Friday, July 29, 2011

Black Tuesday - A Comic

For more craft beer comics, visit The Full Pint

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Pediococcus plated on The Bruery's lab media

Meet some of the microorganisms that are responsible for the beer made at The Bruery.

Yes, it’s true, you are sharing your beer with other living things. Since all of our beers here at The Bruery are unfiltered, they are indeed alive when you sit down to enjoy your drink. The delicate and bold flavors produced through fermentation help give beer the unique properties you experience along with the quality of the ingredients used. While there are a variety of cultures used at The Bruery, some are more important than others. They are Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. Their importance is because of their roles as both fermentative species and contaminants.

Brettanomyces is considered a wild yeast and is noted for the “farmhouse” flavor profile that it produces in beer. Lactobacillus and Pediococcus are lactic acid producing bacteria. They are used in the fermentations of food products such as sauerkraut, yogurt, cheese, chocolate, and kimchi. Lactic acid bacteria are used in the production of lambic-style ales, Flemish-style red ales and other similar beers; they produce the lactic acid that gives these beers their characteristically sour taste.

While these organisms can be used to make wonderful and complex beers, they can also prove to be persistent contaminants. The flavors created through their fermentative action can frequently produce unfavorable sensory characteristics in beer in which their presence is not intended. Simply put, we want to control microbial fermentation in our beer so that the flavors we target are found only in the final product of specific beers, not all of our beers.

To this end, the quality control process is our greatest tool. Since brewing uses living organisms, we are at the mercy of these yeast and bacteria. Exhibiting control over the process gives brewers the power to create the final product that they have in mind. There have even been historical European brewers quoted as saying that god is truly the maker of beer, we simply help guide it along it's path.

Long before the bottle reaches your lips, steps are taken to make sure the quality is maintained. We utilize a number of preventative measures to ensure that a 'bad beer' is never something that you, the consumer, have to experience in connection with our brand.

These measures include regular and thorough tank cleaning, and lab testing at many intervals in the brewing and aging process. In short, all our beer is sampled and tested at various stages during their fermentation and development - including bottling and kegging. All samples are plated on selective and differential media that allow us to see what, exactly, is in our beers. Rest assured that when you are enjoying a hand-crafted Bruery beer, much effort has been invested into ensuring that you receive the finest fermented beverage on the market.

--Kristen Bennett
Laboratory Intern and Technician 

Brettanomyces plated on The Bruery's lab media

Close up of Lactobaccilus bacteria.  Hello little friends!

Lactobaccilus bacteria plated on The Bruery's lab media

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Patrick the Comic Strip Star

Our friends at The Full Pint recently began working with a talented comic strip writer named Arne Frantzell.  He's been writing some super geeky, but rather hilarious comics about the craft beer scene, starring some of the better known brewers and breweries from around the country.  So far, two of these comics have featured our very own Patrick Rue and we bring them to you for your reading pleasure.  If you enjoy them, head on over and read the rest of them here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Usually I only post when my "Anniversary" comes around; I would tell you about what has changed in the past year and maybe give you a hint about what's coming up in the future. When Ben asked me to blog, I couldn't think of anything to write about that would be interesting to other people. I went through all my old photos and decided to write just a little about each one; plus, who doesn't love a book with pictures!

The entire Bruery staff back in 2007!
Patrick & I just finished placing all of the brewing equipment.

The first oak barrel I ever got to work with. It took a long time to try and convince my previous employer to buy me one. I picked it up myself from from a winery in Temecula. I still have a bottle of wine that came from it.

A picture of me from the first article ever written about me making beer; I was 22 years old at the time. The Daily Titan (Cal State Fullerton's newspaper) heard about me from a friend and they wrote an entire feature. This article led to a radio interview a few days later.

One of the first things I did at the Bruery was set up our QC program. Even before we made our first batch of beer, I wanted to make sure that the brewery would do its best to make "clean", consistent beers. The QC director at my old brewery trained me on making different types of media; I flew up to Reno and spent 24 hours learning about agar and different chemicals. This photo includes a recipe for one type of media and my "blueprint" for the layout and piping of our current brewhouse.

My original desk and "office" when we first opened. Back then I really didn't need one. I spent most of my time in the brewhouse: brewing, bottling and labeling each bottle by hand (physically sticking on the front & back labels!) Now, I spend a lot of time in my office making sure that our brewing and packaging teams have everything they need to get the job done.

