The Flying Pennsylvania
Tom Rupp has landed
I would have put this up sooner, but I misplaced my notebook.
Sorry...oh, and it gets worse.
As I said elsewhere, there's a new
brewpub going up in Reamstown, Penn., and the buzz is that it's
long-absent brewer Tom Rupp, who brewed at Neversink and Stoudt's.
After dangling that bait in the water, I got a bite from Tom's wife,
Amy, who e-mailed me. I finally got in touch with Tom last week, and
quickly got permission to stop by, me being one of the few writers who
ever had anything good to say about this hop-averse kinda
lager-loving guy. I went up on January 30.
Reamstown is a tiny town in northern Lancaster County, just a
few miles south of Stoudt's. I used to date a girl who lived there, but
never had any other reason to go there before or since. That all changed
the minute I walked in the door and saw the inside of what Tom's calling
Union Barrel Works. I'd show you a picture, but I just managed to
accidentally erase every single shot I took. New camera, stupid
Lew, apologies to Tom. Told you it got worse.
Well, let's use a thousand words instead. The building dates
from 1911, originally a hardware store, and it's a solid brick building,
three stories high. The first floor is the only one opening for business
for now, and it's a beauty. Original maple floors, original tin ceilings
(more on that shortly), and a classic bar and backbar (the bar and the
top half of the backbar are out of the old Showboat Hotel in Reading,
and they're beauties).
There are tanks in the front window, then moving back through
the building is the main barroom (with the bar on the left and a neat
old hydraulic freight elevator on the right), followed by the
glass-walled brewhouse (and yes, it's the old Pretzel City brewhouse
that Tom's owned since a year after PCBC closed). Behind that is the
main dining room on the left (plenty of room, too, because the local
zoning seriously restricted the occupancy rate...) and the kitchen on
the right, where Tom's son David is running things.
A quick word about that: it's not nepotism. David is a
graduate of the Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh and worked in the
kitchen at Penn Brewing. He's also been developing recipes for PennAg
Industries, including a trout
chowder that was a big hit at the recent PA Farm Show. Expect good
things when Union Barrel Works hooks up with local aquaculture outfits
Springs Trout Hatchery.
The regular menu -- which is still being finalized -- includes
hand-cut fries and potato chips, and sweet potato fries for out front,
and a nicer menu for dining: osso bucco, crab cheesecakes, nice
stuff. "We only have a small freezer," David said. "I'm a
scratch cook. I'm cutting my own meat, too."
Back to Union Barrel Works -- and just where did that name come
from? As Tom put it, in his gravelly voice, "We just
brainstormed a list of names. We liked Barrel House, and worked with
that. It's just a name." As I've said before, I'm just glad it
isn't XXXX Brewing Company; I do get tired of that.
How about them beers? "Lagers," Tom said, putting an
end to the suspense. "Basically what I made at Neversink, without
any restrictions. The Kölsch, a Lager at about 12.5°P, a Maibock with
honey we're going to try to name "Mindblock," and a
Doublebock. The Double's at about 21°P.
"Those are done and in the tanks, aging. Have to work on
the ales now. A Pale Ale (and Tom almost sneered here, a sop to
hopheads), the Honey Nut Oatmeal Stout, and I'm going to resurrect
the Adamstown Amber recipe." That one was an old favorite in the
750 ml green champagne-type bottles from Stoudt's; I remember buying a
case of it at Kunda's back in 1992...a bright sunny day and I couldn't
wait to get home and open it.
That's all there's going to be, too; no liquor license at
Union Barrel Works. "Just the beer and Pennsylvania wines,"
All the beers coming from kegs, not serving tanks. That means
more work for Tom, but more consistency in the beer, too. It also means
that there will be outside sales. "Canal Street [Pub in Reading] is
already signed up for four taps," Tom said.
All the beers will sell for the same price; the high-alcohol
beers will come in smaller glasses. Count on a fair price, too: Tom
knows this market well. You'll be able to taste your beer, finally: UBW
is going non-smoking, ahead of the state-wide ban everyone expects to
come through sooner or later.
