Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Entries in beer (2)


Try a New Beer this Weekend/Year

I first tasted Dogfish Head's Sah'tea beer several months back, and I was hooked. It's one of their "super-expensive-only-comes-in-750-ml-bottles" varieties, but I was lucky enough to find it on tap for normal prices at a time when I was feeling adventurous in my beer selection.

Now, don't get me wrong. As you know from my thorough exploration of Custom Brewcrafters over the summer, I do enjoy experiencing new and exciting developments in liquid bread. However, when I hit the bars (let's face it, I'm an old man. When I hit "a bar"), I often set aside my Magellan-like indefatigability and opt for a basic sipping beer.

Put differently, sometimes, you don't want The Bridge on the River Kwai; you just want to watch a rerun of How I Met Your Mother. You don't want Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back; you want Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.

On this fine evening, however, I was piqued to try something new. I chose the now-fabled sah'tea, nevermind that I had no knowledge or understanding of the pleasures that awaited me. Obviously, I'm now a fan -- both because of the magnificence of the beer as well as the knowledge that the sah'tea is Dogfish Head's creative, modern spin on a Finnish style of beer called sahti

Click to read more ...


Custom Brewcrafters: Beer, to Order

Just a few of Custom Brewcrafter's 30-odd beer choices. 
Once in a while, you come across a company with a truly brilliant business model, an enterprise that contributes a wonderful product in an innovative way. Custom Brewcrafters is one such, a brewery that taps into the creativity of its clients while drawing on age-old recipes and techniques to make its suds.

Clearly I'm a fan. But before I delve into my visit, let me explain what makes CB so special.

Micro- and craft-brewing has taken off in the last few decades. In fact, during the recession, sales of craft beers have remained strong and actually increased. My uneducated theory is that it's a testament to growing American interest in products that were grown, crafted, or brewed with some level of attention and care, even love. Sort of a "mass-produced=evil, small-batch=sustainable" attitude that may or may not be at all rational. Another reasonable explanation for the trend may simply be that making beer in small quantities is a better reflection of how beer's been made for the last 11,000 years -- we're returning to our roots, in a way.

Whatever it is, most people I know tend to prefer these craft brews, or at least certain varieties (such as my personal favorite beer, Allagash White). BUT.

Let's say you own a restaurant and you already have an excellent beer list, with German Pilseners, Trappist ales, double-dark coffee stouts, and Vermont-made organic beers. But let's say you want to provide your clientele something special. You want to serve you OWN brew, one that perfectly complements your menu. But you don't have the know-how or wherewithal (or the capacity to make it profitable).

So you call up CB. You talk to their master brewers and you go over your menu and your specialties. You talk about the sort of beer you want to drink and sell, and you know what they do?

CB's stills.
They Custom Brewcraft it.

So, my visit to CB: It's come up that I went to the the University of Rochester in New York, home of garbage plates and awesome wings. My mom actually grew up in Rochester, and her parents are still in town, so we swung up through town last weekend for the Fourth. I'd only been to CB once while in school, but a weekend back in Rochester seemed like an opportune moment to return.

My Dad, Granddad, and one of our family's oldest friends, Joel, visited on Saturday afternoon, excited for a walk through the brewing facilities and hoping for a full-fledged tasting. With a few minutes to kill before our walkthrough began, we explored a few of the non-beer samples available -- the Bhut Jolokia chile (or "Ghost" chile; over one million Scoville heat units) sauce on a meatball was...painful.

So. Spicy. You can even see the chile-induced sweat.
Afterwards, a very knowledgable fellow named Steve walked us through the whole facility.

We tasted the grist and some of the roasted barleys as well as the hops (bitter!), and he answered our questions about everything from the water CB uses (Monroe city water; some of the freshest in America) to the filtration process.

We must have spent an hour wandering through the brewing area before returning to the tasting bar. I'm not going to go into detail about every beer we tasted (I tried about 12 of the 30-odd brews CB makes, both under its own brand and for numerous area restaurants), but my favorite was the double dark cream porter, which overflowed with the rich, earthiness I'd expect from dark roasted barley and a hoppy but not overly bitter finish.

Some dude at the bar. There are more taps around either corner.
After three hours, I came away better educated about the beer making process, better enlightened as to more than a dozen qualities brews native to upstate New York, and, I'll freely admit, a little tipsy.

My Granddad mostly liked the beers; this may, however,
have been the one he declared "shit."
Custom Brewcrafters has a fantastic approach to brewing beer, and clearly hires men and women who know and love their ales and lagers. Despite their relatively small capacity, they create a broad range of interesting and unique beers, from IPAs to Pilsener styles to red ales. The tour was the best I've been on, and is a must-do for anyone in or visiting Rochester with an eye to learn something more about beer.