California Road trip, Pacific views, cities and breweries.

 

*for this blog post we have a guest blogger my girlfriend Carla making her debut with a view to picking up some more blog posts in the future. Sean.

 

Sean and I recently embarked on a 13-day Californian itinerary to get some inspiration and adventure after the Christmas break. Little did we know we would be blown away by the diversity of landscape and cities California has to offer, not to mention the lifestyle and the array of top-class breweries we came across.

This road trip covered just over 1000 km across 5 cities, Big Sur iconic State Parks and Pacific coastline, 34 breweries, tap rooms and brew pubs. I thought I would share some highlights and good spots we found on this trip and how travel and breweries fitted in so well along the way. We did some planning ahead by researching some top spots we wanted to hit on Beer Advocate and the rest was based on recommendations, google maps and believe or not, Lonely Planet had also some good suggestions too.

Good beer is a way of life in California, we didn’t come across any macro beers throughout the trip, even in the local 7/11 shop, the choice of craft beers was incredible. This is where I get the scale of the craft beer movement in US and how well established it is.

We arrive in San Francisco on a Wednesday afternoon and we couldn’t wait to drop our bags and head out for a look around the block in search of some food and a thirst quencher. As we walk around Market street, we stumble across the Fermentation Lab, a small bar and restaurant with a casual vibe. I indulge in a 12-month barrel aged sour ale on peaches while Sean went straight for his first ever pint of Pliny The Elder. We continue our walk and decide to head to the Mission district for some tacos. On the way, a little sign points out for Standard Deviant Brewery and we couldn’t resist the mellow tunes and edgy vibes in the tap room.

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Fuelled by Mexican food, we hit The Monk’s kettle, coming in highly recommended on Beer Advocate, a small bar wit no less than 200 bottles on the menu and about 30 taps. The choice not only covers Californian breweries, but you can also find some Allagash and so many other breweries.

Day 2 and we find that one of the Mikkeller bars is very close to where we are staying in Union Square so we start our evening there and in true Mikkeller style, we found a sleek bar with state of the art temperature controlled taps and a great choice of beers. I start with an Engine House #9 Operation haze and Sean chooses Russian River Dribble Belt. We ramped things up with all things sour and I have Jolly Pumpkin La vida improvisation, an oak aged sour Saison, and Sean had Upright Expansions, a tart saison aged on gewurtztraminer grapes. We realise later that there is a specific sour tap room downstairs for more choice.

A short walk from there and we found ourselves in Cellarmaker Brewery, a typical SoMa (South Market) trendy tap room filling up with locals. One thing we have noticed here is the ABV of most beers is often above 6% so it’s hard to find a sessionable beer. I chose a Simcoe Pale ale and Sean has a Pilsner. We then hit the Saison and the funky stuff. Trimming Trees is a mixed culture collab with Highland Park Brewery from LA and Green Cheek Beer Co (Orange County). Next is a bottle shop and extensive tap room, City Beer Store where we finish off the night with a 750 ml Yazoo Saison des Bois which was wonderful.

The next day we are off on a little adventure up north to Santa Rosa for a visit and tour of the new Russian River Brewing facility, a very large complex with 75bbl barrel brew house. This was arranged by our friend who works for Allagash and has some serious connections in the industry (thanks Sean!). We first head to the original brew pub location in downtown Santa Rosa for lunch and sampling a few beers before taking a Lyft (same as Uber and widely used in California) to the new plant in the heart of Sonoma wine region in an area called Windsor. We are not far from Napa Valley here, just about over 20 km away. The visit is impressive and with our knowledgeable guide Taylor, we go through all the brewing and fermentation process with a specific focus on the open fermenters which are enclosed in separate rooms. The facility is state of the art and even the bottling and packaging room is so impressive to watch. We then proceed to a separate entity of the plant which house the mixed fermentation stuff. We walk through a galley overlooking the barrel aging facility and I’d say there was about 1000 barrels in there, nicely stacked up and it made for such a nice thing to look at. Finally, the cherry on the cake was the ‘sacred room’, a beautiful medieval style door leads to the coolship. The room is bright with windows all over and the rest was wood clad. There is something so special and peaceful about this room and it is thrilling to see such a space dedicated to making beer and leaving it open to the elements to be transformed by the local micro-flora.

