Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Jack's Abby Craft Lagers

http://wfmu.org/flashplayer.php?version=1&show=65880&archive=139233 Jack's Abby Craft Lagers
http://mofohockey.org/podcastgen/download.php?filename=2016-03-10_bh185full.mp3 Non-Flash version of the podcast

Though they've been selling in New York State since 2014, Framingham, Mass. brewery Jack's Abby Craft Lagers launched in New York City in mid-April this year, and we got to talk to one of the three brothers, Sam Hendler, who founded and runs the operation. We met in the backyard of Judy & Punch on 30th Ave. in Astoria, Queens.

Sam of Jack's, Gerard from Judy & One Mile House, and Jack's sales rep Chris V.
The brewery was founded in 2011 in a 6,000 sq. ft. space with a 20-barrel system. In their first year they brewed about 500 barrels of beer. Recently the brewery underwent a massive expansion, installing a 60-barrel brew house with 240-barrel fermenters in a space 10 times the size of the original brewery, 67,000 sq. ft., which includes a 200-seat beer hall!

Jack's brews lager beers exclusively, and they make an exceptional authentic traditional German Helles called House Lager. For that beer they import German malts and German hops from a Bavarian farm, employ decoction mashing, and naturally carbonate the clear golden lager with the krausening technique, in which a portion of a newly fermenting batch of the same beer is added to a fully fermented batch, boosting carbonation.

But it's not only about German style Pils, Helles, and Maibocks. Jack's Abby is dedicated to experimentation with lagers, using massive hop additions in some beers, barrel aging others, creating high ABV "lager wines", and basically defying the limited expectations that most people have of "lager beer". Their Kiwi Rising, for example, uses copious hop additions of New Zealand hops, including a dry hopping -- Nelson and Motueka -- to create a very unlikely lager. Their Double India Pale Lager (DIPL), which clocks in at 8.5% ABV and their flagship Hoponius Union (brewed with Citra and Centennial) also redefine what a lager is.

Sam of Jack's, NYC Jack's sales rep, and Adam of Forest Hills Station House.
But their 13% "lager wine" editions, which age in barrels for 9 months and take up to a year to make, really set the bar for untraditional lagers. Their Baby Maker, Bride Maker, and Brewery Maker are all named after milestones in the Hendler family.

Brothers Eric (the numbers guy) and Sam (the sales guy) of Jack's.
When asked why the brewery exclusively brews lagers, Sam explained that when his brother Jack, the head brewer and co-owner, studied brewing at the Siebel Institute, during his time in Munich at sister school Doemens Academy, he was inspired by all the amazing, fresh, classic Pils and Helles beers available everywhere. He wanted to take that back to the States. And we're glad he did! Let's hope they not only keep the old traditions alive, but also never stop pushing lager into the unexplored future!

Sarah, Sam, and Colin of Remarkable Liquids, Dan of Singlecut (and general Queens beer fame),
and an unidentified photo bomber!

Framing Ham.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

500th Anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot

http://wfmu.org/flashplayer.php?version=1&show=65880&archive=139233 Zum Schneider celebrates the 500th Anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot 

http://mofohockey.org/podcastgen/download.php?filename=2016-04-27_bh198.mp3 Non-Flash version of the podcast

On April 23, 1516 in Ingolstadt, Germany, at a meeting of the Assembly of Estates, Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV proposed a law which dictated, among other things, that beer should only be made from water, barley, and hops. It was referred to as the "Surrogatverbot", or prohibition of surrogate ingredients, and later, in 1918, was nicknamed the Reinheitsgebot, or purity agreement.
Sylvester says "prosit!"
500 years later the law endures, and its anniversary causes us to celebrate the bright, clean, healthy lager that has defined German beer, considered by many to be the best beer in the world. Of course, some folks in Belgium and England, and other beer centric lands, might disagree. But on the corner of E. 7th St. and Ave. C in what was Kleine Deutschland in the late 1800s, German beer reigns! Zum Schneider celebrates all week long with special kegs, and a beer-centric menu featuring dishes made with beer!
Freigeist Abraxxxas makes its debut on tap at ZS!
Rather than giving you a 10 page dissertation on the history of the Reinheitsgebot, we'll just give you the short story, and link some other more in depth resources below. Basically, the law sought to preserve the quality and consistency of Bavarian beer at a time when beer was made from a long list of ingredients that varied from hamlet to hamlet. Some used different sources for the sugars, which are converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation -- not everyone use malted grain exclusively. And the beer was flavored and colored with all kinds of things: spices, ash, herbs, roots, bark -- pretty much anything was possible. So, by limiting what could go into beer, the beer became more consistent, and the quality was more reliable.
Zum Schneider shakes up the menu with some very special offerings!
It wasn't just beer quality at the core of the Reinheitsgebot, though. The rule sought to act as a price and supply control on grain, stipulating that only malted barley be used for beer, leaving wheat for the bakers, so there wouldn't be bread shortages due to a thirst for more beer! Wheat malt was allowed in beer brewing, but on a very limited basis through special dispensation from the monarchy, and following the end of one such charter, the reigning House of Wittlesbach gave themselves the exclusive monopoly to brew wheat beer in Bavaria from 1602 to 1798.
Fraulein B.R. und Herr Bockenstein.
Here are some good sources of information on the Reinheitsgebot:

