Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Great Belgian Beer Run Part Two: United States Version

I was beginning to feel depressed. I started growing my beard at the same time that I did last year. For some reason, beards were a key element to our first Beer Run to Belgium. Why? I don't know, it just was. This year I felt like I was growing my beard with no purpose. It had finally hit me that we were not returning to Belgium in January of 2013. I never expected it to be a yearly event, or even something that was necessarily ever going to be repeated. Kevin, Lou, and I had discussed doing it every ten years potentially. So as we approached the anniversary of the trips conception, it surprised me to feel sad about the adventure not happening again.

For me the highlight of our trip was our time spent at Cantillon Brewery in Brussels. They brew a style of beer there called lambic. Lambic can only truly be produced in and around that area of Brussels because it relies on the natural flora and fauna to ferment their beers. In my opinion, spontaneously fermented beers made in other areas can be wonderful as well, but that does not make them true lambics. The brewmaster at Cantillon is Jean Van Roy. He gave an inspiring interview on The Brewing Network where he further elaborates on his brewery, his family history with the brewery, and brewing lambic. You can't listen to him discuss his beer without getting fired up. In another interview on the BN Head Brewer Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewery in California said that Jean Van Roy had called their sour beers American Lambic. This of course is an enormous compliment. This is where part two of The Great Belgian Beer Run comes into place.

The idea was hatched to head to California with two purposes, both of which are dreams of mine. The first, being a guest on The Sunday Session, the podcast that taught me how to brew, and discuss the beers we are brewing at Cranker's. The second is to further delve into our exploration of sour beers, but this time from the US perspective.

So once again, the three of us, all bearded will be heading off to California at about the time that the original beer run was being hatched. I will be keeping up blog accounts in the same fashion that I did in Belgium.

PS: Happy Thanksgiving!

Drink good beer with good people!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Remedial Chaos Theory

Timelines were not merging the way they were supposed to.

The plan was for me to start brewing at Cranker's during my sabbatical from teaching during the 2010-2011 school year. After listening to countless interviews with professional brewers from around the world on The Brewing Network, I knew better than to think that everything was going to fall into place according to our time projections. When you are dealing with construction, alcohol, and all levels of government bureaucracy breweries almost never open on time. Still though, I figured I would have had months to brew at Cranker's prior to my March deadline to tell my school district my plans for the following school year. As it happened, I had to tell my superintendant that I would not be returning to teaching before I even brewed my first professional batch of beer.

At first the transition away from teaching was pretty smooth. When my teacher friends were going back to work after their summer off, I was beginning to volunteer at Arbor Brewing two days a week. My time there ended in late October. After that I spent my time working from home on social media for the brewery, piloting recipes at home, starting this blog, and label design for our beers. Honestly, the transition to being home was tough though. I had a major career switch that was looming and there wans't much more I could do to prep for it beyond waiting for the brewery to be operational. Looking back I was trying to accomplish all of these 'work' tasks, while in reality I was doing more important work. Thankfully with the patient example of my wife, in time, I managed to meld pretty well into the pace and schedule of our household.

Earlier that year we were blessed with our fourth child, Isaac. He was the first baby to be born in the summertime. Our first three were January/February babies, so I was always at school for the majority of our kid's infancies. With Isaac things were different. I fielded far more dirty diapers, logged extended rounds with the Baby Bjorn, and jammed my iPhone full of baby pictures. I just realized it today that I was experiencing this stressful time on sabbatical, but in reality, the most important task I was accomplishing was a deeper connection with my kids, and in a special way our new baby Isaac.

Transitioning from teaching to brewing has been a challenge, but it has been an amazing ride that I do not regret. I have left a one job that I loved and was passionate about, for another one that I am equally as crazy about. The unexpected concequence of this whole escapade has been a closer relationship with my family. I am in a good place and I am at peace.

Drink good beer with good people!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Great American Brew Trial

Here is a clip that we shot with the people from the Great American Brew Trial. We had an awesome time with them and they have been doing a great job with the other episodes in their first season. I can't wait to see ours. I will try and post a more detailed essay on the day we shot our footage. It was a blast.

Follow the link below is a discussion we had about Belgium and sour beers.

Drink good beer with good people!