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The trip to Russian River was wonderful and it was so educational to hear the story of founders Vinnie and his wife Natalie, it is a truly inspiring story of determination and entrepreneurship and a passion for beer.

We top the visit to Santa Rosa by stopping in Cooperage Brewing company, a few people recommended it and we weren’t disappointed. I was overwhelmed by how busy it was despite being in a quite remote, somewhat industrial setting and it was full of locals coming in after work, meeting friends, with plenty of kids running around. Tap rooms are business as usual here, this is where people drink and enjoy themselves. It truly was an awakening of things to come for us in Ireland with this new Craft beer bill.

As if San Francisco wasn’t big enough, we also tipped across to Oakland chasing food trucks and went to 21st Amendment which was quite impressive with it’s size, ambiance, live music and two food trucks and hundreds of people enjoying themselves. The beers were also excellent and we had a great time there. We head back to the city and set our minds on exploring Haight district, a student and vibrant area not far from Castro. The streets are full of cool boutiques, vintage clothes shops and the lingering smell of marijuana gives it all a very 70’s hobo vibe. Once again, we trusted the Beer advocate listing and head for Magnolia Brew pub and I have to say it might have been my favourite bar in San Fran. It’s Saturday night and the place was buzzing. It has a nice bistro style interior and some character. The beers are excellent so is the food, it also has an interesting story, it is own by New Belguim Brewery who is Colorado based. I have a Yuza Gose made with 3 different peppers, yuzu peel and sea salt, it’s complex and extremely well balanced. Sean opted for Narrow Universe session IPA which according to him was the best we had so far bursting with aromas and flavours of papaya, and cantaloupe. We chat to a lovely lady homebrewer, a true San Fran character about sourdough, yeast and real estate, we exchange cards and we feel like locals all of a sudden!

Sunday is ‘visiting day’ so we hit Alcatraz and take in the beautiful views of the city. From the Rock, you can see why this city was chosen by settlers for the gold rush. We then hit the indoor market at Embarcadero for some empenadas and kombucha for me and Sean picked up a can in one of the bottle shops in there. Needless to say, I was in kombucha heaven out there, you can find it anywhere from Trader Joes to any gas station.

One of the highlights of our trip was the visit to the The Rare Barrel in Berkley, an all sour barrel aging facility. This is not a brewery, they just blend and sour age wort they buy from local breweries. The facility is impressive, the tap room is sleek with its grey wall and wood tables. The beers are also impressive and it is no surprise, our host Richie has a background in wine. It is very clear to us that the The Rare Barrel are at the cutting edge of barrel aging and mixed fermentation in the US.

After a few days walking the street of San Fran, it feels good to pick up our rental and kick off this road trip. Pacific highway 1 doesn’t disappoint, few miles outside city, the views are striking and the ocean is mesmerising.

The excitement is at all time high as we hit Santa Cruz. It was a mecca for hippies and surfers back in the 70’s and still is. First stop is the Five Guys burger joint, well we’re in the US after all, home to the great burger! The dress code is pretty chilled here and flip flops are totally accepted footwear anywhere you go. The welcoming gents at Lúpulo give us the run down on their taps and the bottle choice is impressive. We really didn’t expect such quality of bars, craft beer is everywhere and Californians take it very seriously. We settle on a refreshing 750 ml bottle of Fonta Flora Southern Saison brewed with lemon and black tea. Fonta Flora is a North Carolina based brewery, worth checking out if you come across them. We get chatting to the owner of Lupulo and as he had a stop over in Dublin in a few weeks’ time so we write up a list of recommended bars for him to hit. This earns us a complementary bottle of wild beer from Logdson Farmhouse Ales. Sean is excited as he attended Dave Logdson lecture at the last Carnivale Brettanomyces last summer.

