Cheers to the Revolution

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By supporting craft microbreweries, like Athentic Brewing Company, you are a true revolutionary! You want – no – dare I say, you demand more full-flavored beer, more beer choices and most importantly you insist that the beer you are drinking is brewed locally by small independent craft brewers.

A revolution is defined literally as a “turn around” and is typically a fundamental shift and sudden change in a new direction, often in the face of resistance. The rise of Craft Beer is and has been a revolution against the mass marketed dominance of the big national brands and the laws that prevent the little guys (microbreweries) from getting a fair shake.

We raise a pint and a resounding “Cheers!” to some of these inspiring figures in the revolution of craft beer:

Fritz Maytag

Maytag took a huge risk in 1965 when he purchased the then failing Anchor Brewing Company. He altered the traditional Anchor Steam Beer recipe and the complex brewing process, and in time the beer surged in popularity. As the brewery grew, Maytag helped competitors become proficient in microbrewing. Maytag won the 2008 James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement award for his work at Anchor Brewing.

Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary

The founders of Boston’s Harpoon Brewery set out to solve a simple problem in 1986; there wasn’t a beer that thrilled them in the pubs where they lived. After a trip abroad, they discovered the world of beer that was available to those who searched, and they decided to bring these different beers to Boston. They proved that innovation and experimentation would be rewarded in the craft beer industry.

John Maier

In May of 1989, Maier arrived in the small coastal town of Newport just in time to create brew number one at Rogue Brewery. 27 years and 20,000 brews later, John still rides his bike daily over the Yaquina Bay Bridge to the brewery where he continues to create innovative brews that have garnered international acclaim.

Brian “Spike” Buckowski and John Cochran

Buckowski and Cochran worked together at the Atlantic Brewing Company before partnering together to create the Terrapin Beer Company. In April 2002, they created and introduced Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale at the Classic City Brew Fest in Athens, Georgia. In October of the same year, their Rye Pale Ale was awarded the American Pale Ale Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival, which put Terrapin on the craft beer map. They knew from the beginning they had something great and worked to see a dream fulfilled. Their passion inspired many of the Georgia brewers that we know today.

Nancy Palmer

Today’s craft beer revolution is led by no other than Georgia’s own Nancy Palmer, the Executive Director for the Georgia Craft Brewers’ Guild, who became the first woman to receive the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award for her passion and tireless work to help modernize Georgia’s antiquated beer laws. Cheers to you Nancy for everything you do!

Who’s Next?

Who will be the next person to push the boundaries of the craft beer industry?  Just maybe you know this person or perhaps it might be you. The Athentic Brewing Company looks to the past to be inspired and looks to the future to be part of the next chapter in the craft beer industry.

Cheers to the Revolution!

Join our revolution by supporting the Athentic Alliance. Memberships can be purchased here.

 

My Naughty Little Pet- Part 2

The founders at Brew Fest

In our prior post about our Wee Heavy Scottish Ale, “My Naughty Little Pet” (Part I), we had just concluded a very long brew day brew day and the Edinburgh Yeast was added to the freshly brewed wort. Let’s start from there.

It is said that brewers make the wort and the yeast make the beer. True That! Since we were making an ale, the wort had to be maintained at a constant temperature of 68 F (20 C) for about two weeks. Since fermentation produces a substantial amount of heat, the tanks must be cooled constantly to maintain the proper temperature.

The fermenter is sealed off from the air except for a long narrow vent pipe, which allows carbon dioxide to escape from the fermenter. Since there is a constant flow of CO2 through the pipe, outside air is prevented from entering the fermenter, which reduces the threat of contamination by stray yeasts.

Once it was decided that the fermentation was nearing completion, we took a gravity reading in order to gauge the level of alcohol and to taste the beer for the first time. We then decided to transfer 10.5 gallons from the fermentor into a cask containing oak spirals previously soaking in bourbon whiskey and cocoa nibs. The fundamental distinction between cask and other ales is that the yeast is still present and living in the container from which the cask ale is served, although it will have settled to the bottom and is usually not poured into the glass. Because the yeast is still alive, a slow process of fermentation continues in the cask or bottle on the way to the consumer, allowing the beer to retain its freshness.

The beer remaining in the fermentor was allowed to finish fermentation and was then force carbonated and kegged. Both the cask version and the keg (draft) version of “My Naughty Little Pet” clocked in at nearly 9.5% ABV. Although these were hefty beers in terms of alcohol, they were so well balanced with flavor, aroma and mouthfeel, that they were easy to consume and how they ultimately gained their reputation as “naughty” pets.

