Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pink Boots at Rohrbach

"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us." ~Thomas Browne

July 30-31: Drove from Buffalo to Rochester, New York. The van was working hard, so it felt like the drive was all up hill. The landscape looked drier with shorter crops and less corn. Rohrbach's Brewmaster, Jim McDermott and his family were headed to the AAA minor league Redwings game, but I passed in favor of a quiet night in the camper.

I parked in Rohrbach's gravel lot and read the Great Lakes Brewing News cover to cover, as well as Animorphs #19. Yes, I read books written for teenagers, and I love them. Jim arranged dinner for me in the pub so I was well taken care of.

The next day Jim started work at 7:00 am and I joined him shortly after that. We spent about an hour brainstorming Rohrbach's impending move. Now, I've spec'ed and opened four brewpub breweries from scratch, and I've modified an old Rock Bottom into a Steelhead brewery, but I've never had to move a bunch of 20-barrel tanks to another location when 75% of your production is kegs and the other 25% is sold at the brewpub which will be served by the 7-barrel system that will be installed once the 20-barrel is moved. Yikes!

I made a few suggestions based on how agressively the Rohrbach owners apparently want the business to grow, like labwork and a grain-handling system including a silo. I have my articles on these two subjects on my computer, so I printed out copies for Jim. I will be posting these articles on my website, http://www.terifahrendorf.com/, after I update them. I was able to make a few other suggestions that I thought would standardize production, free-up the brewer from babysitting the brew, or reduce labor. Jim liked my ideas, but it all depends on the owners and their budget.

Then we mashed in. Rohrbach has a 20-barrel Criveller system similar to Flying Bison's, but it doesn't have mash/lauter rakes, so Jim mashes into the kettle and later transfers it to the lauter tun. I recommended he bolt a cutting board to his garden hoe, as pulling 20-barrels of mash with a small hoe (no rakes!) takes a lot of time. See info on mash hoes here.

Daniel Agne helped with the hand-bucketed mash-in, and then Bruce Lish arrived to work on the brew. In addition to kegging 75% of their production, Rohrbach also cleans and refills their growlers, which keeps the brewers busy when they're not already busy!

After lunch it was nearly time for me to drive to Cooperstown, which is about 4-5 hours drive. Thank you to Account Manager Larry Schultz for gifting me a Rohrbach t-shirt.

P.S. Thank you to Rohrbach brewery for letting me use their business computer to update this blog.

Pink Boots at Flying Bison

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." ~Shakespeare

July 29-30: Drove across Ontario, Canada, for a very long time. The landscape had some rolling hills and nice dairy farms and corn fields, so it reminded me of Wisconsin and the Midwest. In fact Buffalo reminded me of a large midwestern industrial city like Chicago. And Buffaloians talk with what almost sounds like a Milwaukee accent. Must be the shared German heritage.

Flying Bison's Owner/Brewmaster Tim Herzog had me meet up with him and his friends on the Canadian side of the bridge - in the tiny 1940's-style resort community of Crystal Beach. The Lennons, friends and neighbors of the Herzog's, rent a cabin there for two weeks each summer. They invited a bunch of friends to their bright yellow and green cabin for a barbeque. (Yes, U of O's fighting Duck team colors - it reminded me of Eugene.)

There I met up with the extended family including Tim's wife Betsy and sons Colin and Peter. Both boys work at the brewery part-time and Peter has declared he wants to be a brewer. You go boy!

After a wonderful barbeque dinner served with Flying Bison's Kolsh and Pale Ale, it was nearing dark and time to tackle the Peace Bridge and U.S. Customs. I was worried since I was packing the several cases of beer I've collected along the road. On the way into Canada, Canadian Customs asked me if I was bring in any tobacco or alcohol and I said, "Oh, I've got some beer." The Customs Agent said, "So, mostly camping stuff right?"

"Right!" I answered.

This time I was going through U.S. Customs and we are a much bigger pain in the tush than Canada. What with terrorist women brewers smuggling American beer back into the country and all. However, Tim has natural good luck, and I do to, and together we manifested that our U.S. Customs Agent was a growler customer of Tim's. The Agent said, "So, this camper is from where? Oregon?"

"Yes it is. I'm on a long vacation," I said.

The Custom Agent collected our passports then said, "Ha! I know that guy. Hey Tim, my growlers are getting dusty. Think you can do something about that?"

After some light banter, the Agent waved us through. That's good. I was sort of afraid they would have to do an intense inspection as I have tubs of books and winter clothes in the van and cupboards and dinette benches in the trailer, and the Agent could have elected to tear apart all of it. Made it to Tim and Betsy's home in Buffalo without further ado.

The next morning I was up at 6:30 am to shower. Although at home I may not shower two days in a row, on the road I take a shower whenever I can get one, because I never know where I'll get the next one. Then Tim made me a scrambled egg and toast breakfast. What a nice host!
Tim rode with me to the brewery where he let me mash in. He has a 20-barrel Criveller system with rakes, but without a hydration collar, you have to keep the grain moving so it doesn't clump. No silo and a two-person opperation to mash-in, with one milling while the other is mashing. We made a Vienna Lager.

I spent a fair bit of time in Tim's offices working on my long blog about the Michigan Beer Festival. Ryan Coleman worked the brew while Paul Koehler ran a filter. Tim gave me the complete tour and answered the phone which rang a lot. He not only runs the brewery, he takes the keg orders and he's very involved in brewery legislation on a local, state, and national level.