Next stop was the highly anticipated Rustic Ales Sante Aderius tap room. The location is unassuming for what was to come. It is a modern roadside retail unit with thick wood carved tables. Here we try everything on the menu and it has all Brett, saison, mixed fermentation and sour. It can’t get any better than this but to top it off, we sit outside to watch a memorable sunset with pink skies. We found beer heaven! These guys do things with integrity and passion and it translates into the beers we’ve sampled. Upon reflection they were the finest beers we tasted on the whole trip and a brewery to keep an eye on in the future.

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From here on in, we are in iconic beat generation territory (for those of you who read On the Road or Big Sur by Jack Kerouac, this was our inspiration). Monterrey and Carmel by the Sea are the prettiest coastal towns and we spend the day touring and exploring. Monterrey is home to Alvarado Brewing Company and we do a quick pit-stop into their tap room and restaurant. Back at Lupolo in Santa Cruz, one of the staff members recommended we check out Yeast of Eden which is the mixed fermentation spin out from Alvarado but based in Carmel By the Sea. I hear it is also home to Clint Eastwood, no surprise, the place is stunning, you could be on the Cote d’Azur here with exquisite villas and sea views all along. We make it our business to visit in mid-afternoon. Yeast of Eden oozes with class and elegance, it is mixed fermentation boutique tap room and restaurant. The beer is treated like wine here and we sampled some appetizers from the menu to match the outstanding beers. I had Family Miner, a 4.2% grisette, wonderfully citrussy and Sean choses Lines Dissecting, a 6% larger aged in wine barrels with house microbes, tart, earthy and oaky flavours. I think this gave Sean a lot of inspiration I was driving so we make a swift exist but not before Sean hoovered the place with merchandise and take away 750 ml bottle. This bottle made it home with us (along with about another 10!) and we can’t wait to sample it.

That evening we were excited to spend the night in our log cabin in Big Sur. The accommodation and setting are stunning, it is remote and peacefully quiet. We have dinner in the lodge and pick up some Sierra Nevada cans from the small convenience shop for a chilled-out night cap.

The morning was spent hiking in two of the State parks, the forests were lush and the views breath taking. We tick off the McWay waterfall from the bucket list, this iconic image you would often see promoting California.

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A few hours of windy roads and behind a mountain, we arrive at our next destination: Saint Luis Obispo (SLO), a quaint provincial town. I was excited to be off the beaten track, to pull in our motel and park the Jeep just outside the room door. We learn that it is a student town, home to Cal Poly (California Polytechnic). Two blocks away from our motel, we stumble across Central Coast Brewing and we make a refreshing stop. In downtown SLO, we head for Libertine Brewing, tap room and food seems to be the winning combo here in the US. The food is good, portions are generous, the beers were interesting. Libertine proud themselves for their extreme sour beers and the Saison I had aged in French oak white wine barrels was spot on and paired wonderfully with the mac and cheese starter.

We hit the road the next day for Santa Barbara and once again, we are in wine country here. Not far from Saint Luis, we stop in Buellton for a look around Firestone and Barrelworks facility. It is impressive and doesn’t disappoint. Sean sampled a Rose beer hybrid from their Barrelworks spin out for which the grapes were all grown within miles of the brewery.

We couldn’t bypass the beautiful village of Solvang which featured in the movie Sideways. It was founded by Danish settlers in the early 1900 and it is reflected in the architecture. It is tiny so after a quick walk we spotted a bottle shop which turned out to be a homebrew shop called Valley Brewers with a secret tap room The Back room ran by husband and wife Sandy and Chris. Like anywhere in the world, the homebrewer community is so friendly and they gave some amazing recommendations and free tasters.

