Tag Archive | "MankerBeer Meets"

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MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC: Tobias Emil Jensen/To Øl

IMG_0831 (kopia)I remember how I felt last year, what the hell – half a year is way too much time to be spending on not drinking awesome beer. It was not that I had made a vow not drink craft beer for 6 months, it was just that I had bought tickets for Copenhagen Beer Celebration and suddenly came to awareness that it was months and months until it would take place. Some readers might question my enthusiasm for CBC, but for Swedes and probably other Europeans as well this is a chance to experience something we usually only read about. We do not get the brewers from the coolest craft breweries in the world to come and pour beers that we only have read about. So for me, this week will be one awesome week of relaxing and socializing with great beer lovers from all over the world.

We have 3-4 interviews left for you and I must say that it has been a lot of work getting them all done, edited and published but it has been a lot of fun as well. The last non-US brewery that we will focus on is Danish To Øl. Since 2010, Mikkel‘s former students Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther have travelled wide and far on their quest to brew great beers. To Øl started of easily with only a few beers but now only 3 years later they have gone from brewing light hoppy ales to all kinds of weird, hoppy, dark, abstract, minimalistic and blue. We tend to bump into these two polite lunatics every now and then so we felt that we had to check what was happening in preparation for CBC and with the brewery at large.


MankerBeer (MB): In 2010 To Øl came from nowhere and but managed to produce 5.300 liters of beer, in 2012 the production had grown to 124,300 liters. How have it been so far? Has it been an easy adaptation to go from home brewers to become one of the most known Danish breweries?
TEJ: It’s a really good question. From the beginning we were homebrewers and you might sat that we still are. Because our friends liked our concoctions, we decided to go public back in 2010. Today, friends like our concoctions and therefore we decide to expand. Do you get me? The picture is the same, only the scale has increased. So far, it’s been a ever increasing demand and passion for the beer, for which we are really grateful. Any day, if people won’t buy our stuff anymore, me and Tore will camp in a summerhouse with some friends and empty our stock. It’s as simple as that! But we hope that people will continue searching for our beers.

MB: How did you and Tore meet and decide it was time to start home brewing together, did either of you home brew before that?
TEJ: In the beginning we were just gymnasium friends who was hanging out at school. Brewing sounded interesting when Mikkel and some other students started the small brewing comitte in 2005. Me and Tore became friends when we were 16 years old. Back then, craft beer might not have been our highest priority 🙂 But the brewing science we learned later in gymnasium was attractive and fun. So we have always brewed together… When we left school and Mikkel had turned into Mikkeller, it was just obvious to continue by our own house.

MB: Along with the growth of production the To Øl range of beers have grown, when you started what were the long term plans? To start small and see where it leads you or were your aims set high already at the start?
TEJ: Me and Tore have been ambitious about this. But that’s one thing…. Putting numbers and sales forecasts on that is the tricky part. So far, we have only been doing plans one year ahead. With the present growth, it doesn’t make sense to plan any further. But I guess our ideas on To Øl is pretty high esteemed, that’s for sure :).

MB: Together with Mikkel of Mikkeller you co-own the new Mikkeller & Friends Bar, when was the decision made to be partners in the bar?
TEJ: About the same time when we were considering to invite Mikkel into our company and expand our plc. It was pretty simple. like: Hey, now that we would work together we could do even more things together! We had been searching for some while for a good place and the joint at stefansgade just popped up in the same period we were discussing things.

MB: The opening party was great (thank you) and it seems like the bar has started off just like expected, how will the bar differ from other beer bars?
TEJ: Yeah, that was a blast. If you invite swedish people, you always know it’s gonna be fun! I don’t know exactly how this bar should be different, I just know that’s it our bar. It’s really not about creating the bar yourself, it’s about the gathering the best forces. If you take Denmarks coolest interior designers, make them build a bar, install 40 taps and provide these taps with the best beer available. That’s one thing. Then you headhunt the bar manager from Sweden and together with him pick the most passionate, beer loving, serviceminded staff you can find.

MB: With all the new To Øl beers, which one/-s are you most proud of?
TEJ: That’s a really tough and good question. You might aswell ask Tore about this because we do have different. My opinion changes all the time, but right now, in this moment, it would be Dangerously Close to Stupid (IIPA). I think it’s a delicate hop bomb….

MB: Several Danish “gypsy brewers” have focused more on the US and tried to set up brewing there, any plans to follow?
TEJ: We are an open minded brewery, brewing beers for an international beer scene. So yeah, I mean why not? But the settings need to be just right and we need to trust the people we are working together with.

