Tag Archives: Franconia Brewing Company

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.

Brewery Profiles, Featured Beers, and a Few Recipes Tying It All Together

Tempest recently chalked up its ninth month of craft beer writing. To celebrate the occasion, I’ve been posting an annotated index of articles that I’ve written to date. The first segment listed my articles on beer and culture, followed by my regional spotlights. This segment includes a list of my brewery profiles and beer reviews, along with a few recipes for those interested in cooking and food/beverage pairings.

Thanks again for the support over the past several months. Enjoy!

IMG_9790I. Brewery Profiles

So far, my brewery profiles cover an uneven patchwork of the United States, but I’m working on shading in the map of the U.S., and will make the occasional foray into Canada as well.

Colorado

Crystal Springs (Boulder area)––Crystal Springs and the Music Teacher Turned Brewer

Tom Horst, a former Amarillo Symphony Orchestra percussionist and still-part-time music teacher at Boulder High School, brewed out of his garage until opening his production facility and taproom in the autumn of 2013.

Grimm Bros. (Fort Collins area)––Milling Against the Grain: Grimm Goes All-GermanicIMG_9381

If you’ve been wanting to try some of those neglected German historical styles that have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity of late, Grimm Bros. has you covered. Broyhahn, Kottbusser or Lichtenhainer, anyone?

 

New York State

IMG_1117Abandon (Finger Lakes)––The Barn and the Brewery

Nestled amid the vineyards of Keuka Lake, Abandon has been turning out compelling Belgian-inflected ales for a little under a year now. If the bucolic scenery doesn’t win you over, the beer will.

 

Hopshire Farm and Brewery (Ithaca area)––Cultural Archeology: The Revival of Hop Cultivation in New York

Randy Lacey was one of the driving forces behind the Farm Brewery Legislation (2013), which has been a boon for brewers in New York State. When he’s not advocating on behalf of the region’s brewers, Lacey brews up beers that feature, among other things, local honey and local ginger.

Oklahoma

Roughtail (Oklahoma City)––Roughtail Enters the Ring with a Selection of Heavy-Weight Beers

Along with breweries such as Coop Aleworks and Prairie Artisan Ales, Roughtail has been working hard to put Oklahoma on the craft beer map. Their motto: “Aggressive. Flavor Forward.” If you’re someone who raises your eyes reverently skyward when the conversation turns to IBUs and the ineffable beauty of hops, Tony Tielli’s beers are well worth your attention.

Texas: Austin Area

Flix––Craft Beer at a Theatre Near You

The cinematic programming is on the corporate side, but the beers merit consideration if you find yourself in this strip mall and big-box corridor along I-35 north of Austin.

North by Northwest––Fine Food to Accompany Beers Novel and Classic

This upscale brewpub in northern Austin combines higher end food with solid German-style beers and an experimental barrel program.

Rogness––A Plethora of Beers from Pflugerville

Diane and Forrest Rogness, owners of Austin Homebrew, have brought innovative beer to the northern reaches of the Austin exurbs, establishing a community gathering point in the process.

Texas: Dallas Area

IMG_0101Four Corners Brewing Company––Across Calatrava’s Bridge: Four Corners Anchors Revitalization of West Dallas

Sessionable beers reign supreme here. And why not? Four Corners’ beers are a fine antidote to the summer time heat. The visual iconography (labels, tap handles, and the like) pays tribute to the long-established Hispanic community in which the brewery finds itself.

Franconia Brewing Co.––A Bavarian in Texas

Brewing’s in Dennis Wehrmann’s DNA. His family has been brewing for generations in and near Nuremberg. Six years back, Wehrmann began brewing a taste of his native Franconia in a town north of Dallas, where beers are crafted according to the German Purity Laws (Reinheitsgebot).

II. Featured Beers (Individual Beers, Flights, Style Spotlights)

Barley Wine/Wheat Wine

Winter Nights and Warming Barley Wines

A comparison of three barley wines from disparate locations and of different stylistic underpinnings:

  • Harvey’s Elizabethan Ale (Sussex, UK)
  • Real Ale’s 2012 Sisyphus (Texas)
  • Dieu du Ciel’s Solstice d’hiver (Quebec)

Barrel-Aged

Bourbon in Michigan

  • New Holland’s 2013 Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout
  • Founders’ 2012 Backwoods Bastard

A Trio of Barrel-Aged Beers

  • Victory’s 2011 Dark Intrigue (Pennsylvania)
  • Goose Island’s 2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout (Chicago)
  • Prairie Artisan Ales’ Pirate Bomb! (Oklahoma)

Doppelbock

Bonator (Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe, Bavaria)

Landbier

Kapsreiter Landbier (Kapsreiter, Austria)

Imperial Stout

Crème Brûlée (Southern Tier, NY)

Hel & Verdoemenis (Brouwerij de Molen, Netherlands)

Sours (including Oud Bruin and Flanders Red)

A Twist of Sour

Comparison of La Folie (New Belgium, CO) and the inimitable Duchesse de Bourgogne (Verhaeghe, Belgium).