It’s wine country and we drive through Santa Ynez Valley for a tasting at Sandstone Vineyard for a taster of things to come when we hit Santa Barbara. Wine here is like beer elsewhere, free flowing in tasting rooms and outdoors patio. We hit Municipal Winemakers and watch the sunset in the Funk zone, a regenerated creative hub in downtown Santa Barbara. We didn’t expect much in terms of breweries but we were pleasantly surprised by Figueroa Mountain Brewing company with some decent beers. On State Street, we found Night Lizzard Brewing company, a neat set-up brewery and tap room with an excellent Saison which stood out for us. We get chatting to the brewer Clay about our project, yeast and koji making.

We hiked Inspiration Point the next day and built up a thirst. We venture out to Telegraph tap room and had a nice Guava Sour. They have been bought by the guys at Epic Brewing it seems as we see some of their beers here too. A short walk from there, we also tried Third Window, a slick operation with farm to table food and an excellent Saison.

San Diego deserves a separate blog spot of its own. We hit some hot spots there like Modern Times brewery, a really cool tap room serving and roasting coffee as well. We are in the home of the IPA so there are plenty of high-quality choices. It’s Super bowl day so the place is jammed with people and the take away purchases are also flying out the door as we head to Ocean Point and into Pizza Port, even our Lyft driver knew the place well and we watched the match here with some superb IPA and pizza. Brewer Tomme Arthur also has a barrel aged facility called Lost Abbey and we brought back some bottles home with us.

Ballast Point in Little Italy was an interesting visit, the high quality beers match the success story of Ballast who recently sold for just over a billion dollars. Still in Little Italy, we hit Bottle Craft, a lovely little bottle shop and tap room, this set up is fantastic, we need more of these in Ireland. When you see De Garde on tap, you can’t pass it and we reminisce about meeting head brewer Trevor last summer in Amsterdam. There are so many other brew pubs and tap rooms we visited including iconic Stone brewing who has no less than 3 location across San Diego.

The highlight of San Diego was for me the visit to White Labs, the yeast company who supply brewers worldwide with the magic stuff. They have a tap room on-site and you get to taste beers in a flight, the same wort fermented with different yeast. The experience is educational in addition to being pleasant! We also got a tour of the facility which was essentially an analytical lab, a micro lab and a clean room. We also watched the packaging lines and learned about the inception of the company set up by Chris White.

California didn’t disappoint as a holiday destination and also firmed up our passion for making beer using mixed fermentation and taking the time to barrel age it. It was a fantastic break for the eye, the Pacific coast views were breath taking and our taste buds got used to drinking amazing beers on a daily basis!

Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully it gives someone out there the inspiration to make a similar trip.

Cheers!

Carla.

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The Many Faces of Saison

We all love saison, right? I’m going to brew a saison this weekend but when I started to think about the type of saison I want to brew I headed off down a rabbit hole of yeast strains and microbes trying to decide whether I should have a level of tartness to it, keep it simple and sessionable, add some Brett for some funk and age it, any further ingredients like herbs and spice, strong, dark etc. etc. So this got me thinking to write up a post on the various styles of saison I like to brew myself and hopefully give some further insight as to why this is my favourite beer style, that is, if you can shoehorn all these variations into one single style. Defining saison is impossible as it is many things to many people. I hear a lot of people say they don’t like saison but have you drank saison Dupont, the finest clean example? Or a Saison a la Provision from Burning Sky, one with added Brett and lacto?

The history of saison has been covered in great detail by many more knowledgeable than myself but if you would like a learn more I can highly recommend Dave Janssens blog  http://www.horscategoriebrewing.com/ and hit the saison section.

The Maltose Falcons also have a very good section on brewing saison with analysis of various yeast strains used to brew the style which you can find here https://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/guide-saisons-and-saison-yeasts

Read Farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski if you prefer to gain your knowledge in book format.

Also there is nothing here that can’t be found on Milk The Funk as this is where I primarily learned all these fermentation procedures. These are just some of my personal interpretations and techniques with information gathered from all of the above resources plus more.