MB: Earlier this year, you and Tore were over to visit Against the Grain with the result being poured at CBC, any new collaborations on its way? If not it’s the perfect season for a To Øl/MankerBeer collaboration 😉
TEJ: Hehe, you’re damm right Manker. Travelling is always fun, so we always look for something nice. We are going in late may to England, to brew together with two of the ratebeer top 100 breweries. And I think that your devotion to beer in Sweden might cast off a little brew in the future…

MB: How do you and Tore set your own individual flavor on To Øl? Do you ever disagree on things and what it is you want to do?
TEJ: Me and tore have a very good friendship. So for the development of new beers, it’s kind a like a laidback discussion about whats good and whats bad. And we both have these spontaneous ideas shooting up at one point or another and they should also be followed. Even if we did disagree on one beer, it’s not that hard, because we can just decide to brew two different beers instead. Numbers is not limiting us.

MB: After the Friday and late Saturday CBC sessions – where should one enjoy the best grub?
TEJ: A lot of small places are shooting up in the area around jægersborggade and stefansgade. I live there myself, and i really like the area. It’s low key for sure, but it’s comfy.

MB: You were at last year’s CBC, what were your favorite moments?
TEJ: Whooo, tough one. I’d guess it was when the boys from three floyds decided to use a smoke machine at their table, without noticing any official at CBC. We were standing next to 3F. Suddenly the manager came rushing, with really open eyes, asking what was happening or if there was a fire. But it was just 3F who had covered the area in smoke and playing loud on their stereo. And besides that, I guess all the beer was pretty good!

MB: What should beer fans really not miss at Copenhagen Beer Celebration?
TEJ: The product of our experiments with some of the best bartending dudes in Copenhagen. That’s gonna be exclusive!

Thank you Tobias! Now let us see what To Øl will bring to the celebration, changes may occur and not all bottles, kegs or random fun will be available at all sessions.

To Øl  CBC Beer List:

  • Fuck Art – This Is Advertising
  • Fuck Art – Let’s Dance
  • Fuck Art – This Is Architecture
  • I’ve Seen Bigger Than Yours
  • Liquid Confidence
  • Sur Mælk
  • some surprises for red session

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Photo: Surly Brewing

MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC: Todd Haug/Surly Brewing

Photo: Surly Brewing

Photo: Surly Brewing

With only a few days left until Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2013 kicks off the events and random craziness that will take place at the Celebration and around in Copenhagen are slowly being announced. We hope to be able to give a summary of it all later tomorrow, but until then we continue with our pre-interviews. Today we give you Todd Haug, head brewer at Surly Brewing Company – creator of wicked beers such as Furious, Darkness and Abrasive. Less background and more talk, all in!


MankerBeer (MB): Most beer geeks with knowledge about top US breweries are likely to have heard of Surly Brewing – but many have not, how would you describe the brewery and your role there?
Todd Haug (TH): I’m in charge of recipe development, raw material procurement, process flow design,fabrication and metal.

MB: Before starting your brewing career you were playing guitar in the metal band Powermad touring the US and releasing EP’s – have your background as a musician had any impact on you as a brewer?
TH: Powermad is still together,new record coming out this year mixed by Daniel Bergstrand!I discovered the beauty of local beer while on tour at the age of 19.That drove me into home brewing which ultimately got me my first brewery job at the age of 21.

MB: Breweries using cans instead of bottles are sometimes questioned when it comes to the ability of aging darker beers. How well does a beer like Surly Darkness?
TH: We package our beer that is designed to be consumed as fresh as possible, in cans. What we feel is “ageable” beer, we bottle in 750ml.I don’t however think there is any problem with aging beer in cans.

MB: In a 2010 interview with Serious Eats you were asked about future expansion plans, with the answer that none were likely in the near future. In 2011 the “Surly Bill” was passed – a bill permitting Surly to sell beer on its premises but also to be able to expand. How important was the change of legislation for the growth of the brewery?
TH: Very important,without it we wouldn’t be building new facility!

New production brewery is in the planning design phase.A 100 Barrel brewhouse from ROLEC shows up in early 2014 with plans to be brewing in June.The new brewery will have a beer hall,restaurant and gardens.

MB: Are there any new future expansions or plans to add new markets for distribution?
TH: Yes but only after we satisfy Minnesota’s thirst!

MB: Several breweries with limited distribution but with a high (inter-/) national demand have seen their beers frequent on the internet, either on E-bay or on trade forums at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. What is your take on not being able to control the freshness of the beer and how it is sold, stored and handled?
TH: It is a problem for all breweries regardless of size, once the product is sold its very hard to dictate how they should re-sell it or store it. We date code all of our cans to give the consumer the power to decide to buy or not based on the age of the beer. The power of the “sale” should get the message to re-sellers….don’t sell out of date beer!

