Saturday, April 27, 2013

Republic Homebrew Chef Dinner

When I was alerted to this event (via Facebook) this was a no-brainer...I had to get there.  I'm sure my readers know that I'm all about the gluttony and go to more than my share of beer dinners around the Twin Cities, already having been to a couple this month, so even I felt that this might be excessive.  But it was Sean Paxton the Homebrew Chef! 

Let me back up a bit.  I've been listening to The Brewing Network podcasts for many years now, usually while brewing, and first "met" Sean Paxton through them.  He hosted on several episodes, and just listening to him talk about beer and food was mouthwatering and intriguing.  Paxton is a bearded Goliath of a man, incredibly well spoken and seems to taste food and beer on a completely different plane than most people.  On one of the podcasts I listened to he directed attention to his website.  If you haven't done so go check it out now (but come back and finish reading this blog entry afterwards!)   Make sure to look at the recipes...

Ok, are you back from your Internet journey?  Those recipes are gold.  Foody and fancy and glorious.  I have successfully created dishes based on his recipes for chicken braised in dubbel, grand cru braised lamb shank, lamb shepard's pie, and the extravagant barleywine prime rib.  I have also used his beer brine for chicken and even a Thanksgiving turkey (using an old fermentation bucket as a brining vessel.)  Some of these recipes are simple, others are more complex, but all result in an amazing use of beer in the cooking process.  I recently used a set of recipes from Beer Advocate to make a St. Patty's Day dinner as well and blogged about that.  What I love is that he uses beer as an ingredient in pretty much all of his dishes, contrasting and complimenting the flavors of both the beer and the food.

I've also been to two NHC award banquets and both tasting menus were created by this man, paired perfectly with tasty and complex Rogue beers.  As a result of tasting Paxton's food personally and trying my own hand at recreating his dishes at home, to say I was excited about him coming to town for this beer dinner is certainly an understatement.  Strangely it took my wife prodding me to bite the bullet and get us tickets, but she's an enabler...

The dinner was at Republic Uptown, and only their second beer dinner to date.  The first was a smaller group with Steel Toe and we missed it due to prior engagements.  This dinner was very large, perhaps too much so, but they rolled with it and made the dinner a very good experience.  The event took up the entire restaurant side of the space, but was not really separated from the rowdy Friday night bar crowd.  Between the noise from the bar side and the ebullient diner cheer, it was a bit cacophonous.  Luckily the folks at Republic had planned ahead and set up a microphone for the various speakers, so we could all hear the details.  Our friend Emily Brink (previously from The Happy Gnome) is a manager at Republic and obviously put a lot of time and effort into making this work, as did the rest of the staff.  This dinner was the first such event that was organized by the Rob Shellman, founder of the Better Beer Society.  The goal of that organization is the improve the quality and serving of craft beer in Minnesota, with consulting for restaurants and pubs on their beer programs, as well as a certification for those places so potential drinkers know that they are doing things correctly.  This is the first time I've met Rob and he seemed positively giddy about the dinner!

Our meet and greet beer before the festivities was the sessionable and hoppy Steel Toe Provider.  Between each dinner they had Sean Paxton talk about the dish and the pairing, followed by the brewer to discuss the beer.  The only other beer dinner I've been to with this many brewers present is the Brewmaster's Dinner before ABR each year (last year was at Blackbird and was truly amazing.)

The first course was a raw shaved vegetable salad with goat cheese, paired with the Summit Unchained Organic Ale.  I was a little torn on how much I like this beer, but after getting to have a conversation with brewer Gabe Smoley about how much work it was to get all the organic ingredients and get it USDA certified, it rated a little higher for me.  Interestingly, they went through the effort of making sure the yeast was organic as well, despite that not being a requirement to the certification process.  Winner for this course was the Organic Ale.  Save the planet--drink a beer!

The second course was a walleye fillet poached in the Schell's Goosetown Gose beer.  I found this dish to be my least favorite of the evening, mostly because it was under seasoned, but also because I'm not a huge fan of fish.  The Goosetown was a new beer from Schell's and is a take on the nearly extinct style of Gose--a tart and sour beer with salt added during the brewing process.  Brewer Dan (I didn't catch his last name because it was loud and I'm totally losing my hearing...) discussed the beer for us.  I think he wanted it more sour, but the brewery was concerned that they wouldn't be able to sell it all if it was too sour.  I liked it, but there was more malty lager character than tartness.  Would be very refreshing on a hot summer day...maybe we'll get one of those soon!

The third course was more on track with a wild rice and purple barley (cooked in Bender) pancake topped with pheasant leg confit and a red currant sour cherry Pentagram beer jam.  There was also a healthy serving of pheasant breast that had been smoked with a Russian River Consecration barrel.  This dish was very complex and paired perfectly with the Surly Pentagram.  This beer is sour, dark, and wine like, bringing more interesting flavors with each sip.  A great beer for food pairing.  I'm glad I have a few bottles stashed away in the cellar!  Omar gave a quick talk about this one, and apparently they are now going to make this on a regular basis!

The fourth course was the winner in my book.  Or Blog.  Spring lamb simmered with leeks, yellow onions and shallots, as well as the paired beer.  This was served over soba noodles with a Sriracha gelee and brought tableside in a red Chinese carry-out box.  I am a huge fan of lamb and carbonade, and this spicy Belgian/Asian fusion dish was outrageous.  Bold flavors for a Scandinavian hold-out like Minnesota where many view black pepper as too spicy.  The beer used in the dish and paired with it was the Indeed Hot Box, an Imperial porter made in collaboration with Northbound Smokehouse.  Co-owner Tom Whisenand and brewer Josh Bischoff were both present and the humble Tom gave a bit of background on this unique beer.  They used alder, hickory, and (I think) maple wood to smoke the base grain for the beer as well as hot peppers that were added to the fermenter.  I tried this beer at Winterfest a few months ago and thought it was nearly undrinkable, but it has mellowed significantly with time.  The smoke is strong at this point but not overwhelming, and the chili burn is complementary and not overly painful.  I would search this beer out now just because it is so unusual.

