lager aged in Elijah Craig barrels, a 13% ABV imperial stout in bourbon barrels, and an IPA variant with local citrus fruits.

"Our brewery slogan is 'Brewed Below Sea Level,'" notes Allen. "With Tipitina's music hall, NOLA Brewing, Urban South and hip Magazine Street nearby, we love our neighborhood, and locals seem to love our food, beer, bar and beer garden."

Urban South Brewery
1645 Tchoupitoulas Street

Urban South opened its doors on St. Patrick's Day of 2016. Co-founder and vice president Kyle Huling had started up the craft beer program for a local beer distributor, and his future business partner fell in love with craft beer while working in the Pacific Northwest. When asked about Urban South's inviting, spacious tasting room and brewery, Huling explains, "All the brewers we spoke to advised us to get the largest building with the highest ceilings that we could afford. We looked at 25 other spots around the city before we decided on this one that was once a metal storage warehouse. We sublease a quarter of the building to Craft Kettle tank manufacturers."

Expect four year-round beers at Urban South, a creative seasonal lineup that changes every few months, and the hop-focused "Architecture Series." "We are not afraid to fail, and one of our core values is being fearless," notes Huling. "We came up with 20 initial pilot brews, and some were great, and some went down the drains. In 2018, we'll release Paradise Park American Lager that will be priced just like the big boys. Eight out of ten beers consumed in Louisiana are still a macro or import lager, but we see Paradise Park as a way to ease these consumers into the craft beer world."

Born and raised in New Orleans, Huling takes pride in bringing jobs to the community. "Our Christmas picture last year had nine employees, and this year we have more than 20," he says. "Everything about New Orleans is about family, food, friends and fun, and beer fits right into that mix. Our brewery is family friendly, so bring the kids to check out the games in our taproom."

Parleaux Beer Lab
634 Lesseps Street

Situated in the quiet Bywater district, just a short taxi ride east of the French Quarter, sits the inviting Parleaux Beer Lab brewery. The brewery started production around 2017's Jazz Fest, and co-owner Eric Jensen focused on being a neighborhood brewery that embraced the "funky and fun" attitude of the city while creating a welcoming space for friends and families. Jensen remarks, "We want to apply a playful, yet science-based, approach in creating a range of rotating beers that are flavorful, well-balanced and sometimes outside style norms."

Jensen and co-owner/wife Leah both come from areas loaded with craft beer - Eric from Grand Rapids and Leah from Denver. "We see the most captivating part of craft beer is the cultural history and value beer has had in regions around the world," states Eric. "We're living through an incredible beer renaissance in New Orleans right now. Leah and I are laid-back and chill, but with a deep appreciation for our community. Our neighbors are our best customers, and we are family-friendly and puppy-friendly."

Parleaux's most popular current beer is Foggy Glasses - a juicy, soft, fruity New England-style IPA. Eric Jensen adds, "With recipe input from several brewer friends, I sat down with my brewer Chuck Smock and designed an amazing IPA that has gone over really well with our customers."

Brieux Carré Brewing Company
2115 Decatur Street

New Orleans locals love to drink and listen to tunes on busy Frenchmen Street, so owner/brewer Robert Bostick was thrilled to locate his compact Brieux Carré brewery, taproom and beer garden just a few steps off Frenchmen back in April of 2017. As with many modern craft brewers, Bostick started off as an avid homebrewer of IPAs, experimenting with a array of dry-hopping techniques for the original recipe of his now best-selling Falcon Warrior IIPA with Falconer's Flight, Warrior, Simcoe, Citra, Cascade and Amarillo hops. His friends fell in love with the beer and encouraged Bostick to go pro. "My first trip to Denver brought me across TRVE, which quickly became my inspiration, as they had this incredible 'shotgun-style' taproom," Bostick recalls. "It resembled the architecture that I was used to in most New Orleans homes, and I felt it was appropriate to bring that theme to Brieux Carré."

People enjoy Brieux Carré's friendly, relaxed atmosphere, and this makes Bostick a happy guy. He suggests, "Some people take drinking beer too seriously, but most people who meet me at the brewery know that I'm sarcastic and enjoy poking fun at current beer politics. New Orleans is full of weird people, and Brieux Carré fits in well."

Royal Brewery New Orleans
7366 Townsend Place B

Located on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, just south of New Orleans Lakefront Airport, sits Royal Brewery New Orleans. In the mid-1990s, founder Raymond Pumilia began brewing on a kitchen stove in his New Orleans art studio, after a friend gave him a brewing kit. In a discussion with a friend in a bar late one night, Raymond announced his intentions of starting a brewery. He and his wife Mandy soon embarked on long days of business planning and location scouting.

