Archive for the ‘brewery’ Category

GABF Pro Am brewday at Triple Rock with Nathan Smith

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

nate rodger george

Yesterday I made it over to Triple Rock Brewery in time to watch Nathan Smith finish up his Pro Am brewday there. Participating along with him were Brewmaster Rodger Davis and Brewer George Kumparak.
If any of you caught Nate’s facebook posting about this, you know he gave a clue about the beer. He mentioned bringing over some specialty malt and that’s it. So Triple Rock house yeast? Maybe probably. Hopefully we’ll get Nate to comment back with the details since I didn’t exactly ask if I should post the beer. I think folks will be pleasantly surprised as the beer is different than what he has done the past two years (read: session beer). I would suspect it will go on tap at Triple rock in about a month or around the GABF time frame. Look for “Nostalgiaholic Pale Ale” during that time frame.
Hanging with this group is always a pleasure and coincidentally, this is the second year in a row that they brewed their beer on my birthday. That is either luck or a jinx…I guess we’ll find out. During our beer and conversation, Nate the guy that he is, offered to climb in the boil kettle and scrub it down. Rodger offered lots of pointers to him while he was down there…..
Please have a look at the pics and click on any of them for a larger version. I did promise Rodger that I wouldn’t publish any more dumb photos of him so instead I included a dumb photo of myself with them.
Good luck you guys this year at GABF. You deserve a medal!
nate cleaning the boil kettle

Nathan not afraid of hard work….the kettle looked pretty darn clean in the end.

rodger davis and nathan smith
Post clean up…..

nathan smith rodger davis and george kumparak

My apologies to Nate and Rodger for this photo but it is pretty classic. George seems to questions this. Thank you to Nikon for your excellent continuous shoot mode.

nate jon and rodger
That’s all for this year’s brew. Cheers gentlemen. Good luck from the dumb guy in the middle. Nice T shirt BTW.

Beer Obsessed on the road: Cambridge Brewing Co. in Cambridge, MA

Friday, July 16th, 2010

cambridge brewing sign

If you are in Boston, you need to get your brewpub hit by taking the T (Boston subway) over to Cambridge and making the quick walk to Cambridge Brewing Co.
Butted up against M.I.T., you get a younger but respectful crowd in there. On this Thursday it was quite crowded but once again, since I was solo, I was able to sneak a seat up at the bar. The first thing that caught me off guard was the beer tube. Not sure what they actually call it there but is a clear tube that holds 100oz of beer. You order it and you receive this tall tube at your table with a tap at the bottom. It clearly makes sense as there were several groups that were six plus people and I don’t think that sized group is unusual here.cambridge brewing pale ale
I wanted to cross the beer menu and I started with the Pale which was very good. I mean real good. Could have stuck with it the rest of the night. Amber was next and that was good too but the pale is still the stand out. With dinner, I had the IPA not bad but the p-a-l-e a-l-e was still on my mind. Dessert was a barrel aged porter that had Brett in it. That was a real sipper.  Interesting beer and would love to try it again in a few months to see how it evolves.
Food is standard pub fare and I went for the fish and chips, heavy on the vinegar to help work with the IPA.
Again, a very worthy pub to hit while in Boston.

cambridge brewing brewsystem
Earlier in the day during the Boston trip, I thought it appropriate to swing by Cheers. I caught a photo of the exterior, which was used for the TV show. There were a few groups there getting pics of themselves next to the sign so catching a good angle was tough (see my photo at bottom of this post). I took a look inside but there isn’t much there to go with the TV show that many love. Just some memoribilia and a very crowded bar with a lot of Sam Adams on tap.