Photo at top of page, L to R: Ryan, Paul, Teri and Tim.

Flying Bison is in a very old mixed use (residential and industrial) neighborhood. The brewery is hidden away on the back side of a building, but after seven years his customers have figured out where it is and they wandered in all day, tasting beer and picking up kegs and growlers. There is no retail employee, just Tim, Ryan and Paul, so Tim and Ryan took turns waiting on the customers.

Flying Bison is up to over 2,000 barrels per year, but it has been an uphill climb for the seven-year old brewery. Tim's done lots of educating of the local populace, and he had some very bad luck over the years, beginning when his partner was killed in a motorcycle just before opening day. However, I believe that Tim actually has natural good luck, because had he not, I believe the brewery wouldn't have survived at all. Now Tim has a good team in place, and Flying Bison is poised for a productive future.

The building Flying Bison is in has lots of room for added tanks, and hopefully a silo too. They also have a 1-barrel pilot brewery, which Tim used for homebrewing back in the day. Photo at right shows the 1-bbl pilot system and Ryan weighing hop pellets. And they contract brew beer for several breweries.

Flying Bison is so named because Buffalo was once a major center for airplane manufacturing. Now, the local Coast Guard pilots are good customers and Flying Bison's barleywine is named after their squadron.

After a much-too-short day it was time to leave for Rochester. I told Tim I was sorry I couldn't schedule two days for each brewery so I could stay all day long and still drive, but if I stretched out my trip anymore I'd never get home, and I already miss my husband too much.

Tim said, "Tell your husband 'Thank You' for lending you to the brewing industry for the summer." I told Jon that, and he liked the sentiment and asked me to put it on the blog. Jon says, "You're welcome!"

Luckily I'll see Jon in a week when I arrive "home" to attend the MBAA Hop Symposium in Corvallis, Oregon, which is about 50 minutes from Eugene.

Thank you to Tim at Flying Bison for gifting me a 6-pack of his special strong beers.

P.S. Thank you to Rohrbach Brewing Company for letting me use their computer to access the Internet.

P.P.S. Sorry all the indoor photos are so dark: I don't have any photo manipulation software on my laptop so I can't lighten the photos until I return to Eugene at Halloween.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Michigan Brewers Guild's Summer Beer Festival

"At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely." ~W. Somerset Maugham

July 27-29: Okay, this is where the details start to get sketchy. I attended both days of the Michigan Brewers Guild's 10th Annual Summer Beer Festival. I was parked a few blocks away in the corner of the Corner Brewery's back parking lot, so I didn't have to drive. I tasted a lot of stunning beer, and I met a lot of fabulous brewers. Is that enough info? I didn't think you'd settle for that, so here goes...

Photo above was taken at the Corner Brewer (Arbor Brewing Company's Ypsilanti location) after the end of the festival but just before the Michigan Brewers Guild's 10th Anniversary party. L to R: Ron & Laurie Jeffries of the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery in Dexter, Ryan Hale of Corner/Arbor who was my email contact, Stacey Roth of Corner/Arbor, Matt Greff, Owner/Parter of Corner/Arbor, and Stacey's husband Tom Block.

On Friday of the festival I worked New Holland's booth as they were shorthanded. I made myself useful fetching ice for New Holland and Jolly Pumpkin. I had a great time serving beers because I like telling the little stories that go along with each beer.

New Holland's big draw was their Randall, which they called "The Hatterizer." They served their Mad Hatter Ale through the Hatterizer and customers came up to the booth saying, "Hatterize me." So we did. You can see their giant over-sized Randall in the photo above left.

FYI: As far as I know, the Randall idea was invented by Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head. It is a large filter cartridge housing packed with whole leaf hops, in this case Centennial, and the New Holland boys had two of them set up so they could swap out a fresh one every two hours.

Friday was also fun because ten minutes before the end of the festival the heavens opened up and it poured with thunder and lightening for a solid 25 minutes. That forced everybody under the tent right when we needed to shut off the taps. The photo above left was taken in the darkness under the tent as people crowded in and got cozy.

After the festival on Friday night, the New Holland crew dropped me off at my trailer as I didn't know my way around in the dark in Ypsilanti, and I sure appreciated that.

The next morning I made myself at home on the free wireless at Corner Brewery's pub and bartender Logan was kind enough to make me a cup of tea and share his bread sticks with me. After working on my blog and photos I walked over to the festival grounds to see if Corner Brewery needed my help at their booth. Found Stacey and Tom but they were all set with volunteers.
Stacey and Tom and I visited Joe Short of Shorts Brewery at his booth. (Photo on left, L to R: Tom, Joe and Stacey.) Tom and Stacey are newlyweds: they got married at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival!

Joe Short told us about his "Nice 'n Spicy" ale. He said that within a day or so after brewing his ale, he and his crew began zesting lemons and oranges. They kept at it until "there was enough in the fermenter," which meant about five days of on-and-off zesting. Then Joe cracked up a bunch of telecherry, pink, green and white pepper corns, and tossed that in for about two days. But only two days. Any more and the beer would have been too peppery. I can attest that the pepper was subtle and the beer tasted juicy in the citrus sense. Quite refreshing on a hot and humid Michigan day.

I also visited the Jolly Pumpkin booth where I met Owner/Brewer Ron Jeffries. I had heard great things about Ron's beers during this trip and my husband really wanted me to visit Ron's brewery, but I'd needed a rest day in Kalamazoo and had to skip my Jolly Pumpkin stop.

