Great Lakes Brewing News December 2012/January 2013 : Page 1
Best if Read by Dec/Jan 2012/13 Volume 17 Number 6 By Karen Bujak DREANSTIME By Kristen Kuchar s the days keep getting shorter and the tem-peratures get colder, it’s clear that the season is rapidly changing, and the holidays are coming. With this change, beer drinkers are beginning to reach for something that warms them up. We left the beers of sum-mer behind, and now we are moving on from the harvest beers and pumpkin ales to holiday ales and bigger beers, like bocks, Imperial IPAs and bourbon-barrel aged stouts. But that’s only the beginning. At F. X. Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, NY, where they brew Saranac beers, Brewmaster Jim Kuhr says that taking advantage of the chang-ing seasons goes along perfectly with producing innovative and sought after beers. “Ingredient choices are plentiful, processing times are relatively short and the brewing process itself is incredibly flexible. All of this allows us to really present a beer that matches the season, which of course plays into our cus-tomer’s desire to drink something new and different.” Similar to craving different foods during different times of the year, Josh Deth of Revolution Brewing in Chicago LAKE OF BEER. Great Lakes Brewmaster (and Santa) Luke Purcell with the ﬁ rst pouring of Christmas Ale. PHOTO BY KAREN BUJAK. reat Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland is the most celebrated, award-winning brewery in Ohio. They were the first microbrewery (started in 1988), and they are also the big-gest craft brewery in Ohio, 18th in the Nation based on 2011 sales volume (27th of all breweries in the U.S.). GLBN stopped in to have a chat with owners Dan and Pat Conway and brew-master Luke Purcell, to see if they would share the secrets of their success. Our first visit happened to be the day of the first pour of the season for Great Lakes Christmas Ale. This is an annual event for many area folks, as evidenced by their record high sales for that day, 80% of which was due to Christmas Ale sales alone. This is a wonderful beer, made with honey, ginger and cinnamon in just the right amounts to tanta-lize but not overpower your taste buds. Pat Conway said it’s their second largest selling beer, and they only sell it for eight weeks. He says it probably has the most cult-like following of any beer in the US. When asked why, Dan Conway could only reply, “It’s a mystery!” It’s become a Cleveland tradi-tion that is spreading as their distribution spreads. In further dis-cussions with Marissa DeSantis, communica-tions assistant, and Luke Purcell, brewmaster, a few days later, the mys-tery unravels a bit. See Season's p. 4 INSIDE Event Calendar ..................... 3 The Beer Queendom ............ 8 Homebrewing ..................... 10 Beer Beacon ....................... 12 Jolly Giant .......................... 17 Map/Directory ................ 18-23 Cooking with Beer ............. 25 STATE ST BY STATE NEWS Michigan ......... 14 SW Michigan .. 15 SE Michigan ... 16 Indiana ............ 24 Chicago .......... 26 Illinois ............. 27 Wisconsin ....... 28 N Wisconsin ... 29 Minnesota ....... 30 Ontario ........... 32 New York ........ 33 Pennsylvania .. 36 Ohio ................ 38 Consistently Good Great Lakes’ company philosophy has always been to market a consistently good and fresh product. GLBC is also committed to sustainability, as evidenced by the “Fatty Wagon” that arrived with Santa (aka the See Great Lakes p. 6
As the days keep getting shorter and the temperatures get colder, it’s clear that the season is rapidly changing, and the holidays are coming.With this change, beer drinkers are beginning to reach for something that warms them up. We left the beers of summer behind, and now we are moving on from the harvest beers and Pumpkin ales to holiday ales and bigger beers, like bocks, Imperial IPAs and bourbon-barrel aged stouts.But that’s only the beginning.
At F.X. Matt Brewing Co. In Utica, NY, where they brew Saranac beers, Brewmaster Jim Kuhr says that taking advantage of the changing seasons goes along perfectly with producing innovative and sought after beers. “Ingredient choices are plentiful, processing times are relatively short and the brewing process itself is incredibly flexible. All of this allows us to really present a beer that matches the season, which of course plays into our customer’s desire to drink something new and different.”
