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fall 2013 | SOUTHERN CalIfORNIa BEER NEWS | VOl.1 NO. 2

Profile: Local Artist

BERNIE WIRE Free Copy


West Coaster, THE PUBLICATION

writers

Founders ryan lamb mike shess Publisher mike shess mike@westcoastersocal.com Executive Editor ryan lamb ryan@westcoastersocal.com Art Director brittany everett brittany@westcoastersocal.com Media Consultant tom shess thomas.shess@gmail.com Contributors BERNIE WIRE BRIAN TROUT CAMBRIA GRIFFITH ERIKA BOLDEN FRANCES LOPEZ JOHN RYTI RANDY CLEMENS RYAN RESCHAN SAM TIERNEY

West Coaster, THE website Web Manager mike shess Web Editor ryan lamb Web Master josh everett

Sam Tierney is a graduate of the Siebel Institute and Doemens World Beer Academy brewing technology diploma program. He currently works as a brewer at Firestone Walker Brewing Company and has most recently passed the Certified Cicerone® exam. He geeks out on all things related to brewing, beer styles, and beer history.

John Ryti is a certified beer geek, homebrewer, Cicerone Certified Beer Server and President of the Temecula Valley Homebrewers Association. He enjoys a wide variety of beers and has a few favorites to brew. He appears from time to time on New Brew Thursday and can be found at a variety of beer festivals, events and local breweries in Temecula trying to find out what’s brewing. His wife has threatened to call the show Hoarders based on his collection of cellared beer. John is the self-appointed Temecula Beer Ambassador and can be reached on Facebook at Temecula’s Beer Ambassador and on Twitter @Temambassador.

Randy Clemens is a freelance food/ drink writer, culinary school graduate, BJCP Recognized Beer Judge, and is the author behind The Sriracha Cookbook, The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook, and The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. If you’re bored, you can follow his musings on Twitter: @RandyClemensEsq.

Brian Trout resides in North Park, San Diego with his chubby marmalade tabby cat, Maxwell. He is an active member in homebrewing club QuAFF. Brian has been winning medals for his beers and ciders on both local and national levels. He is a BJCP beer judge, currently studying for the mead exam. Brian also teaches cider workshops at The Homebrewer on El Cajon Boulevard. He is driven by a passion for everything that immerses our senses.

West Coaster is published quarterly by West Coaster Publishing Co., and distributed free at key locations throughout Southern California. Email us if you wish to be a distribution location.

FEEDBACK: Send letters to the Editor to ryan@westcoastersocal.com Letters may be edited for space. Anonymous letters are published at the discretion of the Editor.

© 2013 West Coaster Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

“No beer was wasted in the making of this publication.”

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Frances Michelle Lopez aka: Franny Fullpint is a Los Angeles-based writer who fell down the craft beer rabbit hole and has yet to find herself out of it. A Cicerone Certified Beer Server, Frances spends her time drinking and talking about beer professionally as the Director of Social Media Marketing at Golden Road Brewing, Tony’s Darts Away, and Mohawk Bend. When not playing the hashtag game, you can find her reading books at bars, homebrewing, and trying to remember what it’s like to have friends outside of beer.

Erika Bolden is a Santa Barbara native who splits her time between Los Angeles County and the Central Coast. She came into craft beer in Chicago where she spent the oughts earning a B.A. in philosophy and cutting her teeth on Bell’s, Three Floyd’s and Founders. These days she is most at home amongst the wares of Monkish, Telegraph and Firestone Walker. A frequent contributor to the LA Weekly, she hopes to bring much deserved attention to breweries between the Bay Area and San Diego. When not draining the kegs of California she’s in the High Sierras paring down pack weight and detoxing from technology. Find and follow her writing on beer and backcountry at erikabolden.com.