Ron had a nice collection of six or seven firkins pouring his unique sour beers. I was able to try five of his beers, Perseguidor #2, a blend of at least four beers aged in wood six months and then aged in the bottle (or firkin) another six months was my favorite. Hard to choose when each sour beer is so different from the next. Photo above of the Jolly Pumpkin crew, L to R: Sean Brennan, Laurie Jeffries, Ron Jeffries, and their son Daemon Jeffries.

Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Biere is a hoppy Saison type beer with an interesting name. Bam is their Jack Russell Terrier puppy who got bammed by a car and survived. Although Bam has a French name, most of the rest of Jolly Pumpkin's beers have Spanish names befitting their pirate-pumpkin-Spanish-Main theme. And in case you were wondering, no Jolly Pumpkin doesn't specialize in pumpkin beers each autumn!

I must mention that I ended up scheduling myself through Ypsilanti for this festival because Doug Beedy of Fort Street Brewery brought it to my attention via an email. Luckily, I hadn't scheduled the second section of my trip yet, so I just delayed myself visiting more breweries in Wisconsin and made it to Ysilanti in time.

Since Corner Brewery didn't need me to pour beer at their booth, I visited Rex Halfpenny who publishes the Michigan Good Beer Guide. Rex has a been a huge supporter of craft beer, and especially Michigan craft beer for a very long time. (Photo right.)

Then I wandered back to the New Holland Booth where Elvis was helping the crew pour beers. Elvis is plaster so he's pretty fragile. New Holland drilled a hole in his backside and the beer hoses come out at the taps along his right arm. In the photo below, L to R: Adam Le Claire, Alan Kort, Elvis, John Stewart and Brett VanderKamp. (Please send me an email if I got the order mixed up!)
Nobody who attended this festival could claim that Michigan brews whimpy beers. I even met a beer fan named Erik who drove all the way from Connecticut to attend.

On this chalkboard sign (below right) from Arbor/Corner Brewery you can see choices like Hoppelbock Barrel-Aged Dry hopped Czech Bock at 8% ABV and Cousin Jax Barrel-Aged Imperial Pale Ale at 10% ABV and 120 IBU. And Corner Brewery's Espresso Love Stout was silky good.

Another fun sign I saw behind the bar at Corner Brewery was this one (below left) that someone took a Sharpie pen to.

Corner does something I haven't seen anywhere else. They have a 10-gallon homebrew system for a pilot brewery called, "The Rat Pad." I've seen keg-based pilot systems, but what I haven't seen is that they let local homebrewers completely run the pilot brewery. The homebrewers brew anything they want and each Wednesday at 6:00 pm the pilot brew goes on sale. The day I left bartender Logan was going to brew his Pistaccio Porter on the system.

Back at the festival, at the end of the day I helped New Holland break down their booth. Elvis had to go into their horse trailer first. I heard Fred Bueltmann call out, "Mind Elvis's finger!" as they didn't want to break his plaster hand. Photo below right, L to R: Fred, Adam, Alan, Elvis and John Stewart. They closed a gate behind Elvis once they got him situated so that the kegs, taps, and ice horse troughs wouldn't roll into him.

Post-festival was the Guild's 10th Anniversary Party. I had saved a couple of bottles of sour beer to share with the Jolly Pumpkin brewers, so I broke out a bottle each of La Folie and Cuvee de Tomme. Everybody had a great time at the private party in the brewhouse, and I even got myself out to my trailer at a reasonable hour.

The next morning I called Corner Brewery and spoke to Renee Greff, Owner/Partner about finding a shower. After two days of hot and humid barrel-aged beer drinking, I was ready and Renee set me up at her and Matt's house.
Then off I drove, headed to Buffalo, NY via Canada.
P.S. Thank you to Flying Bison Brewing Company for letting me hog their business computer to update this blog.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pink Boots at Bells

"Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work." ~H. L. Hunt

July 24-26: Drove from Holland to Kalamazoo, but took the wrong exit. Bell's Production Manager, John Mallett and his son Linus met me and I followed them to the home of Bell's Packaging Manager, Mike Furst. John handed me a Bell's Lager and we silently climbed a ladder in the barn to the hayloft, which had been made into a recording studio. Three musicians and a singer were about to record a song. John's son and daughter Anna were amazingly still and quiet during the recording session. It took a few minutes for our eyes to adjust to the darkness as the only lighting was the recording switchboard and strings of white Christmas lights hung across the rafters.

After the recording sessions I followed John's truck to his house. John and I pushed my trailer up the driveway as Kalamazoo has a no overnight street parking ordinance. I was able to settle in for three nights there, which was a real treat on this fast-paced trip.

John, Anna and Linus had a tour of my trailer, and the kids both declared they would love to sleep there. Unfortunately there's just room for me! John had baked homemade bread and we enjoyed fresh basil and tomatoes from the garden while we waited for John's wife Maggie to get home.

I've known John for many years as a fellow GABF and World Beer Cup Judge. He is one of the smartest people I know and could probably brainstorm his way out of any brewing or brewery engineering problem. Call Larry Bell a genius for hiring John Mallett and you wouldn't be wrong!

The next day I rode with John to the old Kalamazoo brewery. John worked on a Firkin washer while brewer Dan Barrett showed me around. The most interesting feature about the brewing equipment still at this original location is that they have two mash/lauter tuns: One is 15-barrels, the other is double-size so that they can make gigantic beers with double the grainbill.