Opening? Well, the holdup right now is local inspectors,
who insist that there be a separate effluent tank out under the sidewalk
with a separate 30-inch manhole so they can test any time they want. Tom
offered multiple alternatives, but none suited the officials, so the
sidewalk needs to be ripped up. I understand his PLCB and ATTTB
approvals have come through, so we're just waiting on that construction.
With luck: end of February.
Now, about that ceiling... Bar lovers from this area are
sometimes familiar with an absolutely seminal book called The
Bars of Reading and Berks, now long out of print and finally
largely out of date, but still a wonderful read; I count it as one of my
greatest influences, and only wish I could write this well, this
The authors of the book were Suds Kroge and Dregs Donnigan,
pseudonyms of two area high school teachers. I've met Suds -- Dave
Wardrop, a graphics teacher -- and he was good enough to give
me my copy and sign it. I treasure it, and keep it handy; I'm looking at
it right now (really, I'm a full-fledged touch typist).
Well, Suds still hangs with the beer crowd, and he dropped by
UBW to see Tom, and saw that tin ceiling. "Let me paint it!"
he asked Tom. Well, sure, Tom says. Nice to know other people bite off
more than they can chew: After finishing half the ceiling, Suds begged
for mercy, and Tom got a commercial painter to do the rest. Looks great,
on both sides.
I'm looking forward to this opening, and to my first glass of
Tom's beers; the first of many, I'm sure.
Lost Abbey: Found!
Tomme Arthur brings his beers to Monk's again; Tom
Peters puts on a great dinner -- again.
Tomme Arthur, the guitar hero of brewing, is known throughout
geekdom for his imaginative and delicious beers from Pizza Port -- the
GABF Small Brewpub of the Year, three years in a row. As I found out at
this past GABF, Tomme's teamed up with Vince and Gina Marsaglia (the
owners of Pizza Port) to open Port Brewing (in the old Stone brewery).
The Belgian-inspired line of beers they are now making -- which we
enjoyed at Tom Peters' legendary GABF party last fall -- is called Lost
Abbey. And that's what he brought to Monk's
Cafe last Tuesday.
The first beer we got was a bottle-conditioned Avant Garde --
"loosely" in the biere de garde style, said Monsieur
Arthur, brewed with a lager yeast to 7% ABV, right on the edge of sweet,
but still dry and woody. Then we got a barrel-aged version, En Garde:
it was quite bretty, and very drinkable. The two beers made an
interesting pair of pairings with the goat cheese, tomato, and Bermuda
onion tart (see to the right), the sweeter Avant Garde matching
more with the crust and the onions, the En Garde homing in on the goat
I savored the savory tart and the pleasant conversation. I was
sitting at the big front table in the window with fellow writer Don
Russell, Nodding Head
owner Curt Decker, and his brewer Gordon Grubb, and an old
friend, Larry Blinebury, who is not only a regular at these
Monk's dinners, but a regular at WhiskyFest
as well. Gordon and Curt were so damned funny I missed taking notes;
Curt was absolutely expansive as he recalled afternoons spent over
cocktails and crawfish etoufee at Cafe Nola. (There are pictures
of Gordon, and Tomme and Vince, over
at my blog, if you want to get the full flavor...)
Because that was the next course: full of crawfish tails and a
gently spicy gravy over sticky rice. Delishious. It was accompanied by
Tomme's Red Barn, a saisonish little number spiced with grains of
Paradise (praise to Curt for calling that correctly) and black pepper.
But Tomme told me that he believes most of the spiciness is actually
coming from the yeast he used.
There was a bit of an interlude between courses here, and
folks wandered about a bit...that pleasant portion of a Monk's beer
dinner where you feel free to get up and stretch, bother the guest,
bother the other diners, get bothered by the other diners, bother Fergie...
