Monday, December 28, 2009

Mike Hiller Interview

In this episode we speak with Mike Hiller, founder and headbrewer of
Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Co. in Williamsport, PA.

you can download the audio here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Afternoon with a Bavarian Barbarian

Near the end of our early morning brew day at Bullfrog, Mike Hiller, founder and brewer of Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Company, walked in to drop off a sack of malt. We had been emailing with him to set up a time to talk, but hadn't settled on a anything yet. We agreed on early afternoon and ran back to the hotel for a quick nap before meeting up with him at his brewery just down the street.

Mike is a Williamsport, PA native as well as an ex-welder, actor and almost novelist. His first brewing job was at Legend Brewing Company in Richmond, VA. Legend produces a wide variety of fresh beer to a limited market at an affordable price, as an alternative to mass produced swill, which seems to have informed Mike's own business decisions.

Mike and his wife Kira run the whole operation: Mike is the brewer, salesman and delivery driver and Kira runs the business side of the operation. Mike takes a craftsman approach to both his brewing and his business: pragmatic and with forethought.

Bavarian Barbarian is the ideal local counter balance for the more out-there beers of Bullfrog. Mike strives to make his beers accessible, winning over Bud-Miller-Coors drinkers, while staying true to the fact that his aim is flavorful craft beer. His beer is also reasonably priced at $4 a bomber at the Wegman's around the corner.

It is always good for a small business of any type to get the locals involved in their business early. For a small brewery a loyal fan-base means free word of mouth advertising (the most reliable kind) and customer requests for your beer at local bars and beer stores.

Mike focuses on sessionable beers to pair with experiences, even if some of them are a bit higher in alcohol than the English tradition. His year-round beers are all the standards: brown, pale, IPA, stout. He adds onto these with seasonals like a dunkleweisse and a Brett spiked, spiced summer saison (with a yeast culture from Bullfrog).
Mike was inspired by Brewing Up a Business, the brewing autobiography of Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish Head. He meticulously worked on crafting a business plan for a long time, allowing him to raise the money needed to start the brewery. He purchased a big industrial space which gives him the room to expand when he outgrows his initial 10 barrel system, or when he wants to add a canning line. These days there is enough good beer available in most places that it takes more than good brewing skills to get a small brewery off the ground.

Mike is a committed locabeervore who preaches that PA is overflowing with amazing, well crafted beer, yet is inundated with alluring west coast labels that squeeze out the local fresh beer from shelves and taps: not that out-of-state beer doesn't deserve a place in your fridge or cellar, but more a case of missing the forest for the trees when it comes to supporting local beer.

BrewLocal, Buy Local, Drink Local...Ride Easy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Terry Hawbaker's Recipe

"I just had to do something different this year instead of the same old cinnamon/ginger/christmas spice crap... did I say crap I meant beer" - Terry Hawbaker


Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 20.60
Anticipated OG: 1.103
Anticipated SRM: 27.2
Anticipated IBU: 21.4
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

82.5% - 17.00 lbs. Pale Malt
4.9% - 1.00 lbs. Munich Malt
2.4% - 0.50 lbs. Crystal 90L
1.2% - 0.25 lbs. Carafa III
1.2% - 0.25 lbs. Crystal 60L
7.8% - 1.60 lbs. D2 Candi Syrup

1.50 oz. East Kent Goldings Pellet (5.00% AA) @ 90 min.

0.25 Tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
1-1.5 Diced Chocolate Habereros 7 days
8 oz French Cocoa Nibs 7 days

White Labs WLP510 Bastogne Belgian Ale Yeast

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 60 min @ 149

Place cocoa nibs and habeneros in a straining bag and leave them in contact with the beer for 1 week in secondary right before bottling/kegging.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bullfrog Video Tour

Join us for a cellar tour of Bullfrog Brewery with Terry Hawbaker.

Teaser Alert - to find out what's in those wild barrels in the basement, you're just gonna have to stop in and ask for Terry.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Terry Hawbaker Interview

For our 4th episode we'll be speaking with Terry Hawbaker of Bullfrog Brewery, in Williamsport, PA.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bullfrog Brew Day

Having tried a few different and striking bottles from Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA we knew it was only a matter of time before we would be making the trek up to meet head brewer Terry Hawbaker: friends of ours had smuggled to DC bottles of Bullfrog's "El Rojo Diablo" - a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel aged sour red ale dry hopped with 3 pounds of hops in the barrel, and "Magic Beans" - a barrel aged, soured black saison with chocolate and vanilla beans. Terry's experiments with wild yeast and barrel aging have garnered him both a GABF gold medal in the Wood and Barrel Aged Sour category for "BeeKeeper" and a cult following amongst the beer geekerati.