The last time I visited Bells was in 2000 when I was Eccentric Day guest brewer. They definitely use the double-size mash/lauter for their Eccentric Day Brew. If you are in Kalamazoo around St. Nicholas Day in December, be sure to dress in your whackiest costume and join in the fun at Bell's Eccentric Cafe on Eccentric Day.

Then we went to Bell's new brewing plant in Comstock outside of Kalamazoo. The batch size there is 50 barrels and John has designed some interesting features into the new brewhouse. Currently they have two lauter tuns, one larger than the other. They also have two kettles, but one is used as a heating wort receiver. The wort receiving kettle has an external collandria, and the newer kettle has an internal "underground" collandria, which allows Bells to brew smaller batches of specialty beers.

Another neat thing that Bells has been doing for the last three years, is they've put Oberon, their summer strong wheat seasonal ale, into 5-liter custom-painted aluminum cans. You heard me right: five liters or 1.32 gallons. Each year they change the label design, and each year they sell out. Some folks have taken to collecting the cans. The big can acts like a growler with a longer cold-shelf life; once opened the beer should be consumed the same day or it goes flat. Photo at left is of the 2005 can.

John and Brewhouse Manager Ken Belau drove back to the Eccentric Cafe for lunch where we ran into Bell's brewer Tom Bohs enjoying a pint on his day off. (Photo at top of page, L to R: John, Teri, Ken and Tom.) Tom remembered me from the 2000 Excentric Day brew and party. That night I played card games with Anna and Linus while John made dinner.

The next day (July 26) I was scheduled to drive to Dexter, Michigan to meet with Ron Jeffries, Owner/Brewmaster of Jolly Pumpkin Brewing Company, but I was getting worn down with the pace of the trip. Therefore I elected to stay another day with John and his lovely family, sleep in (a lot!), do laundry and blog. So that's what I did. The Mallett household in Kalamazoo was a nice relaxing stop for me and I needed it.
Thank you to John Mallet for gifting me a mixed 12-pack of Bell's beers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pink Boots at New Holland

"Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future." ~Charles F. Kettering

July 23-24: Pulled into Holland, Michigan just before dinner. Met Brewmaster John Haggarty at New Holland Brewing Company's production brewery, where I parked my rig for the night. John drove us to an Italian restaurant where brewer Ben Fris and Partner Brett VanderKamp were waiting. A special guest of my Holland, Michigan adventure is my old pal, Bill Owens. Bill publishes American Distiller and is on his own 5-month road trip visiting and photographing America's small boutique distilleries. (Photo above, L to R: Ben, Brett, Teri, John and Bill.)

Tried to blog from my trailer as John had given me New Holland's wep-key to get into their wireless system, but I was too tired and just posted photos of my van and trailer.

The next morning I overslept! Ben knocked on my door at 7:00 am, but somehow I had slept straight through my alarm. I threw my things together and was mostly ready in five minutes. Ben drove us to New Holland's brewpub where we met up with Bill Owens.

New Holland is the first brewpub on my journey to have both a brewery and a distillery onsite. Bill had arranged with Ben to distill a 100% wheat whiskey on this day. Ben brewed the wash last Friday: 100% wheat malt with rice hulls mixed in to create a good filter bed.

We watched while Ben pumped the wash up from the basement fermenter into a small holding tank in the still room. Then he pumped 50 gallons into the still and began to heat it.

In the meantime Ben and I went to mash in our India Pale Ale. A few weeks ago, Ben and John had asked me to send them a recipe - anything I wanted to brew, so I suggested a Pacific-Northwest-style IPA. Click here to read the recipe for New Holland's West Coast IPA. Ben had ordered all the ingredients and was willing to go along with my preferences. Above photos are me mashing-in and pulling out spent grain - both with the same canoe paddle! I told Ben all about the amazing abilities of the mash hoe, and recommended he make one. Click here to learn more about mash hoes.

Ben was very patient with Bill and me. He sure had his hands full with both of us hanging around all day! I had a great time running back and forth between the brewery, the distillery, and down to the basement fermentation cellar and whiskey wood-aging cellar. New Holland's cute little still is made from a big commercial soup-pot bolted to the upside-down-cone from a small unitank beer fermenter. It looks like what you'd get if you mated R2D2 with the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz (photo left).
In between all the action, Bill and I took over a table in a quiet section of the pub and worked on our blogs, newsletters, trip planning, and other online stuff. (Photo above.)

In addition to the brewing and distilling, Ben transferred some of New Holland's just distilled Rum to an oak barrel in the basement whiskey aging cellar. But first he and Brett had to lift the empty yet heavy just-soaked soggy oak barrel into position on the rack. (Photos below.)

At the end of the day Brett drove me back to New Holland's packaging brewery where he gave me a New Holland t-shirt and baseball cap (it's pink!), and John gifted me two cases of New Holland beer. I'm not done with the New Holland folks yet - I plan to volunteer at their booth at the Michigan Brewers Guild's "Michigan Beer Festival" this weekend in Ypsilanti.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pink Boots at Flossmoor and Visit to Three Floyds

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

July 22-23: Drove from Mundelein to Channahon, Illinois, home of Flossmoor Station's Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk and his wife Jenni. Matt had been busy all day smoking meats for a fabulous barbeque dinner. Matt and Jenni's children, Nick (3) and Ellie (2) joined us along with Matt's assistant brewer Andrew Mason and his fiancee Meg Dodson. Andrew brews both at Flossmoor Station and at Mickey Finn's Brewpub in Libertyville, so he currently does a lot of commuting to get his professional brewing experience.