Next up was a favorite thing of mine: take a fairly ordinary
idea -- a chicken roulade -- and make it special. Instead of the
standard prosciutto and gruyere, chef Adam Glickman filled the
breast with Ardennes ham and Pere
Joseph cheese, along with some wonderfully silky spinach. We got
another great Lost Abbey duo with it -- Lost & Found, a
dubbelish, brown and rich ale, with its barrel-aged alter ego, Amazing
Grace: balanced off with the bite of wood and bug.
A surprise dish followed: Duck & Pheasant Chili, with
dried cherries, navy beans, and poblano peppers. I'm afraid I Maxwell
Housed this stuff, practically licking the plate clean: excellent chow,
though more like a light stew than a chili, to this ignorant boy's
taste. The Veritas paired up with it reminded me of a darker (in
multiple senses of the word), dryer Selin's Grove Kriek. Great match.
Finally, it was dessert time, and it was, appropriately, divine.
A pod of chocolate cake dusted with sugar, with a column of
chocolate-topped coffee mousse that was one of the best-tasting
sweets I've ever put in my mouth, I swear before God. The
beer to go with it was no less phenomenal: Angel's Share, which
Tomme described as blended from one-quarter of his Cuvee de Tomme, and
three quarters of three different barrel-aged cherry beers. It was sharp
but rich, like a true old ale, mixing sweet and bitter, though not
really sour: more tart. Truly special, as Curt said.
I was a good boy. I believe the Red Barn was the only
beer I finished, and I left something on my plate with most courses
(though it was tough with that mousse). So after I'd said my good-byes,
I walked back to the Passat and checked my BAC level (with a personal
breath tester: think about getting
one, they're also sold as the Alcohawk). I was plenty safe at 0.03,
so I decided to make one more stop on the way home.
I hadn't been to Johnny Brenda's in over a year. Shameful,
that's what it is. So I stopped, got a cask Yards ESA and the cheapest
thing on the menu -- a side of mixed olives for $1.50 -- just because I
wanted something to nosh on while I drank. Good idea: $1.50 for about 30
really good olives was a deal. But the Yards...was just okay. It
wasn't lively, wasn't springing out of the glass. Gonna have to look
into this. The last Philly Pale I'd had a month before had been as
wonderful as ever, but this needs looking into. I'll get back to
Meanwhile, back out into the bitter 13° cold, and home, where
I blew again: 0.05 BAC. Safe, legal, but good to be home.
One Guy Brewing
It's the name, and a description
It's time to take the wraps off the mystery brewery in Shorts.
First, the name is (probably) One Guy Brewing Company. Second,
it's at 328 W. Front St. in Berwick,
PA. Third, opening day is still some months off. And
finally, the "One Guy" is former Lion, Dixie, and Franconia
brewer, Guy Hagner.
Guy's a friend of mine. I've known him for a number of years,
since before Franconia. I was sad to see Franconia go under (maybe not
as sad as the investors), but I was really sad to see a
talented brewer not return to brewing. Guy tried his hand at a number of
things (and became an excellent home pizza-maker), but nothing
really worked out. Now he's finally back at brewing...or will be,
Like I said, Guy's a friend. So earlier
today, Thomas and I drove up to Berwick with gloves and goggles and
a brand-new DeWalt reciprocating saw to help Guy re-hab the old Maier's
bakery he's turning (part of) into One Guy Brewing. Thomas swept and
bagged trash, and scraped paint. Guy and I tackled the steam and water
pipes that festooned the walls. After successfully avoiding getting
whacked on the head by the massive steam pipes (steel takes a lot
of sawing), we took a break and
had some pizza (store-bought, unfortunately, but adequate).
Afterwards, we talked about the brewery. As I
teased in the News write-up, Guy's plan is for a small pub (30
seats) with a brewpub license (own-brewed beer and PA wines only, no
liquor or guest beers). Food will be minimal at first; hot dogs and
snack foods, just enough to satisfy PLCB regs. The beer will be brewed on
a 2 bbl. system (that's not a typo: two barrel system) and kegged
in 5 gallon kegs.
