Thursday, August 30, 2007

Health Department Issues Resolved

Things are looking up at The Bruery-- my Dad and I met with the Health Department yesterday (yes, I need an entourage) and I believe we resolved our issues and have a clear understanding of what needs to happen to get our plans approved. Walls will be erected, lots of money will be spent, base cove will cover several hundred feet of wall, but I get to move on to opening a brewery. Our friends at Bootlegger's Brewery in Fullerton are required to do the same thing, so this is the way it goes if you want to open a brewery in beautiful Orange County from here on out. Thanks to the Planners at OC Environmental Health for being patient with us-- I'm still learning.

I'm in the process of revising my plans to incorporate what the Health Department needs to see on them, and once I turn them in (today or tomorrow), they should be approved within 3-5 business days. Then I'll go to the City, hopefully get my plans approved in short order, have my contractor pull a permit, and start construction.

My goal for brewing the first batch is now looking like sometime in October, and that's optimistic. That's what I'm shooting for anyway.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Bruery Batch No. 01 Competition Results

Thanks to all of the people who entered their beer into the competition! We received 34 entries, and had ten judges at The Bruery on Sunday to judge them. We were a bit short of judges, so I had to judge myself. Luckily, my short term memory is shot, so I wasn't able to identify the brewers with the beers I was judging, so rest assured the judging process was not compromised. There were many great beers entered--everyone who entered should be proud of the quality of their beers.

The best of show winner is Loren Miraglia of Encinitas, CA, and his brewing partner Mark Graham of San Clemente, CA. Loren is a member of QUAFF, and is reknown for his Belgian-style beers. Loren is especially talented in yeast culturing and archiving, a skill I wish I had and a skill I desparately need. They won for their Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale, named Levud's, backwards for Duvel. This beer is fairly similar to Duvel-- dry and has a spectacular hoppy, crisp finish, with a pear fruity undertone. It is dangerously drinkable for a 9% beer. I can't wait to brew this beer. I'm thinking a 10 gallon batch this week is in order, although Loren and Mark used a yeast that's not quite commercially available-- a self cultured strain that Duvel used that dates back before 1995. I hope these guys help me out in getting this strain, or WLP570 it is!

As an odd-ball contest, we divided up the categories according to the number of entries in particular categories. BJCP Category 16A-D and 23, Category 16E, Category 18A, B, and E, and Category 18 C and D were judged by two or three judges each. The following are the results for each of those categories:

Category 16A-D, 23:
1st Place: Mike McDole, Clayton, CA-- Belgian Pale Ale
2nd Place: Patrick Duke, Orange, CA-- Witbier
3rd Place: Brent Brubaker, Riverside, CA-- Saison, "Summer School Saison"

Category 16E:
1st Place: Dan Sherman, Lafayette, CA-- Grand Cru
2nd Place: Barry Weeg, Phoenix, AZ-- Double Witbier, "Windlass Witbier"
3rd Place: Douglas Gladue, Nesconset, NY-- Belgian Quadrupel with Chamomile, "Camailo"

Category 18A, B, E:
1st Place: Loren Miraglia, Encinitas, CA-- Dubbel
2nd Place: Loren Mirglia, Encinitas, CA / Mark Graham, San Clemente, CA-- Belgian Blonde Ale, "Teagon Blonde"
3rd Place: Brent Brubaker, Riverside, CA-- Belgian Blonde Ale, "Shut Up"

Category 18C, D:
1st Place: Loren Mirglia, Encinitas, CA / Mark Graham, San Clemente, CA-- Belgian Golden Strong Ale, "Levud's" (Best of Show Winner)
2nd Place: Brent Brubaker, Riverside, CA-- Belgian Tripel, "Golden Valley"
3rd Place: James Sites, Littleton, CO-- Belgian Golden Strong Ale, "St. Peter of Luxembourg"

Congratulations to the winners! I'll mail out score sheets this week, along with a special surprise to all entrants.