I don’t decide what my saison is going to be by looking into my malt store to see what I have available nor do I see if I have the correct hops to carry out the process as I may indeed not use any hops. The place to start the recipe is to imagine yourself sitting down in your comfortable chair, nice and relaxed, picturing yourself drinking the final product.

STRAIGHT-UP SAISON

What’s in that glass? Is it clean and dry and sessionable with just a single strain of saccharomyces, Belgian Pils malt and a 60 minute bittering addition of whatever hops take your fancy? Or is it a little stronger, tipping over the 6.5% ABV barrier with a hint of alcohol and a lot of spice and a heavy carbonation with an effervescent head pouring over the side of the glass? Either way it should be dry as a bone and fermented near 25c, and these are basic examples of clean saccharomyces options.

BRETT SAISON

My personal favourite is Brett Saison. This is the one that can be fermented in three different ways (all of which are mid 20’s C for me) the first of which is a co-pitch or mixture of both your preferred saison strain(s) along with your preferred Brettanomyces strain(s) at the very beginning to let them work in tandem for a finished product that I would leave for a six weeks minimum and longer for enhanced Brett characteristics. I like my FG down around 1.002 (perform a forced fermentation beforehand to get a good idea of when you’re fermentation is complete) when I know I’m safe to bottle (in Champagne bottles depending on whether or not you prefer higher carbonation levels). For added funk, use green bottles. You heard me correctly and expect to see some of my saison on your shelf funking further in green bottles. Using saison strains famous for stalling mid-way through fermentation like Dupont are my favourite for co-pitching with Brett as it eliminates the famous saison stall as the Brett seems to slowly carry it through.

The second Brett saison fermentation begins with letting the saccharomyces deliver all the character by completing the majority of the attenuation itself or indeed all of the attenuation itself before adding your Brettanomyces strain to hoover up the final few gravity points. Keep in mind that this process takes longer for Brett to attenuate the residual sugars so I’d give it about four months + with monitoring once a month. Of course, wort composition, fermentation temperature and pitching rates can affect the profile so give it time and monitor once a month. Bottle or keg when happy!

The third is bottle conditioning with Brettanomyces. Ferment with your favourite saison saccharomyces strain for two weeks or until fully attenuated and prepare your favourite Brett strain for bottling day. If you have 40 bottles then have 40ml of Brett ready and add 1ml to each bottle with a pipette. Definitely use those thicker Champagne bottles for this one and always make sure your beer has finished attenuating and the FG is down to 1.002, at least that’s what I do.

SOUR SAISON

How many variations of this one have I made? Let’s say three. The first of which is to make a saison with low IBU of about 5 so as not to inhibit the lactobacillus. I wanted to find the saison strain with the highest fermentation temperature and that was WYEAST 3724 which can hit the hights of 38c without a problem. This so happens to be where lactobacillus, the souring agent, is happy out too. This makes for a stress free and quick turnaround sour saison by pitching both together at the start of fermentation at 38C. The job is done in the normal two week timeframe but you can keep an eye on the fermentation and pH and even halt the pH from dropping when you have reached your desired pH or don’t want it too sour by adding a dose of your preferred dry hops to the mix.

The second way is as per above but with the addition of Brettanomyces in a co pitch with the sacch or at the end of fermentation. Give it months, not for the souring but fermentation and depth of character.

The third is blending. Make your favourite version of any of the above saison from the clean or Brett section above but in a separate vessel you can make the sour saison and blend it with the clean in a third vessel and age. You can also make up about 8 litres of DME starter and sour it and ferment it fully with your saison strain and blend this to one of your clean saison. Blending! You can choose your desired pH level on your saison and The Mad Fermentationist Michael Tonsmeire has a calculator out there to aid you with gravity reading, pH, IBU, colour etc. whilst performing your blend of two or three beers depending on what your end goal is.

The fourth is adding lacto and Brett after the clean fermentation and this one could be a 12 month turnaround beer with nice subtle tartness.

