Tag Archive | "MankerBeer Meets"


MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC 2014 – Brad Dahlofer/B.Nektar

B_NektarCopenhagen Beer Celebration is closing in faster and faster and is finally less than two weeks away. In 7 days I will be in Belgium, drinking beer with Russian River, Cantillon and Allagash but first thing Friday morning we depart from Brussels heading for Copenhagen. These last couple of days are full of beery activities and we will give you the latest info on where and when to be in Copenhagen next week as there will be a lot of pre-events happening. We won’t leave you without at least one more pre-CBC interview and with names like Henok Fentie (Omnipollo) and Jonathan Buford (Arizona Wilderness) we have set the bar high, but in tribue to our great friend Kristopher at Kornmalt & Humlekottar and his popular reviews and articles on mead we wanted to highlight one of the breweries we both are exited to see – B.Nektar. As the name suggest this is not your typical beer brewing company but an all mead brewery widely popular and luckily for us now somewhat more common on the shelves. They have 5 meads on RateBeer’s top-25 best mead list,well, 6 if you consider the famous Ken Schramm Signature Series – The Heart of Darkness now being produced under Ken’s own brand, of which Cherry Chipotle ranks as number 5. They will undoubtely really offer something extra to CBC and as Brad hints below they might offer something extra if they are invited back next year, which I really hope that they will be.


MankerBeer (MB): You went from a homebrewer to a meadmaker, for those who yet haven’t been over to the states or who are into trading and haven’t heard about B.Nektar, what is your story?
Brad Dahlofer (BD): I started homebrewing beer in 1998 after my taste for better beer started taking a sizable chunk out of my wallet. I started building my own equipment and getting into brewing as many styles of beer as I could. It was a great way to experiment with different flavors and tastes. My mom is an amazing cook. At a very young age, she taught me to use my imagination when cooking. She taught me things like balancing sweet, sour, salty, spices, etc. Anyway, while learning to brew beer, I had read about mead in the back of a homebrewing book. It took me many years to getting around to making some. When I did, it wasn’t very good. It irritated me that I could make good beer, but this mead thing was evading me. So from my early failures, my obsession started. I’m kind of obsessive about things until I get them right. Around that time, my wife and I were planning our wedding. We decided to do a toast with mead instead of Champagne. So I had to come up with a good recipe, and quick. The wedding mead turned out okay, but the obsession persisted. About a year after the wedding, I was getting pretty good and it, and then my wife got laid-off from her job. We’re from the Detroit area. I’m guessing you’ve heard that the economy isn’t that great in Detroit. 🙂 Well, she’s drinking some of the mead I just bottled and said, “You’re getting pretty good at this. Screw finding another job, let’s sell this!” So, that’s how it all started. We were just going to start a nights-and-weekend small business. But then before we were about to open, (and just after the birth of our first son), I was laid-off from my job. We talked, and decided that going all-in was what we really wanted. So we did it, and we’ve never looked back.


MB: You make mead with everything from pineapple, tea, cocoa nibs and cardamom to ginger – compared to brewing beer, are you guys just crazy or aren’t there any limitations to what to brew mead with?
BD: There really are no limits. The only limits in our way are the US Government and their heavy handed definition of alcohol styles and taxes. For instance, we were licensed as a winery, so until very recently (we just got our brewing license), we weren’t allowed to use any grains in our meads. So that means no Braggots.

As far as mead ingredients; if it’s edible, it’s fair game in my opinion. I also think beers and ciders can be this way, too. I look at beer, mead, cider, and I just think, FOOD. It’s all about flavors, and how they work together. But it also has to be drinkable. Most meads I’ve had from other people are just too cloyingly sweet for my tastes. I really prefer something that I can drink a lot of. The honest truth is, we really don’t know what we’re doing. We just get inspiration from many different places and say, “Hey! I wonder if this combination would work.” And then we give it a try. Experimentation is a major part of our culture here at B. Nektar.


MB: Compared to other well-known meaderies you have a wide distribution with about 18 states. How much will you be able to grow without taking a toll on quality or limiting production on the most sought after meads?
BD: Quality is always at the top of the list of challenges we facing when scaling our products for distribution. Just about everything starts out as a small batch that we release only at the meadery. I have a bit of background in process engineering, so we’re very, VERY methodical about how we approach scaling up recipes and production volumes. Nothing leaves the meadery without passing our very rigid standards. We have been very successful at this and it shows in the quality of our products. I can honestly say that we have the procedures and methods in place to scale our meads to a global scale, and very quickly. But financing is a limiting factor. There will always be small, limited size batches we do. Not that we can’t scale them, but usually because they require a huge up-front investment. At one point, all of the meads in our line-up were limited.


MB: Going back to the varierty of possible flavors for a mead, what are the most common missconceptions of mead and meadmaking?
BD: The biggest one I get is that meads are undrinkably sweet. It’s true that most are going to be on the sweet side. I’ve only had a small handful of dry meads that I thought were any good. But they don’t have to be cloying. And the sweetness should be balanced with either acid or bitterness from other ingredients. It’s the same reason that beers use hops or other spices to balance the malty sweetness.

Also, most people think that making mead is easy. I hear it often. “You just mix honey and water. Then add yeast.” While this is technically true, it won’t make good mead. Making good mead is much harder. And making great mead is even more difficult, but that’s what we try to achieve here at B. Nektar.


MB: What has been the craziest mead yet and do you have any idea for a mead that you really, really would like to try to create?

