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Gambrinus Munich Dark in the Brewhouse: More Brewing Company

Welcome one and all to another edition of Malt Chat. Today we’re visiting with David Ziebell, Head Brewer at More Brewing Company – a collection of brewpubs expanding across Chicagoland with Hazy IPAs, big Pastry Stouts, Lagers, and other fantastic beers.

We heard word David was using Gambrinus Munich Dark to brew a series of heavily hyped Imperial Stouts and we wanted to learn more about what he was up to. What follows is a transcript of our video chat, edited for clarity and length.

BSG: Let’s get to know you! Tell us about David Ziebell and how you got into beer.
David: I’m David Ziebell, Head Brewer at More Brewing Company. I started as a production brewer four years ago, and now I’m running all our facilities. We’ll be launching our third location in a couple months, and we’re working on the fourth.

I went to school for Mechanical Engineering. I had like three semesters left to finish my bachelor’s and I ran out of cash. I had been homebrewing since I was like 16 and loved it. (I’m 28 now.) Back then I loved microbiology, using microscopes, I was a total nerd. When I ran out of cash, I wanted to work in a local homebrewing shop and I got a job at [the former] Chicago Brew Werks in Plainfield. They had a brewery attached, called Werk Force. That’s still there. That was my first job in industry. I was bagging down grain one pound at a time, and I took the opportunity to stay late and watch their brews. I loved working there.

BSG: Could you tell us more about More Brewing Company?
David: More opened in 2017, almost six years ago. We were known at first for our Hazy styles and pastry stouts. Now we brew some lagers, and we have a large barrel program with 360 casks, mostly bourbon and brandy.

We have [almost] three brewpubs in the Chicagoland area. Our original 10 bbl brewhouse is in Villa Park. After that we opened our 30 bbl production facility in Huntley, Illinois. We’re opening our third brewpub in Bartlett – we’re hoping this Spring, March or April. That location will be more focused on lagers. We’re on track to brew about 5,500-6000 bbl in 2023. Opening more locations means we can bring in more diverse beer styles.

BSG: Let’s talk about Gambrinus Munich Dark. What are you brewing with it?
David: We use Gambrinus Dark in the Henna Series, an Imperial Pastry Stout Series. Typically, it’s a big Imperial Stout with some adjunct, around 10-12% ABV. We’ve done German Chocolate Cake, Coconut, and now we have Rocky Road-inspired Henna. We toasted the pecans and almonds for the Rocky Road right here at the Brewpub.

Gambrinus Dark lends itself really well to this application. We gain a lot of color from the 30L vs 10L. The maltiness is there too. You need a big malty backbone for these beers, and having that breadiness, toast, and brown sugar — I dig that a lot.

I use it in our Hefeweizen too. If used in low amounts, you can get a bright orange color, almost reddish. It’s a really cool alternative if you’re not looking for the really pale American Hefe. I’ve used [Gambrinus Dark] in a Dunkel before, too.

BSG: Why did you choose Gambrinus Dark over another Munich variety?
David: I was familiar with it from BSG samples. I love its color, profile, and the balanced sweetness in the finish. Different lines [of Munich malt] have their distinctive notes and Gambrinus had what I was looking for.

I’ve brewed with a lot of Gambrinus Honey Malt in the past, too, and I still want to brew with the new Honey Malted Oats. We use a lot of malted oats in our Hazies.

BSG: Hmm… we’ll see what we can do about getting you a few samples of malted oats. What’s your thought process on malt selection for your beers?
David: First, I start with brewhouse considerations. What location am I brewing at? What system am I brewing on? After that I go to recipe, in terms of flavor and uniqueness. I like to pay respect to traditional styles. We’ve drifted so far from them, and we like to give them their due. I tend to select malt that is traditional to the style. Then it goes to cost and efficiency of malt.

BSG: What would you say if you were talking to another brewer who’s thinking about using Gambrinus Munich Dark?
David: If you’re looking for malt with consistent color and quality, one that’s got the brown sugar sweetness and toffee notes, the Dark is definitely a great option. It’s in that quality lineup at a lower cost.

BSG: What would you say to someone who advocates for Less Beer, rather than More Beer?
David: We hear all the puns. They’re non-stop. I tell them “Less is More.”

BSG: Anything else going on at More Brewing right now?
David: We’re launching a new series soon, Milaana. Those will be barleywines blended with imperial stouts. We’re also working on a partnership with the Girl Scouts, with beers inspired by cookies and proceeds raised for the organization.

BSG: Many thanks for talking Malt with us, David, and good luck bringing More Beer to more people!

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