LETTEr frOM THE EDITOr Dear Reader, As you know, enthusiasm for craft beer is on the rise. This summer the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers, reported a 15 percent increase in dollar sales and 13 percent jump in volume in the first half of 2013. During that time period, an estimated 7.3 million barrels of beer were sold by craft brewers, up from 6.4 million barrels over the first half of 2012. The total number of breweries in the United States is now the highest it’s been since the 1870s, reaching 2,538 as of June 30, 2013. All over Southern California our beer communities are growing, providing new jobs in an exciting industry. LA Beer Week will undoubtedly have more brewery participants than ever before, while San Diego Beer Week is right around the corner in November. In between, the Santa Barbara Beer Festival takes place October 19 in Elings Park. It’s a great time to be a beer drinker; remember to designate a driver. Salud,

Ryan Lamb Executive Editor West Coaster

TABLE Of CONTENTs 4

Small Batch Report: LAAW Franny Fullpint talks with the founders of Los Angeles Ale Works

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Overview: Temecula John Ryti explores the up-and-coming beer scene just north of San Diego

7-9

Profile: Bernie Wire Randy Clemens gets the background behind LA’s premier beer photog

10-11

Are You Using Enough Yeast? Homebrewer Ryan Reschan gives tips for better fermentation

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Sending A Message Erika Bolden discusses what’s on the horizon for Telegraph Brewing Co.

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Is Your Beer Clear? Sam Tierney dives into what brewers do to make your beer clear

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Firestone Walker: Venice Randy Clemens interviews David Walker about the new project Homebrew Served With Style Brian Trout recaps a happy hour hosted by the SD History Center

ON THE COVER: Beer overflows at City Tavern in Culver City. Photo by Bernie Wire


Small Batch Report: Los Angeles Ale Works By Frances Michelle Lopez

I

n the last five years, the sprawling jungle that is Los Angeles has been gradually evolving its craft beer landscape. From seasoned veterans like Craftsman and Eagle Rock Brewery to relative newcomers like El Segundo Brewing Company and Smog City, more and more brewers are making their mark north of San Diego’s well-established scene. Nanobreweries thrive in this microcosm, and with new start-up breweries popping up every month, it is only a matter of time until LA’s beer culture asserts itself with all other great beer cities.   Los Angeles Ale Works (LAAW) was born at the height of this craft beer boom. Co-founders Kristofor Barnes and John Rockwell met in college at the University of Southern California and began brewing together in 2007. Since their incorporation in 2010, LAAW has been building their brand from the ground up; formulating innovative beer recipes, creating strong branding as-

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sets, and even developing and executing a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign.   Since LAAW are still in the development stages of their journey, they have linked up with another small start-up, Ohana Brewing, earlier this year to help get their beers out to the public. This partnership made it possible for LAAW to focus on raising funds, acquiring brewery equipment, and securing their future location. Their first beer, Gamsbart Roggenbier, was brewed at Ohana under their supervision, and was released in February. Their second release, the Thai-tea infused Karma Kolsch followed in July — both to very positive reviews. In mid-September they brewed Buttress of Windsor, a coffee rye porter with beans from local roaster True and Brave.   While LAAW still faces many hurdles before completing their own full-scale operations, it’s this collaborative mentality that helps make them a unique entity in our

John Rockwell (left) and Kristofor Barnes, with their new 15-barrel fermentor housed inside Ohana Brewing. Photo courtesy LAAW

growing beer community.   “I tend to go full force into recipes and John helps me dial back crazy ideas to something more balanced. It’s a good collaboration as a whole,” Barnes said of their creative process. “John’s personality is more conservative, whereas I’m more outgoing, experimental and intense. The yin-yang balance is what makes us a good team.”   Los Angeles Ale Works is still in the process of fundraising, but you can find their beers intermittently at more than 20 Los Angeles-area accounts with distribution via Incline Beverages. For more information, follow the LAAW at laaleworks.com.


