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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

St. Francis Brewing Co. celebrates American Craft Beer Week!

What is this????

A blog update from Scott??  It's only been eight months since the last one.

The reality is, we use Facebook and Twitter a lot more nowadays to get the word out about the "haps" at the brewery.  Also, this blog is one area in my life where I'm extremely lazy.

But, it's also a good way to get the word out about special events at St. Francis, and there's a pretty cool one coming up next month:


St. Francis Brewing Co.
celebrates
American Craft Beer Week

May 12-18. 2014
 The popularity of American craft beer has reached unprecedented levels.  While the “Big Boys” are seeing sales drop from year to year, beer lovers across America are supporting their local craft breweries in droves, and St. Francis is no exception.

 As America celebrates its craft brewing heritage and to thank you for all you’ve done to help make the St. Francis Brewing Company what it is today, we’ve decided to do something special.

I've come up with seven special beers.  These are outside the realm of our regular line-up.  Starting at noon on Monday, May 12, we will feature a different beer, every day of the week.  You may also pick up a punch card at the Brewery.  Bring in your punch card and purchase one of our featured beers.  Anyone who stops in and gets their card punched for all seven beers will receive a prize when Craft Beer Week has ended.

 Here’s the line-up:

Monday, May 12

Cucumber Saison—we took a traditional Belgian Saison, complete with orange peel, Candi syrup and a special yeast strain, and added a few fresh cucumbers.  The result is a sweet, spicy and refreshing beer.

 Tuesday, May 13

Jaggery Pale Ale—This English-style Pale Ale features “Jaggery”—a type of Indian sugar made from dates.  There’s also a touch of Fenugreek seasoning.

 Wednesday, May 14

Nutty Brown Ale—Nut Brown usually refers to the color of this English ale, but this one is truly nutty!  Lightly toasted pecans were added to the beer to really emphasize that delicious nut flavor.

 Thursday, May 15

Pirate Stout—Shiver me timbers, this one’s got some kick!  Fueled by a pound and a half of molasses, this rich, dark stout also includes allspice, coriander, tangerine zest and black pepper.  Arrrrrrg.

 Friday, May 16

Amber Strong Wit—Who says Belgian Witbier needs to be light in color?  This Wit is amber -colored.  The traditional Belgian spiciness is enhanced with an addition of star anise, coriander and tangerine zest.  (Yes, there are a lot of naked tangerines at St. Francis.)  Some lightly toasted oats help provide a luxurious mouthfeel.

 Saturday, May 17

Berliner Weisse—By far, the lightest of our offerings, this traditional style is a light weissebier that has been “soured”.  As is also common for the style, this beer will be served with a squirt of raspberry syrup.

 Sunday, May 18

Cherry Bock—This German Lager was fermented cold with five pounds of sour Door County cherries.  The result is a smooth, tasty beer with a hint of cherry goodness.


The fine print!

These beers are offered in extremely limited quantities.  From noon to 7:00 each day, they will only be sold one per customer.  After 7:00 pm if there’s any beer left, we will lift that rule.  When it’s gone, it’s gone.

If you are able to stop by every day of craft beer week to try these beers, bring in your fully-punched card between May 18-21 to receive your fabulous prize—a “Seven Deadly Sins” T-shirt of your choice.


So, you may be saying, "but I thought craft beer week in Milwaukee starts this Saturday.  Why are you waiting until May?" 
And, you'd be correct.  There is a Milwaukee Craft Beer week which runs from April 26--May 2.  The lesser-known detail is that this week was created and is promoted by Beechwood Distributors.  Basically, they promote bars and breweries that are in their line-up.  Smart business for them, if not a little sneaky.  St. Francis distributes though another company which has a greater focus on craft beers.  So, we decided to run our promotion concurrently with the American Craft Beer Week.  But heck, too much of a good thing is sometimes a really GREAT thing. 
Anyway, before I return to my cave for another 8 months of hibernation, stop by and visit us on the 12th.  In the meantime, 
Cheers 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Change of Plans

It's not unusual in this industry, or any other.

I was thinking about my Russian Imperial Stout--the one I was going to bourbon barrel age.

But, this one would take up at least four 53 gallon bourbon barrels.  That's fine.  I'm game.

The problem lies in my ever-shrinking cooler space. 

Sure, it's easy to tuck away a couple of 15 gallon bourbon barrels in the auxiliary cooler.  Big barrels are an entirely different animal.

I'd rather not be at the mercy of wildly fluctuating summertime temperatures in our warehouse, and right now that seems to be my only storage option.

So, the Russian Imperial Stout will go on as soon as the Irish Dry Stout dries up.  I'll figure out a new barrel aged beer when the weather cools off.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Other Stuff Goin' On

A previous post told you about my acquisition of a couple of small bourbon barrels.