Other than that, the family and I are off to family camp this weekend for our traditional outing. I am packing some Odonata Saison, Nostrodamus Begian Brown, and some Racer 5. Funny enough, the Safeway in the nearest town has a pretty good beer selection so I won’t be hurting.
Cheers. Oh and more shots below. Clicky any pic for a full size view.

cambridge brewing amber

cambridge brewing fish and chips
cheers sign

Quick shot: Rodger Davis of Triple Rock and Yuseff Cherney of Ballast Point

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Last week, Brewmaster Yuseff Cherney (Ballast Point) came up to spend a day brewing with Rodger Davis at Triple Rock as part of SF Beer Week. The brew was a Belgian IPA that will go on tap soon at Triple Rock. It looks like the brewers got a late start as they were still cleaning out the kettle when I showed up. I was a able to catch a quick half dozen shots before I had to let them get back to work. The bottom two were the better ones. Before anyone accuses Yuseff of making eyes at Rodger (in the second photo), just beware that I did catch him off guard. Yuseff is a great guy, very professional, and a bit reserved so I wanted to (hopefully) capture something different out of him. It was a pleasure to meet him as I am a big fan of his beers. Always great to see Rodger as well. It was a couple of my favorite brewers in one shot!
The last shot is Mitch and Dave (Brewer and Distributor) of Stone Brewing Co. They showed up at the bar and it looked like it was going to be a great night at Triple Rock but alas I had to go. It was great to meet Mitch and Dave as well.

rodger davis and yuseff cherney

rodger davis and yuseff cherney

Mitch and Dave from Stone Brewing Co.

pic of the week: Lagunitas Imperial Red

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

lagunitas imperial red

Dark red to brown colored beer with a cream colored head.
Big malty nose and taste with a big hop bite to blend and balance. There is nothing small when it comes to this beer. A nice lingering hop bitternes to calm you down after the malt goodness. We’re not talking about a session beer here. Imperial Red is 7.5% a.b.v.
Highly Recommended.

Take it to the Brewer presents: Scott Cramlet, Brewmaster for Rubicon Brewing Co.

Friday, August 28th, 2009

scott cramletOK, after many delays, we are proud to post the audio interview of Scott Cramlet. As mentioned before, Scott is a hard working, no nonsense guy who has putting out great beers at Rubicon for 17 years now. He is the respect of many in the industry. With the new management at Rubicon, we are also seeing a return to competition on their beers….with some award wins already in the bag.
Scott took his one day off to spend time with us on the interview. Besides our appreciation for everything else, we certainly appreciate that the most! The day was warm and Scott rode his bicycle down to the brewery to meet us. We got to the business of interviewing right away and spent time talking about a wide variety of topics including: his beers, his brewing philosophies, side projects, bottling Rubicon beers, and ideas on what may get bottled in the future. A great interview and hopefully we help to spread the word about Rubicon beers.
Scott definitely treated us well and we do appreciate the hospitality and the beers we tried. Enjoy the interview.

Interview is located on our Take it to the Brewer page.

For photos we took during the interview, go here.

Some other quick news:
Nathan Smith‘s GABF pro-am Triple is now on tap at Triple Rock Brewpub in Berkeley. It is a fantastic beer and the west coast hops blend well with the Triple style. Great job on that one Nate!!! Please see this post for specifics on the beer
Also, got a chance to finally meet Chad Moshier (‘shat the producer’ of the Brewing Network). He has done a lot of great work behind the scenes for both the brewing network and for NHC this year. He is also quite the respectable homebrewer as well. Turns out he brewed the latest batch of Bill Brand Brown which was done as an English brown this time around. It comes in at a very drinkable ‘english’ ABV of 4.2%. Nice work Chad on that beer. While Triple Rock is pro-am’ing Nate’s beer at GABF, they will be taking Chad’s version of Bill Brand Brown out there to pour. Rodger Davis (brewmaster) wanted to pour a beer named after Bill in memory of him. That is great news and glad they are honoring Bill this way.

coming soon: Take it to the Brewer interviews Scott Cramlet, Brewmaster for Rubicon Brewing Co.

Friday, August 7th, 2009

scott cramletIt was difficult to get time with Scott but we were tanacious (and hopefully not too annoying). He made time for us on his day off and we set up the audio interview back in his brewhouse. We spend a good hour going over his history, brewing at Rubicon (17 years!), his brewing philosophies, and the bottling of the famous Rubicon IPA. You’ll get to know a practical, hard working, award winning brewer who has built a lot of respect within the idustry
I hope to get the interview posted by the end of next week.