I think the craziest thing we’ve done to-date, was our collaboration with Cigar City in Tampa, FL. Both Wayne and I were in uncharted territory on that one, and we were playing with a LOT of money in ingredients. At that time, it was their most expensive batch to-date. We were using a rediculous amount of honey in the recipe, and all we had were some theories about how it work ferment and where the body and flavors would be after fermentation. We worked on that recipe for over a year. I still can’t believe they actually let us brew it. But Wayne and the other people at Cigar City are absolutely brilliant, so in the end it all worked out. We’re working on another project with them. I really want to talk about it, but we’re too early in the planning stages. It will be epic!


MB: How is the American/International mead scene? Is there a strong mead community or any epicenter for mead?
BD: I think the scene is growing. For us, we’re trying to grow it from within the craft beer market. I think that’s where most of the growth is coming from. That, and the foodie culture that’s growing. Which is great from my perspective, because that’s what we’re into. I know a lot of other people find mead through other channels. Some through fantasy shows or books. But for me, mead is in the food category like any other beverage. It just has a long, and bad reputation. As people rediscover good quality food, and explore what’s out there, they will eventually find mead.


MB: Are there any mead specific trends right now, except for the hilarious names of your meads?
BD: I think there is a trend in lower alcohol mead that’s about to explode. Drinkable is key. Getting on draft in local bars is critical. I see that as the future. At least, I’m betting the company on it. I think the branding/labels is just something we like to do. My wife and I work on those together. Someone will come up with a clever name or concept and we just go with it. Sub-pop/anti-pop culture has always been something I’ve been attracted to. We embrace that because we embody that culture. We’re the rejects. The freaks, geeks, and nerds of the industry.

MB: Personally, for you, which is the best mead you have tried, and why?
BD: That changes with the seasons. Really everything we’re releasing becomes my favorite for a time, until it’s not. Maybe that’s why we make so many different things. We’re just on this never ending mission to explore flavors. But if I had to name a few, I’m drinking an awful lot of Kill all the Golfers lately. It’s our new half-and-half style (also known as an Arnold Palmer). It is a blend of honey, black tea, and lemon juice. It’s sweet and sour with a good amount of tannin from the tea. It’s going to be awesome to drink this throughout the summertime. If only we had a canning machine.


MB: What meads will be poured at CBC?
BD: We’re bringing the draft mead line-up. Most people have never had anything like them, so I wanted to start out (on our first time attending the festival) focusing on regular line-up. The one limited edition we will have is the Dwarf Invasion. It’s inspired by a sweet and tart cherry lambic. It’s made with an earthy wildflower honey, really tart Balaton cherries, and dry hopped with Styrian Golding hops.

If we’re invited back next year, our products will have already been in the market for a while, and then we can start bringing the uber-crazy stuff. But really this happened so fast (us getting invited, and beginning distribution in Denmark) that we didn’t have time to plan anything just for the event.

Session 1 (Zombie Killer and Necromangocon)

Session 2 (Black Fang and Kill all the Golfers)

Session 3 (Dwarf Invasion and Zombie Killer)

Session 4 (Zombie Killer and Kill all the Golfers)


MB: Finally then, what are you looking forward to the most with CBC?
BD: I’ve never been overseas. So I’m mostly looking forward to experience the Copenhagen culture, people, food and architecture. I’m also really excited to be sharing and drinking beers (meads) and making friends with some of the most talented brewers in the industry.


We thank Brad for taking some sugary sweat time to give you some more of B.Nektar! we are really looking forward to see them at CBC and I am certain that they will be among the most exiting breweries on site!

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MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC 2014 – Henok Fentie/Omnipollo

Omnipollo-3-thumb-620x484-46178One of our favorite breweries, and one that we have been close to over the last years is Swedish Omnipollo, today well known in the international beer community for their high end beers and artistic touch on everything from beer labels to merch. As one of three Swedish breweries at Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2014, the other two being Brekeriet and Närke Kulturbryggeri, we decided to make a check call with Henok Fentie to see how their preparations for CBC go as well as to see whats happening right now. 2013 was a crazy year for Henok and the man with the pen, Karl Grandin with the release of their book on homebrewing, “Brygg Öl” (“Brew Beer”), a bunch of new beers brewed together with breweries such as De Molen, Prairie, Stillwater, DOG and many more, the creation of an Omnipollo beer glass and trips to the Netherlands, Brazil, the US and where not. We are thrilled to see Omnipollo at CBC and their list of beers to be poured is jammed with hops, darkness and beery love.


MankerBeer (MB): With a handfull of awards, collaborations with some of the best breweries in the world and with participation in international beer events Omnipollo are probably known to most beer geeks – but for the less nerdy, who or rather what is Omnipollo?
Henok Fenrie (HF): Omnipollo is an obssessive beer love project. Me and Karl started talking about what we could do to beer in 2010 and just never looked back. We are currently working on our 30th beer – a pineapple/spearming wit (4,5%) – and dreaming about opening a bar, which is very exciting.

MB: Since Leon was first released, how has the journey been? Could you ever anticipate that Omnipollo would have this impact and become what it is today?
HF: We had ideas and confidence that we could do something interesting to provide passage from crap beer to craft beer in Sweden. Did I anticipate selling 100.000 bottles of 8,5% double IPA per month? No, never in my wildest dreams.