Our original tasting room back when Patrick and I were the bartenders. We had 8 faucets but could barely fit 8 kegs into the kegerator. I spent about 3-5 days making this bar; just recently I finished building a second bar for our current tasting room. I definitely don't miss the long days of having to work in the brewhouse and then serve beer. It didn't make me a happy bartender!

I'm standing in front of a mound of hops in Yakima, WA. I went to Hop School with my old brewery (note the Bruery shirt...) and had the time of my life! Hopefully I can make it back sometime soon!

The start of our barrel collection in what is now our packaging area. Last time I counted, we have around 600 oak barrels filled and about 200+ ready to be filled. We are currently in the process of moving almost all of our oak barrels out of the brewery and into our new warehouse.

My view from the very first talk I gave at the CBC. I was on a panel with the brewmasters from Deschutes, Ommegang, Allagash and Boulevard with Karl Ockert moderating. I was honored to be next to them as well as scared out of my mind!

One of the first beer fests we attended as a brewery. My dad and I built this tiny replica of our tasting room bar the night before the fest. After seeing this photo of the bar when it was brand new, I realize just how much it's been used.

Some of you may know that Sierra Nevada is my favorite brewery. I recently had the privilege of touring their brewery with Jay, Doug and Jarred. This is a photo of their open fermentors which I believe at the time had Celebration in them. We left this trip with a new found passion for beer and a few ideas to help make our beer better.

This day was HUGE! For the first few years we were open, the brewhouse was using 3/4" water lines. Needless to say, if you were brewing and someone flushed a toilet you would know. About one year ago we ripped up the parking lot and ran a 2" water line from the main into the brewery filter. I'm currently working on increasing the line size post filter so we can finally utilize this pipe 100%.

Another HUGE day for us was the purchase of a bottler. Previously it would take us 15+ hours to bottle 30bbls on our gravity filler, with our new filler it would only take about 5 hours! We still use the gravity filler for all of our sour beers. Just recently we packaged close to 60bbls of Oude Tart; our packaging team finished it in two days! Good job guys!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pizza & Beer

A rather unfortunate misconception about beer is that it only pairs well with 3 foods: burgers, sausages and pizza.

Anyone who knows us and our beer knows that we push the boundaries on beer and food pairings.  We've done quite a few beer dinners and they almost always incorporate some truly delectable dishes from hamachi crudo to sous vide caribou to rabbit confit or pastrami cured duck breast...and sometimes dishes made from vegetables too.  We love working with competent chefs who understand flavors and respect our beers in the same way that we respect their food.

Burgers, sausages and pizza aren't necessarily a bad thing though.  There is a reason those foods are so popular - they are delicious.  And of course, there are some beers out there that perfectly compliment a simple cheeseburger or a slice of pepperoni pie and there is a time and place for everything.  But, what makes us giddy is a chef who can turn a simple classic concept into a work of art.  And what makes us even more giddy is being challenged by that chef to make a beer good enough to pair with his food.

That's what brings us to today's post.  Wine dinners and beer dinners have existed for years and they follow a simple planning formula: taste several wines or beers and come up with dishes to serve with each.  But what if we turned that on it's head in the same way that a gourmet chef deconstructs a burger, rebuilding it into something different, yet similar.  What if the food came first and the beer came later?

We were recently approached by the great people of with this very question.  Our answer was to bring it on.

Pizza Quest is helmed by the great Peter Reinhart, who is, for lack of a better term, a bread baking deity.  He has written several cook books on baking including winning a couple of James Beard awards for cook books such as The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  More recently, Peter wrote a fantastic book about his search for the perfect pizza and that is what brought him together with the producers of Pizza Quest.  He's a dough guy with a pizza fetish.

Second came in Chef Kelly Whitaker of Pizzeria Basta in Boulder, CO.  Kelly is a kick ass chef who's only source of heat in his entire restaurant is a wood fire brick oven.  He can cook just about anything in that thing from pizzas to short ribs to scallops.  He's an impressive guy and paired with Peter's knowledge of dough, he's seemingly unstoppable.

Thus came the challenge.  Peter and Kelly would team up on a special pizza for us to try and we would then have to concoct a beer to pair with that pizza.  

