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

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