MB: Except for beers Omnipollo have released a book on home brewing, some proper clothes and glassware – all more artsy than the average brewery. Is Omnipollo all about beer or what is Omnipollo, really?
HF: Omnipollo is about making great beer, but it is also about making beer great – placing beer in a larger context to make it intruiging and exciting. When we write a book it is because we want to bring brewing into the same domestic sphere as baking and cooking. When we brew for a festival, it is because we want to place craft in a setting that is usually associated with sub-standard beer and so on.

MB: What do you love most about brewing, beer and the beer community?
HF: I love brewing, it just suites me as a person. But I also love the sharing part of it, and that is why I whent from a homebrewing to doing what I do. Getting to see what people make of the end product is a big part of the thrill for me. As for the beer community it is the only competitive industry – to my knowlegde – where people obeyed by the 1+1=3 rule. All with the overarching strive to entertain your tastebuds. How awesome is that?

MB: When will we see the first Omnibar?
HF: We are working on it=).

MB: You collaborate with breweriers in the US, the Netherlands, Brazil and the UK – are collaborations always spontaneous or do you have some brewers/breweries that you really want to work with and try to make it happen with?
HF: Some collaborations are spontanous but with limited time we try to focus on brewing for ourselves and collaborating with brewers/breweries who we have a close relationship to. All of whom we respect imensly and love of course.

MB: With all that travelling in the name of beer, what regions are the up-and-coming ones? Where will the next big craft beer explosion occur?
HF: Everywhere. It is incredible to see to see how likeminded people are finding their way to local craft beer watering holes no matter where we have gone so far. Just coming back from Brazil I am 100% sure that craft beer has just begun its journey over there. Next stop for us should be africa, a continent that for a long time has been drinking export Guinness like no other. I think the step from dark beer to drinking craft is smaller than that of drinking light lager.

MB: I perceive you as little of a perfectionist and I have asked the question before, but with a bunch of new beers it is time to ask it again – what beers are you most respectively least satisfied with?
HF: ha ha. When it comes to beer I guess you could say that I am a bit of a perfectionist. With the the plethora of great beers in existence there just isn’t room for anything else. A beer that I am quite happy with at the moment is Omnipollo Fatamorgana (8%), a saison-inspired oat/wheat IIPA brewed with a great deal of Citra hops. It’s one of those beers that sort of nails what I want to be doing at the moment.

MB: What beer will be poured at CBC?
HF: Fatamorgana IIPA
Schiuma Party…
Hypnopompa Grönstedts Cognac BA Imperial Stout
Nebolution Imperial IPA
Hypnopompa Bourbon BA Imperial Stout
Astral fresh keg IPA batch 2 Amarillo/Simcoe

MB:For you and Karl, what do you personally look forward to the most with CBC?
HF: meeting friends, enthusiasts and collegues….and sharing our beers with everyone of course!

Rock on! Do not miss Omnipollo at CBC, their hoppy beer will be fresh of the wagon, delivering a kick that you rarely see!

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MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC 2014 – Jonathan Buford/Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co

arizonawildThis is not only the story about Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2014, about bearded brewers and wild beers but also a story of a wildcard for a brewery and one of the latest additions for the 2014 line-up at CBC – Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. When they were announced among the last breweries to be added to an already exiting list of breweries I honestly had no idea of who they were, so much Rate Beer for me.. With no doubt AWBC has been the hottest brewery in Arizona and evidently one of the best new breweries in 2013 as they were awarded best new brewery in Rate Beer’s annual overview, not to forget that three of their beers managed to end up on the top-50 best new beer list. The bearded trio Jonathan Buford, Brett Dettler and Patrick Ware are on to something great and for all European beer freaks CBC is the place to meet, drink and learn more about them.

Jonathan, formerly running a window cleaning business from his home garage decided it was time to do something else and teamed up with old friend and steakhouse owner Brett. While still running their businesses a successfull Kickstarter campaign helped them raise funds and rally investors which together with hard work and total dedication helped open the brewery in September last year. Jonathan has explained their vision to local news station KTAR; “Our vision and goal is to not only bring craft beer to the city of Gilbert, but we want to represent Arizona around the world,” Buford said. “It’s a great tie-in to the award, because people can now say ‘Hey Arizona is making some of the best craft beer in the world.'”

We managed to catch Jonathan during another busy brew day to check what is happening and what we will can look forward to at CBC.

MankerBeer (MB): You raised a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for AZWBC, what would have happened if you didnt manage to meet the goal?
Jonathan Buford (JB): The Kickstarter campaign was nice, but it was essentially for a different business plan. We were planning a 3.5 bbl production brewery in another town. It was a night Kick in the rear, but we raised 15 times that to get this started. It was a great PR boost if anything, and we are grateful for that.

MB: Among 2.600 new breweries in 2013 you managed to rank as #1 in Rate Beer’s Best New Brewery awards – what effect did that have on you all,  both as individuals but also for the brewery? Does it put more pressure on you or does the attention help?
JB: Pressure, no. You’d be amazed how much pressure we put on ourselves. What it did was put a huge swell of new visitors upon us. In 6 weeks we expanded from 17 staff memebers to 44. We grew 150%. We sold 5 times the amount of beer. It pushed us to work harder and keep the quality as high as possible. We have a core value system and we made sure it didn’t affect that, so we hired a GM to run the restaurant and get that under control. That was a great turning point.

MB: What kind of brewery would you like AZWBC to be, now and in the future?
JB: A local pub with world class beer. Expansion will be limited and not very timely. We enjoy the unique environment that we are establishing. Come to AZ, come to Gilbert!