Similar to craving different foods during different times of the year, Josh Deth of Revolution Brewing in Chicago says craving the appropriate beer for the season is part of our culture. “Beer is part of our lives and the culture we live in, so when the weather changes, you just want that thing you are used to having whether it’s apple cider, pumpkin pie or a cool stein of Oktoberfest.”
Hot and Cold
Before wet-hopped, pumpkin, harvest and Oktoberfest beers took over the shelves in September, they were dominated by the “drinkable” beers of the summer. These lighter, often fruity beers are designed for quenching our thirsts while out surviving the summer heat or firing up the barbeque, and they go well with the food we gravitate toward in summer.Innovation flourishes in the warm season now as well as in the cold. Flavors of a variety of fruits, spices, and distinctive yeasts go beyond wheats and wits, and styles are combined or invented, shandies and pale ales are joined by white IPAs, saisons, fruit-hefeweizens and plenty of sours.
“We want our seasonal beers to be your “go-to” beer during the appropriate time of year, and for us that usually means a well-balanced beer,” says Pete Crowley of Haymarket Pub and Brewery, and President of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild says.“Rosa, our summer ale made with Hibiscus, has a nice tartness which helps quench thirst on a hot day.”
Before simply having a taste or curiosity for a certain ingredient or style inspired brewers to experiment with seasonal beer, it was actually a necessity. In the Middle Ages, beer with higher alcohol content was produced to get people through the cold winters.And since it was so cold outside, beer was able to be stored for longer times, so aging was an option. In summer, beers needed to be produced and consumed much more rapidly. Warm weather ingredients like sugars, honey, fruits and vegetables were used as well. During fall, pumpkins and squash were in abundance, and were able to take the place of some of the malt in the brewing process.And spices were used in great variety.
Hundreds of years later, craft brewers have given us back the beers we crave with the changing seasons. And like they did throughout history, brewers are making use of the ever changing and abundant array of fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. This is especially true of harvest time, but the rest of the year as well.
Challenge and Opportunity
For brewers, seasonal brewing is a chance to please and surprise their customers, while affording themselves an opportunity for experimentation.
“There are many reasons to make seasonal beers,” Pete Crowley says. “Just like pairing beer with food, you also pair it with weather, holidays and tradition. ‘Summer’ beers, ‘Christmas’ beers, ‘Oktoberfest’ beers.It gives the brewer the ability to be creative, brew styles that have great stories, and also utilize ingredients that may only be available certain times of the year.”
Many Christmas style beers are reminiscent of traditional holiday cookies, with flavors of oatmeal, nutmeg and cinnamon. On the west coast, it might be Anchor Christmas ale, or Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve. East coast, try Harpoon or Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.Imports, Scaldis Noel, Corsendonk Christmas or Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome.
For residents of Cleveland, it means the long awaited Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co., which is brewed with honey,Cinnamon and ginger. The most loyal of fans take an early holiday off from work for the beer’s release as the brewmaster, disguised as Santa Claus, serves their second best selling beer.
The festivities continue with Three Floyd’s Alpha Klaus, referred to as “Alpha King’s festive cousin.” Complete with a Santa Hat bottle, this holiday porter has flavors of English chocolate malt, coffee and Mexican sugar. Goose Island’s Christmas Ale is available in November and December, and it is not only built for Christmas, but more specifically for Christmas dinner.According to the brewery, it pairs best with ham, turkey and lamb, conveniently the most common foods eaten on the holiday.
Southern Tier Brewing Co. In Western NY was inspired by the common holiday and winter Swedish alcoholic beverage, Glogg. 2Xmas is brewed with the same ingredients as the Swedish staple including figs, ginger root, clove, cardamom, orange peels and cinnamon.
