Brew Biz: Werts and All

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

Written by Ken Carman

Barrington Brewery and Restaurant
aka: Berkshire Mountain Brewery
420 Stockbridge Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230
413-528-8282
Brewer and owner: Andrew Mankin

As a kid I traveled a few times through the west side of New England, via Connecticut. I was with my father… on business trips. Not the nicest locations in New England, to be overly polite. And we flew into Boston once, going to… ah, once again, “not the nicest locations…” So when my friend Dell, and his mother Kathleen Setzer, kept asking me to go with them to a camp near Otis, Massachusetts, I avoided it like intentionally exposing myself to chicken pox again.

Boy did I screw up.

The Berkshires are every bit as beautiful as my beloved Adirondacks. But on the plus side, I might never have had the adventure of discovering the Berkshires with an adult’s perspective and going places that simply weren’t around back then, like Great Barrington Brewery.

Great Barrington Brewery; otherwise known as Berkshire Mountain Brewing, sits just a few miles north of dead center Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Duh: hence the name. If you’re coming out of Pittsfield or Lee, Massachusetts you take Rt. 7 straight down to GB, but from Becket it’s route 8 to 23 west to route 7 north. It’s be on the eastern side of 7; midst an antique store and several shops in the Jennifer House Commons.

I met Andrew Mankin the brewer, for the first time, last year. A little tall; thin, he is also the owner and the creative inspiration behind this brewpub. He is not classically trained, yet he brews beers that are stylistically more on the mark than most Siebel/UC Davis/etc. brewers I have met. Unlike too many “classically” trained-only brewers I have met, most of his beers I’ve tried are not only on the mark style-wise, but couldn’t be described as bland, or boring. Last year I shared his Vienna with my beer tasters in Beaver River and they raved about it. As a judge I was impressed with the stylistic accuracy of his Vienna, yet just how individually pleasing of a brew it was. A brew can fit the styles quite well, yet be so boring you wonder if you should drink it, or use it to wash your car seats to give it that pleasing beer scent the officers so love. “Well, I was going to give you a ticket, but the interior of you car is so pleasingly odoriferous…”
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Beer Profile: Saranac Summer Brew

Profiled by Ken Carman

I approached this brew with a bit of “barf” mentality as beer judge. There are some fruit beers I like, but gimmicky brews remind me of Zima: a product that should have been sent to Gitmo and waterboarded until it admitted responsibility for all the other crappy gimmick beer that followed. Yet I found Saranac Summer Brew refreshing and irresistible. The lemonade is up front, yet not sickly sweet. If there hops in this they are so background they’re really not worth the mention. The malt background is just substantial enough to parade the marriage of beer and lemonade around as if they were the perfect couple. That acidic, annoyingly tart, lager yeast background I frequently kvetch about, being an ale geek? If it’s there, it’s probably covered by the lemon.

I would call it a lawnmower beer, but that term needs to banished. I have no big toe on my left foot from a lawnmower accident in the 60s. So let’s just leave it at: “Drinking beer: any beer, and mowing is for pure idiots,” OK?

Yellow, from the lemonade, our sample had plenty of foam… not too much, not too little. It smells exactly as it should: lemonade beer. “Thirst quenching” is the perfect phrase. There were three of us. One: a beer judge; me. One a hesitant experimenter, at best… a friend named George. And Jolene, his wife, who is pretty much a light fruit beer person, if any beer at all. She prefers fruity mixed drinks.

All three of us raved about this.

Hey, Fred Matt!!! This one needs to go as nationwide as possible

IPA: the Executive Summary

Written by Martyn Cornell for Zythophile.wordpress.com

(Note: a little minor editing was provided, simply because the other IPA articles are not posted here. The Professor suggests you check Mr. Cornell’s posts at Zythophile if you wish to read previous entries- Prof. GA)

Here’s the executive summary on what we know, what we don’t know, what we can justifiably assume and what we can’t assume about the history of India Pale Ale, and I promise to keep it to under 700 words. But first, here’s an extract from a book written in 1882, called Our own country: descriptive, historical, pictorial:

The India Pale Ale is a device wholly of the present century. In the year 1822 one Hodgson, a London brewer who had settled at Burton, brewed something like the present bitter ale, which he accomplished in a teapot in his counting house, and called it Bombay beer. A retired East India captain named Chapman improved on this, and Burton ale soon attained the celebrity that has made the names of Bass and Allsopp household words all over the world.

How many mistakes did you find in that collection of cobblers’ awls? I believe there’s not a single statement there that could be said to be correct, with, everything, including the teapot and “Captain Chapman”, unbelievably mangled. It’s a lesson for anyone who believes that if it’s in an old book, it must be right.
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Massachusetts Beer Distributor Driven Legislation Reflects American Small Brewers Struggle

Written by Charlie Papizian

America’s small brewers need beer distributors to get their beer to beer drinkers. But getting beer to beer drinkers is often threatened with thumb-squashed state based beer distribution laws.

