Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pink Boots at Flying Dog

"The world is but a canvas to our imaginations." ~Henry David Thoreau

Photo above, L to R up the steps, Back Row: Larry Pomeranz, Dustin Jamison, Kurt Randall, Nick Oscarsson and Matt Brophy. Front Row: Jaroed Sarmiento and Teri.

October 5: Jon dropped me off at Flying Dog at 9:00 am, as arranged with Flying Dog's Marketing Manager, Chris Rippe. I had to wait for Chris to arrive (he was in the middle of a new puppy crisis at home), and luckily he lived nearby.

Chris brought me to Lead Brewer Kurt Randall, who was busy wrestling with a homemade 750 ml bottling machine where he was bottling Flying Dog's open source Doppelbock. What is an open source beer, you might ask? It is a commercially made beer where the recipe has been published by the brewery in advance of release so that any interested homebrewers can brew it too. Here is the link to Flying Dog's open source blog and recipe. Kurt's bottles were on their way to the GABF, which is less than a week away.

I liked the name "Open Source" as it appeals to homebrewers who are also computer techs. There are other open source commercially-made beers out there, such as the two collaboration recipes that I made with Wisconsin Dells Brewery and New Holland Brewery earlier in my trip. Click on these links to see the recipes for Wisconsin Dells' Imperial Stout or New Holland's Road Brewer IPA.

Kurt brought me to brewer Nick Oscarsson, who was in the middle of his first brew of the day. What a great coincidence that today was the day that Flying Dog was brewing the whiskey wash for Stranahan's next door! The wash is a 100% malted barley beer, but it is brewed without hops. When you don't use hops, you don't have to boil for the normal full time, and we didn't. The whiskey wash is fermented with a proprietary "turbo" yeast, and with a little help it ferments the wash all the way down to nearly bone dry.

At the same time that Nick was brewing the new batch of whiskey wash, a previous batch of whiskey wash was being filtered by Larry Pomeranz. Nick let me taste the filtered wash. It tasted like you'd think it would: cold, slightly carbonated, and dry instead of sweet but the balance was due to a very thorough fermentation instead of hops. Very interesting!

Nick also showed me Flying Dog's new 20-gallon pilot brewery. I was impressed with the home made glycol jacketing on the two tiny cylindroconical unitanks. Nick said they tested the system with Road Dog, one of their more popular beers, to see if the test batch would turn out anything like their regular Road Dog. They were pleasantly surprised to find that the 20-gallon system's beer matched their 50-barrel system's beer very nicely.

Soon each of the brewers will have the opportunity to brew a Belgian Triple on the new pilot brewery. They'll do a comparative tasting of all the Triples, and will collectively decide upon the Belgian Triple recipe that they'll brew on the big system. Very democratic!

For those who don't know, Flying Dog started as a brewpub in Aspen, Colorado. I remember their first year at the GABF when then-brewer Dennis Miller brought 21 beers in cornelius cans to the festival. Eventually the brewery moved to Denver, and currently it occupies the equipment and space built for the former Mile High Brewery. A few years ago Flying Dog leased out its restaurant space to the Blake Street Tavern, and now Flying Dog concentrates on what it does best, brewing creative "gonzo" beers for broad distribution.

As is my habit, I wandered down to the laboratory where I picked the brain of former Coors lab & QC guy, Rob Allington who is Flying Dog's Director of Quality.

Then Matt Brophy gave me the backstage tour and told me about his job as Head Brewer of both Flying Dog's Denver brewery, and its Fredrick, Maryland brewery. He's a busy guy. The Fredrick brewery sounded very impressive. It's a lot bigger than the Denver brewery.

Then Matt brought me, Nick and Kurt to lunch next door at the Blake Street Tavern. I had the grilled ahi salad and it was good. I was quieter than my usual enthusiastic self because of my sinus infection. The brewers didn't mind and we enjoyed lunch with pints of Snake Dog IPA.

My husband Jon picked me up in the early afternoon, and we returned to my sister's house and took naps.

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