Saison eh, and there was you thinking they were a one dimensional spice bag. But wait, there’s more!

WILD SAISON

The wild one is where you can incorporate your own wild yeast strain. How many variations?

The first is to use your own wild strain and call it a saison. Handy. It’s true that a lot of wild yeast give the flavour profile of typical store bought saison strains but this is not as easy as it sounds nor as easy to find. I plate and isolate individual strains and its great fun but finding a single sacch strain with massive character and the ability to bust out the blocks and ferment beer is hard but not impossible.

What’s in your wild yeast? I’ve been writing about wild yeast and wild yeast capture for a few years, see previous blogs from myself, but I’ve yet to find a wild yeast strain I would be happy to attach the saison style or profile to. The success rate for wild yeast capture is pretty small and when the end result is worth pursuing from this small success pool the final beer can still be pretty uncharacteristic. I’ve got two wild yeast strains I’ve been monitoring and trying out in various wort and hop profiles for many years to train them in acclimatising to making beer and adjusting to hops and alcohol but their flavour profile, whilst dry, is more suited to dry fruit beers or beers with white wine profiles and Nelson Sauvin or Hallertau Blanc hops.

Do you want wild yeast in your brewery and all that it contains? Are you worried about diastaticus (extremely overlooked and worth of a blog post in itself)? I’ve just armed myself with an idea for the next blog, nice one!

The second is to co-pitch your favourite saison yeast strain with your hand harvested wild yeast strain. Only you know what’s in your wild yeast but if it contains sacch, Brett, pedio and lacto you better be ageing that one for up to a year.  If your wild yeast is single sacch and suited to a hotter fermentation temperature then co-pitching with saison strain will give you a beautiful saison.

BARREL AGED SAISON

All of the above but aged in a barrel!

OPEN FERMENTATION SAISON

Make your favourite clean saison but why bother with a lid on your fermenter? Let those microbes land in and help out. Best give this one some added time. In our brewery we have open fermenters for making these exact beers.

COOLSHIP SAISON

The same as above but with the chilling and microbes landing from an overnight cooling in the coolship.

But why negate those beautiful wild microbes or taint it with saison yeast I hear you say.

Because saison.

My favourite strains dependent on desired end result are WYEAST3724 for sour with your preferred lacto source, WLP565 by itself or with any of your favourite Bretts and for light sessionable Brett saison The Yeast Bay saison Brett blend .

I’m also looking forward to incorporating all these saison into our brewery which will be open for business very soon @ Wide Street Brewing.

I guess I like to brew saison and the above are all ways I’ve attempted to brew them.

So what am I brewing this weekend?

A saison.

Thanks for reading!

Sean.

Midlands Beer Club Meet + Brewery Tour

On Saturday 22nd of this month the Midlands Beer Club will be gathering in Skellys Bar, Ballymahon from 3pm onwards. The monthly or bi-monthly meet up rotates through different venues in the midlands from Tullamore, Athlone and this time as far as Ballymahon, Co. Longford. If you’ve not been to one of these meet-ups before then it’s not an exclusive club so feel free to join us for the first time as it’s a pretty relaxed affair drinking, talking, talking about drink and drinking until we’re not fit to be talking! The plan of attack is to meet in Skellys bar at 3pm for a beer and then venture the short walk down to our soon to be opened brewery Wide Street Brewing for 4pm to let people have a browse around and see what equipment we plan on using where myself and Carla will be on hand to answer any questions that anyone has regarding our process. Once the tour (drinking and looking at stainless steel tanks) is over (about an hour) we will head back to Skellys for the evening where the homebrewers amongst us can share around our brews for critique and enjoyment. Once again you don’t have to be a homebrewer yourself to take part. Pat in Skellys tells me he plans on having a nice array of craft beers available for purchase on the day in the bar so we can get stuck into what the bar has to offer from a beer and food perspective once the homebrew is out of the way. By all means don’t be shy so turn up and introduce yourself and sit in for a few pints at any time during the day.