MB:  Instead of the traditional pairing beer with food question I thought I’d let you pick your favorite Surly beer as well as one non-Surly favorite to each pair with a song of your choice. What song with what beer?
TH: ArchGoat-“Blessed Vulva” paired with Surly-“Darkness”
PigDestroyer-“Permanent Funeral” paired with Three Floyds-Permanent Funeral”

MB: Speaking of music and beer, what would you rather do – listen to Justin Bieber for a full hour or drink a case of Miller Lite?
TH:Miller Lite all the way!Fuck Bieber

MB: What should beer fans at Copenhagen Beer Celebration really not miss?


Thank you Todd! The complete beer list will be updated and changed tomorrow, but as not everyone has seen Surly’s crazy line-up we will present it an extra time below. Changes may occur, rock n’ roll, metal and beery craziness might flourish so think Pink and try them all.


Surly Brewing’s CBC Beer List:

  • Pentagram
  • Abrasive
  • Mild
  • Darkness
  • Furious
  • Coffee Bender
  • Bender
  • Cynic
  • Sÿx
  • Hell
  • Smoke
  • Seven

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MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC: Fred Karm/Hoppin Frog

IMG_0679 (kopia)Those who attended Copenhagen Beer Celebration last year might have seen a short, extremely happy fellow jumping around and talking to everyone who asked for a beer. The man was the charismatic founder of Hoppin Frog, Fred Karm. This fellow seemed to love the celebration and while blending improvised black & tans one second the next he could be filming silly movies with us from MankerBeer. We and so many with us loved Fred’s passion and based on his actions it looked like he was loving it as well. This year Hoppin Frog is coming back, although without Fred. That doesn’t change the fact that some great brews will be served from the highly ranked brewery (17th place on RateBeer’s ranking of the worlds 100 best breweries). Even though Fred is not coming to Copenhagen he is such a nice fellow that we couldn’t miss the opportunity for a quick interview.

MankerBeer (MB): Fred, tell us about yourself and Hoppin Frog, are you really the Hoppin Frog just like you told us last year at CBC?
Fred Karm (FK): Yes, I am Hoppin’ Frog. My name is Fred, so my nickname is Frog. About myself – I am in the quest for the perfect pint. Its an idealistic quest, that raises my expectations as new ones are found. So, the quest will go on forever…..

MB: Hoppin Frog was founded in 2006 and is not only rated 17th best brewery in the world by Rate Beer but has several award winning beers – what is your inspiration?
FK: I am inspired by the best brewers and breweries in the world. Half the time its from a traditional style, but the other half is designing new approaches to brewing to create non-stylistic beers.

MB: You, together with your wife were among the most popular and friendly brewers at CBC last year. Always with a smile and time to chat about just about anything, what are your favorite memories from last year?
FK: I think its obvious that we like to talk to people – and that is the best memory of the past CBC – the people, and how friendly THEY were. We couldn’t be more at home!

MB: And following that, what do you look forward to the most with CBC 2013?
FK: We were SO looking forward to the CBC this year. But, my Operations Manager will attend in our place!! Because, this year, we are building a nice tasting room connected to our brewery! It will be complete with 24 taps, a rare beer list, 60 seats, a small kitchen, and a stage with a killer sound system! So, we rally hope to do it next year – we will be there!!

MB: I saw that a new frog was released – Gangster Frog, any other new beers or plans for the future?
FK: New beers?!! – Hell Yeah!! That’s one of my favorite things – conceiving a new beer – its like having a child – my beers are my children, in a way. I conceive of them, raise them up right, teach them how to be right, and send them on their way in the world, to hopefully make a good name for themselves.

MB: Despite being a long fan of Hoppin Frog I must confess that Turbo Shandy did not work at all for me, do you have any of the beers that you yourself aren’t too satisfied with?
FK: Are you kidding me?! If I was not satisfied, or too satisfied with one of my beers, I would not make it. Simple. I’m not anybody’s lacky! I make what I want. That is what has made us successful. Like the Turbo Shandy Citrus Ale that I make. A lot of time and research has gone into that. It is designed around the desires and comments of my friends and family. When the heat of summer hits, I don’t drink quite as much beer. But I do drink some, for sure. That’s when I like the thirst-quenching qualities of a good IPA, with all their citrus characters. That’s when I realized that I would like the Shandy style of beer/lemonade. But none were good enough. I always dreamed of one that could satisfy my strong desire for a natural, strong citrus character, balanced with a good, bready, light-malt beer without any other bitterness. Like Hard Lemonade. That’s exactly what we designed. It is NOT popular with the beer raters. Not a problem at all! But Turbo Shandy is SO popular with the majority of my customers that my state of Ohio has doubled its order from last year, making that my biggest single order for one beer, ever! Most of my other distributors are very unhappy about this, but I don’t want to just make Turbo Shandy the rest of the summer!! We have many, many other beers to make!! Ones that beer raters and general beer lovers together will all like. That’s better, for most of the time!!

