BY CHRIS JENNINGS
In the holiday season we are constantly bombarded with new gadgets and expensive toys to “improve” our brewing process. Though some of these may be fun and actually can help, the most important tool of all is your imagination.
All of our wonderful brews and new ideas for brews need a place to stay safe. By having the recipes in a central place with a standard format can help increase our brewing efficiency more than any new shiny brewing toy.
From a pure safety perspective nothing beats the pen and paper method. No risk of the system crashing and losing all of your coveted award-winning recipes. Though a hard copy has stood the test of time we are unable to use this method to build new recipes, calculate efficiencies or even calculate something as basic as a starting gravity. Thankfully there is a vast amount of brewing programs out there. Computer based software programs and even smart phone apps exist that can do most of the functions you will require.
The program that you choose should have a few features that will help with the brewing process. At a bare minimum they should be able to calculate starting gravity and alcohol content. This also means that the program will most likely have a database of ingredients to allow you to build the recipe. This gives you the first step toward storing all of your recipes in a central place. The interface of course is also very important. It shouldn’t be so complicated that you can’t figure it out fairly quickly, but it also needs to be semi complex to allow for a wide range of options. Don’t go with something because it is super simple to use. Instead, pick something that is going to do everything you want in a brewing program.
Unfortunately, the best programs available are those you have to pay for. So making sure that you are getting everything you want is especially important so you don’t waste your money. These systems are going to have ingredient databases that can be modified as well as the ability to store all of the recipes and ingredients that you can think of. They will also have a database of all of the beer style guidelines out there. This helps with recipe building by setting parameters for our beers thus giving us an opportunity to craft a tasty brew in a specific format. It also can help us put our freezer clean-out-ale neatly into a style category that it should be in. Skimping on price may decrease features but making sure to balance what you are getting for the cost is all part of the homebrewing experience.
Choosing what software you want to use is almost as important as picking a mash tun.
Here are a few programs out there I’m suggesting as a starting point for your research: Promash, Brewtroller, Beer Smith, Brew Toad, Brewtarget.
Mary Jones, one of the owners of Pelican Brewery, paused for a minute during a tour of her company’s new Tillamook brewery to reflect on the Great American
Brewing Festival, which was taking place at that very moment in Colorado. She and co-owner Jeff Schons didn’t go to the festival this year, because, she said, Pelican seems to win more awards if they don’t show up.
Oddly, she was right. Pelican scored four medals at the competition last month, and earned the Large Brewpub of the Year award, and its brewers, Darron Welch and Steve Panos, earned the Large Brewpub Brewers of the Year award. Welch and Panos and their crew were on hand to parade across the stage for each award, Welch said. Apparently, the no-show superstition did not extend to the brew team.
In all, Oregon’s breweries took 25 medals for beer and two business awards, a tenth of the 252 awards handed out Oct. 12 at the Boulder gathering sponsored by the Brewers Association.
But Baker City’s Barley Brown’s was Oregon’s biggest winner, taking home five medals and awards for the best Very Small Brewpub of the Year and Very Small Brewpub Brewers, Marks Lanham and Eli Dickison. Although the rest of the nation was surprised, they shouldn’t have been. The brewery won three silvers and a bronze at GABF last year, some of which were for the same brews that won gold this year.
For his Pallet Jack IPA, Barley Brown’s also took the coveted gold in the most active category of beer, the American-style IPA. Barley Brown’s beat out more than 250 entries in that category, to win the gold.
Your best chance for tasting Pallet Jack is to get yourself over to Baker City, belly up to the bar or take a seat in the restaurant, and order a pint … soon. If it’s gone, try one Barley Brown’s other 2013 golds -- Shredders Wheat, an American-style wheat beer, or Hand Truck, an International-style pale ale. Although Barley Brown’s brews can be found statewide, the brewery has 20 or more of its beers available at the taphouse and restaurant. Get a room and taste them all.
And while we’re considering Oregon’s beer geography, nearly half of Oregon’s medals went to breweries east of the hill, thanks to the 12 total medals earned by Barley Brown, Bend Brewing Company, Deschutes and 10 Barrel.