Guy's figuring on selling most of the beer out of
his own place: "That's where the margin is," he said, and he's
so right. Why shouldn't the brewer get the lion's share of the
money you pay for his beer? He's got a sweet German-made set-up
that will counter-pressure
fill growlers, 5-liter mini-kegs, and 22 oz. bottles, and
that's where the rest of the beer will be sold. He may sell a
couple kegs to outside accounts (which I think is going to be essential
to get his name out), but production numbers are going to be way low
to do too much of that: probably under 300 bbls. a year.
Think of this place as a cross between Coopers
Cave Ale Co. and Selin's Grove Brewing. It's all about selling
on premise to make the most money on the small amounts of beer you
make. Guy's found a very low overhead situation (hell, he's got
people lining up to help him for free!) that will allow him to get back
into brewing with very little risk. "If it doesn't work out the way
I'd hoped," he said, "I can walk away without having lost too
As we talked, Guy kept saying, "What do you
think of that?" He's not worried about the beer, of course, he's just
wondering if he's got a plan and a scenario that can work. Mostly what I
thought was "Berwick? Berwick?" No slant on the fine
people of this town, but one: there are no good beer oases in town
and they are not clamoring for craft beers, and two: Berwick's not real
convenient to Interstate 80, it's well off the beaten path, in
But you know...it's actually a nice town. The area
is beautiful, tucked into a very hilly valley of the West Branch of the
Susquehanna, and while the
view upriver is marred somewhat by the Berwick nuke plant, the surrounding
hills make for some breath-taking views from the local roads. Berwick is a
proud town, a perennial state football champion (recently picked as the
national high school champion by USA Today), and, well, that might
just be enough to put "Berwick's Beer" over the top. It's a
tight-knit community, and if Guy can crack that (and he already is...he's
just that kind of guy. Er, Guy. Um...fella), he may have a winner.
And as Guy said, "I've still got all the
contacts from our Franconia mailing list. I'll send word out to all the
investors: come on in, first beer's on me, and...bring your rotten
tomatoes." Maybe we can all be friends again.
I wish him luck. And we'll probably be back up for
another work day.
A Pleasant Sort of Weekend
Begin with Bourbon
I'd been working hard the past few weeks, and it was going to
get crazy when a cluster of events cropped up. So Cathy
and I decided to take a break, and took the kids to central
PA. While we were there, I found two new-to-me bars -- one good,
the other excellent -- had a great time at the Bullfrog, and
checked out the planned brewpub in Millheim. Busy weekend!
The story actually started on Thursday, May 18, when I did a bourbon
tasting in Somers Point, NJ, for a group of beer aficionados who wanted
to learn more about bourbon, including fellow beer guys Gary
Monterosso and Mark Haynie.
Mark set up the tasting, which was in the Somers Point Firehall, and I
put on my new seersucker suit and went on down the shore.
We had 21 people, some good bourbon-tasting food (chili, ribs,
pulled pork, mac & cheese, cornbread, and vanilla ice cream), and 12
good whiskeys: Jim Beam White Label, Knob Creek, Heaven Hill 10 Year
Old, Old Whiskey River, Wild Turkey 101, Four Roses Single Barrel,
Maker's Mark, Elmer T. Lee, Hancock's Reserve, Van Winkle 15, and two
for contrast: Pikesville Rye and Jack Daniel's Single Barrel. Things
went very well, and we'll probably be doing another in the fall, and
maybe an Irish whiskey tasting sometime soon.
How does that start a weekend in central PA? Well, it actually
started on Monday, when I went to Weight Watchers and clocked
in a total of 50 pounds of weight lost since January. I'm not going to
talk more about that, it's not about drinks, but it did mean I needed
some new clothes. So we decided to take a trip to Woolrich,
PA, and stock up. I love Woolrich clothing, and I love that area.
