Monthly Archives: October 2013

IPA Brewing in 1800s America-Greenway IPA and Frank Jones IPA

One of the many surprising things that my research into historical IPA brewing uncovered was the abundance of American brewers that were brewing IPAs before prohibition. Most of the late 1800s IPA brewing was centered in the Northeast United States, as the Midwest was already becoming the stronghold of many of the German-inspired lager breweries that later dominated the American beer industry for many years.
These IPA brewers in the Northeast took much of their inspiration from the Burton brewing process, which meant that the beer was brewed with only pale malt, and was aged for an extended period in wood. Wood could be in the form of barrels, or large vats-which was the case with Fiegenspan and Ballantine. Hops were typically American Cluster, and Fuggles and whatever the brewers could get from Europe. Beer clarity was very important, I remember seeing old adverstisements for CH Evans IPA that claimed no sediment, no dregs.

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Peter Egleston, John Thompson, and Dave Yarrington from Smuttynose Brewing Co. helped point me in several directions for my research into the Frank Jones Brewery of Portsmouth New Hampshire, one of the biggest IPA brewers back in the day, and recently Peter sent me this piece from the Greenway Brewing Co., which I found interesting:

 

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The analyticals for the Greenway IPA. Click on the picture to get a better view.

 

 

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I wasn’t familar with the Greenway Brewing Co. from Syracuse New York, but a quick internet search shows that the brewery was one of the biggest in New York State. Not sure if it was bigger than CH Evans  of Albany in their prime. Some really interesting things about this sheet on their IPA:

1. The abv is just a hair over 7% by volume (alcohol by weight x 5/4 = alcohol by volume). 7% was kind of the industry standard for IPA in the 1800s.

2. The final gravity, 1.015 is not that dry, a little sweeter than normal for the times. 1.015 Specific gravity equates to 3.75°P, which is about the upper limit of what I’d recommend in an IPA. Some of the English and Scottish versions from the same time period finished as dry as 1.0-1.5 °P.

3. The health claims are not unusual for the times either. In England, IPA was recommended frequently by physicians for those with stomach or sleep ailments. And one can see similar recommendations in the US.

When I was learning about pre-prohibition IPAs brewed in the United States, I focused most of my research on CH Evans from Albany NY, Frank Jones in Portsmouth, Fiegenspan and Ballantine in Newark. But it’s interesting that I was able to find IPA brewing references from many other breweries in that area, though I didn’t have time to research these other breweries as much as I would have liked to.

Regarding the Frank Jones Brewery, the buildings of the old Frank Jones Brewery still stand in Portsmouth NH. Below are some photos I took a couple of years ago in Portsmouth of the old brewery buildings that didn’t make it into the IPA book. It was really great to see these buildings and imagine what it was like back when they were brewing.

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Brewery Ln in Portsmouth NH, minutes from downtown. The Frank Jones Brewery was located here.

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I believe this was the old brewhouse, but it might have been part of a malthouse. Note the construction date of 1884.

 

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The other side of the building I think contained the brewhouse

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So this is what the inside looks like. Looks like it could be a good reconstruction project. Hey-someone should put a brewery in here!

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Part of one of the old malthouses is now home to shops

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Remnants of Frank Jones’ influence can be seen in many places around Portsmouth. Not only was he a major brewer, but also was a politician and a real bigwig in the town. This building is in the middle of downtown Portsmouth, just a couple of blocks from Portsmouth Brewing Co. The famous Wentworth Hotel was also built by Frank Jones.

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An illustration of the Frank Jones Brewery from either the late 1800s or early 1900s. There are malt houses on both the left and the right, and the brewhouse is on the left at the rear. These are the buildings that still stand today.

Portsmouth is a wonderful town, just a great place to visit. I can’t believe I never did the brewery research when I lived in New Hampshire, but was glad to get an opportunity to dive in later.

For further reading, I suggest the book : Brewing in New Hampshire by Glenn A. Knoblock.

And have fun with this:

Frank Jones Brewery Song (c. 1897)

Come all you Jolly Sportsmen and listen to a song,
I will sing to you a verse or two I won’t detain you long,
Concerning Jones’ Brewery, indeed it look so neat,
The like of it you’ll never find in any other state,

‘Chorus’
Hurrah for Jones’ brewery, may it never fail
Brew us beer and porter and beautiful stock ale,
That’s the stuff for me, my boys, it drives away all pain,
Whenever I can get a glass of it I’ll have it just the same.