The final beer of the night was my favorite: the Steel Toe Lunker.  I've blogged about this one a couple times, including standing in line outside the brewery in sub-zero weather to get our bottles of it!  Jason Schoneman talked about the beer a bit and apologized to the other brewers for not sitting with them--he was out with his wife Hanna for their second date in a year, so he should be excused!  His sweet English style barleywine aged in Templeton Rye barrels is simply heaven in a glass, and Sean Paxton encouraged Jason to send some to The Toranado Barleywine Festival in California next year.  The last decadent course was a deconstructed barleywine.  Paxton took all of the major flavor descriptors from English barleywine and combined them into a sweet and unusual desert for us.  Prunes, raisins and dried cherries were soaked in the Lunker, along with crunchy Lunker cocoa nib toffee, malted shortbread cookie and a pastry beer curd made with Before the Dawn black barleywine.  Sound awesome?  Yes it was!

Overall I think the dinner was very good, but my favorite aspect of this particular event was the social.  I am not naturally a very outgoing guy and often have a hard time talking to people unless I'm in comfortable company or surroundings.  I blame growing up Norwegian Minnesotan.  Some events though, can make it easier to break out of my stoic and quiet shell, and this was one such.  Sj and I knew a lot of people here!  Everywhere I looked I found an old friend or recent acquaintance to talk to.  I discovered a whole table of fellow homebrewers including Al Boyce, Steve Piatz and their wonderful spouses, as well as beer historian Doug Hoverson.  My good friend Chris German from Rahr/Brewer's Supply Group was there, and he knows everybody in the business.  Our friends Randy and Andrea from previous beers dinners kindly saved us seats and kept us entertained through dinner.  A contingent of folks from The Happy Gnome were there, including the talented Executive Chef Scott Brink, and general manager Ryan Huseby.  Ben Knutson and James Beard nominee Jack Riebel from Butcher & The Boar were there as well, lurking off in a corner.  Let's not forget to mention getting to briefly talk with Sean Paxton, Jason, Omar, and some of the other brewers.  I feel like even without great food and beer I would have had a wonderful time!  While I truly love food and beer, this is the real reason I continue to frequent so many beer dinners.  Thanks to Republic, BBS, Sean Paxton, all the brewers, and all the staff for putting on a unique experience, and for giving me the chance to take part.

Friday, April 26, 2013

612 Brew Review 4/2013

Continuing the epic saga of one day and 7 beer venues, our third stop on the tour was 612 Brew in Northeast Minneapolis.  The brewery is located in the historic Broadway Building, with the entrance around the corner.  The building is in the midst of major reconstructive surgery and I think will soon be a bigger draw to this neighborhood.

Exposed brick and concrete floors give this building and brewery a very industrial look.  This is one of the few places we visited where the tap room is really in the same room as the brewery and fermentation tanks...they line the outside edges of the very large room.  There is a 15 barrel brewery with several 30 barrel shiny fermenters.  A very cool Adam Turman mural is front and center within the brewery, adding a pop of color and branding to the otherwise fairly utilitarian taproom. 

We were greeted upon arrival by a friendly and helpful member of the staff and found ourselves part of a large table to take over.  The joint was doing a very brisk business at about 3 PM on Saturday and I can only imagine the zoo this must be later in the evening!  They claim that they can fit about 70 people in here, and plan to open a patio for the summer months as well.  They had a Cajun food truck parked outside with menus to peruse within the tasting room. 

They do have a beer sampler for $11, pretty pricey, but I love me a sampler so I can try them all.  We were able to taste the four beers they currently had on tap this way.  The first beer was Six: a fairly light bodied pale ale that didn't quite hit the mark for me.  The second was Zero Hour: a good name but not my favorite beer.  I'll admit a bias here, that I really do not like black IPA as a if you love that stuff, try this one out and tell me what you think!  My favorite was the Rated R: a very hoppy red ale with spicy rye and a really nice balance.  I was in the minority for liking this one, but I'll stand by my taste buds!  The seasonal on tap was Mary Ann: a ginger infused lager that had way too much sulfur for me--overwhelming and clashing with the ginger character.  So out of 4 beer I really liked one, disliked two and was ambivalent to the last one. 

Overall, I think this location and tap room is the most notable as a working brewery compared to most we visited.  The staff were great and the vibe was happy and relaxed.  I wish the beers were a bit better so this could be a complete package.  These guys are very new and I'll give them some time to get the hang of their new equipment before I make up my mind fully on the beer quality.  I'd love to hear what my readers think, so comment away!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Summit AHA Membership Rally 4/21/13

I've been a member of the American Homebrewer's Association (AHA) for several years now, getting my first membership card around the time we hosted NHC here in Minnesota.  About 4 years ago we had our first AHA rally at Surly Brewing, where they gave away wort to all the members who signed up ahead of time.  The mere fact that it was Surly and the free wort set records of attendance for an AHA rally, and that place was a zoo!  Several members of Jack of All Brews still have a few bottles of that wonderful strong brown ale hidden away in their cellars (including me.)  Being a member of the AHA has been a good thing for me over these past few years, and this type of event really gives you the feeling that it is a real and active group of people that you can be involved in.  As a member you get monthly issues of Zymurgy (which has improved a lot in the past few years,) discounts at a few homebrew shops, as well as pub discounts.  Also, if you want to go to NHC you should become a member!  Shameless plug here, but if you decide you must join or renew your membership, do it through the link on our club website and we get a cut of that money to put toward club events and equipment!

This past weekend an AHA rally was held at Summit Brewing in St. Paul, and a great time ensued. Summit Brewing is one of the oldest craft breweries in Minnesota (Schells has them beat) and has been at the forefront of bringing the taste of more flavorful beers to Minnesota drinkers for over 25 years now.  Nearly every bar in Minnesota at least has Summit EPA on tap.

3 of the 8 Jabbers present at the rally, enjoying free beers!

The "new" Summit tasting room has actually been around for several years, but prior to the Surly Bill being passed they were only able to give free samples to tours and host private events there.  I'm actually surprised that it took them so long to open it to the public, and at this point they only open Friday nights.  I assume that the amount of business they do in the taproom is a drop in the bucket compared to keg and bottle sales--as opposed to some breweries like Dangerous Man and 612 that survive based on taproom sales.  The taproom itself is spacious with high ceilings, picnic tables and a very old-fashioned bar in the back corner.  Plenty of Summit signs from over the years adorn the walls, as well as the sign for the expired German brewery where Summit got its original equipment in the 1980's.  On one wall is a framed letter from the Brewer's Association from the early 80's discouraging Mark Stutrud from opening a micro-brewery!  During this event they had booths for Midwest, Northern Brewer and Brew&Grow, as well as a bunch of raffle items donated by them and the AHA.