 

For the short brewery tour at 4pm I also plan on having a couple of beers on tap for whoever attends. The first of which is a Brettanomyces IPA. I don’t primary ferment or co-ferment my Brett IPA’s with saccharomyces and this one is hopped with 25g/l of Nelson, Citra, Galaxy and Columbus split evenly between whirlpool and dry hop and should stabalise at 7%. All the big guns are in there so I’m looking forward to this one myself!

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Brett IPA after one week fermentation.

The second beer available on the day is a session strength 4.2% table beer in the form of a session Brett saison. I have brewed it with Brettanomyces along with a saison yeast strain in a co-pitch primary fermentation with East Kent Goldings hops. It’s only a month old but totally dried out already with noticeable mild Brettanomyces characteristics coming through with the East Kent Goldings hops dominating the flavor profile so far. It’s a beer designed to quench a thirst but would also benefit from ageing. My own personal favourite style of beer is Brett saison so this is the session strength version and a beer I plan on always having available in the brewery as  I see more and more people requesting session strength beers from me and in the pub in general.  I always love opening Brett beers months after the brew day to check in on their evolution and it’s always a positive experience.

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Brett Saison in a BrewDog glimmer. Swap in yeast for hops.

In other news I applied to the Washington University Department of Genome Sciences to avail of a small sample of Pichia Apotheca to run some trials on various wort profiles and combinations with Brettanomyces to see what it has to offer through the fermentation process but that’s a future post.

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Tiny vial with a miniscule Pichia sample.

In the background experimentation continues non-stop with various new and exciting yeast strains and whatever wild fruits my uncle sends in my direction! A sour saison recipe using The Mad Fermentationist blend recently got hit with 2kg of wild elderberries so that should be one for the festive period.

The wild yeast strain from my local woods also got bottled recently after training it for over a year and exposing it to different environments, temperatures, hopping levels and after sitting for four months in a 20 litre batch it’s finally producing the characteristics I’m looking for. It started out with banana aromatics and eventually evolved into a mild orange and pear flavour aided by Hallertau Blanc with a hint of white pepper in the background. Perfect for what I’m looking for and excited to use it in a commercial batch.

Over the weekend we moved the tanks into their final resting place and repurposed the pallets they arrived in on for a little bar and seating area.

Sample pics of where we’re at. Early days but making progress.

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday if you can make it and if not don’t worry, we’ll have beer available for purchase soon enough!

Sean.

#thereWillBeBrett

@WideStreetBrew

Brewery Progress

It’s been a while since I checked in with an update on how things are going with regards to construction so just in case you thought there was nothing going on in the background I’ll bring you up to speed.

We don’t have our brewing license as of yet so can’t sell beer but we were invited over to Amsterdam to pour some beer as home brewers at Carnivale Brettanomyces so we’ve been busy with that for the last few weeks. We brought a Brett pale ale Citra Cascade, Belgian Brett Red with grape concentrate, Saison Sauvignon Sauvin and a 100% Beersel Brett blend Pomegranate pale tart ale. Three of these were experiments with one to go into full production as soon as we’re ready but all seemed to go down well with the festival goers in Amsterdam as the whole lot was consumed with hours to spare.

 

 

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Oedipus brewery where we had our stall. Excellent hosts. 

Carnivale Brettanomyces is where we consider our home from home and it was great to see a lot more Irish over there taking part. This year we were able to take in informative lectures from Bootleg Biology on yeast wrangling (plus Jeff brought some yeast for purchase and we got some rare The Mad Fermentationist blend),  tasting session with Burdock Brewery operating out of Toronto but who also work in conjunction with a local winery to create some of the most fantastic beer/wine hybrids I have ever tasted, informative lecture and tasting session with Trevor from De Garde on his processes, meet and greet with Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, meet and greet with the very friendly and informative Shawn from Birds Fly South based out of South Carolina producing urban farmhouse styles that I will be keeping an eye out for in future, Kent Falls, Burial, Speciation, Funk Factory, Yazoo, Nevel,  Trillium etc. etc. the list could go on forever. It’s a chance to see what the alternative progressive scene in U.S.A. is like as these are beers and breweries we rarely get a chance to sample, not to mention the wealth of talent already available in Europe. It really is a festival for catching up with old friends and making new ones.