When we contacted Terry, he was enthusiastic to have us up for a brew day and we had a feeling it would be memorable trip to Billtown. Turns out Terry is a brotherfish, with a birthday in March like ours which ventures speculation on the predilection of Pisces and the umami of sour beer.

Because the brew house at Bullfrog is front-in-center of the pub, Terry and his assistant Nate keep bakers hours so as not to get in the way of the lunch crowd. We were up early to start the brew day at 3AM, with a brief tour of the cellar and a sample of a just tapped cask of an 18 month old Flanders Red, a vinous and intriguing blend, that Terry was going to be transporting to Wilkes-Barre later that day for the grand opening of his friend's restaurant AuRants. With the first sip, we knew this was going to be an amazing day...and the taps kept flowing and the bottles popping.

Terry and Nate are obsessed with the possibilities of their beer. They've learned that patience and the art of forgetting are keys to the life of long aged and mixed fermentation beers: "Beekeeper", a buckwheat honey spiked saison, spent well over 2 years in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels before it was released and at times was thought to be a lost cause. Long aging in oak barrels make for significant investments of time and space for a small brewpub.

Their ambitious schedule of bottle releases of single barrel experiments, painstakingly blended and hand bottled in the cellar have been wildly successful. It's a demanding job keeping the pub supplied with interesting, new drafts and burning the other end of the candle keeping the bottling schedule on-line and it's apparent that these guys are not getting a lot of sleep (and further apparent they're doing so without regret). They are not giving themselves a break either, with plans to put in several more barrel racks in the near future: Underground, Independent...Maximum Rock N' Roll.

Their kegs gone wild series are original, off-the-cuff riffs on Bullfrog's clean draft beers that Terry inoculates with wild yeast and acid producing bacteria in the keg, giving these beers funk without the added wood notes that accompany their barrel aged beers. On the occasion of our visit, the current interpretation was Smokin' Amber Gone Wild. A delicious, hugely complex enigma of smoke, malt and gamey-lacto-funk.

Terry's big 8% abv Edgar IPA is his best selling beer, which they have to scramble to keep in the tanks. Bullfrog has bullied and corrupted their local clientele to expect evermore artful and compelling beers with each return visit. Even his hop bombs haven't escaped the creeping influence of wild yeast, as shortly before our trip Bullfrog released bottles of "Undead Ed" which is a reformulation of Edgar IPA with brettanomyces, which dries out and sharpens the beer, as well as adding enticing aromatics.

It seems Terry is near bursting with ideas for new beers and is only bound by the limitations of the physical space of the cellar and hours in the day. He apprenticed in a very serious bakery that specialized in spontaneous leavening years back that served as his introduction to wild yeast and acid producing bacteria, and he has proved an apt pupil. Terry very consciously sees his brewing as an act of art, yet without any pretense or pomp.

Both Terry and Nate are that great combination of easy going and really engaging, equally music and beer possessed and have fanatic homebrewing backgrounds. Nate just bought a used 55 gallon system to start filling barrels at home: a man after our own hearts. They are both passionate about the entire spectrum of brewing from dialing-in their house Blonde, to Terry's quest for the ultimate Scotch ale, to all the barreled madness.

A bottle of De Dolle's Oerbier Reserva stands sentry over the mash tun. It's one of our favorite and inspiring beers, a mixed fermentation goliath (~13% abv), aged in used Bordeaux casks for 18 months, and it made absolute sense to see it there. We also spotted a bottle of Pretty Thing's Baby Tree on the stairs down to the cellar, who we visited with just a few months back.

Bullfrog was founded in 1996, and still operated by Steve Koch and his father Bob. Charlie Schnable brewed there for 5 years before leaving to open Otto's in State College, PA. Terry came on board in 2004, after brewing for the now shuttered Black Rock Brewing Co. in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Steve has given Terry free rein in the brew house which has paved the way for some really radical creations.

The copper brew house at Bullfrog is an Old World showpiece...

The fermenters and conditioning tanks are right behind the bar, making even transferring beers something that must be done before any customers arrive. Bar patrons have a front row view to the ageless mystery of fermentation.

Like many of the breweries we have visited, a farmer comes by to collect the spent grain once it is removed from the mash tun.