We were given wrist bands with three detachable numbered tags good for a total of 3 free beers. They had a lot of beers on tap, and I started with the Oatmeal stout on nitro.  They had a firkin of that dry-hopped with EKG and I was able to taste them side by side: the firkin was more bitter, but overall I liked it more.  Since that beer is only offered on draft or firkin, try it if you see it on tap somewhere.  They had Meridian, the first in their Union series of session beers showcasing unusual ingredients, made with Meridian hops, Belgian yeast and a newer cultivar of English malt.  Thoughts on this beer were mixed, but as a Belgian beer guy I liked it.  We were also able to do a side by side tasting of their original IPA (an English example) and the Saga IPA (an American version.)  I enjoyed the Saga much more than I remember in the past. 

There were tours of the brewery every 15 minutes and we were able to see most of the brewery this way.  Several years back we had a personal tour there with a bit more behind the scenes stuff, so this wasn't quite up to my memory of the place, but still cool to see again.  They have added a new bottling line and filtering system since were last here.  They are also doing a large expansion out back for more fermenter space, which will vastly increase the amount of beer they can produce.  They still aim to keep most of the beer in the Midwest, with the lion's share staying here in Minnesota. 

With Chip Walton (of Brewing TV, and Chop&Brew fame,) acting as MC, we also heard from the new AHA rep and Summit head brewer Damien McConn.  As a bona-fide Irishman, listening to Damien talk is a treat.  All the women want him and all the men want to be him.  Rough life he must lead!  He gave a lot of history of the brewery as well as answered many questions from listeners.  The whole trip out there was worth listening to him speak. 

We had a great time at this event, and I thank Summit and the AHA for doing this, as well as the local homebrew shops who participated.  I saw a lot of new faces and that makes me wonder why so many of these brewers are not involved in the local clubs and competitions!  Between free beer, winning raffle items and our 10% off AHA discount at the Summit swag shop I walked away with a lot from this rally.  It is cool to see Minnesota starting to shine in the beer world, and these types of events can only improve the scope and fame of homebrewing and commercial beer in our chilly state.

Raffle items!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dangerous Man: A Dangerous Proposition

On our recent pub and taproom crawl, our second stop of the day after Northbound Smokehouse was the recently opened Dangerous Man Brewing in Northeast Minneapolis (or Nordeast if you like.)  The brewery is in a pleasant little neighborhood and street parking is fairly easy to come by.

This taproom was hopping when we arrived at around 1:30 on Saturday afternoon.  They were close to capacity and there was an appropriately bearded man at the door keeping count of people entering and leaving to make sure they didn't break fire code.  For such a new brewery, these guys are packing the place and selling a lot of beer!  They have no food, but encourage you to order pizza or bring in some food from local vendors like Anchor Fish and Chips.  In the past I've heard of the taproom pretty much selling out of beers, but this particular day they had 4 different beers on tap, sold in short (8-10 oz), regular (16 oz) or tall (20 oz) glasses.  You had to line up at one end of the bar to get your beers since they apparently aren't supposed to serve "over shoulder."  This does keep it a bit more manageable for the servers, but waiting in line is kind of lousy and crowded.

The room itself is spacious (though full of people!) and has lots of seating at the bar and around the center and edges of the room.  They have some crazy mixed-media artwork on the walls that seem to meld freaky paintings with brass or bronze sculptures.  I think I saw a Jake Keeler fish mural in the back somewhere.  The back of the bar is a work of art in itself, combining layers of rough timbers with sheets of copper, steel and other metals.  The bar top is one huge plank of solid wood and has some serious mass to it.  We did run into a couple homeless looking guys sitting at the bar when we arrived...Oh wait that was just Dan Herman, and Tony & Drew Kutzke!  Those pesky Primary Fermenter folks just pop up everywhere.

It was hard to get close enough to the bar to get a good pic...

Branding is important in a business of any kind, but especially in breweries nowadays, as you need something to set you aside from all the others.  Dangerous Man has a great logo, a good style and a unique attitude that really does make it stand out.  Not since Surly has a local beer brand hit so hard and fast.  Their shirts were selling like hot-cakes and I was sad that they were out of the logo tulip glasses.  And yes, Sj and I both bought shirts.  Pretty sure that just about everyone in there did so as well.

Even the floor is branded!

I tried three of the four beers they had on tap, and all were good.  My favorite was a Coconut Milk Stout that was very well balanced with subtle coconut flavor.  The Matchbox Coffee Porter was also very good, but a hint too astringent from the roast malts.  They also let me sample their IPA which was made with Nugget and Chinook hops--not surprisingly it was pretty bitter and strongly flavored.  From what I hear, the brewery aims to keep making small and different batches, more like a brewpub typically does.  This is good if you like variety, but sad if you find one of their beers that you love and may never see again!  Overall I found their beers to be the most solid of all the new taprooms we visited on this particular day, however my favorite beer of the day was Town Hall's Coconut Chocolate Porter.  That beer was nigh perfection.

So the upshot here is that Dangerous Man is an immediate success in terms of popularity and style, and back that up with well crafted and interesting beers.  The taproom is unique and bustling, well worth a trip out there.  Make sure to plan an afternoon around it and visit nearby 612 Brew and Indeed as well since all are nearly walking distance from each other.  I wish I lived closer to The Cities!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Enki Brewing Update! Construction and Deconstruction

The creamery building--future site of Enki Brewery

A while ago I posted the first official press info about the upcoming Enki Brewing in Victoria, Minnesota.  Since then, I have consistently had about 30-100 hits on that particular blog post daily, showing a continued interest in this planned local brewery.  The brewery is being opened by current Victoria residents Dan Norton and John Hayes.  Dan has recently relocated here from Texas:  the poor guy probably expected summer by now!

Just this past Friday, Dan and Enki's Brewer, Jason Davis were able to join up with the monthly Jack Of All Brews meeting and give us a bit of an update on how things are going with the brewery.  Dan also invited me over to the building itself on Sunday and I was able to take some pictures of the process and show me the blueprints.

Really cool and slightly creepy exterior of the creamery!