Todd Ashman, Brewmaster of Fifty Fifty Brewing Co. Interview part 2 posted

Friday, July 31st, 2009

eclipse imperial stoutPart 2 is now up and available for free on iTunes (take it to the brewer) and on the take it to the brewer page. Enjoy.
Since part of the interview revolves around his award winning barrel aged imperial stout (bronze at GABF), Eclipse. I thought I needed a new pic to post with this entry and as much as I love the shot of the Trifecta Tripel that I took during the interview, I couldn’t face posting it again. I took on trying to shoot the bottle of Eclipse that he gave me. It wasn’t easy and I’ll admit that it took some post processing to get it to where it is. We do talk about this beer so there we go.
Once again, thank you to Todd and the crew at Fifty Fifty for being gracious hosts to the beer obsessed crew and we’ll see you again soon. Cheers.

For the interview, please go to the take it to the brewer page.

For more photos of the interview, go here.


Our next interview is with Scott Cramlet, brewmaster for Rubicon Brewing. Interview is done and just needs to get edited down…look for it in about two weeks.

Nathan Smith’s Pro-Am brewday at Triple Rock

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

L-R: Nathan Smith, Rodger Davis, and George Kumparak.

I was able to make it briefly down to Triple Rock on Wednesday to see Nathan Smith brew his Pro-Am beer for GABF. My timing was good as he just finished pitching yeast and had time for a beer and a chat along with brewer George Kumparak and Head brewer Rodger Davis.

As Wednesday was my birthday and I had the attention of the brewmaster, I thought I would let him, ahem,  know that. Rodger didn’t dissappoint…although he may have pulled out his backroom special brews anyway. I had no idea that Rodger had a barrel program going on in the back room of Triple Rock but oh boy. Got to try his “Kaiser Soze” which is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout (sorry, didn’t get specifics….but it was great). We then tried an amazing Rodenbach-ish style sour. It was blended from two different wine barrel aged beers (one of the barrels was Grenache). Thank you Rodger.nate_rodger…and I digress….

Below, is some information about Nate’s pro-am beer. Hopefully it won’t jinx his chances for a medal this year.  It will be served at Triple Rock probably in about 2 plus weeks-ish. Be on the lookout for “five and dime Tripel” soon.
Also click on the pics for a larger view of the photos.

From Nate:nate_rodger2
The beer is a Tripel based around one of my favorite modern interpretations of the classic Belgian Tripel, Gregory Verhelst’s Tripel from La Rulles brewery in Rulles, Belgium (  The idea is a spicy, dry, complex Tripel at about 8.3%ABV with some interesting hop complexity driven by American hops.  The homebrew recipe is as follows:

  It was in many ways my favorite beer that I’d homebrewed over the last year and I’m happy Rodger and George were down to brew it at Triple Rock. It did moderately well in competition, 3rd place at the World Cup of Beer in the Belgian Strong Ale category this year, and scored very well in others but failed to place.
  The yeast really drives so much of the flavor in a Tripel, The ester profile is driven by WLP510 the Bastogne top fermenting yeast which ferments a bit “cleaner” tasting than the typical WLP510/WLP530 Trappist or Abbey strains.  I get moderate fresh pear and apple fruit esters, muted phenols out of WLP510/Bastogne and less dark fruit/plum character than Trappist/WLP510 or less pineapple/tropical fruit character than Abbey/WLP530.  But, these yeasts are infinitely complex, and how the brewer treats them from brewery to brewery can often act completely different, that’s what I get out of those yeasts in the way that I treat ‘em.  I grew up all of the yeast for the batch at home from homebrew batches.  A bit insane, but I think will help us achieve the results we want.
I just got word from Rodger earlier today that the fermentation was taking off as expected, which was great news.
  The hops are all American, instead of a hoppy Belgian style beer like Houblon Chouffe or La Freak, the goal is to have the American hops blend with the esters in the flavor & aroma, and since this yeast leaves a bit of a gap in the normal phenol profile of a Belgian beer, that gives a space for the Amarillo hops to lock in.  Amarillo has such a oily, resinous, citrusy character, a little bit goes a long way.  Kind of like orange peel and coriander in a Belgian wit, the small amount of American hops in the finish are a subtle spice addition and shouldn’t jump out of the glass screaming their presence.  This just might be one of the tougher parts to get right on the commercial beer, hopefully it will scale up as intended!  We’ll know more here in a few weeks.”