MB: Arizona is not really known for being the craft beer state of the US, how does the raft beer scene look like today?
JB: We are rockin’. I mean the craft beer guild meetings are doubling in size. We have quite a beautiful thing going, and all of our beers are selling at high rates. That is helping quality too, if your neighbors are brewing great beer, well, you had best improve! There are breweries high and low brewing incredible beer, and solely focusing on their local area, not so much outside of the state.

MB: As a young and aspiring brewery, the Rate Beer nomination set aside, how difficult is it to make a living within the brewing industry today with small breweries opening daily and taking their share of the already limited market?
JB: If you live a modest lifestyle…it’s simple. Dedicate your heart and sole to what you do, it will repay in many ways monetary and non monetarily. On a busy Friday night only 1-2 of our total customers would even know about other breweries in the area. Now, for production breweries, I am sure that is a tad more competitive.

MB: How does it look with distribution and capacity growth for the next couple of years?
JB: It looks like a 27 foot dark wood bar. Maybe a keg here and there to friends.

MB: CBC is not only a celebration for the beer lovers but also for the brewers who gets a chance to meet and talk about the shared passion, what breweries and/or brewers do you admire the most?
JB: First off I really admire Mikkel. He seems to have a knack to pull this craft thing together into a cohesive effort. I love people like that. Anyone who does this for a living is a badass. I love meeting all of the brewers/entrepreneurs young and old. So much wisdom, and we are all idiots. Dont try to out drink us, that’s dangerous!

MB: What beers will be poured at CBC?
1. American Presidential Stout – 11% RIP with AZ smoked jalepenos and cacoa nibs.
2 Pappy Van Winkle Barely Wine
3. Chirichaua Common aged with AZ wild Brett
4. Wet Beaver Wit brewed with organic beets and dryhoped with Amarillo.

That is the most kegs we’ve ever sold.

Thank you Jonathan, beer geeks, freaks and cheeks – do not miss Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co!

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MankerBeer Meets: Pre Cantillon Quintessence – Vinnie Cilurzo/Russian River

1391939_735407506485748_1865815303_nAbout 6 months ago my sidekick M2 and I ventured the American west coast in hopes of hops and glory. Great American Beer Festival (GABF) was over and it was time to see what the warm west could give us except for sun and a sense of being at home. Arriving in San Fransisco the day after GABF our mid-size American huge car set off for Sonoma and Russian River – why settle with less for the start of the real beery vacation?

During a lazy evening after one of the GABF sessions we managed end up at a table next to three of my all time beer role models – Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn Brewery), Tomme Arthur (Lost Abbey) and Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River). Three pioneers who have helped develop the international as well as American beer community into what it is today. Happily for us Tomme and Vinnie were friendly enough to tell us to give them a heads up if we would ever be around San Diego or San Fransisco – both parts of our post-GABF tour.

Said and done, a couple of days later we rolled in at Russian River’s brew pub in cozy Santa Rosa and for all of you with Google translate skills and/or knowledge in Swedish you can read about that here. Unfortunately, Vinnie was still back east in Denver so we didn’t have time to catch up, until now.

The occasion is contrary to what one might think that we cross over to the states again but that Vinnie and founder of Allagash Brewing Company Rob Tod are coming to Europe to team up with lambic master galore Jean van Roy of Cantillon. One day not too long ago it was announced that the trio had joined forces and made a special Wild Friendship Brew consisting of equal parts 3 year old Cantillon Lambic, 2 1/2 year old Allagash Coolship and 2 year old Russian River Sonambic. More than that Cantillon released the information that on the 1st of May 2014, between 10.00 and 18.00 Cantillon would host the Brewery Quintessence. The three mentioned breweries will all attend with beers such as Russian River Pliny the Elder, Allagash Resurgam and Cantillon Zwanze 2012 (among bunch of other goodies). Tickets were limited to 60 per half hour to be able to have a rolling schedule and at the moment there are 43 tickets left divided over 2 of the later sessions. 30€ each which includes some Brussel food treats. Only days after Grote Dorst’s Night of the Great Thirst and the Zythos festival and the day before Copenhagen Beer Celebration kicks off in Copenhagen, Denmark it is guaranteed to be week full of beer.


Together with our “Surisarna” (Sour Dudes) we will travel to Brussels on the 29th and try to share as much passion as everyone else. To prepare for Quintessence I though it was time to reconnect with Vinnie and see what he had to say about the event, the collaboration and give us his thoughts on what is happening right now in the beer community.

MankerBeer (MB): How come you, Jean and Rob teamed up for this one-day festival and what gave birth to the ideo of Wild Friendship Brew?
Vinnie Cilurzo (VC): The idea was actually Jean’s, he invited Allagash and Russian River to come in and blend our spontaneous fermented beer with his and make an event out of it. Neither Allagash or Russian River would be spontaneously fermenting now if it weren’t for Jean and his family. They gave both American breweries so much inspiration and knowledge when it came to spontaneously fermenting.

MB: We rarely see RR or Allagash beers in Europe, due to the demand from the home markets or why is that?
VC: At Russian River we have no distribution outside of the US and we don’t plan to. We brew at 100% capacity year round at both our breweries and as it is we do not have enough beer for our regional distributors, local accounts, or even our brewpub. We still sell 80% of our beer in California and distribute the remainder of the beer in three other states. Becoming a super large brewery is not our goal so we will most likely always have enough market here to sell to.

russian-river-beatificationMB: One of our readers wanted to ask if RR already have one, or is planning to make a 100% spontaneously fermented beer?
VC: We already make one, it is called Beatification and we’ll be pouring it at the event. We start out making our equivalent to a Lambic, except we call it Sonambic out of respect for our Belgian friends. We take several batches of Sonambic and blend them to make Beatification. It is a barrel of Sonambic that we shipped to Cantillon to make the Friendship blend.