The whole Pizza Quest team showed up at our brewery early in the morning just a couple of weeks ago and when we say team, we do mean it.  Peter, Kelly, the PQ producers, a special cheese delivery of cheeses made just the night before from a local artisan, and of course...a portable wood fire brick oven. 

The day was incredible.  Peter filmed a segment on creating a couple of different pizza doughs, including the special one he would use for our "challenge pie".  That particular crust delved into the world of beer, which is, after all, liquid bread.  Besides some of the more standard flours and yeasts that he normally uses in his doughs, Peter added a bit of rye flour and shockingly, a bit of ground crystal malt.  Yes, he used malted barley, ground finely like flour, in the pizza dough!  

Peter and Kelly cooked us pizza after pizza, just demonstrating their skills and trying their best to go through the gallons of fresh tomato sauce and pounds of burrata cheese that had just been made 12 hours earlier that we had at our disposal.  It was a good day.

But then, when the oven was just at the right temperature, Kelly whipped out two different possible "challenge pies" for us.  One was a white pie and one a red pie.  After taste tests by everyone within reach, the white pie was decided on for the ultimate challenge.  It was a pie made on top of Peter's special dough using super fresh burrata, squash blossoms, white sardines, fresh arugula sprouts and flowers, preserved lemon and fennel salt along the crust.  All of the ingredients had been picked up earlier that morning at the famous farmer's market in Santa Monica by Kelly and they combined on this pizza to form something extraordinary.

Our job now is to create a beer recipe to brew and debut at a party outside of the Great American Beer Festival that will pair perfectly with this special pizza.

It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

We had an incredible time learning about dough and bread with Peter and we highly recommend you check out his blog post from this day as well as his others to learn something yourself.

Brick Oven outside of our brewery

Peter setting up his work station to make some dough. 

 Peter and Kelly discussing sauce.

 Patrick about to take our guests on a tour.

This was the alternate challenge pie. It had pistachios and some sort of lardo on it plus more.  Delicious.

 Tasting the challenge pies.

Our intern Kristen is a bit of a bread geek and a huge fan of Peter's.

About to put Kristen's pizza in the oven.

The challenge pie.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blending Oude Tart

Blending beer is an art.

There are certain breweries in Belgium that are world renowned for the beers, often being sited as the best of their style in the world that don't actually brew their own beer.  One large example is 3 Fonteinen brewery outside of Brussels.  They were founded back in the late 1800's as what they called a "guezery" or a brewery that specialized in blending multiple lambic beers from other breweries into the gueze style beer that they would bottle and sell.

Here at The Bruery we obviously spend most of our days brewing our own beer, but we send a lot of that beer away to rest in barrels.  Some of those beers have been aging since our very first months of brewing 3 years ago, while others are of course much younger.  Oude Tart, our gold medal winning (GABF & World Beer Cup) Flemish-style red ale is no different.

Today we brought out samples of several different batches of this beer that has been aging away in oak barrels.  Some of the barrels have instilled a heavy oak quality, some a real funk, some a clean acidity, some a roasty quality, some a more wine-like quality, and many other different enjoyable flavors.  The key to a well crafted oak aged ale, however, is blending properly to get just enough of each characteristic that will make the beer great.

We make several test blends with different percentages of each barrel of beer, constantly tasting and discussing the qualities that we like, dislike and want more or less of.  New blends are made, all of the percentages being carefully tracked so that they can later be scaled back up to a full batch number for the final product.

It's a very fun process, no doubt, but it is definitely tough to keep your palate tuned into the flavors.  And of course, we had a bottle of our first batch of Oude Tart, the one that got all the awards, sitting on the side for us to compare flavors.  Beers brewed with bacterias and oak are very hard to replicate year after year since so much is left to nature.  Hopefully we've created a blend for Oude Tart that will compare or outdo the original batch that we all loved so much when it was released back in 2009.  We think it will.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dogfish Head

As mentioned in our previous post, we are attempting to revive this blog and make it a great destination for you to learn about what we are doing as a company as well as some tidbits about craft beer and all that surrounds it. So, we're going to jump backwards a couple of weeks here and talk about an epic day in our life as a brewery that occurred in mid-June.