(Photo above, L to R: Matt, Jenni, Teri, Meg and Andrew.)

Matt served us his Station Master Wheat and his Raspberry Lambic. I contributed some interesting beers that I've been collecting that are not available in Illinois. He and Jenni put together a great feast for us: smoked chicken, ribs and salmon with watermellon salsa, and two kinds of veggies.

The next morning I followed Matt on his 30 minute commute to the cute little town of Flossmoor. Flossmoor Station is right next door to the train tracks and Amtrak made several stops during the day. The station building was built in 1906 and celebrated its 100th birthday with an expansion of Flossmoor's restaurant seating, outdoor patio and basement.

Matt showed me his brewery including the basement extension where he stores his wood casks full of aging beer. Matt worked on cleaning a fermenter and transferring a beer to a serving tank and I worked on my blog. He brought me beer tastes while I blogged, including his Pullman brown which was more like a roasty porter.

I'd like to point out that Matt has won seven GABF medals during his three years at Flossmoor Station, and Flossmoor has no mill so Matt uses pre-ground malt. That tells me that not only is Matt talented, but pre-ground malt is much higher quality than it was 19 years ago when I went pro. I'm learning more about the brewing industry every day on this trip.

After lunch I followed Matt to Munster, Indiana to visit Three Floyds Brewing Company. (Photo below, L to R: Barnaby Struve, Chris Bogges and Steve Bernard.)

On the way we drove through the small town of Glenwood where the chuch had a sign on it, "Excellence is not a destination but a journey." If I extrapolate that, then Exellence is a Journey, and since I am on a journey, I am experiencing Exellence every day. I'd have to agree!

Barnaby, Chris and Steve are not the Floyds, but they are the brewers. The painting behind them in this photo incorporates all the cartoonish characters from their various beer labels.

Three Floyds is famous for extra hoppy beers, and the beers they served me didn't disappoint. Their summer seasonal was called Gumballhead after a cartoon cat character. It was another variation on the huge hop theme. Instead of over-the-top bitterness, Gumballhead is a wheat beer with huge hop flavor. With all Amarillo hops, the hop flavor came through as pineapple-citrus. The bitterness was surprisingly gentle, considering the dominant hop aroma and flavor.

Thank you to New Holland Brewery for their free wireless Internet in their brewpub.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pix of My Van and Trailer

"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together." ~Thomas Dekker

July 23: Tonight I am too tired to blog. Every day of this trip is a wonderful party waiting to happen.

Yesterday some lovely people made dinner for me and two other guests. This morning the same lovely people made a waffle breakfast, then I hung out in the brewery and worked on some photos and my last blog post. Then we visited another brewery. Then I drove a long way. Then some other lovely people took me out to dinner with another guest. Then I checked emails and worked on some more photos.
Today I visited people and breweries in Channahon Illinois, Flossmoor Illinois, Munster Indiana, and Holland Michigan. I think I forgot to get gas so I must be almost empty. And I miss my husband. But I am not complaining! I'm just tired.

I thought you'd want to see photos of my home on wheels: A 1996 Chevy Astro pulling a 2007 Fun Finder X139. In the photos below the bunk is up, but I always have it down because that's where I sleep. Have a good night and I'll blog soon.

My Cousins in Mundelein, Illinois

"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves." ~Lynn Hall

July 21-22: I had not seen my Mundelein cousins since my cousin Pam's wedding in 1990. It's tough to visit when you live on a far distant coast and you have college loans to pay back.

Our mothers are sisters, so my siblings and Wisconsin cousins saw a lot of them when we were children. They were our favorite cousins because they were so daring and adventurous; nearly dangerous in our minds because they so easily and carelessly flaunted authority. As you can guess, my siblings and I loved to visit them and run wild.

We played Red Light-Green Light at midnight, played music too loudly, caught fireflies by the dozen, snuck out the boys' window and climbed down the tall fir tree to escape to the nearby lake at night to drink beer.

They're all grown up now, and some of them have their own kids. And they still know how have a heck of a good time. I arrived just as my cousin Kyle and his wife Jenny's party was at a full rolling boil. About 75 family members from Jenny's side of the family were gathered to celebrate life, family and summer fun in the midwest sun.

With virtually no humidity or mosquitos, this was not the midwest of my childhood, but everybody along my route has been saying that this is a very unusual summer in that the lack of rain has adjusted the humidity-mosquito more to my Oregon sensibilities. Everybody at the party took advantage of the perfect weather, enjoying a game of softball, swimming in the pool, and eating lots of delightful summer potluck food.

Kyle lost a couple of brownie points when I saw he only stocked the beer buckets with MGD and Miller Lite. I supplied a mixed 6-pack from the breweries I had visited, beer not currently sold in Illinois. Jenny's cousins discovered "The Brewmaster's" beers right away and talked me into another 6-pack and a 22-oz bottle. They joked about raiding my trailer for more good beer, but I only have about 1.5 cases of beer left and I need that as gifts for the breweries I visit.

I wanted to get a photo of my cousins Kyle, Kerry, Kip, their dad Al, and their families but the party was a bit of a zoo. Instead I now have fond memories of my cousins, now in their 40's, doing crazy twisting dives and cannonballs off the diving board into the swimming pool.