As the brew day wound down, Terry was kind enough to open up a bottle of "Frambozen" for us to sample. A perfectly balanced sour raspberry beer blended from two barrels of completely different beers (one higher gravity, one lower, one with raspberry puree, the other with freshly picked berries). All of their sour barrel aged beers start out clean with the rest served on tap, no special grainbill, mashing , or hopping, the magic is in the microbes and time.

We sat the fella's down for a detailed interview in which we cover all things wild, barreled and otherwise Bullfrog, that we'll have posted soon. If you've never been to Bullfrog, there's no time like the present (to get ripped apart). Thank you Bullfrog.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Central PA Preview

Our second BrewLocal road trip found us pointed North to the great wilds of Central PA. Pennsylvania is ripe with beer destinations that make for endless possibilities for beer touring, there are dozens of interesting, small breweries and brewpubs: an intricate stratagem scattered across the map.

Our search for local took us to Williamsport, PA for a brew day at Bullfrog Brewery, where wunderkind Terry Hawbaker is producing highly original, boundary shattering beers with abandon.

Next up we sat down with Williamsport's prodigal son Mike Hiller, who plies "The People's Beer!" at his small production brewery Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Co. Mike gave us some great insight into the logistics and realities of starting a small brewery.

An hour south found us in Selinsgrove, where we spent an afternoon with founder, head brewer and secret mycologist Steve Leason of Selin's Grove Brewing Co. Steve is a bit of a brewing-polymath, producing impeccable beers across a glut of styles.

We'll be rolling out posts from the trip over the next several weeks, keep tuned.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

David Wollner's Recipes

We suppiled the name and then asked David Wollner of Willimantic Brewing Co. to dream up a recipe for a no-holds-barred IPA named "Menschkeit", which is yiddish for the quality of being a Mensch or a good guy. Drink up and be Menschful.

"Menschkeit" ~ David Wollner's Dream Rye IPA

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 15.50
Anticipated OG: 1.074
Anticipated SRM: 8.3
Anticipated IBU: 144.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

10.00 lbs. Pale Malt
3.00 lbs. Rye Malt
1.50 lbs. Wheat Malt
1.00 lbs. Crystal 30L

1.50 oz. Chinook (Pellet 13.00% AA) @ First Wort Hop
1.50 oz. Columbus (Pellet 12.00% AA) @ 40 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Pellet 5.75% AA) @ 25 min.
0.50 oz. Columbus (Pellet 12.00% AA) @ 20 min.
1.50 oz. Cascade (Pellet 5.75% AA) @ 10 min.
1.50 oz. Cascade (Pellet 5.75% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Pellet 5.75% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Columbus (Pellet 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

WYeast 1028 London Ale

0.25 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min

1.00 Unit(s) Whirlfloc @ 10 min

Water Profile
Add gypsum to adjust water to ~100 ppm Sulfate

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 60 min @ 150

FG 1.014

David was in a particularly rye mood, because he also supplied us with the recipe for "Rail Mail Rye", his favorite house beer.

"Rail Mail Rye"

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.63
Anticipated OG: 1.055
Anticipated SRM: 5.6
Anticipated IBU: 36.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 95 Minutes

7.50 lbs. American 2-row
2.50 lbs. German Rye Malt
0.63 lbs. Crystal 20L

0.38 oz. Cascade Pellet (7.80% AA) @ 85 min.
0.50 oz. Cascade Pellet (7.80% AA) @ 55 min.
0.43 oz. Cascade Pellet (7.80% AA) @ 25 min.
0.50 oz. Cascade Pellet (7.80% AA) @ 0 min.
0.68 oz. Cascade Pellet (7.80% AA) @ Dry Hop

0.25 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 Min.(boil)
1.00 Unit(s) Whirlfloc @ 10 Min.(boil)

Willimantic House Strain Fermented in the mid 60s (WYeast 1028 London Ale is the closest commercial equivalent)

Water Profile
Profile: Unfiltered Willimantic tap water plus 1.68 tsp of gypsum added to the boil

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 60 min @ 153

FG 1.008

Cold condition for 5 days after primary fermentation finishes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

David Wollner Interview

For our 3rd episode we'll be speaking with David Wollner of Willimantic Brewing Company, in Willimantic, CT.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Willimantic Brew Day

Secreted away at The Willimantic Brewing Company, in Willimantic, CT, David Wollner carries on a nearly 30 year affair with the Humulus Lupus. David has built a reputation as a hopcentric brewer who regularly has 3 or 4 variations on his IPA oeuvre on tap (what we like to call the Wollner Variations). Through constant experimentation he seems to have evolved an extra sensory sensitivity to hop profiling. Being the owner and brewer gives him absolute freedom to brew whatever strikes his fancy, the only constant on his beer board is his flagship Certified Gold.