Beer Valley: Temecula By John Ryti

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hen people mention beer regions on the West Coast, you think of San Diego, the Bay Area, Portland or even Seattle. Say Temecula and most will ask, “Where?” And if they do know of Temecula, many think it’s just wine country.   On the contrary, I say! The beer scene in the Temecula Valley started long ago in 1994 when Vinnie Cilurzo, an avid homebrewer, opened Blind Pig Brewing Co. He started off what would become a three-year run Garage Brewing Co. & Pizzeria, at making great beers and what opening this fall. Photos we on the West Coast now recourtesy Garage Brewing vere as “The West Coast IPA.” In 1997 Vinnie and his wife Natalie moved north to Santa Rosa to work at Russian River Brewing Company. There were other breweries still in Temecula as well but they never seemed to catch on.   After Blind Pig closed, Temecula was in a virtual drought for craft beer locally, relying on anything that was made to the south in San Diego and north in Los Angeles.   In 2007 that all changed when Andrew Marshall started Black Market Brewing in a small industrial space. In 2009 he moved the brewery to its current location. Andrew left Black Market and has moved on to become a brewer at Stone Brewing Co.   In 2009 a group of homebrewers from Temecula Valley Homebrewers Association formed Craft Brewing Company in Lake Elsinore.   Then in 2012 the real revolution started. Temecula saw huge growth with four more breweries opening by the end of the year: Aftershock Brewing, Wiens Brewing, Refuge Brewing and Ironfire Brewing. The Temecula Valley also boasts several brewpubs as well: Brew-Ligion, Stadium Pizza (Wildomar) and Bulldog Brewing. The valley is also expecting several more breweries and brewpubs to open in the next year or so.   The region also boasts a brewery tour service called Brewery Tours of Temecula, which features educational, behind the scenes tours of the local spots.   All in all, things are looking good for the beer scene in the Temecula Valley. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit us please come and do so! Open To The Public Aftershock 28822 Old Town Front St., #209 Black Market 41740 Enterprise Circle N., #109 Brew-Ligion 39809 Avenida Acacias, Suite A Bulldog 41379 Date St., Suite B Craft 530 Crane St., Suite C

Ironfire 42095 Zevo Dr., Suite #1 Refuge 43040 Rancho Way, Suite 200 Wiens Brewing 27941 Diaz Rd., Suite A Opening This Fall Garage Brewing Co. 29095 Old Town Front St. Karl Strauss Temecula 40868 Winchester Rd.


Prof ile:

Bernie Wire By Randy Clemens

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t’s been said that the craft beer industry is 99% asshole free, a sentiment I’m inclined to agree with. But even after meeting fiercely passionate brewers, bartenders, and the like, someone like Bernie Wire comes along whose kindness and generosity almost defy reason. And even if you don’t know him by name, you’ve likely seen him around at many of the local beer events, snapping pictures and chronicling the rise of LA’s burgeoning craft beer scene.

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Since 2011, he’s photographed over 250 shindigs, collecting thousands upon thousands of images featuring everyday people­ enjoying each other’s company over drinks. And now, he’s selected some of his favorites for an exhibit called “I Shoot Beer People” that’s going up at Mohawk Bend in Echo Park starting on September 17, running through LA Beer Week, and continuing on until October 31.   Bernie has become a mainstay, his happy face capturing other happy faces and uploading the resulting snapshots to his Friends of Local Beer Facebook page at no charge. “I’ve always liked taking pictures,” explains Bernie. “And when you go to these beer events, it’s amazing what you find. You come across folks who truly celebrate craft beer... and they love the people who brew it, sell it, serve it, write about it, or just simply enjoy drinking it. It’s a community unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.”   The 56-year-old Oklahoma native’s photo fascination began when he was a child: “I took pictures of a rock climbing trip I took during summer break one year, and I loved the fact that when I got home, I’d be able to get that memory… that stimulus… all over again through pictures.” Sharing these memories with others further fueled his excitement, even early on. “I turned my pictures into a slide show and played it at show and tell when I got back to school, and the class was really into it,” he recounts.   A single photography class in high school