We had so much fun sharing both versions of “My Naughty Little Pet” at the Classic City Brew Fest on April 7th, while talking up the Athentic Brewery launch to all our fans and friends. We even got to chat on Beer Guys Radio with hosts Tim Dennis and Brian Hewitt. In all, it was a great day for Athens and Georgia Craft Beer. Cheers to Owen Ogletree and his Team for another great Classic City Brew Fest!

The Beer Wall

It’s ok to be self serving.

It’s a pretty freeing concept once you decide to take the plunge. When it comes to beer, you should be in control what you want to try, how much you want, and when you want to drink it. By being self serving, you control all these aspects. Once you start, it will be hard to go back to any other way of drinking.

The concept is pretty straightforward: you hand over your credit card (much like opening a tab), get a card with a chip that keeps track of how much beer you’ve poured, and then make your way over to the wall of taps to see what looks appealing. Screens above the taps list what’s being poured at each one, and you can touch the screen to reveal a description of the beer, ABV, and price per ounce. You can pour as much or as little as you like. There are glass rinsing stations on each end of the set of taps so you can refresh your glass between beers or beer styles. As you pour, you can see how many ounces you’ve got and the cost for that beer, along with your total. After 32 ounces you’re cut off until you check in with a host, a measure to prevent over serving inebriated patrons.

At Athentic Brewing Company, we also have another method called the “Athentic Alliance.” This is a free membership club that allows you to have a permanent card that is registered to your account. This allows you to pre load the card with any amount of money and use it at the beer wall and for merchandise in the store. Membership also allows you to skip the line when you walk in and go straight to the ID check station. Members receive additional perks such as member only events, discounts on ticketed events and merchandise, and more. To learn more about the card, you can go here.

And, if you are afraid of missing the interaction with the bartender- don’t worry. There are Beer Ambassadors present that are available to talk beer with you and help you find the right beer for your tastes and mood. They are also available to help you with the pouring, the transactions, and any problems that might occur since they won’t be trying to pour perfect pints at the same time.

Pouring your own beer is pretty fun. The golden liquid pouring down the side of a glass is one of the prettiest things someone can see. Not having to wait in stacked lines hoping to be noticed by a bartender is a thing of beauty.

My Naughty Little Pet- Part 1

In preparation for the 2019 Classic City Brew Festival (April 7th at the Cotton Press, Athens GA), we wanted to brew something that had some significant heft; deep flavors and a decent alcohol presence. Afterall, the Classic City Brew Fest is rated as a Top 20 US Beer Festival for Beer Geeks (by Connoisseur Magazine). As an added bonus to our excitment at being at Brew Fest, all proceeds go to benefit the Athens Area Humane Society! In honor of the festival and its chosen charity, we decided to break out our Wee Heavy Scottish Ale, a “take no prisoners” style of malty beer,  that we named “My Naughty Little Pet”.

Mark and Paul first brewed “My Naughty Little Pet” back in November of 2014. It was brewed again for the 2018 Peach State Brew Off, where it took a 2nd place medal. Each time, it has been refined with the intention to coax more flavor from the big, malty grain bill and the Edinburgh Scottish yeast strain.

We brought back a favorite for our maiden voyage on our Ruby Street Pilot Brewing System and our SS BrewTech Fermentor. The grain bill was a massive 110 lbs. in a 45-gallon mash tun so once the milled grains were added to the warm water, there was no turning back.

It was a long brew day. In some respects, this was because of the beer style and longer boil time but also because we encountered our share of unexpected learning opportunities. This is a nice way of saying we didn’t have our sh%& together. As homebrewers, we mostly brewed on a 5-gallon system that did not require any pumps and so here we are debating which pump feeds in what direction to get the wort recirculating between the mash tun and hermes coil in the hot liquor tank. Then realizing, that in fact, we didn’t even have the pump plugged in. Or when we were ready to connect the fermentor to the glycol loop to regulate the temperature and then realizing the connectors from the tank did not match the connectors on the glycol loop. This was fixed with a quick trip to Lowes. Whew…

The good news is that we ultimately prevailed and successfully (knock on stainless) got the wort into the fermenter and added the yeast.  Our “Naughty Little Pet” has been happily fermenting ever since and in 2 weeks, we will transfer the finished beer into a cask and some kegs. This will be our first time working with a cask so we are excited as you are to see the final results.

Stay tuned for Part II where we will report back on introducing our pet at the Classic City Brew Fest. Also, check out our Facebook page the day of the event for live feeds, Q&As, and maybe some special surprises!

What is your favorite beer?

“So….What’s your favorite beer?”

