Monthly Archives: April 2015

Sustainable Homebrewing

Earth Day 2015 is now receding in the rear-view mirror, but it’s worth keeping the Earth Day ethos in mind whenever we fire up our brewing systems. With the annual Big Brew festivities rapidly approaching, we may even want to challenge ourselves to put some of the following ideas into practice.

The folks over at CustomMade have put together a helpful infographic in conjunction with a ten-step plan for sustainable homebrewing, and have been asking beer writers and bloggers to spread the news. Since it’s been a busy month in Tempest Land and I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to writing about beer (to say nothing of brewing!), I figured now would be the perfect time to post their ideas here. I encourage you to read all of Abby Quillen’s “10 Must-Do Steps for Sustainable Homebrewing.” In the meantime, here’s a quick outline of what you’ll find, followed by a brief commentary on a few points:Barley Field (Wiki)

  1. Transition to Grains
  2. Use Sustainable Equipment
  3. Go Local and Organic
  4. Grow Your Own
  5. Reuse Spent Grains
  6. Reuse Yeast
  7. Chill More Efficiently
  8. Reuse Water
  9. Downsize Container Waste
  10. Green the Clean

In terms of sustainability, perhaps the most important concerns are Points #7 and #8 on water consumption. Between cleaning and sanitizing, brewing, and cooling, the beer-making process uses a prodigious amount of water.IMG_1409 My partner in crime urged me to think of ways to cut back on water waste, so I started collecting my cooling water in empty plastic carboys. To my surprise, it took roughly 14 gallons of water to cool 3 gallons of wort from boiling to around 70F. We used that water to keep the trees, lawn, and garden happy, but it was still a lot of water. So I came up with a pump system that recirculates ice water from a bucket through my immersion chiller. I add a combination of ice cubes and ice packs to a cooler, and use the chugger pump that I bought for the day when I build a larger system. An aquarium pump would achieve the same purpose. Now it takes only 3-4 gallons of ice water to cool the same 3 gallons of wort that once took 14 gallons to cool. That leaves enough to water our herb planters.IMG_1408

With regard to Point #5, I’d caution against the occasional rock or pebble that gets into grain. I may be the only person this has happened to, but the first time I made black bean veggie burgers with my spent grain, I chomped down on a pebble and nearly broke my tooth. What I do now instead is use my spent grains to feed the squirrels during the winter, and add it to the compost heap at other times of the year.

I have a tendency to go on at length about the merits of lagers and other beers brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot, but over half of my own brews are experiments that go well beyond the strictures of the Reinheitsgebot . Growing your own or buying locally are great ways to go. So far, I’ve used home-grown lavender and basil in a few of my beers, and have plans to grow a gruit concoction of herbs at some point. I’ve been the beneficiary of home-grown hops, and have also bought peanuts, pumpkins, and honey for my brew days from the local farmers’ market. One of these days I’ll put together a comprehensive post on my experiences using various ingredients in the brewing process.

Without further ado, here’s the CustomMade infographic.

Click to Enlarge Image

10 Must-Do Steps for Sustainable Homebrewing

10 Must-Do Steps for Sustainable Homebrewing
Infographic by CustomMade

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Stay tuned for my post on bottles versus cans in the coming weeks. I’ve been working on it forever, but it’s almost done.

Related Tempest Posts

Pinning Down Place

Drinking Lager in an Age of Extreme Taste

A Bavarian in Texas: Franconia Brewing Company. Dennis Wehrmann of Franconia (north of Dallas) has been so successful with his combination of solar energy and bio-fuel electricity generation that he sells power back to the grid. That’s quite something, considering how much power breweries need to heat the kettles and keep the fermenting beers cool.

Green Pints at Asher Brewing Company. When I completed this article on Chris Asher’s brewery in the northern reaches of Boulder, Asher was still the only one hundred-percent organic brewery in Colorado.

Images

A Field of Ripening Barley, The Palouse, USA: Viktor Szalvay (Wiki Commons).

Water recirculation system and diagram: F.D. Hofer.

Sustainable homebrewing infographic: Abby Quillen.

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

In the Cool Shade of the Beer Garden

It was one of those August days when the sun-baked cobblestones seem to transcend themselves in mirage-like fashion. Since arriving in Salzburg earlier that day, we had been exploring a baroque palace here, a castle overlooking the city there, and churches everywhere. Definitely time for a beer, one of my friends declared. Another suggested a visit to the Augustiner, where we could relax in its chestnut grove with a cold stein.Augustiner Stein (FB pg) With one last burst of energy we crossed the foot bridge over the Salzach and climbed the hill in the direction of the Augustiner. As soon as we descended the stairs into the cellar precincts, the summer heat faded away. We threaded our way through stalls selling bratwurst and pretzels, and came upon the counter where a gruff barkeep in lederhosen was tapping beer straight from the barrel. Steins in hand, we headed out into the beer garden to partake of a venerable tradition: an al fresco Maß (liter mug) of beer among lively groups of friends and families who had gathered at tables and benches in the afternoon shade of the chestnut trees.