The next morning dawned slowly and late as the sleepover-partiers reached for Ibuprofen and coffee. I did get a photo of Kyle, two sons and grandaughter. (Photo above, L to R: Michael, Kyle, Teri, Ryan and Kylie.) I wish I could have got all my cousins and their kids in the photo!

Then Kyle earned back his brownie points when he drove me to his sister Kendall Ann's new hot dog stand, Country Dog. Kendall is waiting for her final permit and was working on paperwork. Her dad Al and brother Kip have been instrumental in helping Kendall convert an old burned-out train caboose into a compact modern restaurant kitchen with outdoor seating.

If you find yourself in Grayslake, Illinois on Hwy Rt 120/Belvidere Road, be sure to stop in and buy a dog and coke from Kendall and say "Hi."
P.S. Thank you to Flossmoor Station for their free wireless Internet in their pub.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Visit to Chicago and the Siebel Institute

"Get happiness out of your work or you may never know what happiness is." ~Elbert Hubbard

Photo above taken at Goose Island, L to R: Top Row: John Hall, Jeff Sparrow, Teri, Will Turner, Kerry O'Donohue, Keith Lemcke, Lyn Kruger and Greg Hall. Bottom Row: Ray Daniels and Steve Hamburg.

July 19: Joy and her neighbor Jill and I visited Rock Bottom in downtown Chicago. Brewmaster Pete Crowley invited me via email only a few days ago, and I'm really making a concentrated effort to visit the brewers and breweries who have invited me, or at least as many as I can fit in.
We enjoyed an extended sampler set, including Pete's delicous Bourbon Barrel Brown. I've only had beers at some of the Rock Bottoms, and Pete's beers may rate as some of the more interesting versions.

Although Rock Bottom is a chain and the beer names are consistent, the brewers are given full range to come up with their own interpretations and recipes for those beers. If you've tried the beer at one Rock Bottom, you have NOT tried them all! (Photo above, L to R: Teri, Pete, Joy and Jill.)

After our tasting Pete gave us the requisite tour of his extensive brewery. He and two brewers produce about 3,000 barrels a year, ten barrels at a time, two batches a day. It's a pretty hoppin' joint with restaurant seats on three floors including a rooftop deck and banquet/group facilities. I took a photo of Pete's well-organized beerline routing area (right).

Then we took the Red Line subway to Goose Island's original Clybourn Avenue location. We were running a bit late but Keith Lemcke of the Siebel Institute was there to greet us. As a Siebel Alumni (Diploma Class of 1988), I wanted to see if the history and tradition of the Siebel I knew and loved had followed the school to its new location inside of Goose Island. I am happy to report that the two Siebel areas (the classroom and the Bier Stube) look surprisingly reminiscent of my old stomping grounds.

The Bier Stube is much smaller than our old student hangout, and there's no more foosball table, but Keith and company kept a lot of the old decorations and fixtures, including the old bar. They had to shorten the bar by about five feet to fit it in, but the bar, chandeliers and the beer steins all made it to Goose Island.

The classroom looks very different, as our old classroom had the lab counter up front. Now the labwork portion of the Diploma Course is taught in Germany and only the bookish theory is taught in Chicago.

Nevertheless, my two favorite parts of the old Siebel are right here at Goose Island: Siebel's extensive and priceless library, and the "rogues gallery" of student class photos. When I was a student, the class photos lined the hallway and I would study the photos between classes. I'd ask questions about prior year's students: Which ones were craft brewers? Where were they now? Anything I could learn about my future peers in the craft brewing industry was important to me, and was a bonus on all the knowledge I was learning in the classroom (and in the Bier Stube).

The photo below is a partial scan from my Siebel class. There I am nearly at top center. I was the only homebrewer/ craftbrewer-wannabee in my class of 24 students. My fellow students were employed by large breweries all over the world. I remember the first day of class, everybody was asking each other what brand they brewed. I replied that I didn't brew brands, I brewed styles. They didn't know what that meant, as all of them produced light yellow lagers. I decided my duty would be to educate my classmates on craft beer, microbreweries and brewpubs, world class styles, and brewing at the tiny batch size of 5 gallons.

To that effect I organized tours to all the existing Chicago breweries, organized and shopped for a world beer tasting, and drafted a teacher to guide us in brewing an Oktoberfest on Siebel's 5-gallon pilot brewery. My classmates responded by electing me Class President, the first woman class president in Siebel's history.

My 12 weeks at Siebel in 1988 were a great experience and I have such wonderful crazy memories of it. I still keep in touch with a few of my classmates and saw Doug Gallagher, now Brewmaster at Molson's Alberta brewery, at the 1999 MBAA National Conference while I was on my 1999 Teardrop Adventure.

My second favorite part of Siebel was the priceless brewing library. Every night after school while the other students were off at restaurants using their employer-paid per diem on dinner, I was in the library. After studying and doing my course homework, I studied the crumbling books. I looked for any books published between 1880-1920 that were in English. I had discovered that the problems the breweries were having then, were often the same problems the craft breweries were having now. Most of the books from that time were in German, even though they were American books, but I managed to find a few gems written in English.

After reminiscing about Siebel, I bellied up to the bar where Ray Daniels and Lyn Kruger were keeping some seats warm. Soon we were joined by a host of other Chicago area beer people. See photo at the top of this page. We all hung around talking beer until after 7:00 pm.