It is a splendid building, as we all well know,
The like of it you’ll never find, no matter where you go,
It is so well constructed, kept so neat and clean,
The mash floor and the cellar and the tun room just the same

Brewers they are so clever in brewing this splendid beer,
Jones golden cream ale, called for far and near,
Drank in Philadelphia and in the State of Maine,
In New York and Boston is called for just the same.

If you go cellar, what a splendid sight,
You’ll see a staff of hearty young fellows, full of mirth and glee,
Chiming up the barrels, just like any train,
Racking, or rolling out, or shipping, just the same.

There you’ll see Yankee Denny with his beautiful big nose,
Placing the barrels so neatly into rows,
If you never knew him or heard of his name,
You’ll know him by his bawling and hollering, just the same.

There you’ll see Paddy Holoran, he is just like any bull,
No matter where you’ll find him, he is sure to be full,
If he don’t get it at the cupboard, he cannot be blamed,
He will have it out of Jerry, or the rack tub, just the same.

I went to the hall the other night, there I did behold,
A house full of fine democrats, both noble, stout and bold,
Going to fight the republicans and uphold the country’s fame.
Republicans and democrats will drink it just the same.

It’s there I noticed Mr. Jones among the noble throng,
He is always agitating for the cause of the working man.
As for this coming election, he need not be afraid,
I hope I’ll see him governor of this New Hampshire State.

All these oily druggists boast of their little pills,
And they say they can cure all diseases from the toothache to the “jims.”
What are they to Jones’ ale? I am sure it is quite plain,
When all these pills and drugs do fail, it will cure you just the same.

Now to conclude and finish, I am feeling a little dry,
I sung to you a verse or two all without a lie,
If you take me to the bar I am sure you’ll get no blame,
And give Paddy a schooner of it, he will have it just the same.

 

 

 

 

 

GABF Medals-my thoughts…

Well, the 2013 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony just wrapped up and once again, Stone Brewing Co. did not win any medals. You won’t get any sour grapes from me, we don’t always try to brew strictly to the GABF style guidelines (which are critical criteria to win medals), and I certainly wouldn’t advocate changing any of our recipes in an attempt to win. But I won’t lie, it is a little disappointing, because I do believe in the quality and taste of our beers and our approach to brewing innovative and interesting beers. But I always say: “if you win a medal, it is fantastic, shout it from the rooftops! But if you don’t win a medal, it’s not a negative reflection on your beer, because for a variety of reasons there are many excellent beers that simply don’t win medals.”

If you are not familiar with the judging process at the GABF, it goes something like this:

First, the judging panel is made up of professional brewers, beer writers, and industry affiliates who all have extensive experience with sensory analysis and great knowledge of beer styles. These are all people that I have tremendous respect for. Everyone on the panel has an exceptional palate, and their varied experiences work well when it comes time to come to a consensus on the beers they are judging. A lot of these folks have been judging for many, many years, myself included, though I took a break this year. It’s a very fatiguing experience, seriously, it’s 2 1/2 days of carefully evaluating sometimes up to 150 beers. It’s fun, but really intense, especially when the judges don’t agree on what beers are the best at the table. This year there were over 200 judges from 11 different countries!

Judges are typically assigned to 6 or 7 person table, and you stay with that table for a session of 2-3 rounds of judging. There are 5 of these sessions total over 3 days. Often the judges will split the table down the middle, and each side will get 6-12 beers. If it is the first round in the style category, the judges on each side must select 3 to move to the next round, which, depending on the style and the number of entries, may not be the final round where medal winners are chosen. For the first round only, judges must fill out a detailed judging sheet and indicate whether your beer was selected to move forward. I review these judging sheets in great detail when they come back to the brewery, and I take solace in the fact that most of our beers do get passed on for more judging, despite rarely making it to medal status. Rarely do I see negative comments on our beers.

With close to 5000 beers having been entered into the competition this year, winning a medal at this event is a really nice feather in your cap. As a long time GABF Beer Judge, I can honestly say that the quality of beers being entered increases every single year. It used to be easy to pick three medal winners, now it’s often hard to choose 3 beers from the first round just for passing on to the next round-the beers are that good. And deciding which style to enter your beer in is its own art form-it can be tricky. I remember Stone Pale Ale finally won a medal a few years ago, when we switched it from the American Pale Ale category to the Special/Strong Bitter category.