So we took the money I made on the bourbon tasting (Ah ha!)
and went to Woolrich Saturday morning. I gave the kids $60 each and
told them to go buy clothes (they bought hats and jackets...so
like their old man), and I ravaged the casual clothing area in
back. Things are not like they used to be at Woolrich; the back
of the store used to be factory seconds, not just clearance stuff, and
you could get some outrageous bargains on shirts with very small
defects. The clearance stuff's still a pretty good deal, though,
and I scarfed it up.
Bear Scat and Brewery Trails
After burning through my Christmas money and my latest Ale
Street check, we had a picnic lunch in the park next door. Then
it was time for a hike. We drove down to Bald
Eagle State Park, parked the Passat, and hit the trail. Although
the trail could have been a bit better marked, the map I had printed
off the website was a good one and we looped up to a great
view of the valley. It was a positively beautiful day, although it
dropped just a few sprinkles of rain now and then. We saw some
interesting stuff on the trail, like fresh bear
scat and a grass snake that Nora stepped on (and then
freaked right out about; can't blame her!). We hiked for about an hour,
then got back to the car.
Time to go to work. We headed south on Rt. 445, over the
ridges on some seriously wild and windy roads -- three big switchbacks
that I just loved! -- and rolled down into Millheim.
Millheim's a very cool little place that I fully intend to get back to;
a lot of restored homes, a neat-looking old hotel bar, and -- the reason
I was there -- the Equinox Cafe.
As I related elsewhere, I met Tim Bowser at Selin's Grove last
fall. He told me about a plan to add a brewpub to the Equinox, his coffeeshop/music
venue in Millheim. It sounds like a fabulous idea, and I wanted to
meet him and check it out. But we just missed each other, and I had to
make do with looking the place over from the outside (the cafe closed in
January to be re-born). If this gets off the ground, it's going to
be worth the trip: fresh beer, food as organic as possible, fresh
coffee, live music. Oh, yeah.
Staying with Bob Hope
Back to Williamsport! We were getting a bit tired, hungry, and
thirsty by now, and our rooms at the Genetti
Hotel were sounding real good...especially since they were a
block from the Bullfrog. It
was very crowded in the hotel lot (there was a wedding reception, a
nursing school reunion, and pre-prom dining going on), so I parked in
the check-in area and went in to get keys before parking. I confirmed
that I had two adjacent rooms, as reserved, took the keys out to the
car, gave the keys to Cathy, and she and the kids took in most of the
luggage, while I went to park.
When I got back to the rooms, there was hell to pay. The rooms
were not adjacent, they were four doors apart. Cathy was not happy.
Okay, I said, we'll go fix this. So I went down, and politely let the
guy at the front desk know that this was not going to work. About
a minute into it, a gentleman in a very sharp suit stepped up and said,
"Let's fix this, sir. Why don't we give you the Bob Hope Suite?
It has two bedrooms and a fold-out queen-size couch in the living room,
would that suit?" Well, let's have a look!
In very short order, I was a hero. Many thanks to the general
manager, who said he "just wanted you to have a good memory of
the Genetti." Well, we do, and it only got better. By the time
we got settled in (Thomas very happy in the media-center fold-out, Nora
bubbly with her own room, and Cathy and I relaxed in our big room
with the big picture of Bob Hope on the wall), we were whipped. We
called the in-house restaurant, Legends, and made reservations
Dinner was okay, the real pleasure was the beer. No, really:
Legends turned out to have four Tröegs taps! Hot damn, and the
waitress didn't even know they were there. I strolled over for a look
after she gave us menus. I had me a real nice glass of Sunshine Pils.
God Bless Curt Decker
We got the kids settled in and then went out on the town. We'd
already decided to save the Bullfrog for Sunday, when they have a regular
jazz brunch. I was running down a tip from Curt Decker, celebrated
Philadelphia parking magnate and owner of Nodding
Head brewpub in Philly. Turns out Curt grew up in Williamsport,
and he'd mentioned to me a few months before that there was a really
nice little place in town, Franco's
Lounge. I checked the map, and it was only two blocks away. We
walked out into the beautiful evening.
Right here, right now, I want to say: thank you, Curt Decker.