The brewery building is a historic creamery that was built around 1917, and has been empty of activity for many years.  There is an apartment upstairs, and by Minnesota law the stairs connecting the residence to the inside of the brewery had to be torn down.  That was one of the first things that Dan and John did to get the building up to code.  Still, living upstairs from a brewery sounds like heaven to me, even if you do have to get in via the outside doorway!  As a very old building, there were some serious structural issues that the guys discovered over the last few months.  The roof has been replaced, holes in the walls and ceiling patched, painting, new windows, new doors, etc.  The electrical system needed an upgrade to handle the type of voltage necessary to run the mechanicals in the brewery as well.  They needed to invest in a huge new boiler, since much of the energy for their brewing system is steam generated. 

Massive new boiler

Local and state codes have resulted in some issues as well, leading to surprise costs and timing problems.  The taproom requires separate bathrooms for men and women, which led to the discovery that much of the antediluvian sewer piping needed to be replaced, resulting in having to tear through up to 10 inches of solid concrete!  Better now than later I guess, but not fun.  The mill room requires a lot of work to make it dust proof (and hence explosion proof!)  With all the structural work needing to be done, they have a tight schedule to get things finished.  The fermentation tanks are due for arrival in about a week and the guys are very excited about that!
The view from above before demo...
After the plumbing revamp...

More plumbing related destruction!

I was able to see (but not taste) the first few homebrew sized test batches that were brewed at the brewery.  Ah, reminds me of my old basement!  I plan to do an interview here with Jason Davis at some point to get more info about him and his plans for the beers, but I thought I'd give him a little time to get settled before I hold him to anything.

Overall, the Enki guys have made a lot of progress, but still have a lot of work ahead of them to get things up and running by summer.  The building is very cool and has a lot of character, which will really make this venue stand out amongst all the other Minnesota breweries.  I'm very excited to see what kind of traffic and business that Enki will bring to the tiny downtown Victoria area.  I know that I plan on having a beer at Enki and then heading right across the street for a sandwich at School of the Wise.  I aim to continue bringing you details and updates about this brewery over the next few months when things really get rolling.  Thanks again to Dan, John and Jason for including me (and my readers) in the process.  It isn't every day I get to document the entire process opening a brewery and taproom!  Oh, and check out Enki on their Facebook page as well for more up to date info.
Future patio where I can have an Enki beer while looking down at the lake!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 2013 JAB Meeting Recap!

Since I am "technologically challenged" and can't seem to make The Jabber work for me (we need you back TIM!) I'm doing a blog entry about out most recent meeting.  For those who missed it, this should be almost like you were there...minus getting to taste the great commercial and homebrewed beers! 

The meeting this month was at my basement bar, and actually seemed to be a smaller and quieter group than usual.  Present were Jason and Dan from Enki Brewing, who both talked a bit about the current status of the brewery and their test batches of beer.  Both are now proud owners of shiny new JAB membership cards!  We also had a couple other new members show up, so welcome to all of you!  Some old-school members (Kramer, Rick) were able to make it--always good to have some old blood to balance all the new. 

Keeping in touch with JAB:  we have a facebook group (different from the facebook page) so you can ask questions or post comments and ideas.  If I haven't invited you yet, you can request to be added from that page and I'll send you an invite.

We talked a bit about upcoming events (check the website or JAB Facebook Group for more details.) 

1) We have a Big Brew scheduled at Excelsior Brewing:  it looks like they want us to bring a couple of homebrew set-ups and do this at the brewery.  Bryce will give us more info soon.  If anyone wants to be involved, post on the Facebook group or shoot me an e-mail.

2) Next month's meeting is at my place and is our Belgian Brew Off.  So bring your Belgian homebrews, and if you don't have one, bring something actually Belgian to share with us!  We will hopefully have a few prizes and what-not.

3) In June we will be distributing the yeast assignments for the experimental brew (September meeting.)  No details posted on that yet, but we plan to have one base recipe (all-grain and extract versions) with every person getting a different yeast to really showcase the different yeast characters.  I'd like us to have a lot of entries and see if we can get it published in BYO or Zymurgy.

4) We are nearing completion on the first JAB barrel ale!  We need folks to start signing up for making portions of the next beer so we can fill the barrel right away after emptying the current beer.  Our upcoming batch will be a lambic.  e-mail me or post on JAB FB group if you want to take part in this one.  We need to get going quick!  I have my materials and hope to brew in the next 2 weeks.

Gera gave a short talk on BJCP style judging, with fancy hand outs and everything.  I'm glad this was a smaller group, since the noise level was better than usual!  Thanks for the talk Gera!  I really want to keep our educational aspect of meetings, so I appreciate the work and effort that our members put into these presentations.  If anyone has any ideas for a quick talk, please don't hesitate to contact me about it!

Sorry Gera, the other pics were too blurry!

We had a bunch of good homebrews to try this month, with Gera taking home the Mash Paddle for her Cocoa Cardamom Mild.  We had an amazing Simcoe IPA from Garret that was a big hit amongst the hop-heads in the group.  Mark also had a very well balanced IPA.  Kramer wiped the cobwebs from some 2007 Beet Meade and some 2011 Tart Cherry for us.  I dug out a 2007 bretty version of his Cherry from my cellar and we tried them side by side with interesting results.  I knew I was saving that for something!  Joe discovered a new category of English Bitter: The Way Bitter Bitter.  Gary sampled one of the more interesting beers I've had: a pale ale with Sriracha hot sauce.  We promptly named this beer Hot Cock Sauce, and so it shall remain named for all eternity.  Sorry Gary.  Oh, and Alex had a peach and tea beer that was very interesting--but I'd up the sweetness on it next time.  Last, but not least, Scott brought a keg of smoked Scottish ale that was very easy on the palate!  We also had a few nice commercial beers like a growler of Town Hall's Twisted Trace barleywine.  Less commercial beers this month, but we also had my 6 taps free to sample and we had plenty to for us to drink!

Overall, a very laid back and fun meeting.  Perhaps the calm before the storm, because next month is Belgian Brew Off!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Northbound Smokehouse: Smoky, Meaty, Goodness!

The other day Matt, Anna, Sj and I decided to celebrate Anna's birthday by doing a crawl of several Minneapolis breweries.  Despite being an avid beer fanatic, the long and endless winter here, paired with the distance from my home in the West has precluded me from visiting many of these newly opened breweries.  With an end to the glacial winter in site, we headed off first to South Minneapolis and Northbound Smokehouse.

Unlike the veritable glut of production breweries and taprooms now springing up in the Twin Cities, Northbound is a genuine Brewpub.  The old stand-bys of Town Hall, Great Waters, Rock Bottom and Barley Johns were all founded over 10 years ago, and this is the first brewpub to open since then.  As a guy who likes his food (see all my posts about beer dinners...) I was excited to hear about this place.  Now I'm sad that it took me so long to get out there and try it!

