Saturday, July 3, 2010

It hurts to set you free

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end

- The Doors, The End

I'm sorry to report that Mattingly Brewing Company has closed its doors, the sting is made all the worse after my last post. I have the tragic duty of both informing our loyal followers and mothballing the equimpent in the hopes that it can find a productive second life in the service of some other brewrey, winery, cidery or meadery.
The fate of the beer in the cellar is currently unknown. I encourage the fans of the beers at Mattingly Brewing Company to seek out the beers I have brewed for Schlafly. Two are available at the Bottleworks at the moment, Burn Ward Wheat on draft and the Culinaria Holiday Ale in bottles (the Old Ale my wife and I made to celebrate our wedding).
What is next? Nobody is sure just yet...

My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
This is the end

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ad Astra Per Aspera

The state motto of Kansas reads: Ad Astra Per Aspera, meaning "To the Stars through Adversity". This phrase is one of my favorites, as while the message is simple, it is enduring, inspiring and full of truth.
As a Kansas native, I hardly paid the phrase any attention in my childhood there. However, the further down the road I have travelled, the more significant it has become.
Our good friends at the Lawrence, KS brewery, FreeState just recently began bottling their fantastic beers out of a new production facility. They have been brewing their flagship, Ad Astra Ale, and many others, at their brewpub for over two decades. In October of 2008, with their new facility nearly operation, it was ravaged by a fire, destroying their raw ingredients and damaging most of the equipment. Still, they stuck with it, rebuilt and pushed onward. Ad Astra Per Aspera.
My wife and I got married last winter, and have been putting up with the 'little love bird' type comments since the engagement, over a year ago. Truthfully, we've had our trials, our hardship. After spending our senior year of college together she had to go to grad school and could only afford to do it with in state tuition, and live at home, so she moved 700 miles away. I chose to stay, as my prospects in the brewing industry were better here. But we survived the two years apart, full of short weekends phone calls and red-eye flights, and just importantly, another year together, afterwards, and then decided to get married. She loves her career, and so do I. Oh, and we're still fine with each other, too. Ad Astra Per Aspera.
When we took our honeymoon I brought along some Kurt Vonnegut to read, including The Sirens of Titan. Kurt made it through his mother's suicide, the firebombing of Dresden as a POW and years of studying mechanical engineering to become one of most influential authors of his generation. His novel, The Sirens of Titan, chronicles the adventures (misadventures?) of Malachi Constant, the (formerly) richest man in the world, and Winston Niles Rumfoord, a wealthy explorer who is displace in space-time (as happens to Vonnegut's characters) by an encounter with a chrono-synclastic infudibulum. A Martian invasion of Earth and more ensues. Key moments in the book are marked with the phrase: Ad Astra Per Aspera.
MBC has been open for about two years now, and brewing for almost a year and half. Despite our cobbled together system, inefficiencies of scale and other limitations we continue to innovate. Releasing St. Louis' first sour ale, winning Riverfront Times Best Beer 2009 and crafting the hoppy, malty, smoky, spicy and interesting ales and lagers has kept us on the cutting edge of the Midwest's brewing revolution. In honor of our perseverance, Kurt's, and that of our friends at FreeState, this Memorial Day weekend we are brewing Per Aspera Pilsner. We grew up our own lager yeast, the hard way and are conducting a tradition step mash of Pilsner, Vienna and Melanoidin malts and adding plenty of Magnum, Hallertau Mittlefruh and Celeia hops. This complex but refreshing lager will help us bear what looks to be severly hot summer. Ad Astra Per Aspera.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You down with OPB?

Well, Pinball Blizzard has been brewed and based on tastes from the fermenter, it will be exactly what I am aiming for. An AIPA with hopping rates at the very heights of the DIPA range, but still with some balance.
How is this possible? Well, instead of merely shooting for IBUs (International Bitterness Units) by loading up the bittering additions in the quest of a higher number, my philosophy has been to focus on creating hop flavor and aroma and simply letting the IBUs come along with those hopping techniques.
However, all of this flavor and aroma are difficult things to quantify, unlike IBUs (which, get mangled and misinterpreted, as many statistics do). I believe the time has come for a new unit to measure hoppiness.
I hereby propose the 'OPB' or Ounces of hops Per Barrel of beer. For instance, our Homeward Brown has 16.4 OsPB and 30 IBUs, 1984 Golden Ale has 13.5 OsPB and 25 IBUs, HOPtimal APA has 48 OsPB and 45 IBUs. The IBU is still a useful unit for relaying relative bitterness. Both the 1984 and Homeward Brown are blanced beers and their OsPB:IBU ratio falls near 1:2. Unlike the very hoppy HOPtimal APA whose ratio approaches 1:1.
Now, let us take a look at Pinball Blizzard. While HOPtimal APA tips the scales at 3lbs of hops per barrel, Pinball Blizzard is way off the scale at 6 lbs per barrel, giving it 96 OsPB, but it only racks up an IBU rating of 66. The ratio has swung the other way and approaches 3:2.
Here is a glimpse at Double IPA at the very top end of its style, Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company. Based on the homebrew recipes provided by Vinnie Cilurzo, RRBC's Head Brewer and creator of Pliny the Elder (and arguably the entire DIPA genre), PtE also packs the massive hop whallop of 6 pounds per barrel. However, those 96 OsPB are shifted more towards the bittering addition, yielding a proclaimed 92 IBUs for a ratio approaching 1:1.
Where the OsPB come from can shed further light on the hoppiness of a brew.
Here is a breakdown of Pinball Blizzard Rye IPA:
10.37 OsPB - First Wort Hops
0.74 OsPB - Bittering addition
11.11 OsPB - Flavor additions
51 OsPB - End of Boil and Hopback
23.7 OsPB - Dry Hopping

Hopefully this new methodology for quantifying hoppiness will shed some light on the brews to which they are applied. Additionally, brewers wishing to express hoppiness in terms other than mere bitterness are welcome to adopt the new unit as they see fit. I will continue to use it as long as I brew aromatic and flavorful hoppy beers!
Now...lets get to dry hopping!