Big Alice Brewing podcast
Big Alice Brewing's brewers were the guest speakers at the Malted Barley Appreciation Society on May 8, 2013 at Mugs Alehouse in Williamsburg. You can get the long story about how they got into brewing on their website, but the short story might begin with a homebrew contest hosted by Heartland in 2011. Kyle and Robbie entered two of their homebrewed beers into the contest -- a light Belgian ale and a dark Belgian ale. And while they didn't fare well with the judges' panel, one of the beers won the "people's choice" award, which gave them the encouragement to start talking about brewing professionally.
|Kyle and Robbie.|
Their concept is to brew unique one-off recipes using organic and local ingredients as much as possible, often incorporating seasonal ingredients in the recipes. Rather than offer one consistent product, they will brew something different each and every time! Operating a ten-gallon system certainly allows for unlimited experimentation. They plan on making 72 different batches this year.
|Kyle, Felice and Robbie.|
So, batch #0001 is a red ale brewed with Cinderella Pumpkin in the mash, and fermented with Belgian ale yeast. Batch #0002 is a Belgian I.P.A. with the addition of citrus fruit in the fermenter. #0003 uses barley, wheat and rye in the mash, and Flame Raisins, and is fermented with multiple Belgian yeast strains.
Even their sales concept is one of a kind. They operate a community supported agriculture model (CSA) for sales, selling "subscriptions" to their brewing projects direct to individuals, offering 2 bottles per month for six months. Their plan is to sell two-thirds of their production through "beer shares", 30% of which has already been sold to individuals who have been early supporters of the brewery. They're going to release the other portion of beer shares to the general public very soon. They hope to sell another third of their production through retail outlets.
One of the beers they poured at the meeting -- their second batch -- was a Belgian style I.P.A. featuring a unique ingredient: Buddah's Hand. The Buddah's Hand, which is a Far Eastern citrus fruit, is introduced in the fermenter, and imparts an exotic citrus quality to the beer. They also poured a wheat malt based coffee stout (50% wheat), which was dark, rich and roasty, utilizing Gorilla coffee beans ground up and added in the fermenter.
|Wheat malt coffee stout.|
By the way, the brewery is named for the iconic Ravenswood No. 4 electrical power station which is located in their neighborhood. The plant was built in the early 60s by the Allis-Chalmers company -- thus nicknamed "Big Allis" -- and was the world's first million-watt generating station. The brewery's homepage has a very comical comparison of Big Allis to Big Alice!
|Setting up the system.|
|This is what nano brewing looks like.|