Some of my brewer friends that I am really happy for as I review the results and write this:

Matt Cole at Fat Heads Brewery near Cleveland OH. Matt is one of my favorite people in this business, and his Head Hunter IPA has won several GABF medals over the years. This year he won 3 medals, a gold for his Hop JuJu Imperial IPA ( a VERY difficult category), and his Scharzbier and Fresh Hop Ale also medaled. I am so happy for Matt, he’s one of the best brewers in the country and a very good friend. I have had the pleasure to brew with Matt a few times, twice at his place-rye beers each time, and once at Stone, where we brewed a Texas Brown Ale.

Matt Brynyldson, whom I have known for a long time, and have collaborated with (El Camino UnReal with Shaun O’Sullivan), again won the mid-size brewer of the year award by getting 4 medals this year. Matt wrote the forward to my book on IPA, and is such a brewing talent and good guy, and Firestone-Walker kicks ass at this event every year. Way to go Matt!

Julian Shrago, whom I got to know several years ago at the Southern California Homebrewers festival, took the plunge and went professional at Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, and is brewing some really fantastic beers. I see him a few times a year, mostly up at LA-area beer events, and love what he’s doing. And apparently the GABF judges do as well, as he won a staggering 5 medals and was awarded the best mid-size brewpub brewer of the year. Congratulations Julian!

Alexandra Nowell at Kinetic Brewing in Lancaster CA won two medals this year! For their session beer and their kolsch. I got to know Alex earlier this year when we brewed a session IPA when she was at Drake’s in San Leandro. She’s a very talented brewer, and is brewing great beers at Kinetic.

Tonya Cornett at 10 Barrel Brewery in Bend won another medal, this time a Gold for their Berliner-Weisse. We just collaborated with Tonya and Megan Parisi to brew Suede, an amazing floral-accented and roasted Imperial Porter, brewed with jasmine, calendula, and avocado honey. Tonya has won many medals over the years, she is just an exceptional brewer.

Our friends Peter, Vicky, Todd and Bill at Alesmith won another couple of medals this year, one for their Old Numbskull Barley Wine, and for Decadence 2012. One of my favorite breweries in San Diego, and they usually do very well at the GABF.

I’m happy for Brock Wagner at St. Arnold’s in Houston for winning two medals this year. I’ve judged with Brock a bunch, and he’s been to our brewery a few times. Seems like we talk about brewing equipment a lot! He brews great German style beers and his Helles and German Wheat Ale won this year.

Wicked Weed in Asheville, NC won a gold for their Serenity Brett Ale. Brothers Luke and Walt are amazing brewers, and I got to know them on on a trip to Asheville this past spring. They have a really cool approach to brewing, and they are a lot of fun. And they haven’t even been open a year yet! I hope to see them again soon.

Our friends at Pizza Port also rocked it, with their Ocean Beach location getting 3 medals and Solana Beach getting one. I love Pizza Port, we go to their Carlsbad location a lot, and it’s absolutely my favorite place to get a great beer and some really tasty pizza.

Ben Edmunds from Breakside in Portland, OR, who I just saw in London, won 2 medals this year. He is one of my favorite Portland brewers, we met presenting at a barrel aging symposium last year during Portland Beer Week.
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Matt Van Wyk from Oakshire in Eugene also presented at that barrel aging symposium, and appropriately, won a gold in the wood and barrel aged beer category.

San Diego pioneering craft beer bar owners Scott and Karen Blair (Hamilton’s, Small Bar, etc) and their brewer Cosmo at Monkey Paw won a gold medal in the American Strong Ale category with Bonebus. Awesome!

It’s hard to win more than one medal at this event, and here are some congratulations for those not already mentioned that pulled this off: John Martin, who owns Drake’s and Triple Rock (and is one of my oldest friends in the beer business) whose breweries combined got 3 medals, Dick and David at Elysian won 2, Dan at New Glarus also won 2, fellow judge and SoCal brewer Victor Novak at TAPS won 2 medals- for his Helles and his Schwarzbier. He does well at this event every year. Steven at Boulevard won 2 medals, John at Troegs also won 2. Andy and Jim at Four Peaks won 2 medals. Ted Rice at Marble in New Mexico won 2, Figueroa Mountain Brewery won an amazing 5 medals from their 2 locations.

Congrats also to my good friends Shaun and Nico at 21st Amendment, Jamie at Ninkasi, Jason and Jim Ebel at Two Brothers, Spike at Terrapin, Tomme and Gwen at Lost Abbey, Rich and his team at Bear Republic, Brian O’Reilly at Sly Fox, the team at Iron Hill, Doug, Brendan and Scott at Odell, and Phil at Ommegang for winning medals this year. Well-deserved!