In fact, rural Oregon breweries were the real winners this year – only six Portland-area breweries won medals at GABF this year, although more than half of Oregon’s breweries are in the metro area.
Think you won’t be able to find any of these beers on tap anywhere? Think again, says Ninkasi brewers. Their Bohemian Pilsner won gold this year, so they began brewing it again in mid-October.
This is the 27th year of the festival – the largest commercial beer competition in the world. Professional judges from 11 countries tasted 4,809 beers in 84 style categories.
For a complete list of winners, visit www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com
In Oregon, it’s the time of year when people show their true colors: Do you bleed green and yellow, or orange and black?
Whether you attended the University of Oregon or Oregon State University, if you live in Oregon, you probably have a favorite to win the Nov. 29 Civil War football game between the two teams. But more importantly: What will you be drinking?
Some breweries, whose staff and patrons may favor either team, shy away from favoritism and instead invite fans of both teams to special events in front of their big screen televisions Nov. 29. Other brewers, including Ninkasi, will be hosting tailgate parties outside of the event at Autzen Stadium.
But some Oregon breweries, Calapooia and McMenamins, for example, whole-heartedly take sides.
McMenamins has breweries in both Eugene and Corvallis – but brewers Gary Nance, Corvallis brewer, and Hanns Anderson, Eugene’s brewer – said they both become partisan Beaver and Duck fans during the Civil War, although both of them live in Eugene. The competition among McMenamins’ brewers is not confined to November, however; beer drinkers reap the benefits. Every year, McMenamins stages several competitive events among its brewers to showcase the variety of brews.
“It goes on all year long with a friendly vibe from Roseburg Station's ‘Arrogant Beaver’ and ‘High ST,’ to my ‘War Eagle IPA,’ brewed when the Ducks played Auburn a couple of years ago, and Benny's Bitter and Riley's Red, said Nance. “Brewers are a friendly folk. I think we all hope no one gets hurt and we both go to a sweet bowl game. Let the festivities begin! One last thing: GO BEAVERS!”
Anderson was forgiving: Most of their competition is just friendly smack-talk, he said.
A few miles northeast of Corvallis, two OSU alums, Mark Martin and his wife, Laura Bryngelson, take a more dedicated approach. Their Calapooia Brewery in Albany puts out kegs striped in orange and black, and on game days, you might find them both decked out in their school’s colors.
“We’re huge Oregon State fans,” said Laura. Despite their allegiances, Calapooia Brewery is staging an in-house “Civil War” between the orange-labeled Paddle Me IPA and Calapooia’s green and gold labeled Chili Beer. Whichever beer sells most by Nov. 29 will win Calapooia’s Civil War. Is it a coincidence that the award-winning Calapooia Chili Beer is the brewery’s most heavily awarded brew?
Other breweries, like the new Mazama Brewery just east of Corvallis, show their allegiance by noting OSU’s part in the brewing process. CBGB (Corvallis Belgian Golden Beer) is created entirely with yeast and hops bred and cultivated at OSU, said Gillian Tobin, marketing coordinator for Mazama.
“We’re trying to bridge the wine/beer divide and bring them together,” says Stephen Sheehan, owner of Eugene’s popular Delacata food cart and of the forthcoming Elk Horn Brewing Company, expected to open in early 2014. With a focus on barrel-aged beers, the 7-barrel system behind one of Duck Town’s newest breweries has a surprising past: it comes to Eugene from Flat Tail Brewing in Corvallis.
You know, where those Beavers come from.
Just as Ducks and Beavers revel in the competition between their respective teams, brewers work in a fiercely competitive industry. Yet beneath that spirit of competition, an intense focus on collaboration may just run even deeper.
Elk Horn’s inaugural system comes to them with hundreds of barrel mileage on it already. The system was first used by Rogue Brewery, says Sheehan, then went to Calapooia Brewing Company and Flat Tail. Its new home will be Elk Horn’s brewery and restaurant at 686 E. Broadway, a former Carls Jr. near the University of Oregon campus.