Thank you Nate for the detailed information and to anyone who tries brewing Nate’s recipe, I’m sure he would love to try your efforts!
Good luck in Denver this year both Nathan and Triple Rock!

Take it to the Brewer presents: Todd Ashman, Brewmaster for Fifty Fifty Brewing Co. Part 1 of 2.

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

todd ashmanWe are presenting our interview with Todd Ashman in two parts. Part 1 has been posted to both the Take it to the Brewer page and the iTunes store (free download). Todd provided so much great information on his history, brewing techniques, and beers at Fifty Fifty that we ended up with two hours of material. It made sense to split it up.

I first heard about Todd and Fifty Fifty via the peoples choice award they won at the Bistro IPA festival. I knew something was going on with that so I made time to talk with him. I had no idea the depth of his experience. We met Todd up at Fifty Fifty at about 3pm on a Saturday. Thankfully we made plans to stay in Truckee at a hotel within walking distance since we ended up spending the rest of the afternoon and evening their enjoying their fantastic line of beers.

Trifecta Triple

A Trifecta Triple is waiting for you...

After proceeding with the interview, we found out that Todd has been a brewer at Flossmoor Station, has been using barrels to age beers for almost 10 years now, and also spent time working at Rahr Malting Company. Todd came onboard to Fifty Fify not just an employee of Andy and Alicia Barr but as someone who provides direct input into the design of the brewery and their beer program. What we found was success on all fronts.

Todd is a very passionate brewer who spends a good amount of time not only developing award winning recipes but searching out unique ingredients to add dimension to his beers. While cane sugar works just fine in adding alcohol balance to beers, why not push flavor further and work with a variety of different sugars or honey. We loved his triple and that beer contains a healthy dose of honey to provide a smooth taste and extra layer of flavor. I highly recommend their Trifecta Triple. But the beer doesn’t end there. Todd and his brother/assistant brewer, Kyle, brew a light lager for the other business: Drunken Monkey sushi restaurant, they provide a menu of classic west coast beers, and they put out big beers along the lines of award winning imperial stouts and other belgian styles as well. You now have a reason (or more reasons) to spend time in Truckee.

Enjoy the interview and Part 2 will be posted shortly (it is done but I go on vacation next week).

For the audio interview, please go to the Take it to the Brewer page of

For a photo gallery containing shots during the interview, click here.

next Take it to the Brewer interview is with Todd Ashman: Brewmaster at Fifty Fifty Brewing

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

note: as my family and I are on the verge of having our second child, there may be more of a delay in getting this interview out! Keep an eye on this blog and the micro-blog on the main page.

fifty fifty brewing trifecta tripleI’ve just started to review the audio interview with Todd this week. This is shaping to be a great story and will probably distill down to somewhere around of 1.5 hours of audio. Todd has a lot of brewing history prior to his position at Fifty Fifty. He was a brewer at Flosmoor Station for a while and was barrel aging beers almost 10 years ago way before it was popularized. This all culminated with a bronze medal at GABF last year for his barrel aged Imperial Stout.  When Todd was brought on to Fifty Fifty, the brewery was not complete. Owners, Andy and Alicia Barr, felt it was important the the Brewmaster have a role in the design of the brewhouse. My respect for those two folks grew thoughout the interview.

I first heard about Todd when he won the peoples’ choice award for his IPA at the Bistro IPA festival last year. To me, the peoples choice speaks to the drinkability of your beer and I do ask Todd about this in the interview.  Some other topics that came up were brewing at high elevation. Fifty Fifty is at almost 6000 ft. in elevation and his 1 million BTU burner operates at 750,000 BTUs. This affects not only your gas bill but how your hops isomerize into your wort.

todd ashmanI do have to mention my favorite beer from the interview: their Trifecta Triple. Oh baby, probably one of my top three all time favorite triples. It was that good…and I’m picky about triples. It even deserved some picture staging as you can see from above. One of my favorite characteristics of a good triple is smoothness. A nice blending of the alcohol strength into the flavors of the beer. Todd achieves this and then some. He uses honey in this beer as a substitute for cane sugar and the flavors subtly came out.

Look for the interview coming soon. Cheers!