In the beer business they call these laws “franchise laws.” Some who feel anger refer to these laws as “monopoly laws.”
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Beer Tubes evolving quickly as fans, young and old, discover new ways to ”do the Tube”

Bar customers finding new ways to boost profits with Beer Tubes, as fans put the Tubes to the test at parties and sports leagues.

From mmdnewswire.com. Author(s) not attributed

(MMD Newswire) July 9, 2010 —  The evolution of Beer Tubes continues to gain momentum as new uses for the 100-plus ounce table top beverage dispenser are reported by bar managers and Tube fans around the world. Promotions involving the Beer Tubes are driving sales and increasing profit margins for bars and restaurants, as patrons looking for a good deal are “doing the Tube.” While those buying Beer Tubes for personal use are putting the Tubes through their paces at parties, tailgates and sports leagues.
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Beer Planning: A Backpacker’s Perspective


Shi Shi Beach: Beautiful images require wondrous beer.

From “the crew” @ beerblotter.wordpress.com (writers or writer not credited on site)

Last weekend we embarked on what might be the greatest “hike-in” beach camp spot in all of the Northwest. Our trip to Shi Shi Beach in the Makah Indian Reservation (Neah Bay, WA) was beyond epic. Many a new terms were coined, wooden implements fashioned, pasty foods consumed, ocean plunges taken, driftwood bonfires lit and even a few articles of clothes smoked for that take home campfire flavor (see SmokedJorts.com).

But like many of you, I was stumped by how to perfectly plan for 50+ hours in no man’s land, sans cooler and additional space for my brethren – beer. Food was a stumble, but doable. Equipment seemed to fit without excess weight. Even multi-weather clothing seemed to be a cinch. But Beer – not exactly.

The Dilemmas of Beerpacking

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Commission tightens rules for homebrewers

Written by Scott Hammers for The Democrat Herald

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s new interpretation of an old law has put homemade beer and wine in the spotlight, effectively banning judged competitions, home-brewing club tasting nights, and even the taking of a six-pack of home-brewed beer to a neighbor’s barbecue.

At issue is ORS 471.403, a statute that forbids the production of alcoholic beverages by anyone not licensed by the OLCC. But it “does not apply to the making or keeping of naturally fermented wines and fruit juices or beer in the home, for home consumption and not for sale.”

Citing the new interpretation of the phrase “home consumption,” the Oregon State Fair has canceled this year’s beer and wine competitions. The wine competition has been a fixture at the fair for 31 years, the beer contest for 22 years.

Rachel McIntosh, director of open class exhibits for the Deschutes County Fair, said that unless she’s explicitly notified by the OLCC that beer and wine contests are out, the county fair will be accepting entries for the fair later this month.

“Somebody’s opened a can of worms,” McIntosh said. “We’ve done this for a long time, and it’s probably been a law forever, but somebody opened the can and stirred the pot.”

Representatives of the OLCC did not return calls for comment. On the agency’s official blog, a July 2 posting states that the OLCC’s current interpretation of the law came through a recent analysis of the statute by the Oregon Department of Justice.

“The Department of Justice’s guidance certainly requires us to look at the competitions in a different way than we have before,” the posting read. “It’s completely understandable that home beer and wine makers would be disappointed.”

Brett Thomas, past president of the Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization, or COHO, said clubs and competitions have played a big part in helping him hone his skills in the 13 years since he began home-brewing. Now a professional brewer for Silver Moon in Bend, Thomas said COHO has about 75 registered members. He said there may be as many as 900 home-brewers in Central Oregon.

Thomas said he was surprised to learn that the law appears to forbid what he and others have been doing for years.
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The Technical Edge: Hop Solutions

Hop (Humulus lupulus): Downy Mildew

Note the shoots with shortened internodes, characteristic of hop downy mildew


From OSU University’s Website: content edited by: C. M. Ocamb and D.H. Gent

Aerial spike present on hop bine
Cause: The fungus-like microorganism Pseudoperonospora humuli persists from year to year in infected hop crowns or plant debris in soil. It is an obligate parasite specific to hop. Disease is promoted by wet or foggy weather.

Symptoms: In early spring, spike-like infected bines rise among normal shoots from the crown. Spikes are silvery or pale green, rigid, stunted, and brittle. The undersides of leaves may be covered by profuse sporulation by the pathogen and appear dark purple to black. Tips of normal branches may become infected and transformed into spikes. Leaves of all ages are attacked, resulting in brown angular spots. Flower clusters become infected, shrivel, turn brown, dry up, and may fall. Cones also are affected, becoming brown. Severe infection in some susceptible cultivars may produce a rot of the perennial crowns.

Hop cone with downy mildew infection
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