The system isn’t the only thing that’s done some roving between Corvallis and Eugene. Brewer Matt Silva comes to Elk Horn after intensive training at various breweries, including Flat Tail. “We sent him to work at different breweries to gain experience on bigger systems,” says Sheehan. As a happy accident, Silva’s time at Flat Tail also helped Elk Horn source its long-sought brewing system. “We couldn’t find used gear on the market,” Sheehan explains. “While Matt was working at Flat Tail, it turned out that they were selling the system.” After Silva’s three-month training stint at Flat Tail, the brewers in Beaver Town were sending their old system off to Duck Town, along with a trained-up Silva.
A devotee of wild ales and of brewing beyond traditional styles, Silva “arrived armed with his personal library of wild strains of Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces and Lactobacillus,” Sheehan says, adding that Silva’s wife—a scientist who works for UO—has been helping them propagate yeast strains.
Elk Horn’s vision brings together not just Ducks and Beavers, but also beer and wine. The end result, Sheehan and Silva expect, will be beers that explore new territory, with characteristics that appeal to wine drinkers and beer drinkers alike. Elk Horn’s flagship production beers are being designed to fit the local and campus markets, with two to three IPAs on tap, plus a stout and a “cheap beer,” details of which are currently being kept under wraps.
But the the barrel beers are where Elk Horn really expects to find its niche in Eugene’s ever-more-crowded craft beer market.
Co-owned by one of the owners of Sweet Cheeks Winery, Elk Horn will be aging its signature barrel beers in pinor noir and other barrels from Sweet Cheeks and King Estate. In addition to the Eugene brewery, Elk Horn beers will pour at both wineries, offering familiar flavors and new experiences for wine and beer fans alike. “We cross over by having some vineyard owners,” says Sheehan, “and it opens up new opportunities. That’s why we brought in vineyard owners, to help us cross into the wine market with our barrel-aged program.”
Sheehan also expects Elk Horn to find its feet by offering far more than just beer. “Our brewer will make beer, wine, cider and mead,” he says. Elk Horn plans to make wine at Sweet Cheeks, with beer, cider and mead created and aged at Elk Horn. Barrel-aged beer production is expected to begin with 100 wine barrels for aging, and 800 barrels a year for total inaugural production of wild ales, single-barrel beers, sour ales, blended beers, krieks, and flagship beers. “Eighteen months of aging will be typical” for barrel-aged beers, says Sheehan, but some beers may be aged three to five years before being judged ready for release.
And as for the Delacata food cart that helped springboard Sheehan and his team into tackling their own brewery? Delacata will continue serving its Southern-style fare in downtown Eugene, but Sheehan says he plans to be in the cart himself far less. “Someone else will run the cart,” he says. “We’ll do fewer festivals, and I will work in the front of house at the restaurant and brewery.”
The restaurant will have a New Orleans theme, Sheehan explains, as he and his team hustle with construction, installation and remodeling. “We’re trying to open by Mardi Gras,” he says, one eye on February 2014, the other on a bright future brought about by bridging Ducks, Beavers, beer and wine.
The Ducks in the Beer
Duck spirit in Eugene’s craft beer industry runs deep in many other ways too.
At both Ninkasi Brewing and Falling Sky Brewing, many of the owners and personnel are Duck alumni, explains Ninkasi founder Jamie Floyd and Falling Sky founder Jason Carriere. “I would say we shout it from the rooftop,” says Carriere, “but we are definitely a bunch of Ducks!”
Oakshire Brewing bridges the Ducks/Beavers rivalry with their second annual Civil War beer, brewed in collaboration with Flat Tail Brewing of Corvallis. Matt Van Wyk, Oakshire Brewmaster, describes Bitter Rye-Valry as a Dark Rye Ale, a combination of rye malt, caramel malt and “special dark malts” to give a rich roasted color, but with minimal astringency. “It’s crisp and light for a long tailgater,” says Van Wyk, “yet also hearty, dark, and warming.”
“I usually brew at least one Duck-related beer a year,” says Hanns Anderson, brewer at McMenamins High Street. Released in mid-October, Turf Burner is a Northwest Amber, hopped for big hop flavor but balanced bitterness with Chinook hops for bittering and aroma, and Sterling hops for flavor and aroma. “I’m trying to keep it available throughout football season,” adds Anderson, noting that depending how the bowl games shape up, there could always be another batch at the ready.