And for Stone, better luck next year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

GABF and Yakima, WA

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling over the past month, and decided, after thinking hard about it, to not go the Great American Beer Festival this year. This is the first year in many years that I won’t be going, and there will be some regrets, but I need a couple of weeks at home and in the office before I travel again, to Austin at the end of October for the Master Brewers Association of the Americas National Conference (in my mind, the best set of brewing technical sessions in the USA).

I remember the first time I went to the GABF, back in the early 1990s when I lived in Colorado and was working for Anheuser-Busch. I had a couple of friends fly out to join me, and along with my wife, we went to every session. My expectations were quite high, I had been hearing about this event for several years, and was really glad we finally got to go and experience it. And plus I was able to visit a lot with Bill Millar, who owned San Andreas Brewing Co. and gave me my first brewing job. The number of breweries serving beer blew me away, and I enjoyed trying beers from many brewers I wasn’t familiar with.

Since then, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve missed this epic beer festival. I went again on my own while I lived in Ft. Collins, and then was able to convince the folks at the Anheuser-Busch Specialty Brewing Group that we were missing out by not participating in a big way. Fortunately they agreed with me, and we had good booths featuring some of our specialty beers and even some experimental beers over the years. We also worked with the Brewers Association to host some off-flavor training booths at the fest, which we did for a couple of years.

In the late 1990s, when Tom Schmidt, the taste training guru at Anheuser-Busch, decided to retire, he nominated me to take his place on the prestigious Professional Judging Panel that awards the medals every year. To say I was thrilled was an understatement, and I have since judged nearly every year. I’m going to miss it this year, but Stone Brewing Co. will be represented with a judge, and I’ll get back on the saddle for the World Beer Cup at next spring’s World Beer Cup.

So what will I miss? Mostly I’ll miss seeing my friends in the business. There are years where this is the only time I get to see them, and it’s easily the best part about being there. I’ll also miss the judging sessions, which, though very rigorous and fatiguing, are also very rewarding, inspirational, and educational. And they are a great way to get to really know other brewers and the affiliated beer industry folk that serve on the panel. I’ll miss the post GABF parties at places like The Falling Rock, Euclid Hall, Cheeky Monk, Hops & Pie, and Star Bar. I’ll miss visiting the local breweries: Wynkoop, Rock Bottom, Flying Dog, Copper Kettle, Breckenridge, Sandlot, Crooked Stave and others. And I’ll miss the beer, all the new beers I would get to try, and the joy of discovering an excellent brewery that I hadn’t previously known.

So with this list and all these accolades about the GABF, what drove me to not go? Several reasons, the biggest one simply being a need to be at home and get back into my routine for a couple of weeks. The GABF is a marathon for everyone, it’s loud and crowded, especially the Friday evening and Saturday evening sessions, and I tend to lose my voice every year, probably because I spend too much time speaking at high volume, drinking beer while doing so, and getting affected by the altitude and dry air. And when I get home from many consecutive nights of too little sleep and many consecutive days being “on the go” from about 8:00 am till about 2:00 am, it’s taking me longer and longer to recover every year. And finally, since I’ve been at Stone, the only time we’ve won medals have been the years where I haven’t attended, so maybe my staying home will be a good luck charm! Wish us luck this year!

This is the biggest, and still in many ways, one of the best beer events that America has to offer, and if you are a beer fan and haven’t gone, please do yourself a favor and make the arrangements to go in the near future. It gets bigger and better every year, it’s an extremely well run event, and it’s a bucket list item for sure if you like beer.  Stone is going to have a great booth this year. We are serving some very special beers, and for the first time, we will also have a booth representing our Liberty Station Brewery.

This past week, I did a quick trip to Yakima, WA to wrap up our hop selection and speak at the Master Brewers District Northwest meeting. It was a very good trip, and I’m excited about our hops this year. It was great to see my brewing friends from WA and OR, and try “new” (at least for me) beers from breweries like Worthy, Icicle, Pfriem Family Brewers, 10 Barrel, Pike, Bridgeport, Fremont and Two Beers, among others. A lot of brewers in the Northwest are canning their beers, and there was a great discussion on mobile canning lines during the MBAA meeting. And it was neat to see Haas’ new experimental brewing operation, which is an absolute technical marvel, and also Bale Breakers Brewery, owned and operated by several 4th generation hop farmers from the Smith Family at Loftus Ranch. Try their Field 41 Pale Ale, brewed with Simcoe, Citra and Ahtanum hops, some of our favorites at Stone. Wonderful beer.