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was the only formal study he ever gave the subject, though even when he attended the University of Oklahoma to study microbiology and chemical engineering, he felt most passionate when he nurtured his creative side in art classes, and he ultimately pursued his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a focus on metalsmithing. “I played with ceramics, but found early on that I really enjoyed the immediacy of metals. While clay had to go off to a kiln to cure and dry, I could weld metals into sculptures and they never had to leave my hands.” It was then that one of his professors, Lane Coulter, asked if Bernie knew anything about titanium. “He told me it could be colored, and this little light went on in my head… I had to see this. I had to do this.”   Titanium was a little hard to come by— Bernie needed to sift through aerospace scrap yards to find what he needed—and not much literature existed at the time that explained how it could be colored, but he persisted and tracked down a paper that gave him the basics. “There are no actual pigments on the metal,” he explains. “You create color through oxidation.” Bernie dips the titanium—a whiter shade of silver in its untreated form—into an electrified chemical bath that creates a layer of titanium dioxide, the thickness of which can be altered by the amount of voltage pumped through the anodizing liquid. It’s the thickness of the oxide film that determines the colors, but Bernie is quick to explain, it’s no pig-

ment. “Think of it like a soap bubble; those colors you see are a result of light waves interacting and interfering with one another as they travel through the film and reflect off the surface.”   He soon discovered a rarely used micro spot-welding machine at the university, and found that it was perfect for joining titanium pieces. He began creating jewelry and working on larger sculptures that would eventually earn him an award at the 1987 International Platinum Design Competition in Tokyo. The photography became even more important through all of this as Bernie would always want to take pictures of his stunning work.   But as many artists will attest, it’s tough to make a living through art. And though Bernie continued creating (and shooting) his pieces, the same microwelding equipment he used for his artwork would lead him to his “real” work that paid the bills. He’d moved to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree at Arizona State University, but bowed out after just one semester. “Three weeks into a two-month research position I proposed on titanium welding, I was doing stuff they said wasn’t possible,” he says proudly. He ended up staying on with the company for five years before moving to Monrovia in 1983 and starting his own consulting business.   By day, he developed processes for welding components—some thinner than a human hair—under a microscope, improving


design and functionality for many items such as pacemakers, airbag initiators, ultrasound transducers, microcoaxial cable, and stadium lights. But by night, he continued with his art. “I had no social network at all,” Bernie admits. “It was just work, work, work. But I made discoveries in art that became solutions for productions and vice versa.”   His interest in beer came a little later, with his first visit to the late Greg Noonan’s famed Vermont Pub & Brewery in 1989. “The beer laws in Oklahoma were archaic and there wasn’t a lot of good beer there,” Bernie laments. “Thankfully, that’s changed some since then, but porters and IPAs weren’t even on my radar until heading up to that brewpub in Burlington.”   Bernie loved to take trips with childhood friends whenever possible, and he always brought his trusty camera along with him. After their epiphany in Vermont, many more beer outings were planned, including one to the Great American Beer Festival, which really opened his eyes to the wide world of craft beer. As technology advanced, he created a private website where he could share pictures of his travel, an early precursor to what he does now with pictures of the SoCal craft beer community on Facebook.   As much as he loves taking pictures at these events, he admits he doesn’t know if he can carry on like he has been. “I can’t afford to do it full-time, since I’m usually not getting paid,” he chuckles. He is quick to thank those who have offered to pay him for his photos— places like El Segundo Brewing Co., Monkish Brewing Co., 38 Degrees Alehouse & Grill, Tin Roof Bistro, and Phantom Carriage—but has no plans to stop with his consulting. “Whether I’m welding or making art or taking pictures, I’m just glad I’ve been able to earn my living while having fun,” he beams.   Bernie lives near Culver City with his wife, Anne Marie Gillen, who, in addition to being a most delightful person, does some notable work herself. She’s a consultant, a published author, and served as the executive producer of Fried Green Tomatoes. To see more of Bernie’s photos, head to his “Friends of Local Beer” Facebook page, and to see more of his metal artwork, check out TitaniumArt.com.