Willimantic Brewing Company is located in the historic old Willimantic Post Office in the center of town that had sat vacant for close to 3 decades before David and his wife renovated it. They painstakingly restored and have maintained the structure and the postal theme. The other driving theme at Willimantic are the frogs you see all over the place that reference the local tale of "The Battle of Frog Pond".

David was waiting for us on an overcast Wednesday morning at 8:15AM with sacks of milled grain to brew his Summer S.A.S.E., a session ale brewed exclusively with Sybilla hops from Poland. David is a real stand up guy with an easy-zen-humor that puts you immediately at ease and the 7 barrel brewhouse is second nature to him. Within minutes we were up on the platform taking turns dumping sacks of grain in the mash/lauter tun and canoe paddling the thickening mash. We hit our mash temperature dead-on.

When David deemed the mash lump free, we trooped out across the parking lot to the local diner for breakfast sandwiches on Texas toast and got straight into a thoughtful interview that wound in and around the brew day.

When we got back to the brew house we were ready to sparge the mash and collect wort for the boil kettle. We grabbed a few garbage bins from the basement for the spent grain, where we snuck a peak at his Dickel bourbon barrels in which he has aging a double IPA, souring an Imperial Porter and propagating a solera-mother-funk-barrel that he adds whatever he deems worthy to. Next up was raking out the spent grain into the bins to be picked up by a local farmer.

While we waited on the kettle to fill with wort and then come to a boil, we ran the numbers on the Sybilla hops, which David had never used before, to determine our hopping schedule.

Next up was the boil and hop additions...

at the end of the boil, we whirlpooled and ran sanitizer through the fermenter.

When we had transferred all the boiled wort from the kettle it was boots on ...

for hopping in and scouring the inside of the kettle, it’s a sweaty but vital job. Lastly we harvested fresh yeast from the bottom of one of the fermentors and pitched it into the cooled wort.

Everything we sampled throughout the brew day demonstrated David’s assured experience and hop sensitivity: including a super dry, spicy saison fresh from the tank, a crisp Imperial Pilsner ale, and 2IPA, a lush, fruity hop bomb. What really floored us was his huge funky blend of intentionally soured Imperial Porter, vintage Willi Whammer barleywine and some of his solera funk that made for this really ponderous chocolate, oaky, lactic masterpiece.

Among other brewing memorabilia David has on prominent display in the brewhouse is a big picture of the 3 Stooges, stooging out with bottles of beer. The Stooge spirit seemed to increasingly pervade the brew day with everyone naturally adopting their respective personae (Nathan>Larry, Mike>Curly, David>Moe).

Thanks Moe.

We'll be posting a video tour, interview and recipe shortly.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dann Paquette's Guidelines for a Proper Bitter

Dann Paquette brewed at the Daleside Brewery in Yorkshire prior to moving back to the States to start Pretty Things. He gave us this outline for producing a proper Yorkshire bitter.

"Diamond Geezer"

~a Proper Yorkshire Bitter

82% Maris Otter
10% Fawcett Pale Crystal
8% Torrified Wheat

OG 1.040 FG 1.008 ABV 4.2% 25 IBUs

mash at 150

Challenger for bittering (.75 oz of 8% AA pellets @ 60 min for 5 galllon batch)

Finish with Challenger, First Gold or "whatever you really like 'cause you're not going to use a lot of it."

Use a fruity English yeast and ferment up to 72 degrees.

Use isinglass to clarify.

If cask conditioning, top crop yeast at 1.010 and move to cask, where the oxygen rich environment with spark a secondary fermentation.

Drink by the Imperial Pint.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dann Paquette Interview

In this second BrewLocal Podcast episode we talk to Dann Paquette and his wife Martha of Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Massachusetts. To subscribe with a podcast downloader use:


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Evening with Pretty Things

After our brew day at Mayflower, we drove back to Boston and had dinner at Redbones, a great, and hugely popular, concept barbeque and good beer joint where the pulled pork married well with Cambridge Brewing Company's "Imperial Skisbol", a dark Danish smoked lager brewed in collaboration with Nørrebro Bryghus. After dinner, we met up with Pretty Things duo Dann Paquette and his wife Martha on the back deck of Deep Ellum, which proved to be the metaphysical nexus of the day, including several Mayflower beers on tap and cask, Pretty Things' own "Jack D'Or" and "Confounded Mr. Sisyphus" on tap, along with other local standouts from High and Mighty, Berkshire and Cambridge. The laundry list of creative New England breweries and a focus on session beer made for an extremely smart tap list, and it was great to hear how interconnected all the brewers are with each other.

