Monday, July 16, 2007

Double Trouble! Pinks Boots at Wisconsin Dells

"The main point in the game of life is to have fun. We are afraid to have fun because somehow that makes life too easy." ~Sammy Davis, Jr.

Note the "American Gothic" motif with garden hoe and squeegie above.

July 15: After spending about 2-3 days planning the details of my trip through October 14 and 4-5 days visiting my extended family in West Bend, it then took me most of today to rearrange the entire van and trailer before departure. I finally got on the road at 5:30 pm, headed into the Madison-area of Wisconsin. I arrived in Wisconsin Dells about 7:40 pm, after getting delayed by road closures that I had to creatively reroute around.

Brewmaster Jamie Martin was waiting for me, and she got my van and trailer set up in the back parking lot of Moose Jaw Pizza & Wisconsin Dells Brewing Company. Jamie emailed me back in February, as soon as my post hit the Brewers Forum announcing my trip. She told me she also wears pink boots. Let me tell you, I could not pass that up! I had to visit Jamie and meet another woman brewer who also wears pink boots!

Jamie set me up with a 10 beer sampler tray and explained all of her beers to me. My favorites were the Dells Chief Amber Ale (mellow-no bite), Kilbourn Hop Ale (peppery aggressive hops), and Dunkel Lager (smooth and roasty). We had tons of fun chatting until about 11 pm. Then she told me we'd be mashing in at 6:30 am. Yikes! Time for bed.

June 16: I showed up at 6:30 am in my white jump suit because Jamie wanted to check it out. She said she was constantly getting her street clothes full of yeast and other messy bits, and I extolled the virtues of the Mr. Goodwrench uniform. Not only does Aramark or another linen company do the laundry, but if you splooge yourself during the workday, you can change into a new uniform and look spiffy right away. If you splooge yourself several times a day, you can keep changing into as many fresh uniforms as the boss can afford.

It was really important for me to be present for the entire brew cycle today, because this is the first collaboration recipe of my trip. Jamie had asked me to provide a recipe of my choice. I picked her brain a bit to find out what she needed for her beer line-up, and found a dark beer was prefered. When I pressed further, "Porter? Imperial Stout?" Jamie went right for the Imperial Stout. I designed a recipe and emailed it to her. Jamie made some modifications to make the recipe work better on her system, including the addition of oat hulls to avoid a stuck mash in her tiny mash tun, and a change in some hop choices. We hit our target gravity within one degree Plato. Click here to see the recipe for Dells Imperial Stout.

Five years ago Jamie was a Biotechnology student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. One of her professors was a homebrewer who designed a class yeast project where each of the students fermented a Nut Brown Ale (on the sly because Jamie and other students were underaged). Nobody drank the beer - but they tested for alcohol and all the other goodies in the beer (wink wink). The class target was 4.8% ABV, but somehow Jamie tweeked the yeast and got 5.8%.

Her professor told her then and several times after that, "You need tp be a brewer. You are too much of a wild child to become a genetic researcher anyway." Jamie took his advice to heart and studied fermentation before turning 21. Jamie did her 200-credit internship (5 months) of free labor at Moose Jaw/Dells Brewing. After Dells' Brewmaster made her scrub the copper and plenty of other yuck-jobs, she continued to try to get a paid job in the brewery. She bartended and finally got part-time work in Dells' brewery.

Two years ago that Brewmaster left and Jamie took over Brewmaster duties. Jamie is assisted in the brewhouse by longtime Moose Jaw/Dells brewer and maintenance guru, Mike Balda.

Moose Jaw Pizza is a huge 600+ seat restaurant with a local sister restaurant called Buffalo Phil's with 1000 seats. Jamie and Mike brew beer and tons of soda (16 barrels of root beer a week!) for both locations. Wisconsin Dells proudly proclaims itself the Waterpark Capital of the World. I asked Jamie if any people live in Wisconsin Dells, and she said only tourists. A grocery store would go broke here as everybody in the hotels and resorts is too busy golfing or water-tobaggoning to cook.

With restaurants that huge you need a Marketing Director to get the word out, and Jillian Murphy called the local newspaper, the Dells Events, and told them to "Get over here - we've got two women brewers in pink boots today!" They sent Trevor who took our photo. Maybe we'll even get an article in the paper! (I'll post a link if we do.) Honestly, I'm surprised other breweries haven't called their local news media. A visiting pink-booted Brewmaster on a 5-month road trip is sort of rare in my opinion, and certainly a feel-good story unless you are Mormon.

P.S. Thank you to Moose Jaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Company for letting me plug into their ethernet cable to update this blog and my website, and thanks to Jamie for gifting me a t-shirt.

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