By Oregon Beer Growler staff
Is it any wonder that beer and cheese pair so well? Think about it: Cheese goes with bread. Beer is bread. Cheese goes with beer. But this is a wonder you need to discover for yourself.
In Oregon, where dozens of small and large cheesemakers dot the landscape from Madras to Tillamook, opportunities to pair your local cheeses with local beers are endless.
In October, we attended The Wedge at the Green Dragon, where Oregon’s creameries showcased a variety of cheeses. We spent one of Oregon’s beautiful fall days talking to cheesemakers, tasting their specialties, and thinking of specific Oregon brews that would pair with the cheeses.
Our Beer Champion, Will Oberst-Cairns, compiled the following suggestions. Following Will’s suggestions are pairing suggestions from a few other cheesemakers. For more information about Oregon’s cheeses, visit the Oregon Cheese Guild’s website, www.oregoncheeseguild.org.
1. Don Froylan brand Mexican Cheese, Queso Botanero, from Ochoa’s Queseria Creamery in Albany makes an authentic Willamette Valley pairing with Ninkasi’s Spring Reign. The cheese is a soft white spiced up with cilantro and onions, while the Spring Reign is a light-bodied, lightly bitter – a quite floral spring brew. The flavor of the Northwestern hops such as grapefruit and citrus have always coupled well with Mexican dishes that feature cilantro. During your next taco run, pick up one of Oregon’s light-bodied IPAs or pale ale .
2. Ancient Heritage’s “The Pearl” from Madras pairs nicely with a full-bodied Imperial IPA such as The Hop Head from Bend Brewing Company. The Pearl had a surprising bitterness to it but also had a smooth creaminess indicative of the soft ripening. The sweetness of the body of the beer went with the creamy spread and the bitterness of the two was harmonious. The added layer of complexity that came from the citrusy hops and the creamy texture were like fruit and cream; a great brunch-time pairing if ever there was one.
3. Full Circle Creamery’s “Sharp Raw Cheddar” produced in Scio pairs nicely with the Caldera’s Belgian Dubbel Ale. This pairing works because of its opposing nature. The sharp cheddar is a strong poignant presence akin to a bitter herb, while the dubbel is a sweet candy-esque brew with a smooth body. The sweetness of the beer helps to bring the flavors closer to a refreshing middle ground in much the same way you would dip hot wings in blue cheese sauce. This pairing works by balancing sweetness with bitterness.
4. Rogue Creamery’s Echo Mountain Blue Cheese, from Central Point, pairs with a paired with the Jabberwocky ale from Walkabout Brewery, just a few miles away. It is almost as though this pair was made for each other. The Jabberwocky is a rich and strong English ale with a smooth and sincere sweetness that melts in your mouth. The Echo Mountain is a rich blue cheese that has a ton of great moldy flavor with a layer of sweetness brought on from aging. To hell with crème Brule – this cheese and beer makes for a fantastic autumn desert.
Cheesemaker’s suggestions: Although most of the cheesemakers at The Wedge had not thought seriously about pairing their cheeses with Oregon beers (for shame!), a few had these suggestions:
Pat Morford of Logsden’s River’s Edge Chevre, paired her Sunset Bay chevre, a soft, ripened goat cheese, with the Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar, a brown ale. Sunset Bay is so named for its sunset-colored streak of Spanish smoked red paprika running through it. Morford said her farm has been raising dairy goats since 1959. Rogue’s website mentions pork and beef pairings with its brown ale – we didn’t see anything about goats, but trust Pat’s judgment.
Rod Volbeda of Willamette Valley Cheese north of Salem paired his mildly sweet gouda with Pelican’s Tsunami Stout. The best pair, Volveda said, is with the gouda that is actually soaked in the stout during the cheese hooping (cooling) process, creating a beautiful brown marbling effect on the surface of the cheese. Willamette Valley Cheese makes several styles of gouda.
Vern Caldwell of Pholia Farm in Rogue River pairs his Takelma goat cheese, its rind washed with annatto, with Oakshire’s Big Black Jack, an imperial chocolate pumpkin porter. Takelma is a traditional rennet cheese aged up to 5 months. Caldwell said that Oakshire brewer, Matt Van Wyck, suggested the pairing. That’s a pretty reliable recommendation.
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