Goose Island now owns 243 bourbon barrels that they age special beers in. They just purchased some barrels that had contained Rip Van Winkle Whisky, casked in December 1986, which is two years before Goose Island opened. For those who don't know, Goose Island started the wood-aged beer revolution in the craft industry when they introduced their Bourbon County Stout. Now the GABF has three separate wood-aged beer categories because so many brewers are producing such stunning wood-aged beers.

Thank you to John and Greg Hall of Goose Island for picking up the tab for our beers and appetizers.

A Visit to Sleepy Hollow

"The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

July 19-20: Sleepy Hollow is a town in Illinois that nobody heard of and most people think I made up. I didn't, but somebody else made it up in the 1950's out of corn fields. It's a suburb of wide-open lawns and spacious ranch and bi-level houses, all within easy commuter train distance of Chicago. My college roommate Joy and her family have lived here for about 15 years.

While Joy and her neighbor Jill and I visited some breweries in Chicago, her husband Steve took their son and visiting California friends to the Chicago Blues Museum and to the graves of some famous blues musicians. It's amazing what you can find on the Internet: Steve got the grave locations at http://www.deadbluesguys.com/. Afterwards we all met up at Pizzaria Due in downtown Chicago, to partake of some authentic deep dish pizza. (Photo above, L to R: Joy, Pat, Scott, Andrew, Teri, Casey, Jill, and Steve.)

With three friends visiting from California and a visiting Brewmaster, Joy and Steve threw a barbeque and all the neighbors came over. I took the opportunity to educate the suburbans about the glories of Belgian beers, hoppy beers, and wood-aged beers. After food and beer everybody enjoyed a spontaneous blues jam with Andrew on blues harp and Scott on guitar (photo below). These guys really rocked out and everybody sang along. Who ever said the suburbs were boring?

Pink Boots at New Glarus

"Let your dream lead you." ~Henry David Thoreau

July 18: Drove to New Glarus from Middleton. Kirby Nelson was kind enough to lead me about half the way there so I could take the local's secret shortcut. Parked next to New Glarus's horse field where their two Fresian horses were undergoing training to pull a beer cart. (Photo of horses below.)

Assistant Master Brewer Jean Hengstl met me and I shadowed her for most of the day. Jean worked at the old Val Blatz (now Leinenkugels) brewery in Milwaukee about 20 years ago. Then jobs in the brewing industry dried up and Jean used her brewery experience in various food processing jobs. About 15 years ago she overheard some people talking about a new brewery they planned to start in New Glarus, and 5 years ago she went to work for them.

Jean manages all aspects of production, and she had me work with various people throughout the day. I spent an hour or so with Stephen Itzenhuiser in the Brauhaus (brew house). Stephen used to work at The Grumpy Troll brewpub in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, where he was also a substitute teacher. Stephen needed one of those two careers to become full-time and lucky for us, brewing won out. I had a lot of fun discussing how we did things at Steelhead versus how things work at The Grumpy Troll and at New Glarus.

Owner-Brewmaster Dan Carey and his wife, Deb Carey, Owner-Mastermind, took Jean and I out to lunch at Puempel's Olde Tavern in downtown New Glarus. New Glarus is a Swiss-themed town that is cute without being cloying. I didn't see too many tourists, but I hear they are about. (Photo above, L to R: Stephen, Jean, Teri, Dan and Deb.)

Dan wanted to know what topics or themes were coming up for discussion during my tour. Only a few came to mind:
(1) The price of stainless is killing everybody.
(2) The loss/theft of stainless kegs is killing everyone.
(3) There is a lot of capacity being built: I'm seeing new breweries built by experienced 35 year old brewers, and small distributing craft breweries upgrading to 30, 50 or 100-barrel batch size.
(4) Some distributing breweries wanted to know if it was true that brewpub brewers cut corners on quality control because the beer is consumed so much quicker in a brewpub.
(5) Some southwest and midwest brewers wanted to know why west coast brewers are too lazy to filter, and how they managed to convince the public that unfiltered beer is somehow better for you, as if it was whole wheat bread.
I won't report on those conversations here. I'm just reporting that these topics have come up for discussion during my trip.

After lunch Dan and Jean took me on a tour of the new brewery they are building. The buildings' exteriors will show off the New Garus area's farming history and Swiss roots. Inside will be a state of the art 100-barrel brewery. Dan said he's keeping the batch size small at 100 barrels so that New Glarus can continue to produce its huge line-up of beers.

Dan is doing two very cool things in this new brewery: One is that he will be using authentic German open-topped hefeweizen fermenters with yeast-collection overflow tanks. The second cool thing is that Dan shopped around for some beautiful old copper brewhouse vessels, then had his stainless tank manufacturer make custom high-tech stainless tanks to fit exactly inside the antique shells.

Dan is all about tradition but he's not afraid to stretch outside the style box. New Glarus's beer line-up covers one of the broadest spectrums I've seen. (Photo above.) I really enjoyed tasting his "Unplugged" series beers that were aged in Bourbon barrels.

After a full day, Dan gifted me with two mixed cases of New Glarus beer and a bottle each of his two sour fruit beers. Then I drove off to Sleepy Hollow, Illinois (near Elgin) to visit my college roommate from my University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire days.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pink Boots at Capital and visit to Lake Louie

"To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization." ~Arnold Toynbee

July 16: Drove to Middleton, Wisconsin from Wisconsin Dells and Brewmaster Kirby Nelson gave me a quick tour of his beers in Capital's tasting room. Kirby's been employed there since 1986, after having worked in QC (Quality Control) for G.Heilmann at several locations.