MB: “Pliny” is arguably one of the hoppy beers that have generated the most discussion on freshness with one side arguing that it has to be poured within a week while others enjoy it perfectly well after some weeks – what is your take on the freshness debate on hoppy beers?
VC: It isn’t just Pliny the Elder, but really any hoppy beer should always be kept cold and should be consumed as fast as possible. The one reason I think Pliny often comes up in the discussion is because of the way we have marketed Pliny and with all the verbiage on the label about drinking it fresh. Pliny has about a 8 to 10 week shelf life and the earlier you drink it the better the hop profile will be. I’ve had perfectly good 8 week old Pliny but the hops still don’t shine through at that point as they did when that particular bottle was younger.

MB: Apart from not being brewed in Pajottenland, how come we don’t see proper US brewed lambics when every little US craft brewery seems to have their own American Sour?
VC: First off, I think it is a misconception that every small US brewery is making sour beer. It seems like everyone is making one but the truth is it is still a very small segment with-in the US craft market. With those that are making sour/barrel aged beer most don’t have a coolship or horny tank and due to the potential of cross contamination most US brewers want to stick with just pitching the Brett and bacteria to make a different version of a sour/barrel aged beer. Also, making spontaneous beer is very hard, it takes up a lot of space and blending is a real part of spontaneous beer so having a lot of barrels to chose from is important and most breweries don’t have the space for this. I’d say above and beyond everything it comes down to cross contamination.

western-beer-tasting-russian-river-brewing-natalie-vinnie-cilurzo-1012-xMB: After a few years of not receiving attention or being deemed as odd sours, goses and berliner weisses have grown into the “it-beer style” right now, have the brewers improved their skills for sour beers or are there any explanation for this?
VC: I’d go back to my previous answer, there still are not that many brewers in the US making goses and berliner weisses. I judged this category at the Great American Beer Festival in 2013 and in total I think there was maybe 50 entries. That is a lot, but it’s not like the IPA category where there was over 200 beers. Those that are brewing these styles are probably interested in exploring new sour styles. Also, these types of sour beers are easy for the first time sour beer brewer to make as it doesn’t take much additional equipment other than maybe some additional parts for their fermenter. I know when I give sour beer presentations I always advocate for the first time sour beer brewer to either make a 100% Brett fermented beer, a goses, or a berliner weisse. All three of these styles are great starter beers for someone who is just getting into making funky beer.

MB: I love RR beers but I must admit that it wasn’t until I visited the brewery the week after GABF that I could try the selection of non sours and “not-Pliny”. With so much focus on the special beers isn’t it sad that people might miss amazing brews like the OVL Stout or Aud Blonde?
VC: Thanks for the kind words. One thing we always say, “we can’t force people to drink our beer.” And even when they are drinking our beer at our pub it is up to them to decide what they want to drink. We make a lot of beers that are only sold at the pub and many are lower alcohol beers. From an operational side, right now we have a good mix of popular beers as well as year round beers that don’t sell as well along with a good number of one-off brews that we brew on occasion. The fact that we don’t distribute many of these beers outside of the pub is because we don’t have the capacity to make any more. With that said, having a bunch of unique one off beers is fun to have at the pub as it is nice to hear from customers that they found a new favorite RRBC beer. My favorite new brewpub only beer is called Dribble Belt, it is a 4.2% ABV hoppy session beer. Here is a link to our web site chalk board, I think we have 19 beers on right now- http://russianriverbrewing.com/.

MB: What is in store for the future of RR? Right now we are just holding steady with our current production and distribution.
VC: We are not opposed to expansion but we will never be a large, fast growing American craft brewer like some of our friends are doing. We are happy with slow growth and in some cases no growth. This brewery is as much a life style for Natalie and myself as it is a business. Some day we might make more beer but for now we will keep doing what we do at our current level.

MB: What are you looking forward to the most with going to Brussels for Quintessence?
VC: Going to Belgium use to be more about learning for me, I would try to learn as much as I could from any Belgian brewer I could meet. Now, going to Belgium is about seeing all of our Belgian friends, that is what I look forward to the most. It will be a real honor to drink the Friendship blend in Belgium, Natalie and I are completely flattered that Jean invited us to do this project along with Rob and Jason at Allagash.

MB: Finally then, when will we see you or RR beers in Sweden?
VC: Sorry, as I said above, we don’t plan to take on any distribution outside of the US. The truth is, if Russian River distributed outside of the US, when the American craft beer drinker got wind of this they’d be upset. For now, you have to come to beautiful Sonoma County and drink our beers fresh.

We appreciate that Vinnie took the time to talk to us and hope that you have learnt something or is on your way to book the last few tickets for the event. It was a long time I was looking forward for an event this much and this time it is not all about the beers but the feeling of being down in Belgium, sipping on some of the best beers out there with the best brewers and beer lovers out there. I hope to see you all there!

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MankerBeer Meets: Nya Carnegiebryggeriet

IMG_20140327_112109-1Från det att ryktena en gång började florera om att Brooklyn Brewery letade efter ett land och en plats för att slå upp ett bryggeri i Europa till det att samarbetet mellan Carlsberg och Brooklyn Brewery startade har vi nu nått till slutet av den första etappen. Nya Carnegiebryggeriet är en hybrid av dem båda och en återupplivelse av ett stycke svensk ölhistoria i form av Carnegie. Förra veckan var det så äntligen dags att slå upp portarna för pressvisning och officiell invigning om än att det dröjer lite mer än en vecka innan de öppnar upp för allmänheten.

