BTS tour of Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Towle Farm production brewery. (8/14/17)
BTS tour of Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Towle Farm production brewery. (8/14/17)
After editing together my Allagash Brewing Company full tour video I felt that the clips that I left out were still worth sharing. Hence, in this video I present them with one comic touch thrown in. Cheers!
Clip One: Pre-tour introduction
Tour guide Bob Kutch talks about the expansions that came along with their current 70 bbl Brau Kon brew house.
Clip Two: What happens to Allagash’s Spent Grains
How a local farmer shares the wealth after picking up about 128,000 lbs of spent grain each week.
Clip Three” Fermentation temperature control software and the “bunker’s” larger fermentation tanks
A description of Allagash’s fermentation temperature control software and how wort and beer are transferred into and out from the brewery’s largest fermentation tanks.
Clip Four: Bright Tanks, Packaging and Distribution
Bob talks about Allagash’s bottled vs. kegged ratio, shows us the brewery’s largest bright (conditioning) tank, and describes its distribution network and use of the Micro Star keg co-op.
**Click this picture to view all of my photos from the tour.
Clip Five: Site of the original Allagash brew house
While looking at pictures of founder Rob Tod brew on his original brew house (brewing system) and the painted layout of it on the floor in front of us Bob describes the story of Allagash’s gradual expansion process.
Clip Six: Ghoulschip
Bob describes of process of brewing Allagash’s Halloween beer aka Ghoulschip.
Thanks again to Bob, Lindsay, Rob, and the entire Allagash team for showing my wife and I an amazing time!!
Having not paid a visit to Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine) since 2011 it was a clear choice for the first of three breweries that my wife and I would visit on our five day New England road trip…So after informing Allagash founder Rob Tod (whom I’ve interviewed three times) of my plans and direct messaging the brewery via twitter, I received an email from VIP tour coordinator Lindsay Bohanske and subsequently arranged a tour with her assistant Bob Kutch.
After meeting up with Bob and telling him about my 2011 visit to the brewery he made sure to point out all the upgrades and expansions that Allagash has made since then, the first of which was their 70 bbl Brau Kon brew house (brewing system). With his passion for all things Allagash showing from the beginning Bob candidly said “I’ll probably sound like a skipping record for the amount of times I say the word efficiency” as we ascended the stairs to the brew deck. In turn, while taking us through the entire brewing process he made sure to point how each step had been carefully planned and engineered for just that, efficiency and at the same time to be in line with traditional Belgian brewing practices.
From there we moved on to the brewery’s relatively new “small” batch brewhouse. In others words, Rob Tod’s original “Frankenstein / repurposed dairy equipment” brewing system has been replaced by a 36 bbl Brau Kon system. It was here that Bob described how Allagash brews and subsequently ferments its coolship beers. As a home-brewer who has brewed and thoroughly researched sour beers (wild ales) it was great to hear about how they’re brewed on a larger scale and experience how the knowledge that I’ve gained over time is also being applied at Allagash with so much passion and attention to detail.
Following along in the brewery’s main building; we then got an extensive overview of its larger fermentation tanks in an area known to Allagash staff as the bunker which included the following. How the tanks are filled, how long the beer remains in them, all that goes into controlling temperature during and after fermentation, and what happens to the beer once the tanks are emptied. Later on, we were also taken through the bottling and packaging areas (not shown in the above video) and I was surprised to learn that as a Belgian ale focused brewery Allagash kegs more beer than it bottles and that California (a state on the opposite coast) is currently its largest market.
Across from the “small” batch brewhouse is the “Curieux room” where Allagash Tripel is aged in Jim Beam barrels for 5 weeks and then blended with fresh Tripel to bring it down to 11% ABV. Both my wife and I were both impressed by the scale at which Allagash is able to produce this complex tasting barrel-aged beer year-round.