MB: Last year, during your trips in Europe you made several collaborations (with Amager and De Molen to mention two) can we expect more Frog collaborations in the future?
FK: Yes, more Frog collaborations will come…… It is a blast to brew with other brewers – I always learn something – never stop learning!!

MB: Later this year beer fans will be able to visit the Hoppin Frog Tasting Room and a Hoppin Frog Bar – when did you decide that it was time for this expansion and how is it going with the construction?
FK: I decided it was a great idea to start a tasting room when I visited Europe last year, starting at the CBC. It was refreshing to go into European pubs, and see how they are designed. I’ve been studying bars and breweries for a long time, and they are different in Europe. Often, I found that they promote meeting other customers, by not having distractions like TV’s. Much different than US bars. So, I want that! I want to bring that feel to my tasting room. I want my friends and family to experience that at my pad.

MB: We did the occult pairing with one of my favorite Hoppin Frog beers Goose Juice and fried frog legs (great combo!) – got any pairings to suggest?
FK: I love beer and food pairings. Goose Juice or other IPAs are good with sharp cheeses, like cheddar or some blue cheeses. I like those pairings. But I LOVE a BORIS Stout milkshake, made 50/50 with chocolate ice cream, put in a blender and blended together – the ultimate adult dessert.

MB: When will we see you for a beer maker’s dinner in Stockholm, Sweden?
FK: Dinner in Stockholm?!! Sounds like big fun!! We’ll have to work on that! My wife is Swedish, so we are in for that!! We will have to work on that.

MB: What should beer fans really not miss at Copenhagen Beer Celebration?
FK: What not to miss at the CBC? I am not sure. I don’t know all that’s going on. With our beers it is hard to tell I guess, because there’ll be some different Hoppin’ Frog kegs for each night.


Thank you Fred, we will miss you at CBC! Lets look to the beers he is bringing, the full list of beers at CBC can be found here and just like with Hoppin Frog’s beers changes may occur.

Hoppin Frog CBC Beer List:

  • BORIS the Crusher
  • B.A BORIS The Crusher
  • Hopped-Up Goose Juice Rye IPA
  • DORIS The Destroyer
  • B.A Frog’s Hollow
  • Cafe Silk Porter
  • Hop Heathen Imperial Black Ale
  • Hoppin to Heaven IPA
  • Karminator Imperial Doublebock

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HAppy Ivan At Mikkeller Bar Stefansgade

MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC: Project Manager Ivan Kiss-Prinzip Jensen

The preparations for one of the most awesome beer event in Europe, or even the world, started many months ago.
With just a few weeks left, things are really coming together. We think. And hope.  Appearance is everything, some wise person told me many years back. Maybe we cannot see the panic behind the scenes right now?  Who cares anyway, if Copenhagen Beer Celebration is even half as amazing as it was last year – this is gonna be absolutely ace.

We were interested in what actually build up such a great and huge event and we thought you would as well so we opened up a few beers together with the very sympathetic project manager Ivan Kiss-Prinzip Jensen and sat down for a chat.

Ivan is gazing at a beer. We think

Ivan is gazing at a beer. We think


MankerBeer (MB): Hi Ivan Kiss-Prinzip Jensen, Project Manager for Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2013. Hope all is well with all the preparations for the coolest beer festival in Europe!
We wanna talk to you a little about all the work being carried out behind the scenes for such a massive event like this. But lets start with who the heck you are, so who ARE you and what did you do before this?
Ivan KPJ (IKPJ): I work part time on CBC and I still have my job a teacher. I teach cooking and gardening on a school for youngsters with needs for special attention and have a long history of working in the restaurant business.
I was part of the start up at Nørrebro Bryghus (Anders Kissmeyer, now at Kissmeyer Beers) back in 2003 and worked there for nearly 4 years. I was a bit older than the rest of the waitors and got to teach the rest of the staff about food and beer pairings. Soon I worked as Beer Ambassador, making things like the “Brewers Table” and doing a lot, a lot of tastings and representation of the brewpub.
Also I was in charge of buying bottled beer for NB and I think it was in this work, I first met up with brewers like Mikkel and Keller from Mikkeller, CSA (Christian Skovdal Andersen, Ølfabrikken), Jakob (Amager Bryghus); people like that. Then I moved out of Copenhagen, but still have had close relations with beer raters, brewers etc.; following up on the beer scene from my rural home. I write a blog on food politics, mainly because there are so much bad food out there and so little knowledge.
Of course, I also write about beer here and now, and I was very critical at the beer scene in Denmark, being so big and yet with such a low quality of the products.
I volunteered when needed for Mikkeller amongst other beerfolks, but just feel most at home with this crew of total devotion towards both quality but also at innovation. I myself can´t repeat anything more that once, without being totally bored; I find Mikkeller to work the same way, always on the move.