The Guardian article about a German brewery's struggle with the beer law
All About Beer article on some history
Beer Sessions Radio featuring Sylvester Schneider and Sebastian of Freigeist
Oxford Companion to Beer with its definition and history
Wikipedia always a good source
Beer and Brewing more on the Reinheitsgebot
The Ja Ja Jas.
A clean, spray-free tapping of the Weissenohe!
Jorge pours the Weissenohe.
The photographer sports a Mahr's hat as he glances at the menu specials. 

Sylvester and the ladies sing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kings County Brewing Collective

http://wfmu.org/flashplayer.php?version=1&show=65880&archive=139233 Kings County Brewers Collective Pt. 1 of 2 
http://wfmu.org/flashplayer.php?version=1&show=65880&archive=139233 Kings County Brewers Collective Pt. 2 of 2 

http://mofohockey.org/podcastgen/download.php?filename=2016-04-19_bh197.mp3 Non-Flash version of the full podcast

In the mid- to late-1800s, Brooklyn, and Bushwick in particular, was a brewing powerhouse: the Otto Huber/Hittleman brewery on Meserole, which now houses the 60-tap beer mecca The Well; the old Schlitz bottling plant a few blocks off of Bushwick Ave., currently being renovated into upscale apartments; Rheingold; William Ulmer, Schaefer. At one point there were about 45 breweries in Brooklyn, and the borough accounted for a tenth of the nation's beer production!  A NY Times article provides a map and some history. That all ended with the closure of Rheingold and Schaefer in 1976, and the borough didn't see a return to production brewing until the Brooklyn Brewery opened in Williamsburg in 1996 (though Park Slope Brewing brewpub was on the scene by then).

L-R: Tony, Pete, Zack, B.R.

But brewing is back in Bushwick! Three partners have leased a 5,000 sq ft commercial space at 381 Troutman St., just off Wykoff, and spitting distance from the Jefferson stop on the L-train. They're building a 15-barrel, 3-vessel brewhouse made by American Beer Equipment, which they'll use to fill four 30-barrel fermentors. Kings County Brewers Collective plans on having a 1,000 sq ft tasting room in the front of the brewery, featuring two 13'x13' open garage doors, to create a bright, open, welcoming feel. 

A test batch.

In addition to offering their brews on 12 tap lines, they'll also sell beer to go in Crowlers, 32-oz aluminum cans filled fresh from the tap like a growler, and sealed on the spot. They also hope to get some regular canning done using a mobile canning service. The brewery is aiming to have the doors open and beer flowing sometime over the summer of 2016.

The brewhouse, still unwrapped.

Partner and production manager/quality control technician Pete Lengyel said that KCBC will have a barrel aging program right from the start. Having done some work with the barrel program at Brooklyn Brewery, as well as brewing stints at Greenpoint Brewing/Kelso, Rockaway and Finback, we're sure that it's bound for success. He notes that they'll be looking to get a foudre and perhaps some grundy tanks to add capacity for making some funky brett beers. Pete, a native of San Diego, worked in molecular biology before being bitten by the brewing bug.

Floor plan.

Partner Tony Bellis, a former home brewer who has extensive experience in the coffee industry, said that they'll probably have three different IPAs when they launch, out of about 7 or 8 planned debut beers, including a kettle sour, pilsner/lager, and a saison. Before joining the venture, Tony did his time at Greenpoint Brewing/Kelso, starting out at the bottom filling kegs and working his way up to head brewer, where he worked up until November 2015.
B.R., Tony, Pete, Zack.

The third partner, Zack Kinney, whose background is in advertising, also started out home brewing and, like the other two, studied brewing through the American Brewers Guild program. Zack and his partners are hoping to revitalize a great beer culture in Bushwick, focusing on community, education, collaboration, and damn fine beer! 

Lots of great street art throughout Bushwick.

In addition to advanced gear such as a centrifuge and a hopback, they'll have a 1 barrel pilot system. This will allow them the freedom to try out a lot of different styles and techniques, and experiment extensively. We're eager for these talented, inspired individuals to get brewing, and we'll definitely be checking in with them again once the brewery is open for business!


Looking from the back to the front.
Looking from the front to the back.

Street view.