Upon its opening in May of 2017, Royal Brewery's taproom formed a bit of a craft beer oasis on the south shore. Mandy Pumilia shares, "People enjoy visiting with our team, sipping our traditional beer styles, joining a tour on Saturdays and Sundays and playing games with friends and kids in our children's area."

The brewery sits near a planned South Shore Harbor amphitheater and a ship exhibit from the National World War II Museum. "Our location in this heavily industrial area alongside other businesses like Folger’s Coffee, Luzianne Tea, Bunny Bread and Southshore Donuts was perfect," Mandy Pumilia suggests. "We refer to the area as the 'Beverage and Yeast Belt of New Orleans' and are excited to add Royal Brewery New Orleans to complete both belts of commerce."

Wayward Owl Brewing Company
3940 Thalia Street

Wayward Owl launched in November of 2016 after two years of renovations on the historic GEM Theater just northwest of Central City. Founder/brewer Justin Boswell got his brewing boots wet at Black Raven Brewing in Redmond, Washington. "I started by washing floors and worked my way up to being one of the lead brewers," Boswell recalls. "After 12 years away from Louisiana, my wife Kristin and I decided to come home to open our own brewery. One of the influences on us coming back was the changing political climate becoming more favorable toward small breweries. Once we got here, finding our amazing location in a historic theater sealed the deal."

Folks in The Big Easy immediately appreciated the grassroots style and convivial vibe at Wayward Owl. "We are a small, local, family business, and we think people here find that important," says Boswell. "Patrons made our Clean Slate IPA our best-selling beer, and the first time it was brewed was at midnight on December 31, 2009 in my friend's garage. This was our first all-grain recipe, and the current version is absolutely nothing like the original. We've tweaked this beer over and over, and now we have a final recipe hitting shelves in time for Mardi Gras."

Friday, August 3, 2018

Summer Craft Beer Reviews from Owen

Beer Reviews by Owen Ogletree
August, 2018

Southern Brewing Red & Black is a popular Berliner-style sour ale with additions of raspberries and blackberries for a wonderful, complex, fruity quality to back up the tart, clean, refreshing Berliner character. Sip it alongside enchiladas or quesadillas.

Service Brewing celebrates each Oktoberfest with the release of Teufel Hunden, an Oktoberfest-style märzen with crisp, biscuity malt notes balanced by German hops. The lager presents a classic, toasty German malt profile. Grab it on tap and in cans starting in late August. 

Terrapin Gamma Ray returns as a powerful, malty, warming wheatwine that registers 10.8% ABV. With additions of flavorful honey from Savannah Bee Company, Gamma Ray offers sweet, honeysuckle notes along with a spicy, peppery alcohol backbone. Sip this puppy from a snifter with creamy brie cheese and salty crackers.

La Trappe Witte Trappist comes from the monks at Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven in the Netherlands. This classic Belgian-style witbier offers a crisp profile of wheat grains, orange peel and spicy coriander. This style was hazy before hazy was cool. Enjoy with a pot of steamed clams or mussels.

Aspall Grand Cru English Cider hits the mark of not being too sweet but possessing a delicious, dry apple aroma and flavor. Made from sweet, sharp and bittersweet apples, the cider finishes with a pleasant, tannin quality from the fruit skins. Pair with a fine Camembert cheese.

Red Brick Soul of the City is a 5.7% ABV American pale ale with Citra, Denali and Crystal hops. Citra and Crystal provide a delightful, citrusy, floral hop aroma and flavor, while the Denali delivers an earthy, pungent punch. This quaffable brew pairs exceedingly well with sushi or rotisserie chicken.

Creature Comforts Calculating Infinity is a 5% ABV American pale ale with hop complexity from Wakatu, Pacifica and Palisade. Expect deep, floral and citrus character with a pleasant, slightly dry finish. The hop profile works extremely well in this clean, crushable ale. 

Creature Comforts Crescendo is a 7.2% ABV American IPA with loads of Galaxy, Grungeist and El Dorado hops that balance the malty brew with notes of melon, tropical fruits, lemon, orange and pineapple. With a slightly hazy appearance and mild dankness from the relatively new hops varieties, this IPA will certainly appeal to "hazy-crazy" hopheads. 

Twisted Fish, SweetWater's recent collaboration pilsner, was brewed with input from the Coastal Conservation Association's National Habitat Program. Look for the crisp, hoppy, 5.3% ABV lager in four-packs of 16 ounce cans and on draft.