MB: You are getting some of the world’s top breweries to Copenhagen which we all think is absolutely amazing, what is the whole idea behind this event and where did it start?
IKPJ: The idea of CBC is to make it possible for the guests not to seek for the good beers at a beer event; at CBC you just reach out to the nearest tap and you will get the best beer in the world. In every booth, in every tapline; only the best. For the breweries, CBC aim to be a yearly gettogether, a possibility to meet up and exchange work with other breweries in that high league, that they all are. It is no big secret that the idea for CBC was partly founded when Mikkeller attended “the other festival” here in Denmark and we got fed up with all the crab commercials, crap music, crab beer; just the whole circus surrounding the event, having nothing to do with beer. We keep everything, but the beer – at a minimum.
We want to put the beer as our first, second and third priority.


MB: Last year, project manager Irina Carlén ran the whole thing and she got just a few months to prepare the whole shabang. When and where did you start the work with CBC? Tell us about the process!
IKPJ: I myself started working on CBC in September 2012, getting as much material from the CBC 2012 gathered and sorted out. CBC was made so fast and so much stuff where improvised, so getting an overview and things talked through, was number one. Then getting things out, that CBC 2013 would actually happen, taking volunteers in, contacting the breweries we had thought about; getting people fired up and exited for this. Making the few, but important changes, while keeping the spirit, has really been one of my main concerns, making CBC 2013. A success as it was, it will be harder and therefor even more fun to make the sequel.We might be better in shape time wise, but this is beer and beer people, there will be many hours on coordinating up until the minut before opening the doors in May.
MB: What will be the major changes in the CBC setup this year compared to 2012?
IKPJ: One major change is that we do it again; that was not the intention. Then there are logistical stuff, there will be water rinsing facilities and better toilets. We will have food vendors selling food, instead of the grand seating from CBC 2012. There will not be a printed program, but an updated list, handed the guests on arrival. We might also be working on an app to be ready for the show… We don´t find that any of the changes are major; if it ain´t broke don´t try to fix it, right?


MB: Let us in on the secrets, there has got to be a few drawbacks in the planning/things going straight to hell – have there been and what where they?
IKPJ: I really, really wanted to have an online program, where we could post everything going on; what beers are on right now, what beers has run out, the surprises, beers not making it after all; all the stuff that a printed program can´t do. That didn’t happen, and I really regret it, but the venue did not have efficient wifi and was not able to meet the demands needed.
Another thing is letting breweries go after announcing them in the first place, either by their own choice or because they didn´t meet our requests for number of beers, the request of having the brewers them self attending; things that we find only help in profiling both the breweries, importers/distributors, retailers and CBC.
I find that these deditcated brewers, also tend to take their business very personal and they can take requests or demands pretty damn close in. It´s business, never personal, to me, some people really need to learn that difference.


MB: What requirements does CBC have on breweries that want to attend in order to pass as suitable for CBC?
IKPJ: I don´t think that is a big secret that CBC is Mikkels idea and that it is people that he has worked with or know personally, who are attending CBC. A man of his talents know a lot of people, so we invite, we don´t wait for breweries to apply. That said, we also want CBC to be a place for the guests to find new stuff, the odd beers, the up and coming. That part is more tricky to work out and we can always improve in this area.
MB: When the breweries have passed your approval to attend, what are your requirements at the actual festival?
IKPJ: They most bring their most outrages beers, we take experiments and one offs, before the brews made for a broader audience. We ask for as many new releases as possible and we need them bring at least 9 different beers in total for CBC 2013. Another key point is to have people who are actually involved in the brewing, the innovation, the reason the brewery is at this level of brewing. We don´t want the usual kind, but not-knowing guys, girls in short dresses just pouring beer at CBC; we want dedication.


MB: Everyone having the good taste to get their hands on a pink session bracelet (All sessions included) are quite excited to know what will happen in the paus on saturday, any chance you could give us a teaser?
IKPJ: It will be loud. And there will be beer.


MB: We have gotten the question numerous times so lets ask the man n charge: will there be WiFi available in the Spartahallen
IKPJ: There will be wifi, as we had it in 2012, with the problems that made, it´s not top of the line. But, a lot of people have better phones, better connection than a year ago, I´m told.


MB: We love everyone coming to CBC, but you gotta have some favorites amongst the breweries, can you tell us about that?
IKPJ: My favorites are the ones I don´t know; and there a few breweries that I haven´t tasted any beers from; Mountain Goat, Baird, even Surley. I really like when the brewers experiment, so the ones with mot fucked up ideas; I´m your man.
I did hunt Kuhnenns Raspberry Eisbock for a few years, so having them in, will be interesting. And Lervig. I have a feeling with Lervig, it is just my intuition, not something I’m hiding

Happy Ivan At Mikkeller Bar Stefansgade

Happy Ivan At Mikkeller Bar Stefansgade


MB: What is the absolute dream guest brewery at CBC?
IKPJ: My personal? That aren’t coming this year? That would be Hill Farmstead. And yes I liked their beers and attitude before everyone else did, ´cause I´m so cutting edge I split my tongue some times 😉


MB: Can you name 3 breweries and 3 beers that you absolutely CANNOT miss at CBC?
IKPJ:I can´t, but off my head, where I am right now; it would be Siren, Stillwater and Firestone Walker. I´ll take 3 of any of their beers right now.