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This particularly enjoyable rite of spring and summer traces its history to early nineteenth-century Bavaria. Back in 1812, King Maximilian I. Joseph of Bavaria (1806-1825) set the development of beer garden culture on its present course with a Solomon-like decree that diffused the tensions that had been (ahem) brewing between Munich’s innkeepers and brewers. The dispute had its roots in the set of reforms that King Max had enacted, first as duke, and then as king. Some of these reforms proved more favourable to private Bavarian brewers than had previously been the case during the era of aristocratic brewing prerogatives, and breweries began to proliferate along the Isar River. During the warm summer months in particular, the citizens of Munich took to spending more of their time (and money) at the beer cellars on the banks of the Isar, preferring these shaded chestnut groves to the rather stuffy inns where the beer was decidedly less fresh.

Unsurprisingly, the innkeepers of Munich became increasingly incensed that they were losing revenue to the beer brewers who were also selling food to accompany their refreshing beers. They petitioned Maximilian –– connoisseur of the good life who was more likely to be seen at Munich’s Viktualienmarkt than at the barracks –– to do something.BeerGarden - Rescript_Max_I_Joseph_1812-01-04 A friend and supporter of brewers and innkeepers alike, their good King Maxl paid heed. The resulting decree of January 4, 1812 benefitted both parties and put its stamp on the history of the Bavarian beer garden down to the present day. Brewers could, indeed, keep right on selling their beer fresh from the beer cellars beneath their leafy gardens. But in a nod to the concerns of the innkeepers, the beer garden precincts were limited to the sale of beer and bread.

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Now, as for these beer cellars (Bierkeller) that gave rise to beer gardens? Beer gardens as we’ve come to know them in Bavaria and beyond are difficult to imagine without the history of a beer style many of us have come to know and love: lager. In the centuries before the invention of refrigeration, brewers sunk cellars on the grounds of their breweries. There, they covered their beer with ice blocks hewed in March from the still-frozen lakes and rivers of the region.

Even though monasteries and abbeys had been storing their beer in cellars and in caves at the foot of the Alps since the Middle Ages, the sinking of cellars in Munich accelerated in response to a decree promulgated by Duke Albrecht V in 1553. Despite the vaunted Reinheitsgebot of 1516, not all Bavarian beer was gold, so the duke declared that Bavarians were allowed to brew beer between St. Michael’s Day (September 29) and St. George’s Day (April 23) only. One of the reasons cited for the decree of 1553 was a fear of summer conflagrations caused by hot brew kettles. More importantly, though, brewers and the authorities who knew a good beer when they tasted it had, by the mid-1550s, learned a fair amount about the effects of cold fermentation on beer quality. Slower fermentation between 7 and 12 Celsius (44-55F) in conjunction with extended lagering (lagern = to store) at temperatures near freezing yielded a cleaner beer that kept longer than the top-fermented ales brewed in warmer conditions.

Beer cellars also enabled brewers to store their beer during the months they weren’t brewing, thereby ensuring a steady supply of fresh and stable beer during the summer months. As a further means of keeping the temperature of their cellars cool, brewers planted broad-leafed and shallow-rooted horse chestnut trees. From there, it wasn’t an enormous leap from the cellar to the shade. Enterprising brewers began to set out tables and chairs under the leafy canopy shading their cellars, and voilà: the beer garden. BierGarten - AugustinerMunich (FB page)If you’re lucky enough to live in a North American town that boasts a beer garden, or are even luckier and live in or will be visiting a Germanic country this spring or summer, raise a stein to the wise Bavarians who inaugurated these traditions. What better place is there to enjoy a crisp and spicy wheat beer or an effervescent Pilsner on a spring or summer day than in a beer garden?

Related Tempest Articles

The MaltHead Manifesto

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A Coal Town and a Cold One: My Hefeweizen Craft Beer Conversion

Let Us Now Praise Famous Lagers: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.3)

Pinning Down Place

Further Reading

German Beer Institute.

Horst D. Dornbusch, Prost! The Story of German Beer (Boulder: Brewers Publications, 1997).

Michael Jackson, The New World Guide to Beer (Philadelphia: Running Press, 1988).

Sabine Herre, “Geschichte der bayrischen Biergärten: Im Schatten der Kastanie,” taz (26 May 2012).

Images

Stein (Augustiner Bräustübl Salzburg Mülln Facebook page)

Decree by King Maximilian I. Joseph of Bavaria allowing Munich brewers to serve beer from their cellars, but prohibiting the sale of food other than bread (January 4, 1812). Bayrishes Hauptstaatsarchiv, München. Image available on WikiCommons.