Dann was a fixture of the Bay State brewing scene having brewed at Ipswich, John Harvard's, The Tap and inventing the Rapscallion beer line (where Matt Steinberg also worked), before moving to England and brewing at Daleside for a couple of years. Now back in Massachusetts, the beers he is currently producing span his experience, from riffs on saison to a British brown, to a session lager coming shortly.

Dann and Martha seem to share an impish-psychedelic-storybook imagination and funhouse spirit that is readily apparent in their highly personal and brilliant website. There is a real charm to the Pretty Things mystique, we weren't surprised to hear that Dann looks to fellow madcap Kris Herteleer from De Dolle Brouwers for inspiration. Our conversation lead towards a real interesting mash-up of eccentric Belgian and traditional British beer-ways. Dann's alternate persona "Jack D'Or", an Edwardian character of his and Martha's design furthers the spirit of fun at the heart of the Pretty Things Project.

It was really enlightening to be able to drink Pretty Things beers while Dann expounded on the virtues of authenticity and fun that are the drive of the project. Of particular interest is the brew house rental (not contract brew) model that Pretty Things has worked out with Paper City Brewery in Holyoke, MA (which also has a more traditional contract brewing arrangement to produce High and Mighty). The model has worked well for De Struise and De Ranke in Belgium before they got their own respective breweries.

Thank you to the inimitable Dann Paquette and the eminently charming Martha Holley for a memorable evening.

We'll be posting Dann's Guidelines to a Proper Bitter and a podcast of our conversation on the site shortly.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Matthew Steinberg Interview

In this first BrewLocal Podcast episode we talk to Matthew Steinberg of Mayflower Brewing in Plymouth MA. To subscribe with a podcast downloader use:


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Matthew Steinberg's Recipes

Mayflower Porter

Taking its cues from “Three Threads”, a bartender’s blend of three distinct ales, Porter became the beer of choice for 18th-century Londoners. Mayflower Porter embraces this history. This complex brew is smooth and full-flavored with notes of roasted coffee beans and bittersweet chocolate that will warm the palate all year long.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.86
Anticipated OG: 1.063
Anticipated SRM: 34.6
Anticipated IBU: 38.8
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

9.50 lbs. American Pale Malt(2-row)
1.00 lbs. Chocolate Malt America
0.75 lbs. CaraMunich 120
0.50 lbs. Brown Malt
0.15 lbs. Scottish Peated Malt

0.68 oz. Pilgrim @ 70 min.
0.77 oz. Glacier @ 20 min.

1.00 Unit(s)Whirlfloc Fining 15 Min.(boil)

S-04 SafAle English Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Plymouth

Mash Schedule
60 min @ 152

Pitch at 73
Ferment at 66

FG 1.021
Crash chill to 32 after fermentation is finished for 1 week.

Hop Goddess

"The beer itself is a dedication to a girl...cunning and blatant, embodied among succulent notes of earth and spice. I wanted to make a really hoppy beer that was in the Belgian tradition. De Ranke XX Bitter happens to be one of my favorite beers in the world, not that I was trying to brew a beer specifically like that, but I used that beer as a stepping off point."
-Matthew Steinberg

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.06
Anticipated OG: 1.062
Anticipated SRM: 5.4
Anticipated IBU: 69.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

8.00 lbs. Belgian Pilsener
1.38 lbs. Munich Malt
0.81 lbs. Corn Sugar/Dextrose
0.63 lbs. Flaked Oats
0.25 lbs. Biscuit Malt

0.50 oz. Chinook @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. Sterling @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 30 min.
0.38 oz. Sterling @ 20 min.
1.00 oz. Sterling @ 5 min.
3.00 oz. Amarillo @ Dry Hop

0.25 Tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
1.00 Unit Whirlfloc @ 15 min.

White Labs WLP510 Bastogne Belgian Ale Yeast

Water Profile
Profile: Martha's Vineyard

Mash Schedule
90 min @ 146

Begin ferment in the low 80's

Aim for high carbonation (~3 volumes)

If you're feeling randy spike with Brett B, but do not age for an extended period.