MB: With a festival pouring almost 1300 litres of some of the best beers in the world, there’s gotta be an after party like nowhere else seen in Scandinavia, where you reckon the after parties will be held on Saturday?
IKPJ: I will close CBC, send people of to “Mikkeller and Friends” or “Mikkeller Bar”, urging them to have a blast there. (Or, I know few underground places with pierced girls, if you´re interested) Then I will turn around and look at 30+ of the best brewers in the world and shout, “Let´s get shit faced”.


MB: CBC starts at the 2nd of May, but your work will probably not end until a week afterwards. How do you ‘close’ such a project? Kicking back with your favorite beer?
IKPJ: I will go on a small vacation to Lübeck in Germany with my family, celebrating my 40th birthday. At one point down there, sitting with some mediocregerman brew, watching my kids fighting over the toys and my wife smiling at me; at that point I will know if we did it allright at CBC 2013. I both fear and look forward to that moment.


MB: Ivan, thanks for the beer, thanks for your time – don’t sit there and enjoy it too much, get Copenhagen Beer Celebration going!

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Photo: Jason South/theage.com.au

MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC: Cam Hines/Mountain Goat

Photo: Jason South/theage.com.au

Photo: Jason South/theage.com.au

We have seen pre-Copenhagen Beer Celebration interviews with brewers from China, Japan and New Zeeland – as well as with brewers from the western side of the world but lets stick to the eastern countries, or more specifically Australia. Mountain Goat Brewery is not only one of the more famous Aussie craft breweries but also great proof that beer can be brewed everywhere where someone with the passion for proper beer decides to set up shop. We had a talk with Cam Hines, co-founder and owner of the brewery that have been around for quite a while and since moving 2004 to a new building in North St, Richmond have been in the forefront of a sustainable environment, as an extra their beers are vegan friendly. Australia has not been famous for their craft beer scene and most pubs have been owned by one of the larger breweries, with little room for craft beers on the free taps, so despite being around for over 15 years 2012 marked the year when they for the first time could pay tax on their profits. Like in the rest of the world the winds are chaning and the world wide craft beer scene is growing, but it has taken time. When Mountain Goat first opened they produced 6.000 liters, last year they producted over 1 million litres and with more pubs opening up free taps for craft beer the beer revolution is progressing faster for every day. Let the Q&A begin.


Manker Beer: Not all beer festivals have Aussie craft breweries attending; but Copenhagen Beer Celebration sees both Mountain Goat and 8 Wired (although from New Zeeland). What can you tell us about your brewery and yourself?
Cam Hines (CH): We started back in 1997 after Dave and I saw craft beer in North America for the first time. Up until that point I really wasn’t very interested in beer because Australia really only had one type of boring lager on offer. So we changed that and went about trying to convert the local people of Melbourne. I has taken a long time but we are now growing very quickly. Makes me glad we stuck at it.

MB: You and fellow founder Dave Bonighton founded the brewery in 1996, a lot has happened since then – both in Australia but also in the rest of the craft beer world. What is your view on the craft beer revolution that we have seen the last couple of years, could one see it coming back when you started?
CH: We absolutely always thought craft beer would take hold internationally. It has just taken a lot longer than we hoped. But at least it’s happening at last we can be part of it all.

MB: You started shipping beer to the US in 2011 (an IPA and the Hightail Ale), how many international markets do you currently ship to? Is there room for new ones?
CH: We have shipped a bit of beer to the US and Sweden and a dribble into Singapore and Hong Kong. It is very early days for us and yes I think there is opportunity for more export markets in the future. We just have too be able to keep up with production first.

MB: CBC is a great meeting platform with brewers-only events, for you personally what do you look forward to the most with CBC?
CH: I have never been to Copenhagen so first up that is exciting to me. But to get all these great breweries together from around the globe is going to be awesome. I’m sure we we will get to meet some great brewers and beer geeks!

MB: It seems as if more and more Australian brewpubs look beyond their local market? What is the status of the Australian craft beer scene?
CH: In the last two years good beer has really started to take hold in Australia in a big way. What is really cool is that many bars / pubs are not renewing their tap contracts with the big breweries and instead are putting some great craft beer. The momentum is building by the day so it will be exciting to see how far we can take it here.