From there on the remainder of our tour focused on the production and fermentation of Allagash’s sour and spontaneously fermented ales. After a quick look at the barrels in which most of these beers are aging we moved on to where they’re packaged and aged on a larger scale. It was there that after a detailed description of aging their sour beers on fresh fruit (see video) we got to taste some amazing examples at Allagash’s “VIP bar”, which is comprised of a bar area made mostly out of barrel staves, a fully stocked fridge of sour/wild ales, and a lounge area with leather arm chairs and lots of beer décor. The first beer that we tried was Ghoulship aka Allagash’s Halloween beer. Though its being fermented with wild microflora makes it different from other pumpkin ales from the start, I particularly liked that it’s not brewed with pumpkin pie spices which allows for the flavor of the pumpkin itself to shine and blend quite impressively with the flavors from the wild yeasts and bacteria. Next, Bob popped the cork of a bottle of Monmouth Red, a Flanders-style red ale that’s first fermented with Allagash’s house yeast in stainless steel tanks and then aged with Lactobacillus and Pediococcus for 18 months in an oak foudre. It is then transferred to freshly emptied Laird and Company apple brandy barrels where it ages for an additional 12 months before being blended and bottle conditioned (allagash.com). Bursting with dark cherry, apple brandy, vanilla, and oak flavors; this beer blew my mind and was elated when Bob later found a bottle that I could enjoy again at home.
Saving the best experience for last, Bob grabbed a bottle of Coolship Resurgum for us to enjoy in the coolship itself. Upon entering the coolship he poured each of us a glass and we discussed our thoughts on the beer of which mine were the following. I felt that Resurgum had a more mild “funk” and tartness than the gueuzes of Belgium (e.g. Cantillon) that I’ve tried, while at the same time a more balanced complexity (mild funk, tart lemon, oak, bready malt sweetness, and a semi-dry finish) from the first sip which in the end made it quite drinkable and approachable. As shown in the video above Bob then concluded the formal portion of the tour with a detailed description of the construction of the coolship (e.g. how the rough cut pine ceiling harbors dormant wild yeast and bacteria which is constantly being brought inside through the windows that are always open and a fan which circulates the incoming air) and the excitement around the brewery on coolship beer brew days.
Though we knew that we’d be shown more of the brewery than on their general tour. Both my wife and I were blown away by how in depth and fun our tour was from start to finish.
Thanks to Bob, Lindsay, Rob, and the entire Allagash team for the tour, tasting, and never ending dedication to brewing high quality Belgian-style beers! Cheers!
Coming Next: Extra clips video!
Video Synopsis: Sharing the history of my craft beer and homebrewing journey by answering Tasting Nitch’s Frequently Asked Beer Questions.
1. how did you get into beer geeking?/why beer?
2. whats your favorite beer?
3. if you have one beer forever what would it be?
4. how can you drink so much?/ how do you stay healthy?
5. are you an alcoholic?
6. whats your favorite ingredient?
7. do you brew?
8. what was your first beer?
9. who in beer world do you look up to?
These questions have been answered via video by many YouTube homebrewers (BrewTubers) and beer reviewers (BeerTubers). Please search #FABQ and or Frequently Asked Beer Questions to watch their videos.
Back in October of 2016 my Inn Keeper English Barleywine took 2nd place in the Best In Show rounds at NJ’s Motown Mash competition. For winning I was presented with the opportunity to brew a scaled up version of my beer at Man Skirt Brewing in Hackettstown, New Jersey. So on December 18th 2016 after a few weeks of formulating the scaled up recipe with founder and brewer Joe Fisher, my brother and I headed to the brewery to a brew a 5 barrel batch of my barleywine.
With the recipe including 600 lbs of grain Joe involved us in every part of the brew day, from milling the grains to cleaning out the mash tun to adding the hops (including some locally grown Chinook hops) at their appropriate times. It was brew day full of hard work and beer sampling revelry. Though I wouldn’t be there to help manage fermentation like I would with my homebrews, our plan from the beginning was to keg two-thirds of the batch and age one-third in a Jack Daniels barrel…The above video represents a glimpse at brew day…enjoy!
Scaled Up Recipe coming soon…
On Sunday February 5, 2017 My family and I drove to Man Skirt Brewing to taste the finished product with brewmaster Joe Fisher, the brewery’s staff, and any other beer lovers who came through the doors. From my first sip I was surprised by how close the beer tasted to my homebrewed version of this recipe and how balanced the beer tasted. Overall, all who tried it that day shared Joe and my excitement over how well the beer turned out. In the above video we share additional reflections on brew day along with some brief tasting notes on the finished beer. Cheers!
