Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tap List 9/26/07

Hoppy Little O (10% a.b.v.)
Last time we made a Chouffe houblon dobbelen IPA triple cone it was Hoppy Little Gnome. This time our marriage of an American Double IPA and a Beglian Tripel was made with all organic pale ale malts (hence the O) and a slightly different hopping schedule. It comes in at 10% so watch out!

Oktoberfest (6.3% a.b.v.)
The malty German lager that you love to drink this time of the year. Really good this time around! This is one of the best Oktoberfests that we have ever made!

Black Wolf Schwarz bier (5.0% a.b.v.)
The best schwarz bier in the U.S. according to the 2006 Great American Beer Festival. Lager body and finish with a touch of roasty aroma and body. A distinct but not overpowering black beer that just may change your idea about what a "dark beer" is.

Black Moon Rye-sin (5.5% abv)
An American Stout with the addition of Rye. Roasty and chocolaty aroma with a slightly hoppy background. It's a full bodied stout that has coffee and roast flavors in all the right places with a lingering bitter finish from the hops.

ZikadeWeiss (4.5% abv)
No Cicadas were harmed in the making of this beer, but we did have to fight them off while brewing this. Crisp, light, citrusy, and very refreshing. Except for pulling cicadas out of your lady's hair, nothing says summer like a Hefeweizen.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's time for a big O!

Organic that is! We made an Organic Belgian/American IPA (Organic Pale Ale malt, Belgian yeast, and lots o' hops). It's called Hoppy Little O and is a new version of Hoppy Little Gnome-which was quite successful for us. Why Organic? Why not? Just doing our part on this blue dot we call home :)

After 8PM on Tuesday September 25th, it's yours. $4.50/tulip glass. Oh yeah 10% abv-drink responsibly!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is Brewing an Art Form?

Often in reading about beer or brewing, making beer is referred to as "art." Is it? "Such and Such" as an art form gets thrown around a lot and often times the usage bothers me. When I was in school there were many discussions about "High Art vs. Low Art," and what was what when it came to calling something art. For almost an entire week my class I took about the Simpsons, "The Simpsons as Satirical Authors," discussed whether or not a cartoon could be accurately described as art, and beyond that, act as a moral weather vane and mirror for our culture. We watched a lot of cartoons. This question of "brewing as an art form" has been nagging at me for a while now, and I still haven't been able to come up with a satisfying answer on my own. Something that you hold near and dear to your heart, something that you make your livelihood out of, shouldn't have big unanswered questions hanging out there as far as I'm concerned.

I went to school for four and a half years to study film, specifically cinematography, and walked away with a BA in film (with honors I might add). BA of course stands for Bachelors of Arts. Columbia College Chicago determined that I met the requirements for them to confer a degree upon me for completing their film program. Now on face value, that doesn't mean anything beyond the fact that I completed the film program. It doesn't necessarily mean that I have any talent when it comes to shooting, lighting, or the like. It also doesn't mean that I can watch movies better than the average person, or that I can get into the theater for discounted rates. but it does mean that I know a lot about film, from the history of filmmaking to modern day techniques. I studied under some impressive instructors. I know a fair amount about the art form of film.
My fiancée has an English degree from a large state school in Wisconsin. Like my BA, it doesn't mean that she has perfect grammar, or that she can read faster than anyone else. (She does however have the amazing ability of proofreading and editing papers that have a deadline of tomorrow morning) But she does know a lot about Victorian literature, and about liberal arts studies in general.

So what does all of this have to do with the question of is Brewing an Art? To me, and with my prejudices, an art form immediately conjures concepts of fine art. i.e. film, photography, painting, sculpting, writing, drawing, etc. You don't need a degree or any formal training to do any of those things, but they are readily accepted as art forms. Most of the time art is conveying a message or a feeling that goes from the artist to the other person. Beer certainly goes from my brewhouse to your mouths, and I certainly put a lot of time, thought, and effort into it, but that doesn't make it an art. Does it?

(Are these men artists?)

Part of my problem with this is that brewing beer has historically been a trade. In many medieval cities where brewing was common, the brewers had powerful guilds and lots of political power. In modern times trades such as plumbers and electricians have their unions that wield the power. Do many people think of wiring a building or sweating pipes together an art form? This duality really gives me some pause. Maybe part of it is being a good midwestern boy who doesn't want to think more of himself than he should. Another part of this is from an interaction I saw once on one of the beer sites. A brewer compared himself to Picasso because he felt that his beers were simply misunderstood. The beers didn't have a problem, you had the problem. I'm an artist and you just don't understand me - kind of thing.

If you go by a strict dictionary definition, such as M-W

Main Entry: art
Pronunciation: 'ärt
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin art-, ars --
1 : skill acquired by experience, study, or observation art of making friends>
2 a : a branch of learning: (1) : one of the humanities (2) plural : LIBERAL ARTS b archaic : LEARNING, SCHOLARSHIP
3 : an occupation requiring knowledge or skill art of organ building>
4 a : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced b (1) : FINE ARTS (2) : one of the fine arts (3) : a graphic art
Definition 3, an occupation requiring knowledge or skill, then I think that brewing definitely falls within the realm of art. But I think I'm still not satisfied.