This is a pretty common question that Mark and Paul, the founders, have gotten over the years. But it is not as simple a question as one would think. Their tastes in beer have humble beginnings and has significantly evolved over the ensuing years.

They were certainly around when craft beer started to be a “thing” in the United States in the late 1970s but were unaware of it. After all, they both grew up in Midwestern rural communities. Anything trendy on either coast was going to take several more years to reach them.

“To be honest, we were both underage when we had our first beer. It was essentially a rite of passage. After a hard day’s work of farming, construction, etc., there eventually was going to be a point when someone was going to hand you a cold beer because you had earned it. That first beer was certainly consumed quickly, perhaps too quickly, to rinse the dust from our throats but it felt so damn good to have a cold beer with the guys,” reminisced Paul.

In the early days, Mark was quite happy drinking Schmidt Beer (preferably in a big mouth bottle) and Paul was content pounding back an Old Milwaukee. They both remember the advent of light beers in the 80’s and enjoyed Miller Light and Coors Light. If nothing else, the light beers were thirst quenching and would eventually lead to a good buzz. They also remember interesting beer drinking games such as Quarters (an early predecessor to Beer Pong), Drink or Sink (requiring a steady hand) and Mexican (dice game).

Paul remembers the fateful day in the fall of 1984 when he first had a craft beer. A buddy of his was drinking Newcastle Brown Ale and he was buying so Paul asked to try it. The first impression was immediate and remains to this day; dark amber in color, smelled of toasted bread and caramel with a distinct nuttiness, and a hint of brown sugar like sweetness as it finished. One swallow and Paul was hooked. He could not believe that a beer could have such a rich aroma and flavor.

If his first craft beer was an almost religious experience for Paul, Mark does not recollect his first craft beer with that kind of passion. However, the one that comes to mind was most likely experienced in Fort Collins, Colorado when he visited the New Belgium Brewery and had a Fat Tire (Amber Ale) directly from the tap. The color was amber, the aroma was of biscuit and caramel, and the taste was smooth, toasted and malty with a little sweetness leading to a clean finish.

There are now over 7,000 craft breweries in the US and counting. With so many unique and different beers emerging each day, the question of what is their favorite beer is always answered with a smile and the reply, “It’s the one I am holding.”

The Story of ‘Bold Faced Rye’

Paul Skinner brewing Bold Face Rye

A Collaboration between Athentic Brewing Company and Akademia Brewing Company

Almost no one brews a Roggenbier style beer (at least very few commercial breweries) and there is a good reason. A true Roggenbier is a German Rye Beer that contains more than 50% rye malt, with the remainder of the grain bill including wheat malt and other specialty grains.  Rye is a distinctly unique grain known for its characteristic spiciness but is very difficult to brewbecause it is a huskless grain. When the rye malt is combined with warm water in the mashing process it becomes thick and nearly impenetrable. To offset this ‘sticky’ situation, rice hulls are added to provide structure and allow water to circulate through the grain bed.

Our original batch of ‘Bold Faced Rye’ was brewed for the 2017 Athens Homebrew Classic, basically because we were curious about this historical beer style and wanted to try something unusual. At that time, we were calling it ‘Requiem Rye’ but try saying that three time fast.  To our surprise, it won “Best of Show” meaning that the judges deemed it as the top beer at the competition. One of the awards was to have it brewed commercially by our friends at Akademia Brewing Company.

As excited as were to have our beer brewed by Akademia, we were a little afraid to tell Matt Casey (Owner) and Morgan Wireman (Brewmaster) just how difficult a brew day it was going to be and why we decided to dub it ‘Bold Faced Rye’. Fortunately, they were up for the challenge and thought the Roggenbier style would be an interesting addition to their regular line-up of beers.

The ‘Bold Faced Rye’ lived up to its name in every way including no less than 5 stuck sparges as we were circulating and clarifying the wort (vorlaufing) in the mash tun. Morgan used all his tricks to unplug the each stuck sparge, only to have it plug again and again. With additional help from Mac McMillan and Kerry Roberts, we prevailed and collected nearly 6 barrels of the Bold Faced Rye in the boil kettle. Once we got the wort to the fermentor, we added a large pitch of Weihenstephan Wheat Yeast and fermented at a lower temperature to impart a slight clove flavor to the beer.

After a couple weeks in the fermentor , it was ready to be kegged and served. Thanks to Matt Casey and Aaron Martin the ‘Bold faced Rye’ was distributed locally and within Georgia. The additional promotion from Dallas Duncan gave us a phenomenal response – especially for our first commercial batch. We could not be happier and forever will be grateful to all the folks at Akademia for helping to make this possible. Cheers!