‘Winter’s End Beer Tasting’ is officially over, which means it’s time to reflect on the trials and tribulations, the colossal triumphs and the humbling failures that are irrevocably part of what we do to create and deliver our unique combination of beer and community to the world at large. It was extraordinary to see the unique results of both the beer brewing process and the crowd that came to taste our creations. Unexpected surprises and drastic contrast from previous outings proved to be an amazing learning experience. We’re already making adjustments and growing stronger in order to become the best beer brewers we can be so that we can share our craft with the world. And believe me, we’re just getting started.
The evening started clunky as we awkwardly worked around our landlord who took over our kitchen for repairs. When the first guests arrived we were still scrambling to get our beers iced, set up the display tables, and maximize pretzel distribution. With a little luck, everything fell into place in a matter of minutes. Our guests graciously showed up with some good food, great attitudes, open minds and most importantly OPEN MOUTHS. I got a chance to liberally share a wealth of beer knowledge and test out my new ‘digs’ in Phinney Ridge. Keith dished out more than his share of beer origin stories and brewing anecdotes while holding down bar tending duties. We both experienced a great mix of familiar faces and brand new beer lovers which amounted to an extremely successful round of Hello, My Name is Beer Tasting.
STEINER BLOODLINE RED. A Red Ale that was our simplest beer yet. Just Malt, Water, Yeast and Hops… also a little red wheat for color. The ‘Less is More’ approach worked like a charm. It turned out great! Who says you need crazy ingredients like juniper berries or shark blood to make a beer interesting and tasty? This was, by far, Brewer’s Pick of the Night even though attendees may have disagreed.
BALROG: THE WEE HEAVY, SCOTCH ALE, WINTER WARMER. This was a thick, rich, complex beast of a beer that happily demolished everyone in its path. After 2+ months of conditioning, this came out exactly as intended and (VERY) surprisingly was the best received beer for the night! We never could have predicted that such a distinct, intense, and imposing beer would unanimously win over a random beer crowd.
HALF-WIT: THE BELGIAN WIT. This was a light Belgian style Wit that was made to please laid back beer drinkers who like their flavors mellow and easygoing. Though people tended to like Balrog more, I can’t seem to find any bottles left, so we must have done something right! We also had a naming contest for the beer as it was still nameless the night of the Tasting. Lauren Bloomenthal took the prize with ‘Half-Wit’… though there many notable suggestions, such as “The unnameable beer” (the unreadable entry), “Fatround” and “Jean-Claude Vance Damme”.
All three beers got amazing reviews for the night and this makes me feel pretty darn good. Finally, we are at the point in our brewing careers where we are finally getting the results we were looking for! We’ve ascended to the level of Beer Architects. Everyone had love for all three beers on some level. Yay! This kind of feedback is EXACTLY why we readily share our beers, to make sure we are on on point with our freelance chemistry and poignant flavor concepts.
Aside from the great beers on tap, I need to mention the great attendees too! We had everyone from college students to family patriarchs to 6 months old present! Most importantly, they also came stocked with contagious enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and an eagerness to drink our delicious beer! I love it when I can teach people about beer making, beer culture, beer.. anything really (note my previous blogs :)), and I really got a chance to run wild this tasting. I also had a few formal information sessions up my sleeve, though the only one I did for the group was How to Pour a Beer. In the end, I think even the non-beer drinkers in the crowd learned something!
Now that I look back on how everything unfolded, I can only come up with a few problems from which to grow on.
1.) Beer Labels. Cellar Homebrew, our trusted supplier of brewing hard and soft goods, provided label paper that performed to a less than stellar degree in terms of print quality and adhesive reliability. Product fail. Next time we’re shelling out big bucks for the good stuff.
2.) Timing. Keith and I are still trying to find that ‘sweet spot’ for what time of day to have a Beer Tasting. In the past, usually the problem was the tasting starting too early and going on for too long (2:30-7:00 … so that we could be classy and do an afternoon event – which of course, bled into 11:00). So, this time, we decided to shrink it to just 5:30-9:30, so that people could come after work and not have to stay long if they didn’t want to. This worked out PRETTY well, however, no one really showed up until 7:00 and a lot didn’t come at all. Maybe Sunday needs to be abandoned for Saturday next time? Leave us comments and feedback regarding your preferred days/times to taste beer. Your reward is free beer.
So, there was our Beer Tasting in a Barley Shell (see what I did there? ahh.. I’m so clever). However, as with all endings, there is a always a new beginning. Now the time has come to polish our process, refine the tasting format, push ourselves, conceptualize new recipes, research exciting ingredients and BREW MORE BEER. For us…and for you.
Liquid Hops Pale Ale, Easter Bunny Beer with the fruity and chocolaty magnificence that is the result of getting pooped out of an Easter Bunny, and also the return of a good friend – our first big hit and someone you can always trust (unless Darth Vader is involved). Keep your eyes peeled for the genesis of a summer tasting that we will knock many socks off. You bring the sun, we’ll bring the beer. See y’all next time!
-Matty + Beer – Keith = Hello, My Name is Beer