We've done a couple of collaboration brews at this point in our short life. About 2 years ago we had Wayne from Cigar City Brewing out at our place to create what eventually became Marron Acidifié and earlier this year we had Sean Lawson of Lawson's Finest Liquids out here to work on Acer Quercus with us. Both of these beers were very exciting to make as it's extremely fun to be challenged with ideas from a brewer that we don't typically work with. As with many things in life, we sometimes need a change in the way that we do things in order to bring back a little more heat to our fire, and getting to collaborate with other great brewers really helps the creative process in this way.

When Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head brewing asked us about doing a collaboration with him, there was no hesitation. Sam is not only one of the biggest names in the craft brewing industry, but his passion for styles beyond the norm are very similar, yet totally different from what we do here at The Bruery. We knew it would be a fun process.

A number of phone calls were made between Sam and Patrick and some of the other folks at our respective breweries. We each came to the table with several ideas for beers that we thought were out of the box enough to be what someone would expect when our two breweries combined forces, yet still sounded tasty. The list of ingredient ideas being traded back and forth over the telephone lines between California and Delaware was enough to make any TSA official who may have been listening in become a bit suspicious.

When it all came down to the final few ideas, the answer became quite clear. A Japanese inspired beer that we could brew with a laundry list of herbs, spices and fruits lending themselves to the citrus, spicy and umami flavors often associated with the profound subtlety of Japanese cuisine. Plus, we could donate a portion of the proceeds to the brewers and breweries in Japan who were suffering from the large Earthquake that recently hit their northern shores.

Sam planned his trip out west to coincide with the National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego and arrived at our brewery straight off of a plane from Philly Beer Week. He's a busy man.

We were prepared with all of the possible ingredients needed for the recipe that had been discussed. Everything from kumquats to ginger to chili powder to sesame seeds to seaweed. Flaked rice, brown rice syrup and some standard malts. And of course, sake yeast.

Sam came roaring into our brewery with the smile and friendliness that we all came and knew to love from his short-lived television show, "Brew Masters." He asked us questions about every inch of our brewery while being taken on a small tour.  He made a point of learning every employee's name and all in all, he was just an amazing guest. You'd think that he had had more than 2 hours sleep the night before...

The rest of the day was simply a pleasure. We began by tasting through some test batch beer that had been brewed previously on our 10 gallon system and mixed in some of the possible spices to get a feeling for what flavor we enjoyed the most. Sam helped Kevin mash in between discussions with Patrick and Tyler about everything from the beer at hand to the bocce ball tournament that we were all participating in that coming weekend.  Kumquats were emulsified, random Japanese treats were munched and, of course, several beers were imbibed.

Overall, the day was a big success.  We all had a great time coming up with a recipe together and getting to know each other while discussing war stories from the brewing trenches, plus it was probably the most hands on brewing that either Sam or Patrick have done in some time and it's always fun to put your boots back on.

The beer is currently in the final stages of fermentation and hopefully we will be releasing it upon the world soon.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Project is under way

Seems like we can't go more than 8 months or so here at The Bruery without taking on a new construction project of some sort. Whether it was building our brewery from the ground up, simply painting the walls and moving in desks to new office space or reconfiguring and building a retail store on our own, we seem to always be busy.

These past few weeks have been no different. We signed the lease on our new warehouse location, affectionately known around here as "The Grove" due to it's street address on Grove Ave, just a few weeks back, but construction has been moving along furiously. The floors were redone and resealed, the insulation in the warehouse was completely redone so that we can cool our barrels efficiently, offices were painted and some of the ceilings were ripped out and repainted in order to give it that cool and trendy 'industrial' feel. Funny that we had to change something in a warehouse office space to make it even more industrial...but it's beginning to look very cool. Besides having enough warehouse space to efficiently store close to 3,000 oak barrels in our current configuration plan (more if we decide to change some of our original thoughts), but the office space is big enough to house a staff about 3 times larger than the one we currently have. It's going to take some getting used to this whole concept of "personal space."

Anyhow...we just wanted to let you know that things are going well with the expansion and Project Quercus Maximus and also let you know that we plan on updating our blog a whole lot more in the coming months. We know it's been left to die a bit, but we hope to resurrect it with information on what's going on around here as well as other cool things about the craft industry, beer and beyond.