MB: You have made a couple of collaborations, some only with Australian breweries; among them Abbey Collabbey which has been made twice now together with Matilda Bay and Moondog, if I’m correct? How did you come up with the idea for Abbey Collabbey?
CH: Basically there are two other breweries very close by to us in Melbourne. We thought why not get us all together and see what comes of it? It’s been a lot of fun.

MB: In 2011 Mountain Goat made the first international collaboration for an Aussie brewery and together with one of my favorite British breweries Thornbridge you brewed Thorny Goat. Has this collaboration and the collaborations among Aussie breweries made it easier for future collaborations by putting Australia on the beer map?
CH: Yeah I think first and foremost it’s just great top get like-minded brewers together. For sure it helps spread the word too and that is a bonus.

MB: How is an average day in Cam Hines life and how has it changed along the growth of the brewery?
CH: My average day has changed a great deal in the last two years. At last we have been able to employ more staff and those staff do their jobs very well. So much better than Dave and I trying to do everything ourselves. So finally we are starting to work on the business rather than in it. I oversee our sales manager, financial controller and bar manager and then they all have many staff that report to them. My business partner Dave looks after everything to do with production and now has a head brewer who sits below him. We’ve both travel a reasonable amount these days, meeting with distribution partners, trade etc.

MB: What breweries do get inspired by and admire the most?
CH: I really like the little guys that are fresh and new and I also have a huge amount of respect for more established breweries that have opted to stay independent. The challenges just keep getting thrown at you and I admire tenacity a great deal.

MB: Which Mountain Goat beer is your favorite and which one do you think could be improved or is the least satisfied with?
CH: I am enjoying our IPA at the moment and we brew a stout called Surefoot in winter. I like that a lot. We are doing some tweaking on our Hightail right now. Just some gentle tweaking to get it to the best place we can

MB: What should beer fans really not miss at Copenhagen Beer Celebration?
CH: Fancy Pants is a nice one. Nothing crazy, just a nice fruity amber ale that is very drinkable. It’s a hot climate here, so we have learned to make beers with flavour that you can drink a few of.

We are really exited to try some more Aussie brews at CBC and we are thankful for the time set aside by Cam for our little interview. The full list of beers at CBC can be found through this link and the below listing of the beers Cam is bringing is subjective to change. Pinks gets to try them all.


Mountain Goat CBC Beer List:

  • Hightail Ale
  • Steam Ale
  • IPA
  • Rapunzel
  • Lil Sister
  • Surefoot Stout
  • Bubble and Squeak
  • Abbey Collabey
  • Fancy Pants

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Photo: Anchoragepress.com

MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC: Gabe Fletcher/Anchorage Brewing Co.

Photo: Anchoragepress.com

Photo: Anchoragepress.com

I have had a little over 3.500 different beers and despite the lack of great number skills or amazing memory I tend to remember the beers that has passed my beer marinated body. Some I remember better than others, some only with difficulty – but still, I respect the product enough to at least keep a snapshot of where and when I had them. One beer that really stand out is Love Buzz Saison by Anchorage Brewing Company, a beer I bought at Ølbutikken Copenhagen and served at a beer tasting with a couple of friends. At the time I didn’t know that much of the brewery, or the beer but after only a few quick sips of Love Buzz I was stuck – this was just incredible, I wanted more, demanded more. Beer by beer my knowledge of the brewery came to change and from being a brewery I didn’t know it has become one of my favorite breweries with the special touch of brettanomyces to traditional beer styles. At Copenhagen Beer Celebration I hope more beer lovers who might not yet have tried any of Gabe Fletchers beers will have the chance to. To give you an idea of the philosophy of Gabe and what the brewery is all about we present you with the following read, enjoy (if you want more, I recommend this interview).


MankerBeer (MB): Before starting up Anchorage Brewing Company in 2010/2011 you used to work at another famous and appreciated brewery from Anchorage, Midnight Sun. How come you decided to leave 13 years of brewing at Midnight Sun to open your own all-brett, all-barrel aged brewery?
Gabe Fletcher (GF): I was just tired of doing production style brewing, where everything was always rushed. It’s every brewers dream to own their own brewery, and I though it was my time. I had come up with a good plan in my head, so I went for it! Most breweries focus on mainstream production beers and have a little fun on the side making some specially beers, Well, I wanted to make specialty beers all the time! I also wanted to keep the brewery small and very few employees.


MB: After running the brewery as a one-man project you hired Jeremiah Boone to help you out, still all of your beers are sold before they’re even made. What is the next step for the brewery and what motivates you?
GF: The next step is a new brewery that I’m currently working on. It will be the final resting place for the brewery. I have just ordered the brew house and am working on the plans now. I won’t be making a lot more beer, mainly I will have more room to age. I have 8 more 60 to 110 barrel founders coming in as well! There will be a nice small tasting room attached and a dedicated coolship room as well. There are may things that motivates me, but my main motivation is my family. I feel very lucky!