Såklart var Brooklyn Brewerys grundare Steve Hindy med fru på plats liksom den karismastiske bryggmästaren Garrett Oliver och bryggeriets General Manager Eric Ottoway. Om de representerade Brooklyn så bestod den svenska trojkan av mannen vars vision ligger bakom bryggeriet – Joakim Losin (projektet har faktiskt tidigare lagts ned hela 8 gånger) samt mannen som såg till att förverkliga den här drömmen, Fredrik Vogel. Tillsammans med sitt bryggarteam bestående av Anders Wendler, Josefine Karlsson, Christoffer Thurgesson och Karl Fornarve har de slipat, putsat och påtat med bryggverket och lokalerna för att allting ska vara topp.

IMG_20140327_112826Eric berättar om hur bryggeriet alltid har känt sig välkomna i Sverige och hur det har knutits band som gör det rätt naturligt att Sverige var rätt plats på ett sådant här projet, ett projekt där man inte vill ha endera Brooklyn Brewery eller Carnegie/Carlsberg utan där man velat skapa någonting helt nytt. Landsbygdsminister Eskil Erlandsson fick äran att inviga bryggeriet genom att slå hål på den första trätunnan av bryggeriets Kellerbier och var också tydlig med att lyfta fram mikrobryggerier och ölnäringen som väldigt viktig. Den skall kunna ta samma plats som importerade viner och med den ölhistoria och tradition vi har i landet så känns det som att han faktiskt vill värna lite extra om vår kära öl.


IMG_20140327_125055Under öppningen serverades 5 stycken av bryggeriets nya öl samt 1 ett av Brooklyns Breweries öl – den nya Hammarby Syndrome samt Carnegie 175 Anniversary. Många har sedan bryggeriplanerna annonserats varit skeptiska till kapaciteten, ägandeskapet och hur pass fria bryggarna skulle vara och vad för öl man ska brygga. Nu är kapaciteten på cirka en miljon liter om året vilket inte är någon enorm kapacitet och tanken är att ha lite blandade öl med både en “core” serie samt lite bryggerispecialer och öl som skickas ut i Stockholm, Sverige och världen.

På premiären serverades en Amber som humlads med Perle och Fuggles, två rätt snälla humlesorter. 4.8% stark och för öltypen full av karaktär, härligt fyllig och med en fruktighet som känns modern och tilltalande. Helt enkelt en öl som jag lätt skulle kunna spendera en förmiddag med att dricka. Session IPA’n J.A.C.K är döpt efter alla bryggarna och denna 4.5% starka öl är liksom nästan alla av bryggeriets öl jästa med Brooklyns egna husjäst, men har sedan humlats med Williamette, Admiral och Bravo – även dem lite snällare humlesorter. Igen uppvisar ölet en otroligt fin fräschör med härlig mix av citrus och kryddig fruktighet. Både Chris och Garrett är väldigt nöjda med ölet och hur beskan är lite nedtonad så att man ska kunna dricka en 4-5 pints av den utan att tröttna eller att munnen domnar bort. Ölet kommer att bli fast kran på Stockholmkrogen Akkurat och har alla förutsättningar för att bli en sommarhit. Kellerbieren jag tidigare nämnde har humlats med traditionella humlesorter och är jäst med Weihenstephaners lagerjäst. Inte helt otippat en hit med bra fyllig mullighet och härlig fräschör – en grym matöl på 5.9% alkoholstyrka. IMG_20140327_120508De sista två är lite mer äventyrliga öl, något man kommer att fortsätta våga sig på och först ut var Primus Lux – en Winter Ale på 7%. Galena och Bramling Cross-humle och en mängd muscovadosocker ger både beska och fyllighet med kola, choklad och så kaffe. Kraftig och smakrik men inte för svådrucken. Inte helt otippat kom jag att tänka på Brooklyns starkare mörka öl såsom Local 1 och Local 2. Sist ut var Lumens In Tenebris på 6.7% en motsägelse både till smak och namn. Den mörka ljusa är en mörk Saison, men istället för mörka maltsorter som även ger ölet riv och bitter så har man försökt fokusera på att göra ölet mörkt men ha kvar mer av de ljusa, kryddiga Saisontonerna. De har också tagit fram en helt egen pepparmix tillsammans med ett av Brooklyns bästa “krydderier”. Ölet är intressant och har antydan till komplexitet med eucalyptus, en svag pepprig hetta och mjuk sötma med rostade inslag. Otroligt lättdrucken och god trots att den vågar ta ut svängarna.