Franco's was excellent, bustling with happy people, rich with delightful
aromas from the beautiful plates of Italian food going by (Franco's
sells their red sauce by the jar, and uses locally grown produce
and meats as much as possible: bravo), and yes, some very good
beer. I started with a glass of cask Tröegs Hopback Amber -- yeah, cask
-- and Cathy had a Paulaner hefe. Then I asked the bartender if he
knew Curt. He said he'd just moved here recently, but he got the bar
manager, Fred. Fred knew Curt, oh, yeah. Then we really got rolling, and
Fred poured me a glass of Tröegs Naked Elf, the cherry-less
version of Mad Elf I hadn't even seen anywhere yet. (Nice beer, by the
way; sweet and spicy and understated.) Tröegs, Tröegs, Tröegs: do
the Trogner brothers own this town?
Nice as Franco's was (and it was, I'm already plotting a way
to get back there), Cathy was exhausted. So we walked back to the
Genetti, where she went up to bed, and I grabbed a seat at the bar.
Research. There were 18 taps: the four Tröegs taps, two Victory,
an Appalachian, Murphy's stout, SNPA, Stella (unlike other geeks, I
don't turn up my nose at draft Stella: a decent pils is a decent pils),
and some of the usual suspects, I had a nice quiet jar of Murphy's, took
my notes, and went to bed.
Sunday morning we didn't do much. I went out to the local
Wegman's and got a bunch of fresh fruit and coffee, and a paper. We
enjoyed hanging out in the suite, then went to the 11:15 mass at the Annunciation
Church (yes, that's a picture of a guy with no arms playing a guitar
with his feet). Good priest, good service, and then it was time for the
jazz brunch at the Bullfrog.
We wound up right in front of the trio, and they were good.
Not deafening, either, thank God. I got a glass of Diabolique, a
very nice Belgian strong. I always enjoy the Bullfrog, it's one of my
favorite places. The big glass windows are nice, the beer's been
excellent under Terry's steady hand, and the food's never disappointed.
So it was today with something as simple as a mushroom omelette: really
very good, although the potatoes could have been more done (I recognize
this is a personal idiosyncrasy). I had a glass of stout with the
And that was about it. We got back in the Passat and headed
home. A very nice trip to some places we hadn't been in a while and some
places we'd never been. And some places I fully intend to visit
You guys may have noticed that I have a fondness for old
breweries. Particularly, I love the old regionals that struggle
weekly against both the massive onslaught of the macros and the quick,
sharp attacks of the micros. Places like Matt's, August Schell,
Pittsburgh, and Yuengling.
One of my favorites of these is The Lion, in Wilkes-Barre.
Part of that is because they've had such a long, tough fight --that they're
slowly winning -- and because I really like the people there, particularly
production director Leo Orlandini. Leo's been very good about
answering questions honestly, getting me samples of their new efforts,
and generally being helpful in my attempts to get information.
So when Leo sent me the following e-mail, I was interested.
I wanted to drop
you a note to tell you of the big things that are
happening at the brewery. On January 16, 2006, we are removing our
existing copper kettle that was built for us in 1954. We are
installing a brand new stainless steel kettle from Briggs. This
entire project should take two weeks. We plan on brewing again
on January 30, 2006.
In addition, we are aging our Stegmaier Brewhouse Bock. It is a
traditional Bock. We will be bottling this in February. We are also
working on our summer seasonal, Stegmaier Summerstock Lager! We will
come back with the Anniversary IPA in July and then Stegmaier Octoberfest
for the fall, and finally, our winter seasonal, Stegmaier Frolicking
Festival. We are currently tasting and analyzing a ton of winter
seasonals to see what we want to do. These are exciting times.
I got right back to him and asked if it would be okay if I came
up to see the old kettle coming out. I've seen that kettle a number of
times, the first one back in 1992, and seen the numerous improvements The
Lion had put in since then: new grain storage, new mill, new lagering
cellar, new CO2 system, new bottling line. This would be a replacement of
the heart of the whole brewery, a big day for Leo, his brewmaster Bob
Klinetob, and brewery president Chuck Lawson. I wanted to be there. Leo
said yes, and we agreed I'd come up for the removal.