Thanks to the judges and stewards, who displayed a good amount of bravery to show up to a warehouse off of the 57 freeway on a Sunday morning. The judges were Steve Cook, a BJCP judge and the President of the Maltose Falcons; Jim Wilson, a National rank BJCP judge who is my mentor in judging BJCP exams; Tyler King, the brewer at BJ's West Covina and an excellent resource of brewing knowledge; Kenny Hollingshead, an advisor of mine who runs the infamous Hollingshead Deli and possibly a first time judge; Cristian Sierra, a BJCP judge and Inland Empire Brewers Vice President (I think he travelled the furthest from Crestline, CA); Pete Bakulic, a good friend who is a mead/wine/beer/everything expert who lives just a few blocks away from The Bruery; Casey Rue, my big brother and designer of The Bruery logo and first time beer judge; Mike Rue, my Dad, business advior and another first time beer judge; Dennis Paul, my father-in-law and yet another first time beer judge; and myself. Dennis gets the award for his performance as first time beer judge. He did a great job, and was asked to perform the duty about 10 minutes before he started judging. He did get a fair amount of instruction from Jim Wilson, so thanks to Jim. I think all of the first time beer judges did a very nice job, and learned a lot about beer in the process. If their comments are insulting, please take them with a grain of salt. Many didn't know the entrants would be receiving these back, so they are about as candid as it gets. Stewards Joan Paul (my Mother-in-law) and Jenny Rue (My Mom) did a great job getting the competition finished in a timely manner.

Thanks to all for entering, and look out for Batch No. 01 on store shelves whenever we get around to opening our doors!

Thanks to Spence Coleman for the photo(s)!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Bruery Batch No. 01 Competition Update

Entries have started coming in from all over the place-- the furthest so far being Colorado. Entries are due this Friday (August 24th), so bring them to the drop-off spots or FedEx / UPS them today.

The mailing address:

The Bruery
715 Dunn Way
Placentia, CA 92870

Here's the current drop-off spots:

Beer Beer & More Beer
1506 Columbia Ave. Suite 12
Riverside, CA 92507

O'Sheas Brewing Co.
28142 Camino Capistrano
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Stein Fillers
4160 Norse Way
Long Beach, CA 90808

For those in LA, we also added the Home Wine, Beer and Cheese Shop:

22836 Ventura Blvd., Unit 2
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

If you're in San Diego, eMail or give me a call and we'll arrange for some sort of pick up. It's too late to add a San Diego drop off point, but I'd be happy to arrange something on Thursday for picking up entries.

This should be a great competition, so if you're debating whether to send anything in, please do! There's no entry fee, and every entrant will receive a gift from us. Cheers!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mammoth Bluesapalooza

A couple of weekends ago (August 3-5 to be exact), Patrick and I went to Mammoth's Bluesapalooza. It was our first time at the event, and we had a great time. The drive up was excrutiatingly boring- we had no CD's or adapter for Pat's I-phone (lucky Bastard), so it was only the radio for us, which consisted of mostly fuzz in the middle of the desert- so fun. We reached Mammoth about lunch time, and grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed over to a California Small Brewers Association seminar at Mammoth Brewing Company that afternoon. We missed the first couple of sessions because we were late, but got to hear the tale end of a interesting marketing presentation, and heard a talk from a canning systems distributor, Cask Brewing Systems. We also got a first hand look at Mammoth Brewing Company's brand new canning line. We left feeling quite intrigued with the idea of canning beers, but don't think it goes well with the image we are going for. Perhaps in the future we will develop another Bruery off-shoot, where Pat CAN put his hoppiness to good use(pun intended).

We went to festival Friday evening, and got to hang in the special VIP Brewer's section. Thank you Dave!!! We got to meet a couple of really nice brewing folks from Kern River Brewing, Coronado Brewing Company, and The Brewhouse. After that, we met Tyler, a brewer friend from BJ's West Covina, for some beers back over at Mammoth Brewing.