Hoppin’ Frog Brewery’s take on the seasonal brew is their Frosted Frog Christmas Ale, a nut brown beer at 8.% abv, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and a hint of nutmeg. For winter, the brewery puts out their Hoppin’ Frog Hop Heathen Imperial Black Ale, a dark, rich imperial black IPA at 8.8% abv. Hoppin Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale, which won a Gold Medal at GABF, has a pumpkin pie flavor, roasted and raw pumpkin, and is essentially a bourbon-barrel aged version of their original pumpkin ale.
Equally creative for fall is Ommegang’s Scythe & Sickle. This spiced harvest ale is brewed with a variety of malts and grains including rye, oats, and pils and has a sweet and bready flavor.
Bell’s Brewery in MI produces a mid-fall seasonal that combines a Belgian abbey-style with a roasty stout to produce a beer with notes of coffee and dark chocolate, named Hell Hath No Fury.
These rich, heavy beers are a far cry from the wit and wheat beers we were just consuming in August, or the maybocks, maple porters and red ales of spring. But according to Jim Kuhr, this change is what craft beer consumers crave. The brewmaster says, “People are drawn to seasonal beers because they want something different, unique and special. Craft beer enthusiasts want to explore new beer flavors and want brewers to be imaginative.There is a lot of creativity in the craft now, and there are so many new brewers looking to get the attention of the consumers. We are constantly challenging ourselves and our ingredient partners to think of new ideas, and twists on old ideas, to keep that ball rolling. Seasonal beers are a perfect means to show innovation.”
Perhaps the greatest evidence of our love of seasonal beers is the recent, and still growing success of seasonal variety packs.Brewers of every size and type are getting into the mix, from local and regionals to nationals and imports. Guinness, Sam Adams, Harpoon, Ommegang, Saranac, Petrus—the list is long and growing. Clearly there is a desire to experience new flavors and styles during the various seasons, and from day to day, for which mixed six and twelve-packs are ideal. Matt Brewing Co.’s Jim Kuhr even keeps variety packs in mind while thinking of a new seasonal beers to produce. He says he wants the beers to compliment each other.
Craft beer is all about variety, experimentation, and fighting boredom. Over the past two decades craft brewers have brewed countless examples of classic styles, and invented some new ones, creating a lot of excitement along the way. Now, seasonal brewing seems to be where brewers go to challenge themselves and surprise their customers. Even many of the new collaboration beers between brewers and breweries are seasonal styles. Our advice? Go with it.
Read the full article at http://archive.brewingnews.com/article/Season%27s+Best/1268508/139729/article.html.
Great Lakes Brewing Company
25 Years of Greatness
Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland is the most celebrated, awardwinning brewery in Ohio.They were the first microbrewery (started in 1988), and they are also the biggest craft brewery in Ohio, 18th in the Nation based on 2011 sales volume (27th of all breweries in the U. S.). GLBN stopped in to have a chat with owners Dan and Pat Conway and brewmaster Luke Purcell, to see if they would share the secrets of their success.
Our first visit happened to be the day of the first pour of the season for Great Lakes Christmas Ale. This is an annual event for many area folks, as evidenced by their record high sales for that day, 80% of which was due to Christmas Ale sales alone. This is a wonderful beer, made with honey, ginger and cinnamon in just the right amounts to tantalize but not overpower your taste buds. Pat Conway said it’s their second largest selling beer, and they only sell it for eight weeks.He says it probably has the most cult-like following of any beer in the US.
When asked why, Dan Conway could only reply, “It’s a mystery!” It’s become a Cleveland tradition that is spreading as their distribution spreads. In further discussions with Marissa DeSantis, communications assistant, and Luke Purcell, brewmaster, a few days later, the mystery unravels a bit.