Sofie (Goose Island, Chicago)

A vertical of the 2011, 2012, and 2013 bottlings.

A Rodenbach Grand Cru in the Fridge?

Some thoughts on aging Oud Bruin, Flanders Red, Gueuze, Lambic, and that increasingly broad rubric, Farmhouse Beers.

Wheat Beer/Weissbier

Hefeweizen: A Beer for All Seasons

Includes tasting notes for: Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier; Ayinger Bräu Weisse; Ayinger Ur-Weisse Dunkel Weizen; Franziskaner Weissbier Dunkel; Schneider Aventinus; Weihenstephaner Vitus; Erdinger Pikantus; Widmer Hefeweizen; and Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat.

III. Beer and Food/Recipes

If you enjoy cooking, or have friends who like cooking, here’s a small but growing list of Tempest recipes that feature beer as a central ingredient. Suggested beer/food pairings are included, too.

Fondues with Beer and Cider

Want a change from the classic cheese and wine fondue? This article contains recipes for Gorgonzola Apple Cider Fondue and Aged Gouda and Doppelbock Fondue.

Choucroute/Sauerkraut made with Gueuze

Instead of white wine in your sauerkraut, try Gueuze to give the dish a lift. Also included: instructions for fermenting your own sauerkraut.

Maple-Glazed Bourbon and Apple Cider Pork Belly

Pair this one with a barrel-aged beer, and you’ll be in seventh heaven in no time­­. IMG_6394IV. Sundry Articles

A Coal Town and a Cold One

On my conversion to flavourful beer at the hands of a Maisel’s Hefeweizen in Saarbrücken, Germany.

So You Wanna Brew a Weizen

Style parameters and a discussion of the ingredients you’ll need to whip up a batch of German-style Weissbier in your kitchen. Companion piece to Hefeweizen: A Beer for All Seasons, an article that contains tasting notes for several commercially available wheat beers.

Books for the Craft Beer Enthusiast

Friends often ask me to recommend books on beer. I wrote this piece for the holiday season, but it’s worth a read if you’re looking for books that deal with different facets of craft beer appreciation. The article contains short write-ups of the following books:

  • Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont, The World Atlas of Beer (2012).
  • Garrett Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table (2003).
  • Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer (2006).
  • Charlie Papazian, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (2003).

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Images: F.D. Hofer

 

A Bavarian in Texas: Franconia Brewing Company

Dennis Wehrmann brewed his first batch of beer at twelve years of age and never looked back. Many begin their brewing careers with a motley collection of pans, buckets, and hoses, and at a much older age at that. Not Wehrmann. He brewed his first batch on a thirty-barrel system.

That this should come to pass was, perhaps, preordained, for Wehrmann is the latest in a long line of brewers stretching back to the early nineteenth century in his native Franconia.100-2890_IMG His mother holds a degree in brewing sciences, and his uncles are still active in the Bavarian brewing scene. But Wehrmann, who apprenticed with Neumarkter Lammsbräu before taking over the reins of the Altstadthof brewpub in the castle district of Nürnberg, chafed under the burden of running both the food and beverage ends of the brewpub.

(On a personal note, long before I made Wehrmann’s acquaintance, I spent a relaxing evening at that very same Altstadthof after a long and taxing day conducting research for an entirely different project at the Documentation Center for the Nuremberg Rallies of the Nazi Party.)

Taking his leave of this timbered Franconian city famous as the birthplace of Albrecht Dürer and infamous for its unfortunate run-in with the history of the Third Reich,Albrecht Duerer - Selfporitrait (Wiki) Wehrmann set off for the United States with his wife. And like so many Germans before him, he ended up in Texas. Even if Wehrmann is the first brewer in his family to fire up a brew kettle outside of Bavaria, though, his Texan beers are German-inspired through and through. No donut and bacon beers here.