Left page: Bernie’s artwork; This page, top: Beer served at City Tavern; Above: Rob Croxall of El Segundo Brewing and Henry Nguyen of Monkish Brewing at Select Beer Store, behind-the-scenes at FWIBF with Pizza Port; Left: Bottle share at 38 Degrees in Alhambra; Below: GABF Pro-Am brew day at Ladyface, John Funk tapping a cask of Citra with Kyle Smith at Kern River. Photos by Bernie Wire

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10 | Fall 2013

A yeast starter by homebrewer David Crane a.k.a. Doggie Beer Bones


Are You Using Enough Yeast?

D

uring the early days in my brewing adventures a fellow homebrewer asked how much yeast I was using. Like most beginners, I was pitching yeast directly from the packaging into the fermentor. While I was making some good beer this way, l was informed that in most cases – especially with high gravity beers – I was not pitching enough yeast to get the best possible fermentation. In fact, I had noticed that some of my beers had not attenuated to the desired final gravity, and wondered if this was the reason. So I began to look into ways of increasing the amount of yeast cells used during fermentation to see how that affected the finished product.   Let’s go back to the basics. The amount of viable cells in a package of liquid yeast is going to depend on not only the manufacturer, but the freshness of your yeast. After liquid yeast has been packaged, the percentage of viable cells can decrease around 20% per month. The more yeast cells you lose due to age, the less likely you’ll get a good fermentation.   Underpitching yeast – meaning you haven’t used enough – can potentially lead to off flavors in the finished product due to competition with wild yeast and/or bacteria present thanks to a slow start to fermentation. Underpitching can also cause high levels of diacetyl and/or acetaldehyde. Dry yeast on the other hand has a higher density of cells per gram and is cheaper than liquid yeast. The downside to dry yeast is a lack of variety, and there is no guarantee of purity because of the drying process. Whatever type of yeast you choose, you’ll want to make sure you’re using enough.   The size of the batch of the beer being produced, the gravity of the wort being fermented, and the type of beer being made – lagers require more yeast cells – all play a role in the amount of yeast cells needed

By Ryan Reschan to properly ferment the beer. Most brewing software programs such as Beer Smith have a yeast pitching rate calculator built in. If you’re not using brewing software, Mr. Malty’s Pitching Rate Calculator™ is a great free online resource to determine how much yeast you need to pitch for proper fermentation. The Mr. Malty website was created by homebrewer-turned-pro Jamil Zainasheff who co-authored Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation with Chris White of San Diego’s own White Labs.   With liquid yeast, the amount of vials or packs can be staggering if you’re brewing large batches of high gravity beer. A great way to keep the cost down is to grow up more yeast cells yourself by creating a yeast starter. Making a yeast starter is easy, and it will confirm the viability of the yeast you are using. Yeast starters only require some water and malt extract – either dry or liquid, but dry is easier to deal with. Use the yeast pitching calculator to determine the size of the starter needed. A ratio of ½ cup of dried malt extract (DME) to 1 pint of water – or one gram of DME to 10 ml of water – will create a starter with a specific gravity around 1.040. Mix the DME with the water and boil for at least 10 minutes. Feel free to also add yeast nutrient as well. Cool the wort to a temperature within the range that the yeast ferments, and pitch the yeast. Make sure that all equipment postboil is cleaned and sanitized. ­  An Erlenmeyer flask is a great vessel for making a starter since you can boil liquid inside of it, cool the wort to pitching temperature, and ferment the starter without having to transfer any wort between vessels. If you don’t have an Erlenmeyer flask, you can clean and sanitize a glass or stainless steel growler to add cooled wort to.   Using a stir plate will also increase the cell count as the starter is constantly stirring in oxygen for the yeast to grow, while getting rid of CO2. The increased gas ex-

