Earlier this month, BSG and Rahr hosted a delegation of brewers from Illinois for a tour of the Rahr Malting Company campus in Shakopee, MN, as well as a bit of education. What did they see and do on this field trip? Let’s find out:
Paul Schroeder, BSG CraftBrewing’s Chicago-based Sales Development Coordinator, joined the group (including brewers from Revolution Brewing, Two Brothers Brewing, On Tour Brewing, Sketchbook Brewing, Begyle Brewing, Obed & Issac’s Brewing, Penrose Brewing, and Oak Park Brewing) for the 6-hour bus ride from Elgin, IL to Minneapolis. With one stop in Wisconsin to pick up some New Glarus beer, Paul tells us the drive was filled with shop-talk about beer, process, and the direction of the industry. After arriving in Minneapolis, our crew spent the evening visiting Town Hall Brewery and Indeed Brewing.
The next morning started off with malt education, including talks from Rahr maltster Aaron Eernisse on Malting 101, BSG’s Central Midwest Sales Manager Ashton Lewis on malt modification, and Dr. Xiang S. Yin and Dr. Pattie Aron from the Rahr Technical Center speaking on stability in beer and the capabilities of Rahr’s lab facilities, respectively. Paul reports that each talk spurred a lot of questions from the visiting brewers.
After the talks, the field trip group toured BSG’s Shakopee distribution center, the recently-commissioned Malthouse #6, and the Rahr Technical Center and Brewery. The tour concluded with a view from the top of Malthouse #5 to survey the Minnesota River valley, which has been home to Rahr Malting Co. for generations.
We’ll let Paul relate the conclusion of the visit in his own words:
“After that we headed to Surly Brewing for a dinner and tour. As the night was winding down, we had to stop and get some of Minneapolis’s world-famous burgers, so we head to Matt’s [Bar & Grill] for some Jucy Lucys. The kitchen was closed and all hope was lost, but one of Matt’s employees had 6 fresh-off-the-grill Lucys and traded them to us for some Illinois beer that we had with us. Mission accomplished! Took off the next morning at 7:45 am and made it back to Chicago by 2 pm. Great trip and can’t wait to do it again.”
Earlier this summer, the Rahr Technical Center Brewery had a chance to trial the new SafAle BE-134 yeast. We caught up with head brewer and BSG Product Development Manager Mike Miziorko to get his impressions of this 6.6% abv saison.
How did the yeast perform?
Performance-wise, I think the yeast did very well: the beer was mostly fermented after 5 days and continued to slowly dry out over another 4.
How would you describe its kinetics?
I would say the yeast is very highly attenuative, we have not used anything else quite like it. This beer finished at 1.5°P, probably due to the 10% Caramalt used in the grist.
And the sensory aspects?
From an organoleptic standpoint, the yeast delivered what it promised: lots of esters and phenols one would expect from a Saison, plus a low final gravity.
Overall I’d say I am pleased with the yeast and would recommend it, but would remind brewers to plan for high attenuation when using this strain.
SafAle BE-134 will be available from BSG in late summer 2017.
Bad Weather Brewing Company of St. Paul, MN has built a reputation on their flavorful ales like flagships Ominous (a double brown ale) and Windvane (a red IPA). Recently, though, they’ve added a series of German lagers to their lineup that have been very well received both in and out of the taproom - BSG HandCraft was lucky enough to pour a couple kegs of their Dortmunder at their beer station during Homebrew Con in Minneapolis this June.
We sat down with Bad Weather’s head brewer Andy Ruhland to talk lagers:
BSG: The Dortmunder is one of a few pale lagers that Bad Weather has done after many years of intensely-flavored ales – what brought it into being? Market forces, labor of love, a challenge, or just an opportunity to change it up?
AR: From day 1 of being hired it was my intention to brew lagers. Specifically Pale German Lagers. They are my favorite styles to drink, they are simple and elegant yet incredibly hard to brew, and I love a challenge. Limited tank space kept us from doing that right away. After our first cellar expansion the window opened. We started with a Munich Helles, then the Dortmunder Export, and a Maibock (available at the time of this writing, taproom only). I'm hoping to continue at least 1 lager offering fairly regularly at the taproom.
BSG: What were the malts used in the Dortmunder?
AR: We used all Weyermann® malts with the Dortmunder. Barke® Pils, Barke® Munich, Carafoam®, and Acidulated malts.
BSG: How were they to work with?
AR: We had excellent extract and clarity on the brewhouse. I was looking for a malt that would help me get that authentic "Dort" character. I think we achieved that along with the double decoction mash. In reality a single infusion would suffice for these malts but when I think of how these beers have been brewed historically you don't mess with tradition.
The Yakima-based staff of BSG Hops works closely with growers throughout the year to ensure we receive the highest-quality hops at harvest. Our agronomist Patrick O'Brien sends us this dispatch from the fields with a look at the progress of the 2017 crop:
Variety: El Dorado
Training Date: May 25th
Growth Phase: Vegetative/reproductive
Hops are a perennial rooted planted with annual above ground growth, so in March the root system starts to push new shoots that emerge through the soil surface. The growers then prune back the shoots to get the growth timing just right. When there is enough new growth the hops are trained. The training date is very critical and varies depending on the variety. The training date is important because if you train to early you run the risk of early bloom. This can lead to inconsistent maturity at harvest. If you train too late you run the risk of not maximizing yield. Training starts in the Yakima Valley in late April/early May and concludes by the end of May.