Upon opening up the car doors to walk over to the brewery, we were all hit by an amazing smoked meat aroma that caused instant belly rumblings and excessive salivation.  That smell can not be properly described for print, but stimulated that hind-brain where the Homo Habilus or Australopithecus still dwells, ready to club some animal into submission and throw it on a smoky fire.  The stated goal of the brewpub is to house smoke locally sourced meats, served up with high quality craft beers.  Located in the Oak Building, it is at the NW corner of 38th St. East and 28th Ave South.  The pub itself has an understated look with the name stenciled on the windows and some minimalist local brewery posters on the walls inside.  Everything is new looking and uncluttered, with clean lines and comfortable stools and chairs to sit on.  The general feel of the place is a comfortable corner bar and restaurant, but lacks a little character to differentiate it from others.  They do have a large patio area that will soon be crowded with locals, eating and drinking their hearts out.

Two chalk boards quietly post the current tap list.  They were serving five of their own beers, so all of us got samplers to test out our server's skills.  They also had several local guest beers on tap: Indeed, Schells, Surly, Fulton and Lift Bridge.  Their brewer, Jamie Robinson, apparently used to work at Town Hall, so I had high hopes for the beers.  Their current seasonal was the Small Ball--a sessionable pale ale made with Glacier hops, and very drinkable.  My favorite of theirs was the Porter, made with a small percentage of smoked malt--but not enough in my opinion!  The honey wheat was remarkably good for a style that is usually a throw-away at brewpubs.  The Light Rail Pale and the Big Jim IPA were both respectable but not outstanding.  Overall the house beers were all well crafted and clean, but I wanted a bit more out of them.  I think they should really embrace their smokehouse roots here and have a legit rauchbier or a gratzer rather than focus on the lighter ales.

Laine showing off her mad skills

What makes this place stand out is the food.  Sj and I split the Smoked Porketta sandwich which was amazingly smoky and flavorful.  We also split the Smoked Beef sandwich with horseradish and smoked Gouda.  That was meat heaven on a plate.  The cajun fries were some of the best I've had in the Twin Cities.  The down side to stopping here first on our pub crawl was that all of us ate way too much and had little room left for more beers!

Glad I had my lactaid...

Our server (wearing a Dangerous Man shirt,) immediately picked up on the fact that were   beer tourists and pointed us toward other local places to visit as well.  She was very knowledgeable about Northbound beers, as well as other local beers and breweries.  This was a very good place to have lunch and some beers.  I would be here a lot if I lived anywhere near the area, and highly recommend it.  About the only gripe I have with the place is that the decoration in the bar is a little generic--I think they would do well to play up their brand a bit more.  I have also been to another smokehouse (Black Dog in Champaign, IL) that serves pretty much everything on the menu smoked, including most of the appetizers, and I want the Northbound guys to take it to that level!  Go big or go home!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bon Jovi, Beer and Plenty-O-Cougars

Last weekend my wife and I went to the Bon Jovi concert at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul.  Not being a big sports guy, this was the first time I've ever been to that venue and it was quite an experience.  I can honestly say I had a nice day.  It has been a long time since I've really been down to that area of St. Paul, about 10 years to be exact, back in Residency at Children's Hospital.  Parking was a bit of a zoo, especially since a lot of the concert-goers may have started their partying before arriving at the show.  Deathrace 3000 comes to mind.  Though that may just be how folks drive in St. Paul... I wish I could say I love this town... We eventually made our way to a shady parking garage and paid our $15 dollars to the not-so-pleasant guy at the entry.  Still cheaper than parking anywhere in Chicago though.  We walked beneath lowering gunmetal skies, accompanied by large groups of people, to the accompaniment of whoops, hollers and shrieks. 

After being politely patted down for firearms and contraband booze, we were allowed into the enormous structure that is the Excel Center.  This place was a leviathan of a building, yet was a veritable logjam of humanity, all trying to find their friends, get loaded up on drinks, and finding their seats.  Having never been there, Sj asked for directions to our seats and were directed no less than four times to differing areas by the "helpful" staff.  During our extensive explorations we did randomly arrive near the concession stand that was serving craft beers.  They did have Summit Maibock, Extra Pale, and Alaskan Amber (which we both purchased.)  Yes I can nearly buy a 6 pack of this for the $7.50 a bottle cost at the event.  Also in the craft beer pavilion were Bud Light Platinum and Heineken...not, Not, NOT craft beer!  Overheard while in line..."Oh, wait, this is the line for that craft beer," voice dripping with a combination of disdain and horror.

We eventually plunged our way through the throngs of drinking and drunken fans to find our seats on the main floor.  All around us were crowds of people, most drinking mixed cocktails or Bud Light.  I felt that SJ and I were among the younger members of the audience, and coming perilously close to 40, this was somewhat surprising to me.  More cougars than the Minnesota Zoo.  Lots of bad prison-house tattoos, horribly died blonde hair--teased to a ludicrous elevation, and clothing that may have originated in the junior's section.  And lots of bad beer, staggering and cigarette-hoarse screams rounded out the picture.  With some of my crowd-mates there may have been some bad medicine involved.  Looking up at the rows and rows of this crush of humanity, I briefly had my breath taken from my lungs.  There is something overwhelming about being such a tiny grain of sand in a huge ocean-side beach. 

Bon Jovi was fantastic!  This is a man who has been entertaining audiences and giving a legitimate rock and roll experience for 30 years now.  He knows how to get a crowd going and to keep their interest.  I haven't seen many Minnesota audiences get that into the music: standing the whole time, clapping, whistling and shrieking.  Slippery When Wet was the first cassette tape I ever owned, and I listened to it until it literally melted in my Walkman.  Sj actually saw him in concert in '87 and said he was even better this time.  I believe it.  Not just older, but wiser and with more experience under his belt, the last man standing put on a SHOW.  Lots of old classics were performed during this show, but several that I didn't know well kept it interesting.  With the recent release of his new album, several of the songs were brand new, and stood up well to his classics.  At one point in the performance he started doing Dancing in the Streets followed by Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones.  He hammed it up impressively, with Mick Jagger chicken walk and facial expressions included!  I can not believe that a guy in his 50's can be sprinting and bounding around the stage for 3 hours straight like that!  The blast of sound from the speakers and the crowd were almost felt more than heard--and Sj pointed out an ESL interpreter to me during the show.  I guess that the hearing-impaired folks can feel the music and rhythm, I just hadn't ever thought about that before. 