change of a stir plate can produce nearly twice the amount of cells of a non-stirred starter. If you don’t have a stir plate, just swirl the growler of yeast as often as you can. With dry yeast, making a starter is not beneficial - just follow the manufacturer’s instructions of re-hydration or direct pitching.   You will also get more yeast growth the warmer the starter is – with diminishing returns once you exceed 90˚F – but you will want to pitch the whole starter of yeast as close to fermentation temperature as possible. Big drops in temperature can shock and stress the yeast to the point of ruining the benefit of making a starter in the first place. If the starter is too warm, let it completely ferment out, cool to fermentation temperature, and then pitch the yeast after decanting any liquid on top of the yeast, which should be settled on the bottom. RESOURCES Books: How To Brew – John Palmer The Complete Joy of Home Brewing – Charlie Papazian Podcasts: The Brewing Network’s Brew Strong and The Jamil Show   – thebrewingnetwork.com BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog – beersmith.com/blog Articles: Brew With Fermentis Tips & Tricks – brewwithfermentis.com Proper Yeast Pitching Rates on Mr. Malty   – mrmalty.com/pitching.php YouTube videos: Homebrew 101: Making a Yeast Starter by Beer Geek Nation Making A Yeast Starter by Northern Brewer TV

WestCoasterSoCal.com | 11


Sending A

Message

Telegraph Brewing’s New Facility Opens This Fall By Erika Bolden

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elegraph Brewing Co. in Santa Barbara opens their expanded brewery and taproom this September. Moving into 418 N. Salsipuedes from their former building at 416 means an increased capacity for brewery production and a roomier tasting space. Those who visited the old tasting room will remember a bar so close to fermentation tanks that nothing impeded patrons from wandering the production floor. This was a unique immersion experience for an outsider, but a logistical hindrance for a brewery looking to make more beer; they could only operate the brewhouse when the tasting room was closed. In the new expanded space brewing can continue throughout the day.   Jumping from a 15 barrel brewhouse on 3,500 square feet to a 30 barrel brewhouse on 10,000 square feet, owner Brian Thompson hopes to increase annual production from just under 2,000 barrels to 4,000 in 2014. The steel Quonset Hut sheltering the space provides a large enough footprint that the brewery can grow up to 16,000 barrels a year without having to move, though such substantial growth will be a slow evolution.   More beer means opening the brand to new markets with distributors in Seattle, Arizona, and New Jersey. This will add to their existing accounts, which lie mostly within California, plus small allocations to Philadelphia and Chicago. Introducing Telegraph beer to new regions does not come lightly. Thompson explains, “We want to make the right decisions with our distributors. You can’t just decide a company isn’t working out and cut ties; these contracts are

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long-term, so we want to focus on smaller markets and teaming up with smaller distribution.”   The expansion has also allowed for a new bottling line in addition to the bigger system. A dedicated barrel room houses beer occasionally aged in bourbon barrels, but more often in wine barrels from neighboring tasting room, Carr Winery. While the majority of the beer coming from Telegraph goes to California draft accounts, producing more bottles will strengthen their presence in existing markets. Thompson doesn’t intend Telegraph to be a large-scale, regional craft brewery: “We’d rather Telegraph be a little smaller, making


Left: Peter Baer, assistant brewer Right: A small, small batch Below: Brew day 1, early September Photos by Brandon Buck

beers that are aimed at the beer cognoscenti. But up [in Santa Barbara] you can find our bottles in Vons and other supermarkets. We have no aspirations to be mainstream. We want to stay small and focus on quality. It’s important to keep our beers interesting and unique.”   Behind the building’s sun-drenching facade, the bar sits in front of a wall of reclaimed wood. Bearing a wider range of Telegraph brews, ten handles will accommodate their core brands, interesting sea-

sonal choices, and one tap always reserved for a sour beer. “We used to be wary of putting esoteric choices on tap. There was no way to entertain every palate. Sours aren’t for everyone; they’re challenging to the average tasting room customer, but we used to get requests all the time. Now we will have a pour dedicated to those requests.” And pour they shall. Beers come in full pints, 10 ounce goblets, and a smaller tasting glass that lets you build a flight of any number.   Telegraph is known for their flagship Cal-