The El Dorado field shown here was trained on May 25th. Between the time of my pictures below and the training date 36 days had passed. It is now June 30th and most of the hop bines have climbed the 18’ trellis. Hops are phototropic (light) and thigmotropic (touch), so this causes them plant to climb the twine in a clockwise formation as they follow the sun.
The plant grows vegetatively with longer day length, so when the summer solstice came around (June 21st) and the days get shorter, the plant is triggered to start growing reproductively. This doesn’t mean that all vegetative growth has stopped though; the plant will now produce lateral bines through the month of July. The lateral bines are where the cones will form. At this time, there are only a few plants with any bloom. The blooms on a hop plant are referred to as burrs and they are pictured below.
Note on field work: the growers are currently irrigating and fertilizing frequently. They have been fighting some powdery mildew pressure and aphid presence to this point and have field crews scouting every week to determine when treatment is necessary. Spider mite populations are starting to increase with increased temperatures.
It is with profound sadness that we need to pass on some news regarding the passing of our friend and business partner Peter Simpson. Peter always put his customers first and we will miss his infectious charm, high energy, and deep appreciation and passion for good malt.
Peter passed away peacefully on May 20th following a short battle with cancer.
From Simpsons website read here.
It sounds like the start of a bad joke: How many landslides does it take to start a brewery? The historic Jordan Brewery was built in 1866 and has survived a multitude of tribulations: prohibition, a fire, abandonment and plans to tear it down. Built at the base of a river bluff where caves could be carved into the hillside to lager beer, its location would ultimately be its downfall.
Tim Roets was knocked out at first sight and immediately began planning to bring brewing back to Jordan, MN. A year later and one day before he placed his brewery equipment order, soaking rains loosed a massive chunk of the hill; sending a deluge of mud, trees and rock tumbling and crashing through the back wall of the building. No one was hurt, but the dream of opening a brewery appeared dead.
But the community of Jordan was determined to bring brewing back to the city to capitalize on the craft brewing trend that has been revitalizing dilapidated buildings and tourism in towns just like it all across the country. With the city’s help, Tim was able to move his plans into a vacated library building literally across the street. The library itself was converted from a 1940's bank and the vault is still there in the basement – perhaps a place to lager after all?
Tim, with his two sons Dylan and P.J., remodeled their plans and were finally able to open Roets Jordan Brewery late last year. Tim explains, “For over 150 years, several different families bought the breweries in Jordan, hung their family name on the shingle and started brewing. We did the same thing.”
They had previous professional experience as mead and cidermakers, and Tim had been a successful and awarded homebrewer, but this is their first commercial brewery undertaking. Joining their adventure is a brewing school intern and assistant brewer Jeff Malek who is a maltster by trade at nearby Rahr Malting.
The change in location also meant reconfiguring the brewing system he had spent months designing. In a bold move, he changed the design completely and opted to go for an all-electric brewhouse. Tim says, “We opened with a 3.5BBL Brewhouse, 8 x 3.5BBL Fermentors and 3 x 3.5BBL Brites. We have space to more than double that capacity, and sourcing more equipment and further expansion of the Brewhouse is in process now.”
Support from locals was strong right out of the gate with the taproom packed most of the time. For now, they are focusing on taproom sales, but plan to eventually do some self-distribution locally in the near future. When asked about his brewing philosophy Tim simply says, “Make good beer. With the smaller brewhouse, we'll have the opportunity to try many different styles, but we tend to lean towards more balanced and sessionable beers.”
The biggest difference between homebrewing and professional brewing? “It becomes your job, so you blow a good hobby. Now I play guitar for sanity...get a hobby.” Tim advises.
Their slogan is simple and direct: "Drink Roets Beer” If you’re ever in the area, we would recommend doing just that.
Malthouse #6 Premium Pilsner, a collaboration between Rahr Malting Co. and Badger Hill Brewing of Shakopee, was brewed to commemorate the successful commissioning of Rahr’s new Malthouse #6.
The Premium Pilsner malt utilized for this beer was the first batch from Malthouse #6, made from Pinnacle barley, a two-row variety developed by the NDSU Barley Breeding Program.
BSG designed the label artwork and Badger Hill hosted a release party for the first kegs of Malthouse #6 Premium Pilsner at the brewery taproom in Shakopee.
SHAKOPEE, MN – The Rahr Technical Center Brewery at Rahr Malting Co.’s Shakopee campus is now up and running. The brewery will produce beer for R&D, conducting product evaluations, and host demonstrations for visiting brewery customers who purchase ingredients from the Shakopee-based maltster and its distribution arm Brewers Supply Group (BSG).
The brewery was built as part of Rahr Corporation’s 2015-2016 expansion project, which also included construction of a technical center and malt laboratory, as well as a new 115,000 square foot malt house which made Rahr’s Shakopee headquarters the largest single-site malting facility in the world.
The centerpiece of the brewery is a state-of-the-art brewhouse from Esau & Hueber, a worldwide leader in brewery design. The brewery has a capacity of 2.5 barrels.
“The mission of the brewery is to serve as a pilot facility,” says head brewer and Product Development Manager Mike Miziorko , “allowing Rahr and BSG to perform real-world trials on their malts, hops, yeasts, and other ingredients. It also lets us collaborate creatively with visiting brewers and suppliers.”
The first batches of beer produced on the new system include a Weissbier, a Bavarian-style Helles lager, a pale ale, and an English brown ale, with many others to follow. “One of my very favorite beer styles is a pale-colored German ale called Kölsch,” says Miziorko. “So I think you can expect a bunch of those as well.”