IMG_20140327_121751Både bakom baren och i köket finner vi något av Sveriges elit. I baren finner vi Thomas (tidigare Akkurat), CC (tidigare Oliver Twist) och Roger (tidigare bl.a. Bishops Arms) – alla med enorm kunskap, passion och serviceanda. De tre kommer att tillsammans med övrig personal att sätta en otroligt hög standard från dag ett vilket gör otroligt mycket för ett ställe likt detta. Det någon av dem tre inte kan om öl kan du låta bli att lära dig. I köket finner vi så kökschefen Billy White (bl.a. Fäviken) och restaurangchefen Tobias Nordahl (bl.a. Matbaren) två proffs med CV’n som skulle kunna ge dem anställningar som helst i världen och ett bevis på att Nya Carnegiebryggeriet också skall bli en första klassens restaurang. Detta belyser också de båda då de förklarar att restaurangen och bryggeriet inte skall ses som två separata enheter, även fast de är det. Istället är det ett ständigt pågående växelspel där man samarbetar och provar ölen och maten mot varandra – något som är en väldigt utmärkande egenskap hos just Brooklyn Brewery, öl och mat skall avnjutas ihop. Av de smårätter vi fick prova på så kan jag bara garantera att det inte är något annat än världsklass. Restaurangen är tänkt att vara tillgänglig för alla och kommer att kunna hålla ungefär 40 gäster var i restaurang respektive bardelen. På sommaren kommer också uteserveringen att inrymma runt 150 gäster och med tanke på läget bredvid kajplatsen och med utsikt över hela sjöstaden och Nacka så lär det vara fullt varje varm sommardag.

Sett till helheten kunde jag bara kapitulera helt – allting är av yttersta värdsklass – ölen, lokalerna, köket, bemötandet och bryggarna. Det här är riktigt, riktigt bra och kommer att bli helt otroligt bra.

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MankerBeer Meets: Beer Makers Dinner på Babajan med Struise

IMG_20140315_182930 Mitt första favoritbryggeri vid sidan av Brooklyn Brewery (som vart min inkörsport till bättre öl) var något så exklusivt och lyxigt som De Struise Brouwers. Då för fem år sedan fanns det endast ett fåtal webbutiker man kunde köpa öl från och att resa till Köpenhamn för att gå loss på ölbutikerna var ack så främmande, så ville man ha Struises öl fick man hosta upp rätt bra slantar och hoppas på det bästa. Likväl var det många öl som provades och kom att ha kvar en ställning som toppöl i min lilla bok, bryggeriet får jag väl också anse är ett av världens och säkert Europas bästa bryggerier. Allt är ren och skär världsklass och jag tror bara att jag har provat en 2-3 olika öl, då bland de lite vanligare ölen som inte fått väldigt höga omdömen och lovord. Ett av mina bästa ölminnen är också på första upplagan av Copenhagen Beer Celebration då jag sent på stängningsnatten festade till det med bryggmästare Urbain och crew – drickandes på tok för många Dirty Horse (ett av deras idag mest eftertraktade öl).

När så nu en av de tre grundarna, Carlo Grootaert tillsammans med vår svenska ölexpert och vår gode vän Tomas Danko gjorde en visit runtom i landet för ett par ölmiddagar så var det en självklarthet att jag skulle ta någon öl med honom. I Stockholm skulle en Tap Takeover och Beer Makers Dinner gå av stapeln på smultronstället Babajan på Södermalm, ett ställe vars ölmeny och prissättning är lika galet positiv som deras fantastiska etnomat. Dock blev det till att träffa Carlo och Danko redan på fredagkvällen på förfesten av Mikkeller Bar Stockholm och dagen efter var vi nog alla lite trötta, åtminstone jag.

IMG_20140315_192559En trärättersmeny hade parats ihop med sex stycken olika öl samt en liten fördrink och menyn här till höger kanske ser lite otypiskt för Babajan men när vi kom att prova rätterna så fick vi åter prov på bredden av smaker de ständigt lyckas pricka in. Kvällen började dock någon timme tidigare på Monks Porterhouse i Gamla Stan där ägaren och en av huvudanledningarna till att vi ens ser bryggeriet i Sverige, Recep välkomnade Carlo och berättade om lite av deras framtida planer (mer om de senare). Efter en kort strapats igenom Gamla Stans med stopp på flerfaldigt prisvinnande 19 Glas kom vi så att nå vårat slutmål – Babajan. Med ett glas Weltkrieg i glaset var det dags att tas med på en trevlig liten resa. Weltkrieg i sig är en av två varianter på ölet surölet Weltmerz (den andra är Weltfreude, Burgundyfatlagrad med olika bär från skogen). Ölet, en ljus suröl börjar på 3% för att sedan fritt kunna jästa upp till uppemot 4% i alkoholstyrka och inte för otippat har ölet fått ligga tillsammans med körsbär (Krieg, Kriek, Krieg, Kriek – lätt eller hur?). Otroligt fräscht och läskande med lagom syra och perfekt som fördrink.

Vi hade nu intagit våra platser och rätt snabbt kom de två första ölen in – Pannepot Reserva 2012 och nyss nämnda Weltmerz. De hade parats till en vildsvinspaté med rökt renhjärta, serverad med två olika chutneys (lingon respektive  syltad lök) samt Dijonsenap. aviary_1394911857780Medan maten var på väg in berättade Carlo om hur det ens kommer sig att vi kunde prova ett öl såsom Pannepot. När de fortfarande var glada hembryggare så hade Carlo av en slump kommit över ett par flaskor av den för ölnördar åtråvärda De Dolle Zannekin, en öl han också skrev om på ett webbaserat ölforum. Detta råkade en glad dansk få se varpå samma dansk slängde iväg ett mail till Carlo med frågan om inte Carlo kunde sända honom någon flaska av Zannekin, vilket Carlo snäll som han är ställde upp på. På den här tiden var öltrades inte lika utbrett och ej heller hade åtråvärda öl samma galna värde som de kan nå upp till idag. För att fylla ut kartongen lade Carlo i två av deras hembrygder, det skulle ju ändå kosta lika mycket. Dansken fick lådan men ställde sig lite undrande till de två udda flaskorna, men kom snabbt att uttrycka sin glädje med dem. Där och då kom JeppeEvil Twin/Drikkeriget att etablera sin första affärsrelation med Struise och fick även äran att distribuera deras öl i Europa. Som ett tack fick Jeppes Ölbutikken 2007 ölet Pannepot Gran Reserva tillägnat sig, så var det med det. Pannepot Reserva har fått ligga på olika franska ekfat och är ett under av goda komplexa toner av russin, plommon, choklad och viss bitterhet.