Great Lakes’ company philosophy has always been to market a consistently good and fresh product. GLBC is also committed to sustainability, as evidenced by the “Fatty Wagon” that arrived with Santa (aka the brewmaster) and the first keg of Christmas Ale. This is a delivery truck that runs on spent oil from the pub restaurant. Also, since 2001, in remembrance of the 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River and to celebrate the renewed sense of ecoconsciousness the infamous fire sparked, GLBC has been proud to co-sponsor an annual Burning River Fest, which is intended to raise awareness of environmental issues affecting the Great Lakes region and Cuyahoga River ecosystem.The fest features educational exhibits from area environmental groups, fresh food from local farms and eateries, live music, and a special appearance by GLBC’s Christmas Ale. Another part of their sustainability practices include growing their own hops in Ohio City and their “Pint-sized” garden at Hale Farm where they grow veggies, herbs, and more hops.
Year after year, GLBC keeps growing, and innovating with new and creative products, while staying in tune with and giving back to the local community. For example, the West Side Market, across the street, is celebrating its 100th birthday this summer.In honor of this occasion, GLBC has created a unique Butcher’s Brew beer to help their neighbors toast 100 years of success. Butcher’s Brew is a tawny, toasty Kulmbacher-style lager with lightly roasted malt character and subtle hop aromas. GLBC brewers note that this style would have been popular during the Market’s early years, and it speaks to the city’s ethnic heritage.
As for new products, next year will see at least three new seasonal beers released: Alchemy Hour Double IPA and Rye of the Tiger IPA, and a 25th anniversary beer. They are also currently working on a collaboration beer, a porter style, with Deschutes Brewery.
Which brings us back to their philosophy, and to where the “new normal” comes in. To keep up their growth, they believe they have to appeal to younger drinkers, and younger drinkers often don’t have the loyalty or tradition associated with GLBC like some of the rest of us do: “We” are the ones responsible for the early growth and popularity of GLBC, the ones who might have drunk a Dortmunder Gold as our first ever craft beer, and who almost certainly had Great Lakes Christmas Ale as our first Christmas beer. Maybe we even learned how to brew because tasty beers like Great Lakes’ were hard to find and considerably more expensive than the yellow-fizzy stuff we drank in college. But for today’s generation, the ones who are just now having their first beer, the “new normal” is that craft beer is everywhere, and they have lots of good beers to choose from, so they may want something different every time they have a beer. To continue to grow, Great Lakes seeks to target this new craft beer enthusiast, while continuing to please the loyal fans they’ve gathered over the last 24 years.
How It’s Done
Great Lakes maintains this balance first by brewing their “Family of Five,” the backbone, or flagship beers of the GLBC lineup, including Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Burning River Pale Ale, Eliot Ness, Commodore Perry IPA and Dortmunder Gold. These beers are consistently good, fresh, flavorful, and very drinkable any time. To inject new life into these beers, a promotion is running currently to become Dortmunder’s best friend. Right now, you can call Dortmunder and he (she?)Will text you back. And you are encouraged to post a picture of yourself on the “Friends of Dort” Facebook page along with your friend Dortmunder; obviously designed to promote bonding with younger drinkers and one of our old friends. Look for similar promotions in the future for the other flagship beers.
Secondly, there is, and will continue to be, a steady stream of seasonal beers throughout the year; some familiar, like Conways Irish Ale, Lake Erie Monster, Blackout Stout, Oktoberfest, and Nosferatu, while others will be new and innovative. Some small batch beers will be pub-only beers as they experiment to create new beer adventures.
Thirdly, the GLBC sustainability practices are appealing to younger people, along with the Great Lakes commitment to quality, consistency, and freshness. Back in the early days of GLBC (and before), to find good beer, one often searched out imported beers or made their own. The new normal is a good thing.
One a final note about growth: After adding three new 300 barrel fermenters this past year, bringing their capacity to about 175,000 bbl per year, Great Lakes has no more room to grow. They are working with the city now to come up with a solution. It may mean putting tanks outside, another building nearby, or maybe even a new brewery somewhere else in the city in addition to the current facility. At this point they were only willing to say they are “exploring possibilities.” But with demand continuing to grow, they will be doing something soon, and no matter what that is, it will be ‘great’.
Read the full article at http://archive.brewingnews.com/article/Great+Lakes+Brewing+Company/1268514/139729/article.html.