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Sunday dreg blend in Oedipus.

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Land & Labour tap takeover in Walhalla. Brett game on point.

Another festival we’ve also prepared a beer for is the Midlands Craft Beer Festival in Don’s Bar, Moate on the 14th of July.  It’s also another festival we can’t charge money for beer at so we’ll have one keg and one keg only and when it’s gone it’s gone! The beer has been ageing away nicely for about three months now and is fermented with two different saccharomyces strains of yeast and six different Brettanomyces strains of yeast with some added herb and dried fruit and should be a sign of things to come from us in the future.

But who cares about all that right? What people want are the action shots of this new brewery!

 

I’ll just provide a few pictures of where we’re at on the build to give you an idea of the space we’re working with and try and provide some further detail. First and foremost we needed to dig up those old floors. Drainage and angled floors is where it’s at in a brewhouse and we had the highly skilled DJK Carpentry taking care of the whole fit-out with expert care and precision.

 

You could eat your dinner off that brand new cement floor.

Slightly raised and brand new concrete floor across the whole building with the brew house side on the right complete with slight gradient for drainage.

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Warm room for bottle conditioning at the back left of the premises.

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New tanks we’re excited to get brewing on which include all single skin and dish bottom stainless steel 1500 litre kettle, 850 litre mash tun which will hopefully double up as a whirlpool for IPA’s with slight modification and a lot of labour on brew-day, 1000 litre cold liquor tank, 1000 litre hot liquor tank, 3 x 1000 litre open fermenters and a small CIP kit for cleaning and sterilizing with various pumps and hoses.

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Left to right: 3 FV, HLT, CLT, BK, MT. < get with the jargon.

All the above tanks will be positioned against the wall where the photo was taken. Nothing too hi-tech but we’re excited to put this system to use and to get some Brett beers on the market in Ireland.  Missing from the photos and yet to arrive is the glycol system for keeping the temperatures of the beers where we want them during fermentation, heat exchanger to cool the wort on the way to the fermenter and our bottling and capping machines. The bulk of the work is done and we’re happy with the progress being made so stick with us for another few months and we’ll have some beer on the shelves for you all.

Thanks for reading,

Sean.

Wide Street Brewing Company Limited

This is blog post I’ve been waiting about 18 months to post as this week we have signed the lease on our new premises for our brewery Wide Street Brewing Company Limited which will be a very short walk from the centre of Ballymahon town in south Co. Longford. The brewery name comes from the fact that Ballymahon has a very wide street, not the widest, just wide and we want to make a connection between the brewery and our home town. Continue reading “Wide Street Brewing Company Limited”

Yeast Wrangling: The Importance of Yeast

I recently purchased Pete Browns Miracle Brew book and a line in it reminded me I was to post about wrangling my own yeast. It was mentioned in the book that when the vast majority of people were asked about the ingredients of beer hops seemed to have been the number one reply with malt a distant second and water and yeast completely forgotten about. Continue reading “Yeast Wrangling: The Importance of Yeast”

How did you make that sour beer?

The majority of sour beer brewed in Ireland at the minute has been brewed by a technique called kettle-souring. There are exceptions like The White Hag, Otterbank and more recently Land & Labour. Kettle souring enables a brewery to get a sour beer on the market in the same time-frame it takes to make a conventionally brewed beer and therefore leads to a quick turnaround and no beer sitting in tanks and wooden barrels for months and years on end taking up space in which another beer could be made. It is also cleaner and a risk-free way of making a sour beer due to the lactobacillus being boiled off before going into the fermenter. Continue reading “How did you make that sour beer?”