Then Kirby took me to his house where I met his wife Barb. We enjoyed a late dinner and several beers. I am writing this at midnight on June 20 and it's amazing how quickly you lose the details when you can't take notes because you're too busy enjoying the experience. (Plus, at this moment I am surrounded by friendly drunks jamming blues songs in my college roommate's kitchen in Sleepy Hollow, Illinois.)

June 17: The next morning Kirby gave me a tour of the brewery and showed me his fermenters, all named after Frank Zappa songs. Then he set me to work with Patrick Wilke. Pat was quiet for the first half hour, and I just followed him at a brisk pace as he ran around the brewhouse taking care of business.

Pat must have decided I was OK because he got over his shyness and entertained me with interesting beer history, gossip and trivia. Pat knows more minutia about the beer industry and its personalities past and present than anybody I've ever met. (Photo above, L to R: Patrick, Teri and Kirby.) I even got to broom out the lauter tun (photo above).

In the afternoon Kirby took me on a country ride in his fast vintage BMW to Lake Louie Brewing Company in Arena, Wisconsin. Head Brewer Tim Wauters gave me the tour while owner Tom Porter and Kirby caught up. Tim mentioned he'd just read my article about Hiring Brewers and he liked my "1 + 1" theory, of hiring people that are smarter than yourself.

Lake Louie is named after the pond that Tom Porter's uncle dug years ago, where Tom and his buddies used to go skinny-dipping when they were in high school. Lake Louie Brewing has been open for about 10 years and Tom's built it to 4,000 barrels per year. (Tom -let me know if I got this right or not and I'll change it.)
Tom has the lucky situation where more people want his beer than he can brew, so he and Tim just write down names on a waiting list and call the folks when their turn comes up. As Tom says, the "Keg Waiting List" is a great thing to bring to the bank when you are looking for a loan. Lake Louie Brewing just finished its last expansion, and is about to embark on its next expansion. (Photo on left, L to R: Tom and Tim.)

Lake Louie had a milk stout and a porter on tap. Tim grabbed me a sample of their cream ale. Tim is into history, and he explained that he tried to use the ingredients that would have been available in Wisconsin prior to Prohibition when he and Tom designed this cream ale.

Lake Louie has some history connected to Eugene, Oregon: Their 15-barrel brewery originally was in service at Field's Brewing Company. My owners at Steelhead bought the Fields building, inherited the brewery, and put me in charge of selling it. That was back in about 2002 when you could barely give away a 15-barrel brewery so I contracted Ager Tank & Equipment to sell it for us, and Jason Ager sold it to Tom at Lake Louie. What a small world.

Kirby, Tom and Tim are all music geeks and guitar freaks. I was so impressed. Their music conversations went right over my head, but I sure enjoyed that they let me hang out with them while Tom showed off his impressive electric and classic guitar collection and Kirby played with them. (Photo on right is of Tom's "guitar room", L to R: Tom, Tim and Kirby.)

After a video introduction to Dale Watson and his Lone Stars, Kirby and I rode back to Middleton for showers and more beer tasting at Capital. Then it was back to Kirby and Barb's house for dinner.

When you meet Kirby, you will learn what a true son of Wisconsin is. You will probably never meet a more hard-core Wisconsinite than Kirby Nelson. Although Kirby and Barb have a soft-spot in their hearts for Florida, as witnessed by their seashell-studded bathroom wall -- across from the etched framed sign that reads, "Dale Watson Bathed Here."

The true purpose of dinner was so that I, Teri Fahrendorf, former Wisconsite could experience a proper Wisconsin Manhattan. Being an Oregonian since 1990, and a west coaster since 1984, I mistakenly thought a proper Manhattan was made with either Bourbon or Rye, but NO! In Wisconsin a proper Manhattan uses Brandy, preferably Korbel, and Kirby thought this Wisconsin-girl ought to know that!

So that was the focus of our dinner: BFM (Big Fu**ing Manhattans) made by Barb in pint glasses (with lots of ice, luckily) and snacks. Click here for the recipe for a Wisconsin Manhattan. Photo below is of Barb and Kirby (celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss this year) in their kitchen under the Eat, Drink - Be Merry sign. We did. You should too!

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.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

More West Bend, Wisconsin

"To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides." ~David Viscott

July 12-14: Photo above was taken on my parents back deck. The weather was hot and humid when I arrived here a week ago, but there've been quite a few rain and thunderstorms since then. The weather cooled to the point where we've been able to enjoy meals outside, like the BBQ chicken and corn-on-the-cob dinner above. Photo L to R: Gus, Drew, Drew's friend Cameron, Teri, Mom and Pop.

On Thursday, I drove from one brother's house in Cedarburg back to my parents house in West Bend. Worked on my itinerary and trip planning for a few hours, then went to my brother Gus's house. Spent two nights with Gus and his ten-year old son Drew. Photo below shows Drew and Gus working on Aunt Teri's art project: painting reverse designs on glass magnets.

Drew and I played lots of my card and board games, but Drew definitely prefers the addrenaline rush of video games. He's a master of the fast crash.

I took him to see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" on Friday, and he wanted a box of candy. Candy! I never buy candy at the movies. I told him, "It's a good thing we love you so much, because we're definitely spoiling you." Then I bought him his box of candy because I haven't seen him since January, and I probably won't see him for two more years. What's a kind-hearted Aunt to do?