Beer Garden, Augustinerbäu München

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Drinking with the Trickster in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

The unexpected chill in the air foretold snow as we set off from Missoula in the direction of the interior of British Columbia. By the time we began to wend our way through the Bitter Root Range, driving sleet was upon us.Tricksters - Logo (FB) Our destination was still an Idaho Panhandle and a Washington State away, so we stopped off in Coeur d’Alene to fortify ourselves for the remainder of the journey. Before leaving Missoula, we had provisioned ourselves with bread, cheeses, and sausages. A resort town situated on a pristine lake of the same name and surrounded by dense coniferous forests, Coeur d’Alene presented a scenic backdrop for our midday feast despite the rain. All that was missing were a few local beers to wash it down.

We pulled off the long ribbon of road connecting Boston with Seattle and went in search of Slate Creek Brewing Company. The unrelenting rain drenched us before we got to the door. No luck. It was 12:30pm, and the taproom didn’t open till 2pm. Fortunately, Slate Creek wasn’t the only game in town. On the other side of the interstate we found the elusive Trickster’s Brewing Company in a commercial park on the western edge of town. The taproom, executed in a contemporary industrial style that retains elements of warmth with its coral-coloured walls, was a welcome respite from the elements.IMG_9877

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In indigenous cultures, particularly those of the Great Basin encompassing the region between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, the trickster typically takes the form of a coyote. By turns cunning, foolish, or both, the trickster is, in some stories, the Creator, while in others the trickster is a prankster or a clown, or even messenger between the sacred and secular realms, often possessing powers of transformation.

* * *

Matt Morrow, a transplant from Tulsa, OK, decided to pay tribute to his Native American heritage by naming his brewery after this Prometheus figure of indigenous lore. Though his own tribe embodies Trickster as a raven, he settled upon the coyote as the embodiment of his adeptness at the alchemic art of transformation of grain and hops into beer.

A philosophy major in college, Morrow happened upon his calling in a roundabout way, starting his brewing career washing kegs at Colorado’s Ska Brewing Company.Tricksters - MattMorrow He eventually worked his way up to assistant brewer via a stint on the canning line and as a cellar man, resolving along the way that he wanted to open his own brewery.

Dream became reality in late 2012. Since then, Morrow and his assistant brewer, Miles Polis, have been turning the raw ingredients of beer into harmonious North American concoctions that sometimes bear the mark of the shape-shifter. Take, for example, their golden-amber West Coast Classic Pale Ale with as much pine-and-resin character as any Pacific Northwest ale, but with orange-marmalade overtones and malt profile more suggestive of Albion. Trickster’s other North American styles are similar in inspiration. To their credit, the brewers realize that pale ales and IPAs are not merely about the hop hit and high octane. Not that they shy away from hops, mind you. But Trickster’s renditions of these styles are balanced by a malt backdrop that, depending on the beer, adds just enough honey, caramel, toast, or nuttiness to counter the bold hop additions.

Other styles exhibit this combination of balance and boldness as well. The Bear Trap Brown blends aromas of barley tea with roasted coffee, while floral-herbal hops set the stage for a pleasantly crisp raisin-roast finish.IMG_9876 My personal favourite was Trickster’s seasonal Soul Warmer Porter, an almost opaque ruby-black brew highlighting the chocolate and coffee aromas of mocha, and intermingling cocoa with plum and an earthy roasted malt note. Smooth on the palate, the beer opens with licorice and black coffee, reveals a touch of spicy hops down the middle, and finishes with an emphasis on bitter-sweet chocolate.

The folks at Trickster’s keep their beer close to home, but they have started to bottle some of their limited releases in 22-oz. bombers. Look for their Daedric Druid Strong American Stout and their Professor Funkhouse Sour Stout in local bottle shops. This latter offering is no surprise, given Morrow’s claim that he could drink lambics till the end of time. Look for more sours and barrel-aged offerings to roll out in the coming months. Passing through the area later in the season? Chances are you’ll find a Kölsch-style beer in early summer, a Vienna-style later in late summer, and a Märzen-style beer just in time for Oktoberfest. Canning is also on the horizon. Once that happens, Morrow informs me, you might find the coyote popping up in Montana, western Washington State, and even as far away as New York.Tricksters - BrewHouseAerialAlas, the trickster was not able to conjure any food on that particular day, so we set our sights just west of the Okanagan Valley wine region of British Columbia where a home-cooked dinner was waiting.

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Should you find yourself traveling along the I-90 corridor and in need of a refreshing drink, Trickster’s is worth a visit. The lake and mountain scenery’s not too shabby either.

Related Tempest Articles

Tempest Hits the Open Road: Dispatches from the Beerways of North America

Striking Gold at Boulder’s Breweries (The Colorado Front Range Series)

Wyoming’s Craft Beer Scene: Snapshots from a Moving Vehicle

Logo, brewhouse photo, and photo of Matt Morrow compliments of Trickster’s Brewing Company. Other photos by F.D. Hofer.

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.