My tasting notes:
Because English barleywines are best when aged I’ll refrain my typing out these notes in BJCP score sheet format and stick to a narrative of my impressions of this younger version of the beer. Of note, I bottled a full case of the beer off the tap that it was being served from so that I can monitor how it ages over time and have opened 6 of the bottles with friends and fellow home-brewers since first tasting the finished product on 2/5/17…Innkeeper barleywine poured a beautiful deep red color with an off white head which dissipated after the first half of the glass. It’s aroma was unlike other English barleywines in that it had a fair amount of hop character upfront which was comprised of notes of orange marmalade and some pine. Also in the aroma were notes of caramel and toffee which added sweetness and balance. The taste was similarly balanced with additional notes of fruit cake, short bread, and raisin adding complexity. Despite this beer’s high finishing gravity (1.025) it did not finish sweet, which meant that the 2 high alpha American hops that were used (Chinook and Centennial) did their job and balanced out the beer. Next, for a young 9.6% ABV barleywine this scaled up version of Innkeeper barleywine was quite drinkable. However, I’m hoping that with age (and oxidation) more malt character and sweetness will enter the picture and create the richness that my aged homebrewed version has. Thankfully both Joe and I plan to age a fair amount of what remains of this 5 barrel (bbl) batch, part of which is in a Jack Daniels barrel and I hope to periodically report back with how it’s aging. Cheers!
Homebrew Wednesday 85: Adjusting The Balance
Posted to my YouTube channel on 12/13/16
Homebrewing Updates (discussed in video):
Craft Beer Updates (discussed in video)
Homebrew Wednesday 86: Finally Dialed in
Posted to my Youtube Channel on 1/26/17
Homebrewing and Craft Beer Updates (discussed in video):
On Thursday, November 10, 2016 NYC’s Bitter and Esters homebrew shop hosted an event featuring Derek Dellinger, author of The Fermented Man and Brewmaster of Kent Falls Brewing Company. Despite some camera battery and audio difficulties I was able to film Derek entire presentation. In turn, after sorting through the footage I decided to split it into three parts; a podcast episode focused on an overview of his year eating only fermented foods, a video about vegetable fermentation, and a video about Kent Falls Brewing Company.
Part One: Derek’s Year as The Fermented Man
Book Synopsis: On January 1, 2014, homebrewer and writer Derek Dellinger began a journey that would change nearly everything he thought he knew about fermented food and beverage―and as a beer expert, he knew a lot. For an entire year, Dellinger would eat or drink only products that had been created by microbes. Exploring the vast world of fermentation, Dellinger became the living embodiment of its cultural and nutritional power―he became the Fermented Man.
In this entertaining and informative narrative, Dellinger catalogs his year spent on this unorthodox diet, revealing insights about the science of fermentation, as well as its cultural history, culinary value, and nutritional impact along the way. He goes beyond yogurt and sauerkraut to show us how fermentation occurs in a wide range of foods we might never have expected, and is at the root of many unique delicacies around the world. From foraging for living bacteria in the modern American grocery store, to sampling mucousy green Century Eggs in Chinatown, to an epic winter quest to Iceland for rotten shark meat, Dellinger investigates a realm of forgotten foods that is endlessly complex and surprisingly flavorful. And despite our collective aversion to bacteria, Dellinger’s experience and research reveals that it is these same microbes that may hold the key to our health and diets.
With bonus recipes for readers who are eager to get off the page and into the kitchen, The Fermented Man is an adventure story, culinary history, and science project all in one.
Part Two: Simple Vegetable Fermentation & More:
After sharing an overview of his book and answering questions about eating fermented foods Derek discussed the fundamentals of vegetable fermentation and then gave a quick demonstration of preparing vegetables (carrots in this case) for fermentation. All while discussing some of his favorite vegetables to ferment and then eat.
Part Three: From Homebrewer to Pro-brewer: Derek Dellinger, Brewmaster of Kent Falls Brewing Company
Before wrapping up this event Bitter and Esters owner John LaPolla asked Derek to talk about his journey from being a homebrewer to becoming the brewmaster (head brewer) at Kent Falls Brewing Company. In turn, this video includes Derek’s brewing history, the history of Kent Falls, the development of and inspiration behind its lineup of beers, the brewery’s integration of agriculture into its brewing practices, and plans for the development of its barrel program.
For more information visit:
Kent Falls Brewing’s website
The Fermented Man website (link above)
Bitter and Esters’ website