Once the lights came on and the fulfilled crowds began the disperse, Sj and I made our slow slog to the clogged exits.  With suitable timing, the rains came to wash away our sins...and drench us to the bone as well.  Nice cold Minnesota spring rain.  Knowing that we didn't really want to fight the crowds to the cars and risk our lives with the drunks, we sprinted through the sheeting and frigid rain over to Great Waters Brewpub.  It has been a while since I was there so we shared a sampler of 11 beers--a nice way to do samplers!  We found out during our brief time there that Tony, our old server/bartender from Town Hall Brewery has been promoted to head brewer there!  Very cool, and I expect good things to come from his takeover.  I'll see if I can get a proper interview and review of the beers once he gets rolling.  I have the feeling that most of the beers currently being served were not his creations.  Overall, most were pretty good, but only one made me wish I could drink more.  That beer was Emma's Springtime ale, a very estery Belgian Dubbel named after our favorite little girl, Emma German, with proceeds going towards Children's Hospital Cancer research.  Go Princess Emma!

By the time we left the brewery the rain had increased in intensity to a veritable downpour of monsoon proportions.  Like nearly drowned rats, we started the car heaters and began our long trip down the lost highway to Waconia by way of 4th Meal in Chanhassen.  Yes my dirty little secret is Taco Hell.  A long and wonderful night, combining both our past and present in an unusual and memorable montage.  By the time we got home it was after 1:30, but hey, I'll sleep when I'm dead right?  I think I'll stick to smaller venues for shows though...Bryant Lake Bowl is more my style.

(Oh, and if you hadn't realized I'm a super nerd yet, I managed to fit about 10 Bon Jovi song titles into this post...  :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Start Me Up! Apologies to the Stones...

Let's talk about yeast starters today.  This mysterious process is cited by nearly every pro brewer interview and in just about every BJCP score sheet you are likely to receive, but let's demystify it a bit.  When I started brewing back in the 90's, yeast was just a questionable packet of dried stuff, stored at room temp for possibly months or years, and if you were lucky they would differentiate between ale and lager strains.  With the advent of liquid yeasts, (and more recently higher quality dried yeasts,) potential quality and uniqueness of homewbrews improved exponentially.  Now we have access to ester producing Belgian and Hefe strains, Brettanomyces, cider yeasts, etc.  The two most commonly available liquid yeasts are White Labs (coming in a pitchable vial) and Wyeast (with their smack packs.) 

As we homebrewers get geekier about our hobby we want to imitate the pro brewers and use their fancy techniques that set craft beer apart from "homebrew."  One big way to do this is to improve our yeast handling.  As a rule of thumb, most beers under 1.055 or so will do just fine with a pitched vial or smack pack, provided you oxygenate the wort well and keep the fermentation temps where you want them.  If you are not doing those things, then I recommend you do so, but also not a bad idea to use a starter to improve your yeast activity and health.  I usually use a starter when going above the 1.055 gravity beers, and even do a stepped starter for lagers.

Process:  Everyone has a little different process for these.  I'll tell you what I do and you can feel free to comment if you have other techniques or ideas!  My basic starter is usually a 2 Liter pyrex flask, filled about 2/3 of the way full with charcoal filtered water from my fridge.  I add 1 cup of light dry malt extract, swirling vigorously until dissolved--that can take a while, but you don't want the stuff sticking to the bottom of the flask and burning during the boil.  Go ahead and put it on the stove top and get it heated up.  Using a good heat-proof glove, and not the "For decorative use only!" oven mitts I used to use, keep the starter swirling until all the DME is dissolved.  As it is getting close to a boil add a few drops of Fermcap (Simethicone, similar to what they give babies for gas...) to prevent boilovers.  Words of wisdom here: the tapered top of these flasks will result in nearly instantaneous boilovers without that Fermcap, spraying hot and frothing barley water all over your stove and "upsetting" your spouse.  The bottle will last you for years and can be put in the boil for your regular brewing as well.  The Fermcap breaks the surface tension and prevents a lot of the foaming and bubbles, but still keep a close eye on your boil.  Keep at a rolling boil for about 15 minutes, this is mostly for sanitizing the DME of any nasties hiding in there.

Don't forget your tin-foil hat to prevent alien mind probes...

Throw some tin foil on top of the flask and immerse in cold or ice water bath.  Ideally you want it around room temp before adding yeast.  Too hot or too cold can stress out the yeast and make for a less successful starter.  I usually dip my yeast packet or vial in sanitizer and then dump it on in.

Chillin' out

The whole idea of a starter is to do a few things.  The first is to rouse the dormant yeast and get it alert and active--like having your morning coffee.  The second is to get the yeast to multiply and give you more active yeast ready to ferment your wort.  Small starters (1 L) will usually get the yeast going, but doesn't have the volume to really increase the amount of yeast.  2L and above will result in more actual yeast proliferation which is why that is my standard.  In addition, in order to get to a point where the yeast wants to multiply and to ferment wort, it needs oxygen.  This step is very important for starters as well as your batch of beer.  I use a stir plate for my starters, and use a foam stopper in the top to keep out fruit flies and dust.  This will allow air/oxygen entry to the starter, as well as keep the yeast swirling in suspension and active.  Do not use an airlock, as this will prevent air entry.  If you don't have a stir plate, you can periodically swirl the starter, but you aren't going to get as good of a result.  I recommend using an oxygen stone to oxygenate the starter if you can't stir it.  You can make your own stir plate out of computer motors, magnets and cigar boxes--you-tube it!  I have a 1940's looking 30 pound behemoth that Kent gave me about 5 years back--this thing will probably function longer than I will.  For really big beers and lagers you may want to step up your starter and do a second larger batch--I'll write that up next time I do one.  You will also need a stir magnet for a stir plate--get more than one just to be safe.

Using a stir plate, my starters usually are done fermenting within 24-48 hours, so you do need to plan ahead for these.  If you do a last minute starter (previous night) you will still have a healthier and active yeast than not using one at all.  I also like doing the starter as a way to tell if my yeast is still functional before adding it to my beer.  I have had a couple of vials/packs that were DOA, and the starter never got going--but I had enough time to go buy new yeast before my brew day.  I also keep a couple of dry yeast packets in the fridge as back-up--no starters needed for those.

