Monday, November 28, 2011

Good Friends

I have a lot of amazing friends. This is one of the main lessons I have learned during the process of helping to open a brewery. Today I am especially thankful for my friends David and Andy. They have volunteered their talents to help me create the visual feel that I want for the brewery. David is behind the logo concept, and Andy has made awesome visuals like the one below to pitch my concepts to my boss. They make me look good.

Below is a mockup of what the glassware we will be selling at Cranker's will look like. The style of pint glass is called a Willi Becher. It features a slight angle in around the logo that aids in capturing aromas and it is an all around solid beer glass. 

Glass shape really does play a large roll in how the beer tastes and smells. Test it out. Compare a craft beer poured into a water glass like this:
Try it side by side with a glass that has a lip that curves in, like these:

Great glass from New Belgium

Even a classic brandy snifter can be great for craft beer

Anyhow, this is a topic that can receive a lot more attention, so I may dig in deeper in a later post. In the meantime...

Drink good beer with good people!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Merchandise Coming Soon!

I just saw the previews of what the Cranker's Brewery shirts are going to look like and I am pretty excited! The first order that we made are for brown t-shirts, ladies t-shirts, and pullover hoodies. It has the brewery emblem on the front with Big Rapids, MI wrapping the bottom.

The phrase "Drink good beer with good people will be on the back.

I will get pics up of the shirts as soon as possible. There will be a larger lineup of merchandise in the coming months: stickers, bottle openers, glassware, winter hats, etc.

Drink good beer with good people!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Torchlight Munich Blonde

Torchlight is an example of what 'light beers' are supposed to taste like. It is inspired by the Munich Helles style using pilsner malt and german hops to create a crisp, yet flavorful pint. Truly a taste of Bavaria right here at home.     4.9% ABV  -  20 IBU

Drink good beer with good people!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Professor IPA

Professor IPA is a label and beer that I am very excited about. It might be my favorite in the series of labels that we have released. The Professor is going to be one of the beers we package, so you might be able to get your hands on it even if you do not live super close to the brewery.

Now on to the beer. The Professor IPA follows in the tradition of west coast IPA's in that it is pale, dry, and hop forward yet still maintaining a pleasant malty body.

Drink good beer with good people!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Throw Back Brew Day

I am going homebrewer old school today. I have been homebrewing for five years, and I have been brewing all grain for all but three or four of my first batches. But today, I am going back to my roots.

Today I brew extract.

Extract brewing is the process of adding either dry or liquid extract to water to create the (sweet) wort.* In all grain brewing, the brewer creates wort by steeping crushed malt in hot water (148 F - 159 F) allowing the starches of the malt to be converted into sugar. They then drain the wort into the boil kettle and begin the boil. All grain brewing allows the brewer more control over their process.

***Standing on Soap Box*** 
Extract brewing is sometimes looked down on by some know-it-all brewers as an inferior form of brewing. I believe that that notion is incorrect. I believe that if you use fresh extract and understand proper fermentation you can make great beer with extract. In fact, every year an extract beer medals in the National Homebrew Competition. 
***Dismount Soap Box*** 

The main benefits I find with extract brewing are speed and less clean up. Today I am extract brewing for speed. Check out Northern Brewer or More Beer for access to these goodies shown below.

Munich Liquid Malt Extract (LME)

Pilsner Dry Malt Extract (DME)

The real goal of today's brew session is to do some research into the hop called Palisade. I plan on using pilsner extract with a touch of munich extract for the malt bill, then a bit of Magnum hops at 60 minutes and Palisades from there on out. Palisade hops are supposed to have a floral, fruity, and "pretty" flavor and aroma. I think that pretty is a terrible descriptor for a hop. That aside, I am looking at using it as a substitution to cascade hops in the Professor IPA. I would like to use some hops that aren't just the same old, same old when it comes to IPA's. Also, I would like to be utilizing hops that will be easily accessible in what can be a sometimes difficult hop market.

Anywho...I am hoping to find this hop expressive enough to be a part of my IPA recipe. I will report back with my findings.

Drink good beer with good people!

* I think the term "sweet wort" is creepy. However, I love uttering the phrase "sveet, sveet, vurt." Imagine a bad german accent.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Many Hats

I have been Captain Mulitask the past few days. I have been working on the Cranker's website, prepping to start meeting with Chef Eric to develop the menu, brainstorming design concepts for Cranker's apparel, and flying solo with the kids while Peggy has been working. I have also turned into a worksite stalker, creeping past the brewery construction site at every opportunity. None of the workers have seemed to notice yet, I guess I should try and keep it that way.

Why would they notice?

I am looking forward to working with Eric on the menu and beer pairings. I am of the mind that good beer goes with good food. With that said, there are some beers that pair better with certain dishes. I have tried to create a line up that is especially food friendly by style, Irish Red, Helles, Marzen, American Brown, Sweet Stout, and an IPA. All of these beers, with the exception of the IPA, are malt driven beers. For my taste, malt oriented beers can pair more universally across the food spectrum.

One particular beer I am excited about working with is our Sweet Stout. I am very proud of this beer. It was a beer that finds it's roots in Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainascheff. It has undergone some tweaking and modification over time, higher mash temperature, more chocolate malt, a lighter color crystal malt, and a different yeast. What this recipe yields for me is a stout that features a lot of coffee, dark chocolate, slight dark fruit, and a creamy finish. This is one beer that we will probably work into the dessert menu. The other night I was enjoying a glass of it and noticed that my wife bought some Oreo's. It may not be the classiest pairing you can think of, but the cookies really made the roast jump out in the stout. However tasty, you will not be finding that cookie/beer pairing on our menu.

Oh, yes.

We will also be working on some sauces that will accompany different entrĂ©es. I threw together a stout BBQ sauce that I am using on a pork tenderloin for tonights dinner. Being no fool, I also have another tenderloin marinating in our regular soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and ginger concoction that we already know to be a fan favorite with the kids. I ran a test batch of IPA mustard sauce that I poured down the drain. I want to bring a few concept stuff to my first meeting with Eric to at least have a starting point. 

Well, I should probably get back to one of my other hats.

Drink good beer with good people!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Shifting Gears

My boss told me last week that when I went to Arbor Brewing that Thursday, that it would be my last trip down there. My new focus is going to be working with our chef in developing food and beer concepts. I am looking forward to this new direction in prepping for the brewery, but that doesn't stop that fact that I make the transition with a bit of a heavy heart. It was tough leaving Arbor, I made some friends on staff there, and those two days that I was spending there each week was something to look forward to. However, I don't see this as an end of my time with Arbor.

Bill and I have been talking about our first collaboration beer: End of the World IPA. As you may know, the world will totally cease to exist on December 21, 2012.

Thanks Mayans

We plan on making a big dry IPA, then loading it up with multiple dry hops. We figure that we don't have to worry about wasting hops because we won't need them on 12/22. Stay tuned.

We are also closing in on getting some Cranker's Brewery clothing out there. It looks like we are going to start with men's and women's t-shirts, and hoodies. They will feature the Cranker's logo:

The handiwork of David Michael Phelps

Personally, I love the logo and think that it will make for some rocking brewery swag. There have already been people requesting Dickie's work shirts with the logo. As we move forward we will add more and more variety to our merchandise lineup. Our plan is to make our merchandise available in the Cranker's Restaurants, and eventually, on our Cranker's Brewery website that is in the works.

Drink good beer with good people!