FG 1.010
84% AA
6.9% abv

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mayflower Brew Day

Matthew Steinberg gained acclaim as a versatile and innovative brewer at Offshore Ale Company on the exclusive vacation island of Martha's Vineyard, just off the coast of Massachusetts' Cape Cod. Matthew is a truly linked-in brewer who seems to be right near the center of New England's vigorous good beer culture, he's also one of the most gregarious and outgoing guys you'll ever meet. We knew he'd relish the opportunity to spread the good word about all things good beer. Matthew is a brewer possessed with the craft.

Nathan's first contact with Matthew was a few years back. Nathan has family on Martha's Vineyard, so he had plenty opportunity to drink a bunch of Matthew's beer: everything from his cask brown to Hop Goddess, the first American brewed Belgian IPA (not even a recognized style at the time) we're aware of, and it was Hop Goddess that inspired Nathan to contact Matthew and ask about how he formulated the recipe. On the basis of of a short e-mail, he asked Nathan to give him a call and then spent over an hour on the line deconstructing recipes and talking good beer, a completely open book.

Flash forward a few years and a new gig as Director of Brewing Operations at the burgeoning Mayflower Brewing Company in Plymouth, MA. Matthew had us meet him at the brewery at 8AM on a Wednesday morning to mash-in Mayflower's outstanding Porter (which has a light smoked character from peat smoked malt). Matthew has a great assistant in Ryan Gwozdz (formerly of Buzzard Bay Brewing Company, in Westport, MA), who was manning the controls of the shiny new, 20 barrel DME fabricated brewhouse under Matthew's sage tutelage.

Mayflower was opened in 2007 by Drew Brosseau, a tenth generation grandson of the Mayflower's beer barrel cooper, who made the bold decision to self distribute. Their current capacity is around 2,000 barrels a year, with a focus around the Boston market and the South Shore.

Mayflower's impressive Wall o' malt...
and equally impressive bottle collection.
The grain is milled in a room adjoining the brew house.

The grist is then transfered by auger to the grist case above the mash tun.

The rakes automatically stir the grain with the mash water from the hot liquor tank.

One of the first things we noticed while waiting on mash conversion was a fleet of Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels that we learned had been used to age Sam Adams' Utopias and in which Matthew is currently aging a barleywine to be released next year. So of course, it was samples of barreled barleywine all around at 8:30AM. Matthew went the traditional British route using an all pale malt grist and a long boil to develop wort color and increase gravity a la JW Lees Harvest Ale and it's already developing some nice barrel character after only a short dip in the barrels.

A nail is stuck into each barrel to enable easy sampling without undue exposure to more oxygen. This is also done at many other breweries such as Russian River and New Belgium where acetobacter is a major concern.

They have a state of the art, semi-automatic brew house with lots of shiny control panels.

Matthew was testing out his newest toy, a pH probe. The pH of the mash was right where we needed it to be.

Next up was sparging the mash and collecting wort for the boil kettle. The rakes automatically sweep the spent grains out of the tun, but they still need to be hauled out back by hand, where a farmer comes to pick it up.

Ryan measuring out the Pilgrim hops, we assumed and had confirmed that it wasn't an accidental choice for Mayflower.

Just two hop additions for the porter, one at 70 minutes and one at 20 minutes.

Mayflower has a small but growing cask program, each of which have a special hop/botanical/wood added to the cask to make it unique. We smelled some sweet fern that grows out in back of the brewery that they are considering playing with in a future cask offering. They also have a gaggle of grain hungry chipmunks that live out in back of the brewery, and we also spied a wild turkey roaming around.

During breaks in the brew day we recorded a far ranging and informative interview and sampled our way through their stellar current line-up. All their beers were impeccably fresh and bright tasting, including their newest seasonal Summer Rye, a dry, low alcohol, golden ale with some classic spice and fruit from a warm ferment with Fermentis T-58 (a dried Belgian yeast), a good bit of rye and a heavy dose of dry hopping: a really elegant beer.

Midway through the interview we were interrupted by a label delivery. Matthew jumped on the forklift and went to grab them...

We spied a cask of the Golden Ale that was dry hopped with the Japanese hop varietal Sorachi Ace which was originally developed for the Soporro Brewery.

While we were sitting around chatting, one of the resident chipmunks ran in, sadly there are no photos of the chase that ensued. Maybe the fella's should consider a brew house cat.

We retired upstairs for some tacos from a local restaurant and flipped through Matthews first homebrewing book.

Matthew and Ryan bid us bon voyage and fair weather on the rest of our New England journey. A million thanks to these two brew pilgrims.