If your starter is still active and foaming at the time you are adding to your wort, then just add the whole thing.  If you have reached the point where it isn't foaming anymore, I would stop the stir plate and give it 5-8 hours to settle out, then carefully decant 3/4 of the clearer top "beer" down your drain.  I usually use a butane creme brulee torch to quickly sterilize the lip of the flask before doing this and adding to final wort.  Great for creme brulee as well!  A trick I recently learned is to hold a magnet to the outside of the flask while decanting/adding to the wort--this will hold your stir magnet inside the flask instead of dropping down the sink drain (done that) or into your fermenter (and also done that.)

With a good starter and properly aerated wort, you should see activity within 12-24 hours.  By cutting down lag time, you have a quicker production of alcohol that keeps down any spoilage bacteria, as well as a large number of good yeast to overwhelm/compete with any wild yeasts that may have made it into your batch.  Be aware that this process can result in a more vigorous fermentation than you may be used to carefully and use a blow-off tube.  Your wife will do bad things to you, (or nix your budding homebrew hobby,) if you spray fermenting beer all over the clothes in her closet.  I'm not speaking from experience here.  Really.  I mean it....ahhh, you got me!

For the pictures here, I was actually doing two separate starters with different yeasts for a split 10 gallon batch (see here for details on that experiment.)  I used a stir bar in each and just switched them off on the stir plate every time I went downstairs to my mad-scientist lab.  This worked very well and both were done in under 48 hours and ready to pitch into my beer.

Good luck and feel free to comment!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

McCoy's Public House Steel Toe Dinner 4/4/13

McCoy's Public House opened in St. Louis Park quite a while ago, before the big craft beer boom in this state.  At first they were touting themselves as a brew pub and some good friends of ours invited us to go there (knowing I was a big beer geek.)  I was disappointed to find out that the beer was not brewed there, but shipped from a facility in another state entirely--and I was disappointed in the quality of that beer as well.  The food was fairly good at the time, but nothing to get me racing back there.  I'll admit I left this place off my radar and forgot entirely about it until recently.

Just a few short weeks ago, my friend Nick Collins started working at McCoy's as the bar manager, and this prompted us to take a trip out there and get a baseline reading of how the place was doing.  We were actually fairly impressed with the food and prices, getting there for brunch and having chicken and waffles that were spot-on.  The beer list is extensive with a lot of taps and bottles to choose from.  They have thankfully let go of the McCoy's beers.  The beer menu was a little wacky, with some beers in the wrong category as well as a few unseasonal beers available.  Based on my visit last night the beer menu is looking better already and some cool beers are popping up there!  You can also get a four-drink sampler if you can't make up your mind...I am a sucker for these!  It looks like the restaurant wants to expand their craft beer selection and do more beer-related events like firkins and beer dinners--certainly the right direction to go in my mind!

Just after arriving at McCoy's, Nick was thrown into the deep end and asked to help organize a beer dinner, and that was music to my ears!  They managed to get Steel Toe Brewing on board, which makes sense since the brewery and their new tasting room is less than a mile away.  You have probably heard me say it before, and you probably will again: Steel Toe is one of my favorite breweries and Jason Schoneman makes some incredibly, consistently tasty beers.   This was actually Steel Toe's inaugural beer dinner and I feel excited and proud to have been a part of it.  One day when Steel Toe is a giant regional brewing behemoth like Summit or Great Lakes, I'll be able to say that I got in at the ground floor...

Upon arrival we were escorted to a back room where they had assigned us seats at communal tables.  I love this type of set-up for beer dinners because it encourages the diners to talk to their neighbors...something that Minnesotans are notoriously uncomfortable with!  We ended up talking quite a bit to a young couple seated next to us and had a great time hanging out with them.  We arrived slightly early and had a chance to talk a while with Jason, who is always entirely pleasant and laid-back.  I guess there were some late additions to the dinner so the poor guy had to sit at his own small table... sort of like getting stuck at the kids' table at a wedding.  Before the dinner began he gave a little talk about the history of his brewery and answered some questions.  I always love hearing this info directly from the brewers and appreciate him coming to this event himself--especially since he is knee deep in electrical work and installation of new fermenters in the brewery right now! 

We started the dinner with a glass of Provider:  an unfiltered pilsner-esqe ale with a citrus character, notes of yeastiness and a pleasant malt backbone.  This was paired with seared baramundi and crispy pork shoulder with a thai inspired rice noodle salad and pea shoots.  I wanted more of that sriracha sauce!  And more of the pork shoulder! 

Between each course Jason was able to give us a bit of background on each beer and then Chef Peter Hoff talked briefly about each course before rushing back into the kitchen to finish preparing our food.  My picture of the chef was blurry, (probably because he moves so fast,) so you will have to believe me that he really exists.

The second course was a flavorful take on chicken-fried steak, but using lamb instead of steak!  Madras curry reduction, local honey, pears, and tart apples made this a complex dish with bursts of heat, sweet, and savory.  The dish was paired with Size 7 IPA and apparently the lamb was braised in the beer as well.  I'm a big fan of this IPA and could drink it every day if I lived just a little closer to the taproom.  I should mention at this time that McCoy's did not skimp on the pours, bringing out a full pint of this beer, and usually topping up your glass if you so desired during the dinner.  Good job guys!

Third course was an incredible smoked beef tenderloin with a risotto made partially from Steel Toe spent grain.  The chef did some complex cheffery to get the flavor from the grain without leaving husks to get caught in our teeth.  Caramelized fennel, wild mushrooms and a roasted onion/Rainmaker jus also populated the plate, adding intriguing earthy and liqourice notes to the overall dish.  This was, of course, paired with the Rainmaker--probably my favorite of Steel Toe's regular line up.  A bitter and malty Imperial Red ale, the beer ends dry enough that you can keep on drinking and paired very well with the food.

To wrap up the meal we were brought a snifter of Steel Toe Lunker.  I have blogged about this beer before (and waiting in line for its release) and it is one of my favorite beers to come out in the last several years.  A perfectly balanced barleywine aged in Templeton Rye whiskey barrels, it clocks in at a brawny 10.6% ABV.  I would have gone to this dinner just for the glass of Lunker.  The desert was a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean whipped cream and coconut candied cashews.  The flavors in the desert played nicely with the beer, but my distended abdomen prompted me to focus my attention on the beer and leave behind some of the food.  Priorities...