So I'm throwing it out there to you in interwebsland. Brewing as an art form yes/no and why?

Hop Selection with Brewer's Supply Group

Yesterday, Chris German from Brewer's Supply Group came by to let us rub a few different lots of hops that we contract from them. I don't have a ton of photos to share because my hands were super resiny after getting down and dirty with this year's harvest but here is what it looked like.

We got a few sidelong glances from servers, curious as to what the large green bricks were out on the patio.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Flossmoor Station Cures Cystic Fibrosis

Obviously not, But we did pour beer at a CF fundraiser this past Thursday in Lincoln Park.
With Flossmoor Fest over the weekend, I couldn't find time in my 14 hour Saturday to update the blog, and Sunday involved Tuxedo rentals and lots of driving.

The event was held at STATE Restaurant & Cafe which is a pretty cool area, lots of tv's and a very trendy, loungy, feel too it.

Look how dressed up Wil is!

Not a bad turnout, but I suspect the organizers were hoping for more. I know that we certainly were considering the amount of beer we and everyone else brought. The food was really good and we certainly had our fill of that! If they do it again next year hopefully we will have more people and raise more money for CF research.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Session-September is Brew Zoo

So another month is upon us and time for another Beer Blogging Friday. In what has become a regular first Friday tradition around the beer blogs, we settle into Rick Lyke's idea at Lyke 2 Drink of The Brew Zoo. Also, as a special treat, our usual poster Andrew seems to be a little busy(so a wedding 30 days away is an excuse?-c'mon) so as your guest Session blogger I give you Black Wolf Schwarzbier.

Before that though, I might mention that it has been suggested that we dedicated this months session to the late Michael Jackson and his enormous contributions to the beer world. I decided to go grab my Michael Jackson's Beer Companion and reread the section on Black beers. He starts out, "In the lore of the drinker, several beers might be called black, but the soubriquet has most strongly attached itself to one style. The classic example, right down to its name, is the Schwarzbier made by a local brewery at Bad Kostritz, in Thuringia, in the former East Germany. Schwarz simply means black. This once famous beer retained its life-force in the shadows, and has recently emerged, blinking slightly, in the open air of a new Europe." I love his writing. Our caps are tipped to you, Beer Hunter!

Onward: As a brewpub brewer, we feed on variety and diversity. I love to try to make dozens of styles a year. People always are asking, "whatever happened to the -fill in the blank-beer. Well, my response usually is-I already made that one. Time to move on. So as such, we also have to come up with names for these beers. Some are train related because of our building and theme, of course. Some have that crazy brewer guy humor and play on words that we used as homebrewers (can you believe I had a manager that didn't like "Social Lubricator" as a dopplebock name? It's certainly more tame than 'Full Frontal', 'Camel Toe', or 'Moose Knuckle' that my friend Jonathon at Piece created-hey, I should be writing about the camel or moose, many animals). Anyway, with all the names we've concocted (some good, some bad), there seem to be very few with any relation to animals. In fact, a quick jump over to (where one can find a quick list of every beer any brewer has created) shows that we have only one other animal related beer name, ZikadeWeiss (the cicadas were a plague in Northern Illinois this summer-we used them as a garnish) So, since the Schwarzbier is a repeat brew, I give you-the Black Wolf.

Last summer as we were brewing up our Oktoberfest, we decided to get the most out of our yeast and make another lager. We chose to do a Schwarz only because we hadn't tried it yet. I consulted Weyerman malting in Bamberg and Todd Ashman for ideas on getting that dark as night beer, without any of the burnt, roast, coffee flavors associated with most stouts, porters, etc. Anyway, we brewed it up and liked the results. Then, at the last minute we needed a seventh beer to enter into the 2006 GABF. After much debate, stress, and struggle we choose the Wolf. We didn't have much hope that it would medal, as it was our first attempt, but we threw it in anyway. Well, lo and behold, the Black Wolf Schwarzbier became my first GABF gold medal! And, you might say it was instrumental in us winning the Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year in 2006. So, we had to try repeat as champs in the Geman Schwarzbier category and have made it again. Is it as good? Will it win again? You'll just have to trek to Denver Oct. 11-13 to find out!

Oh yeah, the name. It actually had nothing to do with an animal. Jim Wolfer of Prairie Rock Brewing in Elgin let us borrow his WL830 German Lager Yeast. As a thank you, we named it after him, kind of. (Black Wolfer wouldn't sound right would it?) This year, Jim was out of Lager yeast, but we bought it ourselves. IF we don't win-it's Jim's fault!

If you attend the GABF this year, please come by Flossmoor Station's booth and try the Black Wolf. We'll tip an ounce to Mr. Jackson. Cheers! Matt