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=2016-05-24_bh199.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.