Franconia Brewing Company maintains a relatively low profile on the Texas beer scene, but is worth a detour off the I-35 north of Dallas, especially if you identify with the kind of brewer who studiously avoids the latest fads in craft beer. Indeed, Wehrmann – a colourful character with an impish grin – is charmingly fanatic in his denunciation of high IBUs and the recent trend toward sour beer and barrel aging.IMG_0072 High hop rates? “The easy way out!” exclaims Wehrmann. Barrel aging? “Bad beer in, good beer out. You can’t go wrong!” Sour beers? Don’t even get him started. He dismisses these good beers gone bad with an impatient wave of his hand: “We have to ask ourselves why this particular beer is sour.” Only sour beers “done right” – a Berliner Weisse, for example – pass muster.

Instead, Wehrmann and his cheerful band of brewers at Franconia Brewing Company choose to submit themselves to the rigours of the German Reinheitsgebot (Purity Law). If you’re like me and you have a soft spot for Hefeweizen, Munich Helles, Kölsch, Munich Dunkel, Rauchbier, Festbier, Bock, and Doppelbock, you are in luck. Even Franconia’s limited-edition beers – an Oatmeal Stout here, a Double IPA there – are brewed with German yeast and left to lager for a time. Patience is the name of the game at Franconia. As per Reinheitsgebot strictures, all of their beers are naturally carbonated – a leisurely step that adds another two weeks, on average, to the brewing schedule.

Catering to the drinking needs of northern Texas for the past six years now, Franconia was only the second craft brewery to open in the Dallas metroplex area after Rahr set up shop in Fort Worth.Franconia Beers (Examiner-FB) The brewery began bottling its year-round offerings six months ago, and has expanded its distribution throughout Texas. Its flagship beers include a Kölsch, a Hefeweizen (labeled simply as Franconia Wheat), and a Dunkel. The summery and crisp-finishing Kölsch presents spicy aromas reminiscent of coriander underneath fruity tones of stone fruit (peach) and floral lemon. White pepper and a pleasant minerality accentuate blanched almond and bready Pilsener malt flavours. Wheat comprises sixty percent of the Hefeweizen’s malt palette, lending a subtle pepperiness and citrusy orange tang to the mild banana, almond, and light brown sugar notes. Franconia’s ruby-brown Dunkel hews in the direction of a Schwarzbier, combining dark caramel and coffee notes with a hint of smoke. Creamy and mildly bitter, this malt-forward beer is surprisingly refreshing.

Other seasonals that Wehrmann poured for me included a Weizenbock as rich as dark banana bread but leavened by a green apple-like acidity. Another, a whimsical smoked Weizen, bore a resemblance to the year-round Hefeweizen, with an enhanced malt sweetness and a smokiness suggesting air-dried ham.

If Wehrmann’s adherence to the Reinheitsgebot and his aversion to contemporary trends in craft brewing might strike some observers as quaintly traditional, his approach to Franconia’s environmental impact is positively cutting-edge.IMG_0074 Wehrmann is proud of his accomplishments, and with good reason. His days at Neumarkter Lammsbräu, a brewery at the forefront of organic and green brewing practices, made a deep impression on him. Right from the beginning, Franconia’s 6000 square-foot brewery was conceived with an eye toward green technology. Aside from bottles, the brewery is a waste-free facility. Like many craft breweries, Wehrmann hands off his spent grain to local farmers. And like a smaller number of craft breweries, Wehrmann strives to reuse as much water as possible – eighty-five percent, in Franconia’s case. But he surpasses most other craft breweries in his commitment to renewable energy resources, firing his brewhouse with solar energy, powering it with a bio-fuel electricity generation system, and capturing as much energy from the brewing process as possible for re-use. Wehrmann has been so successful in his endeavours that he is not only self-sufficient in terms of his energy needs, but also sells excess power back to the grid.  Franconia TourFranconia Brewing Company is located about forty-five minutes north of Dallas in the town of McKinney, and is easy to find from I-35, Hwy 380, and Hwy 75. Two-hour tours of the facility take place every Saturday morning at 11:00. Tours cost $5, and include samples of the good stuff. No reservation necessary.

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Images:

Altstadthof, Nürnberg: photo by F.D. Hofer

Albrecht Dürer, Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight Years Old Wearing a Coat with Fur Collar: Wikipedia

Dennis Wehrmann, Owner and Master Brewer, Franconia Brewing Co.: photo by F.D. Hofer

Bottles of Franconia Beer: courtesy of Franconia’s Facebook page/www.examiner.com

Franconia’s green energy system: photo by F.D. Hofer

Franconia tour ad: courtesy of Franconia’s Facebook page