Well, things slipped a bit, as they often do, but only a week. I
crawled out of bed early on January 24, grabbed a big cup of coffee and
headed up the Northeast Extension to Wilkes-Barre. I got there about 8:00
on a beautiful winter morning (this was not to be one of the
unseasonably warm days we had this January!), a second big cup of coffee
in hand (had to stop to fuel the Passat, and figured more caffeine was a
good thing). The day was cloudless and cold, in the low 20s, and ice
crunched underfoot as I walked around to the office. As I turned the
corner, I saw the new kettle, resting on its side, beside the office and
the new grain silos.
I went in and gave them my name, and Leo came and got me,
handing me a hardhat as we went out. There was a big crane looming beside
the building, things were already underway. We climbed up to the kettle
level, where the final cuts were being made on the copper dome of the
kettle and the steel beam overhead. "We figure that we put about 300
million gallons through it," Leo said, over the percussive din of a
pair of reciprocating saws and a torch.
The new one is the same size, just shy of 400 bbls., but
"there's more heat area in the new one," said Leo; "so
there's a more gentle heat on the wort. It has a fully enclosed wort
stream, no more hot side aeration. It's going to be fully automated, so
we'll have more control and more consistency in the boil." Leo said
that the boil was "somewhat operator determined," saying that he
could sometimes taste a Lion beer and know which operator had made it. He
said that operator had let the kettle boil over, and tended to under-boil
after that. No more, with the automated controls.
The new kettle was made by Briggs, a UK company with a
Rochester, NY office, it was actually fabricated in Canada, and cost over
$500,000. "Briggs works with the big guys," Leo said. "The
confidence factor made them the choice." 400 bbls. is big iron, for
sure, you don't want just anyone doing that.
The new kettle is not copper, as the old one was. What
about that factor, I asked. Bob said that there were attachment points so
that they could (and would) attach copper flanges at various spots to give
the brew available copper. It does make a difference, and I was geek-happy
to hear it covered.
The husband and wife crane team -- she's the operator, he's up
above, cutting and talking on the radio -- soon had it under control, and
the dome was shorn loose of its last connection. It lifted off the kettle
and I ran for the stairs. I got down to the back of the building in time
to get pictures as the dome emerged from the building, looking like a
somewhat battered flying saucer against the bright blue sky.
Leo took me up on the roof after that so I could look down into
the old kettle and see the three-tube 'rocket' (a brute-force kind of
calandria, I guess) inside. After we came back inside he showed me the
out-of-order grain elevator, an old bucket conveyor. It has to be
replaced, and that's more money. "It never ends," Leo said of
the constant work in keeping an old brewery running and trying to bring it
up to date.
We decided that with the dome off, we could get in out of the
cold and let the crew do their work, while we got down to ours: tasting a
tank sample of the new Stegmaier Brewhouse Bock, "Der Bockbier mit
Tritt" (roughly, The Bock with Kick). We settled in Bob's office/lab
and sampled Bock from a lab flask. This is good stuff, I thought, and
savored it (more thorough tasting notes to the right).
We blathered a bit about the upcoming seasonals mentioned above,
which I think are a great move. Leo and Bob are very confident about the
brewery's beer sales, and they should be, with stuff like this coming up.
I hope to see more moves in this direction from The Lion.
I said good-bye around 10:00 and hit the road. Home in a little
under two hours...and started writing like a madman, trying to hit the
deadlines on articles I just finished last Friday. And now I finally got
to write this. Stegmaier Brewhouse Bock should be hitting the streets this
week; I'm looking for it on draft!
Oh, and one more thing. Leo e-mailed me last week, they'd done
their first batch in the new kettle (after hook-up, cleaning and hot-water
tests): the first batch they ran was Stegmaier. Wonderfully