Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One Guy Brewing Grand Opening

Me, my brother John and Dad rushed over to the One Guy Brewing Company on 328 West Front St. in Berwick PA on Saturday January 26th to participate in the opening of a new brewery owned and operated solely by one guy, Guy Hagner. The name of the brewery is One Guy Brewing.

The brewery and taproom is located in a oldish brick building that was formerly a bakery (Vaughn's?). The taproom is oh about 16' by 32' or 40' and simply and tastefully decorated with various original and reproduction artwork adorning the walls. There's an especially nice, large, vintage Pabst Blue Ribbon metal sign gracing the white back wall. On the front wall to the right of the front door as you enter is the bar and behind the bar is what looks like an original sliding wooden door the type you might see in an old warehouse that's painted a nice blue (Prussian blue?) that leads to the brewery and kitchen. Oh, there are about 10 bar stools and a few tables and chairs arrayed around the room as well. There's warm wooden flooring spreading across at least half and perhaps all of the taproom--I didn't get an especially good look at the other side of the seating area due to the mass of beermanity present. I didn't have a chance to anything but peek behind the blue door to see what was back there. Maybe next time?

There were a good 30 people there when we arrived on the scene just before 1 p.m. and by 2 p.m. I would say the taproom was thick with beer bellies that made it difficult to get around...perhaps 75 people packed the place by the time the ceremonial first keg was tapped. Guy himself was helping out behind the bar along with a couple of friends and were they ever busy pouring their savory brew into glasses, shakers (pints), and growlers! Word to the wise: there are growlers available for takeout and while we were there, I saw a number of them being filled.

We stood at a bistro table in front of the PBR sign and enjoyed the company of Uncle Sam who was present to officiate at the opening. Uncle Sam (a.k.a. Terry) was of course dressed in his Red, White, and Blue finest including stars and stripes top hat. What a sight! As it turns out, Terry put in the suspended ceiling for Guy.

I would say for the first hour there wasn't a letup from the customers queuing up in front of the bar to sample the various brews, but eventually it slowed down enough for Guy and his friends to bring out the wooden keg. But before tapping the keg Guy thanked everyone for coming and made a point that it couldn't have been done without a lot of his friends. I didn't catch anyone's name or know anyone personally, but he listed various friends who: helped find equipment for the brewery, put up the suspended ceiling, plumbed the placed, and helped behind the bar. He thanked his mother and father who were there, his sister and brother-in-law to be who traveled in for the opening from Boston, and finally his family kids and wife. Then, Guy himself, holding the mallet pulled his arm back and thunked a mighty blow that drove the tap home into the barrel to a roar of approval. Quickly he filled glasses, steins, and pints and raised them to shouts of Prost!

One Guy Brewing (Guy) has about six or seven of their own beers on tap including: Beer Number One (the first beer he brewed and served out of a wooden cask--a firkin?), Berwick Lager (faintly reminiscent in the finish of Yuengling Lager to me, but not corny tasting), a wonderfully light, refreshing Pils, a Peach Wheat (sorrowfully, I didn't taste it), a Rauch Bock (regretably didn't get a chance to exploit this one either), and one or two other beers I didn't taste. One Guy Brewing seems to have a definite German influence in their beer selections. Each beer was unique in character, like the brewery--I'll try to review them all later when the excitement dissapates a little!

I will most definitely go there again to savor all of the beers and perhaps get a chance to talk to Guy. If you're in the area and want to have a great pint or two you should stop by. You'll also have the chance to see first-hand one guy's fulfilled dream.

Contact Details
Guy Hagner
One Guy Brewing Company

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chicago via Scranton

Went to the matinee showing of Chicago yesterday in Scranton at the Scranton Cultural Center with my friend Sylvia. It was a rousing performance and it played to a packed house. I never saw the movie so I didn't know what to expect (Sylvia had) but I was pleasantly surprised by the performance. If you haven't seen it, the dancing is wonderful, the songs strong, and the story and comedy just off-the-wall enough to keep you honed in. It always amazes me how well these artists perform and they NEVER make any mistakes. Afterwards we went searching for that Brazilian Steakhouse, couldn't find it and ended up at Coopers. Sylvia says that my car has an internal beer compas that always seems to point us there (much to her chagrin). We sat in the non-smoking bar and I decided on the Victory Hop Wallop which I had never had before. (They had Victory Hop Devil from their hand-pump but I haven't been a huge fan of it in the past since it's hoppy and those aren't my favorite beers.) Well, I'm here to tell you that even though Hop Wallop is supposedly more hoppy yet, it ended up being very good and went well with my side of steamed clams and lobster parmesan (both excellent). It arrived in a pint glass with a snow-white head, one and a half amputated fingers high. The color was tending towards a light amber and to my Polish nose could make out very little hop aroma. The taste though, what a wallop. Once I recovered from the first bonk, I tried a second sip and the thing that came though to me and probably best describes the flavor was a strong herbal taste sensation with just the right amount of effervescence. The first went down easy and the second even easier. If you've not been to Coopers you really don't know what you're missing. They have oh, about 20 different micros both import and domestic on draft and they claim 400 different bottles. It's worth the trip