MB: With limited capacity, do you ever get frustrated by not being able to supply the eager beer fans who wants to try your beer or do you feel that your pace of growing suits you?
GF: I don’t ever want to flood any market with my beer. I like to spread it around to many places, so its always a treat for someone. When you have something all the time, you might start to loose interest. I want to make the beers at my own pace and always put the beer before any sort of schedule.


MB: You barrel age all of your beers and in my opinion the choice of barrels really complement the character of the different beers – how do you decide what barrels will work for the different beers?
GF: For my taste, I generally try and stay away from American oak, and stick with mainly French oak. The American oak tends to be too overpowering for me and it can detract from the beer. As far as what was aged in them before i got the barrels, I try and match up white wine barrels with my lighter beers and red wine with my darker beers. In the darker beers I will also mix in some spirit barrels, like Cognac or whiskey, maybe a blend of 3/4 Red wine barrels and 1/4 Whiskey barrels to give it some more complexity. I don’t like it when you have a whiskey barrel aged beer and all you can taste is Whiskey and Vanilla, the actual beer gets lost and becomes one dimensional.


MB: Copenhagen Beer Celebration is both a place for beer drinkers and brewers and some of the top brewers of the world will attend – which brewers or breweries have inspired you the most throughout the years, and why?
GF: It seems like my inspirations change all the time as I grow as a brewer. I’m always looking to improve and it seems information and new ways of doing things is never ending. Vinnie at Russian River has been a big inspiration for me. He has helped me out quite a bit since starting this new brewery. I never want to just copy people though, I take the help that people give me, then try and incorporate it into something new. A lot of what I do just comes from my head though. Shaun Hill from Hill Farmstead has inspired me recently. I like the beers he makes and the way he runs his brewery. He’s coming up to a beer fest I’m doing on April 20th and we decided to make an IPA to pour the week of the fest. I’m brewing it before he comes up, but I wanted to make it just like he does in Vermont. It’s been interesting to see how he make beer vs how I make beer. I’ve learned a few things through the process.


MB: When not brewing beer yourself, what beers do you prefer yourself?
GF: It depend on the situation. If I’m doing a bunch of construction type stuff on a hot day at the house, there’s something about a really cold Pilsner Urquell that I just love. Dupont Saison is another beer I drink frequently. Also, any really fresh, juicy IPA. Edward is pretty Killer! Anything really good and unique!


MB: There is a collaboration coming together with Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead, now ranked #1 brewery in the world – what can you tell us about it?
GF: That’s something we’ve been talking about for a while. I’m actually from Vermont and all of my family lives there. Shaun distributes my beers in Vermont for me and sells them at his brewery too. Every time I go down to visit my family I never seem to have enough time to get out to his place and brew. So, when I decide to do The Culmination Festival, I invited him up, so we could hang out and brew a batch. Well we actually decide to make a beer under his Grassroots label and distribute it through my network with the Shelton Brothers. It will be a Saison fermented in foudres with 3 different yeast involved. 2 brett strains and a saison strain, then bottle conditioned. There will be 1300 cases made, so it will make it around to a lot of the different states.


MB: Playing with brett and oak casks seems to be like playing with fire if you don’t know what you’re doing – what beer have you been least proud of?
GF: None yet;) I always put everything into every beer at Anchorage Brewing Company. If I did make one I didn’t like, It would go down the drain.


MB: Beer and cheese is something I can never get tired of, what cheese would you pair your beers with?
GF: A nice, Funky brie with a little honey drizzled on top with the Galaxy White IPA.


MB: The beer community seems like such a big friendly family; what are the best things with being a brewer?
GF: For me, it’s the whole creative process. And the freedom I have owning my own brewery. The camaraderie in the brewing industry is pretty amazing. I love starting with an idea in my head, brewing the beer, coming up with the name, designing the label, and in the end you have a beautiful work of art.


MB: What should beer fans really not miss at Copenhagen Beer Celebration?
GF: One of the beers is called A Deal with the Devil. I’s a 17.3% ABV Barleywine that was aged in Cognac Barrels for a year. No Brett;) It’s pretty Epic.


We salute Gabe for setting aside some time to answer our questions and we are exited to try all the beers he is bringing to CBC – do not miss out on any of them (go pink!) as, in my opinion, there are few US breweries like Anchorage.  You find his list of beers below and through this link you can find the full list of beers being served at CBC! Changes may occur! Rock on!


Anchorage CBC Beer List:

  • The Tides and its Takers Triple
  • Anadromous Black Sour
  • Love Buzz Saison
  • Rondy Brew White IPA
  • Galaxy White IPA
  • A Deal with the Devil Barleywine


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