I ended up filling one with Doppelbock.  After a couple of months of aging, the beer was pretty amazing.  I ended up bottling it in Belgian 750 ml bottles and corking them.  We launched it as our "Pride" series, and the bottles sold out within a couple of weeks.

The next Pride will be a bourbon barrel aged Scotch Strong Ale, and it should be available around July 10th.  Get them while they last, as there are extremely limited quantities.

Due to the success of the bourbon barrel aged beers, I'm going to get my hands on some 53 gallon bourbon barrels and I've already brewed the beer that I intend to fill them with.  It's a Russian Imperial Stout--a really big beer.  You'll have to wait however--I intend to give them about a six month aging, so they'll be ready around Christmastime.

Oh, and if you haven't been around, our beer is in stores now!  I'll talk a little about that in a future post.

Sometimes Incompetence is the Mother of Invention

Yes, I know it's been ages since I've posted.

With my increased use of Facebook to relate the goings-on in the Brewhouse, I've neglected this blog.  There is no guaranty that this is the start of more frequent postings, but I'll indulge myself a little this morning.

Back to the post title, and a little back-story:

I order nearly all of my yeast through Brewing Science Institute.  In years past, I would either call in or email my yeast orders.  Now, they prefer that orders be submitted online.  They've got an online form that you fill out.  Idiot-proof, yes?

Apparently not.

BSI offers two ways to receive yeast.  Starters and Pitchables.  A Pitchable is the proper amount of yeast to pitch into a specific-sized batch of beer, and it is what I always order.  But, I clicked the wrong button and received a Starter.  A Starter is a very small (10%) amount of yeast for the beer you want to brew.  They are much more economical--about half the cost.  So, I open up my yeast box and I find this adorable little pouch of yeast.

I start to panic. 

A quick email to BSI later tells me that they can either ship out a Pitchable size late next week, or I can "easily" make my own starter with the yeast they sent.  Easy for someone who uses starters all the time, not so much for someone who has never done it professionally.  I make starters when I homebrew, but the scale and stakes are so much smaller, that I'm comfortable doing it.

A few minutes (okay, maybe hours) of brain grinding led to this solution:

Here you see one of my homemade homebrew fermenters.  Inside is about twelve gallons of wort with the starter added.  I'm happy to relate that is was chugging along great within 5 hours of pitching.

What happens is the yeast propagates (reproduces) at an exponential rate until the desired levels are reached.

Fast-forward 36 hours and I'm brewing one of our seasonal favorites:  Summer Night Saison.

I will pressure force all of this yeasty wort into the fermenter when I'm done brewing and with any luck, it will take off like a champ.

People ask my what my schedule is like here at the brewery.  I always say that I work around the beer's schedule.  My days are determined by what you drink.  Sometimes the days are relatively short.  Some are quite long.  But I also always say that a bad day in the brewery is still better than a good day at "work".  Today is one of the occasional Saturdays spent in the brewery.

So, depending on the success of this project, I may resort to starters in the future.  We'll see how it turns out.

Now, on to the Saison.

This is one of my absolute favorite beers every year.  It seems to be one of yours as well.  One of the luxuries of working in a small brewery is that I get to use the finest ingredients:
Castle Pilsner Malt Imported From Belgium

I also use the aforementioned special Belgian yeast strain, and British hops.

Saison is a Belgian-style ale that was first brewed as a low-alcohol ale offered to Belgian farm workers.  Saison translates to "season".  Like all good American bastardizations of traditional styles, that whole low-alcohol thing goes out the window.  The ABV will hover right around the 7% mark.

The tapping for the Mug Club is scheduled for July 10th and everyone else can have theirs starting the 11th.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Next Experiment

I picked up a couple of these bad boys from a local barrel broker:




These are used bourbon barrels from the Few Distillery in Evanston, Illinois. 

Today, I'm going to rack some Doppelbock into this one.  In about six months, I'll carbonate and bottle it.

There's a Strong Scotch Ale scheduled for February and I'll do the same with that one.

This summer, keep an eye out for this special reserve edition of our usual beer line-up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Not All Glitz and Glamor

Long day today.

Cleaned 19 kegs.
Kegged off Amber
Cleaned/Sanitized the Serving Vessel
Transferred and Carbed the K.K. Weisse
Cleaned the fermenter
Set up to brew Kolsch tomorrow

Yikes!

The good news is that the Weisse will be back on tonight.  Also, if you haven't tried the Chocolate Hazelnut Porter since the 12/5 tapping, I would encourage you to try it now.  It's delicious.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Brewery, Tea Shop or Bakery??

The popularity of our tea-infused cask ales has grown to the point that I've had to buy my Chai and Rooibus teas in bulk.

Also, the Chocolate Hazelnut Porter will make it's annual return in time for the Holiday Season.  I'll be brewing it up on Tuesday, so if some chocolatey goodness wafts into the dining area, it's just me.