As a veteran of many-a-beer-dinner, I think this was a very successful example.  For the price ($45 including tax and gratuity) it was a steal, giving us more than our money's worth in good beer, companionship and well-prepared cuisine.  The service was quick, efficient, and friendly.  About the only thing I would have changed would be having a meet and greet beer available before the first course for those who arrive early to sip on while making the acquantance of their neighbors.  The lack of such a beer may actually have been due to the limited number of options Steel Toe had available, but I would highly recommend one for their next beer dinner.  Speaking of which, McCoy's next foray into beer dinners will be Great Lakes 5/23/13, so keep your ear to the ground and sign up when it is posted.  Many thanks to Jason, Chef Peter, Nick, and all the other McCoy's folks who put this on--keep 'em coming!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hefe-Wit: An Experiment in Splitting Batches

A friend and reader of this blog has requested seeing more of my personal homebrewing musings and experiments.  Since the arctic tundra outside is starting to warm, the permafrost layer lowering and the glaciers in my yard shrinking, brewing season is upon us!  I'm a wimp when it comes to brewing outside in the frigid Minnesota winter, and do the majority of my brewing exploits in the warmer month.  Yes I said "month."  Keep in mind that this is Minnesota.  A lot of my friends brew only in the Winter and have no free time in the Summer due to over-scheduling, but they are doing it WRONG!  So without further ado--Mark, this entry is for you! 

My first batch of the warm season (high of 36 yo!) was an experimental batch of wheat beer.  A good friend of mine donated some Rahr white wheat and some Moravian Pilsner malt to me a while ago and I needed to use this awesome grain before it goes south.  A little quirk of genetics has left me with the amazing superpower of getting migraine headaches when I drink wheat beers, inherited from my mother who has the same issue.  Because of this unusual defect in my genetic make-up, this style is not on my quick-list for brewing or drinking.  But I have six taps at home and Summer will soon be upon us, and many of my friends and family will be clamoring for a refreshing lawn-mower beer, so why not use this evil grain to serve the masses?  To be honest I'm still not sure if the problem I have is wheat related or perhaps from the estery wheat beer yeasts.  Some Belgian beers get me as well, but often have similar yeasts and include wheat.  I may have to finally break down and do some ill-conceived experimentation and see what happens to me.

I had enough grain to do a 10 gallon batch, so my idea was to split the batch into two separate 5 gallon carboys and make a slightly different beer out of them.  I have done this many times, using different yeasts or adding fruit to half of the batch, but this time I was going to try something a bit off the wall.  I started by creating a fairly simple grain bill:  the above mentioned grains and a bit of Munich malt to add interest.  I was aiming somewhere right in between the typical grain bill for German Hefeweizen and a Belgian Wit.  I have the corresponding yeasts for those styles in starters and ready to get fermenting.  The part that had me a little perplexed at first was the addition of spices to the brew.  Belgian Wit (think Hoegaarden or Celis White, or Blue Moon if you lack imagination) typically uses orange peel and coriander as complimentary spicing, adding a refreshing citrus quality to the beer that the German Hefe lacks.  Usually the spices are added near the end of the boil, so I thought about running half my beer into the first carboy, then adding spices to the remaining in the kettle and running it into the second carboy.  However, having not brewed this style before, I had no idea how much of the spices to add. 

Recipes I've found on line vary greatly and differ depending the freshness and quality of your ingredients.  Most recipes call for the bitter orange peel that comes as a dusty, dessicated and mummified packet from your local homebrew shop.  I opted for fresh orange peel, zesting a blood orange and a grapefruit because I happened to have them in my fridge.  The blood orange is not as bitter, so I felt that the grapefruit would add some of that character, as well as make this a little more interesting.  I added the combined zests to a small container of vodka.  I will let this sit for a week or two (until the primary fermentation of my beer is done.)  The flavor and aroma from the zest should be leached out by the neutral spirit and I can then run this through a coffee filter and add incrementally to my beer before bottling.  In this way I can get just the right amount of flavor from the spice without over or under-doing it and spoiling a whole batch.  I did the same thing with some Penzey's ground coriander and will add it at the same time.

I have used the alcohol tea method successfully a few times before with chipotle peppers and hibiscus flowers.  I hope to get a fairly good approximation of a Belgian Wit from using the technique here.  The other half of the brew will be a typical German Hefe that my wife will hopefully like!   

There are some other tricks to this particular batch.  Using wheat in a beer can add some difficulties on certain brew systems (mine included.)  First off, the wheat has a smaller kernel than most barley, and will not crush as well at the regular settings on your mill.  I recommend crushing your other grains, then resetting the mill for a finer crush and running your wheat through it.  The other big issue is stuck sparges.  I have not had this issue on my current system but did have it once on my old Igloo cooler set-up and that was a huge mess.  Since wheat malt has no husk, it doesn't filter the the grain bed like barley and your mash can compress into a firm hunk of dough.  Not cool.  I usually throw a half to full pound of rice hulls into the mash when using wheat, oats, etc in a batch.  Keep in mind the hulls can absorb some water, so you may need a little extra strike water for the batch than you usually do.  One other thing I have run into with using the Moravian pilsner is that it is less modified than many of the current brewing malts, resulting in it taking a longer time to convert its complex starches to fermentable smaller sugars.  Give it more than 60 minutes to mash, and you may even want to do a protein rest if you can. 

Wheat wort results in disgusting spoo!

So far so good, but the proof will be in the final result.  With any luck I'll end up with 5 gallons of German Hefe and 5 gallons of Belgian Wit, and neither will give me a skull-busting migraine headache.  I'm hoping also that the Belgian Wit will be ready in time for the May JAB Belgian Madness so I can have more than one Belgian ale to bring.

Hefe-Wit Recipe:

8.5# Moravian Pilsner
8.5# Rahr White Wheat malt
0.5# Munich
1# Rice Hulls
1.5 oz Hallertau hops 4.3% AA at 60 minutes
WL German Hefe yeast
Wyeast Belgian Wit yeast

Mash at 125 for 30 minutes, then step up to 152 for 60 minutes (took me 15 minutes to rise to that.)
Sparge 30-40 minutes.
Boil 90 minutes.
OG 1.052
Ferment at 64 for Hefe and 68 for Wit.

Fermenting away!
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Next Up:  Review of McCoy's Steel Toe Beer Dinner