Monday, February 25, 2008

The next great beers

Don Russell's (Joe Sixpack) latest column recently got the gears in my head turning. It's about the wave of innovation going on in Italian craft brewing. (Italy - the next great brewmaster?)

The future of craft beer is in complex flavors. Its very important to recognize that complexity need not necessarily be at the cost of drinkability. The future is in the sophistication of people's palates and new and intriguing flavors. Whether this will come from advances in the art of brewing microbiology and yeast or finding new flavors in spices and herbs - I'm not sure. But thats where we're going. Hops will never go out of style but brewers who cannot think outside of hopping extremes are doomed to repeat Imperial one-dimensionality. Those who can respect the past but have the vision and the guts to think beyond its stylistic limitations will do well. Many forward-thinking folks across many different industries are already doing it. With beer a very niche group is getting it but its really going to take changing the way people think about beer - a beverage pigeonholed to the masses by many years of effective marketing. We are starting to undo this. There is still a long way to go. We have to continue to cross lines and blur boundaries. Beer versus wine? ~ that is just the beginning. There is no room for competition or argument - as far as I'm concerned it's all art.

... Unconventional yeast strains, bacterial cultures, spices, herbs, nuts and berries, wooden aging, different aging techniques, different sources of fermentable sugars ... there is more .. we just have to dream it up.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Putting the Boots back on

PBC First brews

Well now we've done it. The clock is ticking and your taste buds may never be the same. Sunday Feb. 9th and Mon. Feb 10th were the inaugural brews here at PBC! We mixed it all together in a giant steel pot and today our fermenters are bubbling away. It's actually a little more difficult than that but I'll spare you all the nerdy details for now.

Brew #1 was Kenzinger. I can't even begin to properly elaborate on the excitement. After a month and a half of reconstruction and anticipation it was as if the whole brewery finally exhaled a deep sigh of relief. And with that came the beautifully sweet aroma of barley mash and floral hops. We fired up the burners, dusted off the mill, and roused the yeast from its cold sleep. I've never had so many people up on the brewhouse platform on a brewday. What traditionally would have made me nervous was what made the first Kensinger brew fun. I counted six different people helping to mash-out ( physically pull the grain from the mash tun). As for the brew itself ... I'll keep my analysis to myself for now - its to early in fermentation to tell - but this brew is off to a good start.

Brew #2 the next day was Walt Wit. It's been too long since Josh or I have brewed a white beer. This one is especially exciting because we get a little more room to run and play. Thats the fun in Belgian-style beers. We got to test out our secret blend of herbs and spices along with a completely different yeast strain. Our spices for this beer are untraditional and I'm confident you'll find them in few other beers ( or none). I'm not going to list the spices just yet. I just can't decide whether to tell, but stick around - they're too exciting for me not to leak them eventually. Mostly, I just don't want anyone passing judgment before having a good couple of pints. As for yeast, if you're familiar with la Chouffe's fine beers then you'll have an idea.

So far so good. Wednesday and Thursday we'll be brewing The New Bold IPA and the Philadelphia-style Rowhouse Red respectively.

It's so nice to be back.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Philadelphia Weekly PBC Story

In todays Philadelphia Weekly G.W. Miller III wrote an excellent story about us. It's a nice pat on the back to all the fine folks who have done so much good for their Kensington neighborhood while running Yards BC and will continue to do even more as PBC. Also a nice summary of our progress!

Definitly worth a read.

~ and for the record thats Josh on the left (I'm on the right!) in the wrongly-captioned picture.