Friday, September 30, 2011

In the Lab: Recipe Formulation

I have received questions about where my recipes come from so I thought I would post on it.

Let me start by stating that The Brewing Network is the single best source of brewing knowledge available to anyone with an internet connection. PS - All of their content if free as well. Listen, learn, love it, donate.

I am a student of The Brewing Network (The BN) and of many of their guests. For years my homebrewing recipes and practices were an attempt at mirroring Jamil Zainasheff. I listened to every podcast, interview, and read every article I could that had Jamil attached to it. Three batches into my homebrewing career, I was brewing all grain and following Jamil's recipes that are available in his book Brewing Classic Styles. I brewed those beer for four years, trying to brew every style in the BJCP guidelines. Now that I am applying myself to commercial brewing I have put all of those recipes aside as I try and forge my own path in the world of zymurgy. However, that does not mean that I have moved on from the BN.

I am familiar with brewing american pale ales, but I have only brewed one american IPA. The reason I have shied away from them is that it is a difficult category to enter in competition and come away with a win. Your IPA's MUST be fresh, after six weeks IPA's are in decline. Also, judging order in an IPA flight is a wild card that is tough to overcome. Being placed late in an IPA flight can take a standout beer and make it taste like an average beer due to palate fatigue for the judges. It is just part of the game with competition brewing. So when I came to formulating my Professor IPA for Cranker's I found myself once again leaning on my original source of brewing knowledge, the BN podcast archive.

I went back and listened to interviews from brewers like Vinnie Cilurzo (Blind Pig IPA), Matt Brynildson (Union Jack IPA), Chuck Silva (Green Flash IPA), Mike "Tasty" McDole (Every Beer He Has Ever Made), and Nathan Smith (Dankness IPA). All of these guys are amazing brewers who give freely of their own knowledge for the betterment or craft beer. It is fascinating to look at the various approaches to creating amazing IPA's. After learning what each brewer is trying to accomplish with each ingredient and technique they employ I was able to create my own beer.

The Professor IPA batch number one will be boiling away in my kitchen in a few days. Sure it will take some iterations before I get the beer just where I want it, but I know the service that the BN provides has me well on the path to the beer I want to pour from the taps at Cranker's.

Drink good beer with good people!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crankenstein: Fall Seasonal

Crankenstein is perfect for ushering in the season of fall. It is an oktoberfest style beer with a little something extra. Pilsner and munich malts blend together with spicy and herbal german hop varieties to make this 6.5% ABV beer the perfect beer for the season.

Drink good beer with good people!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Strongarm Stout

Strongarm Stout is an ale inspired by the traditional sweet stouts of England. Dark and rich like sweetened espresso, a pint of Strongarm is smooth enough to entice the next pint and roasty enough to satisfy that stout craving.

Drink good beer with good people!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Old Siberian: An English Style Strong Ale

Here is a look at the first in a line of seasonal beers that will be offered by Cranker's Brewery. Old Siberian is an English style Strong Ale that features rich complex malt, dark caramel, a touch of roast, with a sizable dose of British hops to balance this 8% treat.

Old Siberian: Making five months of winter a little more palatable. 

Drink good beer with good people!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Local: A German Style Marzen

Introducing The Local. The Local is a Marzen style lager that features complex toasty maltiness, a hint of sweetness, and noble German hops to strike a crisp balance. Below is the label for The Local, let me know what you think!

Drink good beer with good people!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Logo and Label Release!

Here is a sneak peak as some of the design concepts that we will be using as our brand at Cranker's Brewery. Below is a mock up of what our coasters will look like. We are very excited about our labeling lineup and will be periodically releasing the concepts. Let us know what you think!

Drink good beer with good people!

Denial With a Side of Intimidation

I have denied it in the past, but it is true. I was talking to a pro brewer friend of mine at the Michigan Homebrew Festival and I was eager to pour my beers for him and get his feedback on them. I ended up getting advice that far exceeded the beverages in our glasses. He told me not to be intimidated.

There are a lot of things that I am afraid of. Fire, water, animals in general, heights, Thai food, and the WNBA. When it comes to beer my only fear has been when it comes to beer quality. Every time I pour a beer for someone, I try to play it cool, but I am feverishly scanning their face to gauge their beer drinking experience. I have grown confident in the fact that I can make solid beer at home. But translating my knowledge of brewing at home to the pro side has left me a bit intimidated. Sure the stainless steel of a 15 barrel brewhouse looks awesome, but I have asked the question of myself: Can I make it work?

This is the part where I get to be grateful for the people in my life and the friends I have made. A few years ago while beer judging I met Bill Gerds, now of Arbor Brewing. This summer as I was starting to feel a bit desperate for brewery experience, I shot Bill a message on Facebook and asked I could get some time in with him at Arbor. He agreed and has been a terrific mentor. We share a common brewing education: The Brewing Network. I listened to BN podcasts on my 140 mile commute, while Bill was listening to their podcasts and doing factory work. We have been taught to share brewing information with anyone who wants it, to be focused on the small stuff with the goal always being to make better beer.

Over the past few months I have gained a wealth of knowledge from Bill and his assistant brewer Mike. It is because of their kindness, and that of the Greff's, that I will enter my new enterprise with more confidence than I thought I would. Will it still be intimidating the first time I mash in on my new system? Sure. But now I know that I have some experience under my belt, and a network of people to support me along the way.

The next time you find yourself in Ann Arbor, head into Arbor Brewing. They have great beers, great food, and are good people.

Drink good beer with good people!