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

At least my taste Buds still work

You know, I often think (I may already be stretching it a bit here) that I should start trying to review the beers I drink. Oh, I don't drink a lot of different beers, I'm somewhere between a teetotaler and beer snob and probably sample oh, 50 new beers a year, but I don't review any of them. Oh, I'm a Beer Advocate but I've only reviewed one beer in about two years. Why? I'm color blind and can't really tell colors. Everything looks piss yellow to me. No, not really, but I really can't tell the color of a beer that well. Perhaps it pshychological and I should just try to colorize the beer based on what my tastebuds tell me: a tart beer? Oh it's greenish. A spicy beer? Red of course. Banana? Yellow. Piss? Well you get the idea. I suppose I could make up for it with my Bard-like writing qualities but would a reader understand this? I guess I'd have to put a warning prologue on each of my reviews: Warning: This beer has been reviewed by a blind, eyeless, beggar from NEPA. You have been warned. Or maybe I need Gordy Laforge visor that will show me true colors. Does anybody else have this problem and how do you handle it?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Goat's in the Details

Here are some details about my Christmas brew recipe that I promised to post:

Batch #2; October 27, 2007; "Lock, Bock & Barrel"; Lager Style
9# amber malt extract
1/2# chocolate malt
1/2# crystal malt
1/4 #black carafe #I malt
1.5 oz hallertauer hops for flavor
.5 oz hallertauer hops for aroma
.5 oz sweet orange peel
46 g Fermentis S-23 yeast

Two gallons Glen Summit Spring Water
Bring water to 70 deg. C
Steep all grains at 70 deg. C for 30 minutes
Sparge spent grains
Bring to boil, add amber malt and flavor hops
Boil for 45 minutes
Add orange peel and aroma hops
Boil for 15 minutes.

Yeast rehydration
Boil 10 oz. Glen Summit Sprint water
Cool to 26 deg. C
Add two packets yeast
Stir every three minutes for 30 minutes

Primary Fermentation
Add three gal. Glen Summit Spring water to fermentation vessel
Transfer wort to fermentation vessel
Cool wort to 70 deg F.
Take and record original gravity (1.076)
Add yeast cream
Stir for two minutes
Airlock and place in refrigerator

Maintain 40 deg. F for two weeks
Transfer to airlocked secondary fermentation vessel
Take and record final gravity (1.026)

Diacetyl Rest
Move to room temperature for 24 hours ((11/10/2007) 62 deg F.)

Move back to refrigerator and begin lagering
Gradually lower temperature from 41 deg. F (11/11/2007) to 30 deg. F
Maintain at 30 deg. F for 37 days

Transfer to bottling vessel with 5 oz. of priming sugar
Transfer to bottles (12/18/2007) and cap
Condition at room temperature for six days
Transfer back to refrigerator until Christmas

I used twice the dosage of yeast since I was not able to maintain 53-59 deg F. fermentation temperatures in my refrigerator. My primary fermentation was about 40 deg. F. but there was still very good yeast activity at this temperature by visual observation. I basically winged it on this one as it was my first try at a lager. I read up as much as I could before-hand to achieve at least some level of drinkability!

I ended up only labeling a few with front and neck labels as I was having a hard time getting the labels to stick (see other posts). In the future I'm going to experiment before-hand to find the best in terms of ease of labeling, and ease of removal afterwards.

I think my F.G. was probably a bit lower than 1.026 as I didn't take my final reading just before bottling. Next time!

Tasting Notes
Medium brown in color, thin head, minimal lacing. Very little hop essence or flavor in the mouth. Very rounded, full, mouthfeel and it tasted almost wine-like. Gave to my brothers/uncles/father for Christmas gifts. Some of their comments: ``What was the alcohol content in that?'' and ``That was strong!'' and ``That was the best beer I've ever tasted.'' (after drinking a couple). I liked it but wished for a bit more hop flavor althought what I produced was probably fairly accurate for this style. It all went. Prost!

Friday, January 11, 2008

My take on cellaring

Problem: I don't really have enough space to brew as comfortably as I'd like. I do have the pharaoh of a spare refigerator to lager, the kitchen sink, etc., but wouldn't it be nice if I had my own dedicated, home brewery? Solution: I have been thinking of digging down another level in my basement--a cellar if you will, below the grade of the basement floor. Why? Well, for one, it would be a nice cool temperature down there where I can cellar beer the old-fashioned way. Two: it would give me space where I could keep all of my brewing stuff and not clutter up my bar area. Three: it could serve as armegeddon sheltering for when the nasty germs/evil terrorists/government comes a calling. It would have a hidden trap door and a ladder to climb down, to save space of course. I'd make it oh, 8x8 or 10x10. I'd have to put some supports to hold up the slab overhead but that should be a piece of cake. You know, I do have mining in my blood--I was wondering when it was going to manifest itself and it looks like it has. I would have to run some electricity down there. If I located it properly relative to the other facilities in the basement, I could put in a nice deep sink and pump the drain output up to the basement draining system--perhaps into the bar sink drain. Imminently doable. And as has been uttered before: ``Make it so number one.''

Christmas Beer Labels

By popular demand, here's the labels we came up with for our 2007 limited edition Christmas beer. It took a while to come up with something clean looking that would evoke the spirit of the Beer. There's at least two things going on in this label and perhaps more. If you find a third after quaffing your third, let me know. If you find just the first and 2nd meanings, then let me know, too. As I said, I had a difficult time getting these to stick.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Eastern PA. Beer Heaven?

Here's a fine article by Eric Asimov on extreme beers. His panel has some good things to say about Weyerbacher and their Double Simcoe I.P.A. Weyerbacher is a great brewery located in Easton and they make some of my favorite beers. Victory of Downingtown PA is mentioned for their Hop Wallop beer.

And here's another with a local slant on the Belgium styles and some places to go to have one (or two) with some good food. Specifically, Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia is mentioned.