As we are working towards making this whole thing happen, I thought I would post up some stuff occasionally about what is going on in my personal brewing world. I have a good idea of the flagship beers I want to start with out of the gate, and those recipes are nailed down pretty tight. However, the process of opening a brewery is nothing if not filled with bouts of doubt. There is always a chance I could stumble across some new recipe or a tweak of an old recipe that causes me to reshuffle planned flagships and seasonals. Thinking about such things is actually some of the fun part of opening a brewery. Much more fun than other stuff that has to be done, like revisiting some detail of the business plan for what feels like the 2000th time, or reading then re-reading some confusing legal language in an important document from an attorney.
Anyway, about a week and a half ago I brewed a California Common Beer (or Steam Beer). I made a couple of attempts at this style years ago, but it never quite turned out the way I planned. That is probably because I was trying to copy the most famous commercial example of the style, Anchor Steam. If you have never read the story of how Fritz Maytag bought the struggling Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco in 1965, you should look it up. It can be argued that Fritz Maytag and Anchor Brewing Company planted the seed of inspiration that grew into the craft brewing revolution.
For my version, I wanted the beer to have a deep amber color and a strong toasty, caramel character. What makes this beer style unique is that it is fermented with a specific strain of lager yeast that will ferment at ale temperatures but still produce a beer with lager-like characteristics. For hops, I wanted to play up the sort of old school, Gold Rush, American lager theme I think of when I think of Steam Beer. Instead of the traditional Northern Brewer hops that are often used in the style, I used a classic American dual purpose hop that has a long history of use in American lagers. Will it be awesome? Will it suck? Would I brew it commercially? Won’t know for a few weeks. Here’s some shots from brew day. One is the kettle just at the start of the boil. The other is of Duke, my assistant brewer, doing what he does. He’s got his own Twitter account. You should check it out – @sirrottentot.
No, it’s not a pumpkin beer (I did that a few weeks ago). I’m just a little behind cleaning up after Halloween. Its a ‘Fall’ decoration. It’s good for the whole season right?
Duke spends a lot of his waking hours trying to be warmer.
That’s all for now. The opening of the brewery and taproom is still on schedule (for now) for Summer 2015. We are busy getting things together and lining stuff up, but I can’t say more than that at the moment.
I’ll try to find a quiet moment soon and post part 2 of ‘How to open a brewery in 2,364 easy steps’.