Saturday morning we went on an early morning horseback ride. You don't think we could go all the way to Mammoth and not do something outdoorsy?? The ranch must have known of Patrick as an up and coming brewer, because they made sure he had a special horse- a former actor who was featured in "Scorpion Kings." There was some Hollywood personality left in the guy- he was definitely not enjoying Pat's manly frame on his backside, and would let out a grunt/moan (not the usually horsy noise) whenever Patrick gave him a gentle kick. I can see why he was turned down for "Brokeback Mountain."

After the ride, we washed the dust off us (did I mention even my teeth were covered in dust?) and headed over to the Festival of Beers. It was packed by opening time, and the bands were playing away. We immediately spotted several Long Beach Hop Heads-complete with shirts and tatoos! The highlight of the festival would have to be Craftman's lavender sour ale- fantastic. Firestone Walker's cask IPA was pretty great too. It was the perfect setting- beautiful scenery, great music, and most importantly, great beer. Oh, did I mention, unlimited pours??

Mammoth's Bluesapalooza and Festival of Beers will now be a yearly event for us. We cannot wait to be able to serve next year, and bring Barley too.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Progress Report

Sorry for the lack of updates-- things have been busy lately and I don't have any accomplishments to gloat about. The most important thing I'm working on is getting Orange County Environmental Health ("Health Department") approval, which we need before we can get our plans approved by the city, which has to happen before we start construction.

The Health Department has been pretty prompt so far, but we've come to a bit of a snag. They are requiring the brewery to be enclosed from the large cargo doors. This caught me off guard as in all of the production breweries I've been to, I've never seen this. Essentially, they don't want the large cargo doors to be able to open up directly into the brewing area, so I'm trying to figure out how to fix this in an effective way that won't impair my ability to run a brewery. Last week I sent a letter with an explanation of how my system is closed for much of the process, and completely closed from when the wort is 200 F+ in the whirlpool, among other reasons why enclosing the brewing area wouldn't have a positive effect on the sanitation of my brewery. I received a response on Saturday that I'd still need to enclose the brewery.

My goal is to find a solution to prevent insects / vermin from entering the brewery as well as maintaining good access and ventilation. Rachel found a good solution: Clear View Motorized Power Screens. These would work great as they'll keep out everything except the air. There's a few other ideas I have for enclosing the brewery without putting up walls.

I'd like to avoid putting up walls in the brewing area as it would greatly impair my ability to add fermenters, as well as remove spent grain with the forklift. The ventilation and humidity of an enclosed area is another potential problem. Another way to enclose the area would be building a vestibule around the cargo doors, creating a small gap between the cargo door and a conventional double door. In this case, it would be difficult to bring in the dozens of pallets we'll receive when we order malt, glass, etc. and it would make bringing in oversized parts like additional fermenters extremely difficult, if not impractical. I'm sure we'll come to an equitable resolution that will work for the Health Department and for myself.

As for when we'll start brewing, you'll likely have to wait a few more weeks from when I've been telling you we'd be open. It's looking more like we'll start selling sometime in November. It is very difficult to project when I'll be brewing, as new surprises come up all the time that take an extra day, week, or month than I anticipated. Opening as soon as possible is the ultimate goal, so I'm pushing myself and others to make it happen by Fall.

Opening in the Fall is not just important for maintaining my sanity, it's important that my beers are on shelves during the Holiday season, as it is a strong time for sales and happens to be my favorite time of the year when it comes to seasonal beers. After New Years, many go on a diet, or no longer have disposable income after buying too much, and beer sales tend to be flat until March. If I'm not selling until after the holiday season, I hope you'll make an exception in your diet and wallet for my beers!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

Our Patrick turns a young 27 today. That's right, he is an eighties child, and some of you may be old enough to be his father or mother, or atleast had the opportunity to babysit.

Oh, but he is wise beyond his years. From taking up the occasional cigarette when he was 5, to getting his first computer job when he was 12, and finding the love of his life at a mere 16, Patrick has always been ahead of the game. And he has the grays to prove it!!

So 3 cheers for our owner/brewer!!!