Till patén är det helt underbart med Weltmwerz syra som skär in med lite funkighet och ger mer fruktighet tillsammans med de något söta och bäriga rörorna, men också till fetman i maten. Senapen ger en lika fin krydda som fungerar farligt bra tillammans med patén men också till båda ölen. Pannepot blir utmärkt den med och tonas ned av fetman vilket släpper fram toner av mörka bär och söt lakrits. En tydligare jordighet och en renare smak av kött med en lite hetare finnish. Två väldigt bra öl som visar att två ytterligheter kan fungera lika bra, och troligen är det en av de bästa kombinationer jag har provat – fantastiskt gott.

IMG_20140315_205848Näst på tur stod en Beef ‘n beer stew med potatisstomp och brynt savoykål som serveras med Elliot Brew samt Imperialist. Elliot Brew är en maltigare DIPA med förrädiskt gömd IBU brygd tillsammans med Mikkeller för RateBeer.com’s Worldwide Masters Series. Imperialist å sin sida har även den en rolig historia. Struise gör i sak inte lageröl men när de nu ville prova på lite nya manicker så var det ett lageröl som skulle bryggas – hur var frågan? Till sin hjälp tog de då den bästa lagerjästen de kunde komma på, Weihenstephans varpå de bjöd in bryggmästaren för att hjälpa till att brygga och pitcha jästen. Inte var det slut där utan för att ge sin Imperial Pilsner extra karaktär ville man ha purfärsk Galaxyhumle varpå man flög in sin humleleverantör för att trion skulle bli komplett. Så i ölet gömmer det sig en rätt komplex liten collaboration. Till maten föreslog Carlo att man matchar Elliot med grönsakerna medan Imperialist är bra med köttet eller de båda tillsammans. Imperialist visar upp en fin fyllighet med bra gräsiga toner och mjäll ljus maltighet, örtig och lite sträv. Lika markerad humle har Elliot om än att den väldigt tydliga karamelliga sötman, som för min del är lite för mycket ger smaker av klibbig persika och tydliga torrhumlade inslag.

IMG_20140315_192842Grytan är oljig och njutfull med tydlig smak av choklad och lite dolda exotiska kryddor. Elliots riviga humle och tydliga sötma ger lite extra bitter krydda men arbetar bra med fettet. Inte helt otippat fungerar dess kombo av båda tydlig beska och maltighet riktigt fint med den inte för krämigt feta utan mer tjocka stompet. Imperialist å sin sida ger en fräsch stram kombo med flörtigt örtiga inslag och smak av ordenligt husmanskost, fast bra mycket lyxigare och med “äkta” smaker mer än stor stark och falukorv. Även här är det en finfin kombination som kanske är lite för “husman” för att det ska vara lika elegant som i förrätten men det fungerar så attans bra att det inte är mycket att säga utan mat och öl fick verkligen tysta mun.

Sist ut var en Chokladtårta med Black Albert-reduktion, körsbärscoulis och vispgrädde som serverades med Cuvee Delphine och Weltfreude.  Cuvee Delphine, en Imperial Stout på 13% som lagrats på 4 Roses bourbonfat och vill du veta den roliga historien om ölets label och historia bör du dels läsa vem Delphine menas vara och anledningen till att det står “Truth Can Set You Free” på den belgiska flaggan på etiketten. Inte så oväntat var det pang på och underbart gott, inte bara för att båda ölen är världsklass utan lika mycket för att chokladtårtan var lagom mastig men ändå kompakt och full med smaker. IMG_20140315_221340Weltfreudes härliga bärighet, lakto och syra har också lite kärnor mot slutet vilket fungerar superbt med vispgrädden, får mer kraft från coulisen och reduktionen men blir lika gott med tårtan där du får mycket mer bär än vad man kunnat tro av en så svag öl. Cuvee Delphine har fantastiska milda vanilj- och bourbontoner med mjuk choklad där eftersmaken växer till och hettar på med lite eldig alkohol och tydlig bourbon. Mjuk elegans och en härlig sipparöl. Reduktionen är magisk med mörka körsbär och kletig bränd sirap vilket med Cuvee Delphine ger inslag av trä och än mer askade toner, något som med lite grädde är som att mumsa ren synd. Till tårtan mattas ölet lite och chokladsmaken blir mer framträdande medan de brända tonerna kommer mer i eftersmaken. Ölet får mindre spretighet och blir underbart snäll. I kombon ser vi hur man kan låta en chokladtårta vara kompakt men ändå snäll och hur det kan lyfta tillbehören och ölen till en helt ny nivå utan att talla på smaker.

Mätta och nöjda efter en fantastisk kväll på Babajan tog vi sedan en taxi ner till Monks Struise Bar för vidare ölprovande och prat om allt mellan malt och humle. För att summera kvällen kan jag bara lyfta fram Babajan som ett ställe ni måste besöka i Stockholm, både för drycken men också för den otroligt goda maten – sedan kvarstår faktum, Struise är ett av världens absolut bästa bryggerier!

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