PS- the picture is of our adorable niece and nephew, taken by our talanted sister-in-law. I am not sure if she does beer glamour shots though.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Two of Three: Saison Rue

Saison Rue is our second year-round offering. You can probably tell it's going to be of the Saison style, which isn't much of a style as far as guiding what a Saison should taste like.

Our saison will be made with a fair amount of rye (about 35% of the grist), and a small amount of pale chocolate malt and Special Roast to give it a beautiful orange glow and a touch of biscuit-like maltiness. The rest of the fermentables will be pilsner malt and minimally processed sugar. There will be a small amount of spices that will give Saison Rue some additional complexity, but you shouldn't be able to tell spices were added. The Sterling and Crystal hops will add a slight spiciness and citrus aroma. I'll be using a mixed Belgian yeast culture for primary fermentation, and brettanomyces ("brett") as a secondary yeast for bottle fermentation. The brett will add complexity as this beer ages, and will eventually dry out the malt character. Saison Rue will weigh in at a bit over 8%.

I'm excited to brew this beer as a year-round offering. There aren't too many breweries using brettanomyces or rye in their regular offerings. There are potential problems in using both of them-- brett can 'infect' the brewery, as it is a hearty, strong yeast that can live off of almost anything. Rye doesn't have a husk, so it can cause sticky mashes that can result in a very slow mash runoff. I won't be deterred. Great beers come to those who have the guts to make them, or buy them, in your case.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Brewed at Left Coast and Stacked Pallets

Yesterday I had the opportunity to brew with Rick Smets at Left Coast Brewery, the production brewery for Oggi's in San Clemente. Rick is a great guy and a very knowledgeable brewer, so I picked his brain as I helped him brew a batch of hefeweizen. I found out Left Coast is going to start bottling their IPA, stout, and Hop Juice in 22 oz. bottles. They are all great beers, I recommend seeking them out. They were going to bottle Hop Juice yesterday, but their new bottling line is still being worked out. I also helped out with the filtering of their IPA with their plate and frame filter. I'm glad I won't be filtering, it's a bitch! It's amazing to see the difference between an unfiltered beer and a filtered beer. We started at 5:15 AM and finished up around 1 PM, leaving me the rest of the day to work on my own brewery.

After brewing in the morning, I didn't feel like doing much for the rest of the day. I sucked it up and decided to do something about my bottle storage problem. After 4 hours of moving stuff around and carefully stacking pallets, I can see that ordering this many bottles will work for me. Here's some before and after pictures:


As a sidenote, I get a lot of enjoyment visiting brewers and getting to know them. There are so many passionate, generous, interesting people in the brewing industry, and I feel lucky that I get to work in this business alongside them. I hope they feel the same way about me (don't worry, I won't always ask this many questions or be this annoying!), and I look forward to doing my share of helping out new brewers and brewery owners. Alright, enough sucking up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Happy August!

You know when you can't tell what day it is, or you forget what month it is? I am now reminded by a menstrual cycle known as rent. Progress is being made, so it shouldn't be too many more months of paying rent without any beer being sold.

I received 21,000 bottles of bulk glass yesterday from California Glass. That's 20 pallets of glass, each pallet costing more than I want to think about. I was very nervous I was going to topple one over as they are structurally not so stable. They are just layers upon layers of bottles with cardboard in between that are then plastic wrapped a few times, strapped to a pallet. I learned quickly how to be more gentle on the forklift.

Rachel and I had a fun day on Saturday visiting a few San Diego breweries. We went to Oceanside Aleworks, Alesmith, and Port Brewing / Lost Abbey. Our main purpose was for me to check out how the ground loading cargo doors are separated from the brewing area (research for our health department permit) and for her to check out tasting rooms. We won't be opening a tasting room initially, but Rachel is very interested in designing something very cool and unique when we do open one. On the previous Thursday, I did the same 'research' at Craftsman Brewing and Skyscraper Brewing, and paid a nice visit to Tyler at BJ's West Covina brewery. Thanks to Peter, Tomme, Mark and Phil for letting me check out their breweries!

Julian's dog (forgot your name, Pooch!) sitting under Tomme's chair at Lost Abbey.