ifornia Ale, an unfiltered, hoppy Belgianstyle ale, and their White Ale witbier which uses local citrus and chamomile. Some of the more coveted selections include Rhinoceros and Petit Obscura, both of which have medaled at the Great American Beer Festival — the latter with two consecutive silvers in the Experimental Beer category. All of their beers are slightly off-beat. “Why would I want to brew another IPA or red ale when everyone seems to make one? I want to make beer that I haven’t had before, that I want to drink,” says Thompson.   Santa Barbara has a healthy, unsaturated beer scene continually building momentum. Along with a few brewpubs that have held on since the 1990s, new breweries like Hollister and Figueroa Mountain have opened in recent years to join Telegraph in bringing award-winning beers to thirsty fans across the county. Thompson maintains that there is plenty of room to grow: “Telegraph has been around for seven years and we’ve seen the local scene change from a few restaurant-oriented brewpubs to more breweries and beer bars. On the whole Central Coast the quality is high and brewers are bringing their A-game. The area is known for its wine but every winemaker I know drinks beer. Everyone gets palate fatigue and when that happens with the wine trail here, beer steps in.”

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Left, a filtered pilsner with brilliant clarity. Pilsners will often be lightly hazy after lagering and are usually filtered to accentuate the crisp flavors and pale appearance of the style. Right, an unfiltered hefeweizen’s opaque appearance is due to high levels of protein in wheat malt, and a lowflocculating yeast strain that remains suspended in the beer. The “hefe” part of the name means “yeast” in German and indicates a wheat beer (weizen) with yeast in it.

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IS YOUR BEER CLEAR?

I

Words and photos by Sam Tierney

and some yeasts – referred to as “powdery” strains – barely flocculating and hanging out for long periods until forced out by other means. Lager strains tend to be less flocculent than ale strains, which is one of the reasons that lagers are cold-conditioned for long periods of time, but there are also ale strains that stubbornly refuse to clear out when their work is done. English ale strains tend to be the most flocculent, leaving relatively clear beers after a short conditioning period.   Chill haze is a colloidal complex of proteins and tannins that forms when beer is cooled. A beer can look clear at room temperature, when the complex is dissolved, but gets very hazy as the complex precipitates when chilled to serving temperature. The reaction is reversible, but with repeated at clear beer warming and cooling cycles, the haze will become permanent. Even through a variety of means, and filtered beers that look clear at servit all starts in the brewhouse. ing temperature will eventually get hazy over time, as the reaction Malts with a lower percentage snowballs into a complex large enough to be visible. The only way of protein are preferable for around this is to remove the proteins and tannins that form the colloidal brewing clearer beer. After the complex, a process called stabilization. Dry hopped beers can be eswort has been separated from pecially problematic with regards to chill haze, due to the amount of tanthe mash, it should be boiled nins contributed by the hops. Beers with significant portions of wheat in with enough intensity to cause the mash will also have more chill haze due to the higher percentage sufficient hot break formation, of protein in wheat compared to barley. Other less common sources which is another coagulation of of haze include bacterial contamination, starch carryover from the proteins and tannins. brewhouse, calcium oxalate (beer stone), and process contamination from cleaning or sanitizing agents.

t’s a popular refrain in the beer world that “you drink first with your eyes.” Appearance is the first thing that we notice about a beer. Whether it’s a pale pilsner, a black imperial stout, or a hazy wheat beer, we have expectations for what certain styles of beer will look like. Color, clarity, and foam are the three main aspects of beer appearance. Color starts with the right mixture of malts, and foam takes care of itself for most styles. Clarity, on the other hand, is affected by every aspect of ingredients and the brewing process. Most brewers agree that clarity is important for many styles, while some other styles can or should be hazy, or even cloudy in appearance. So what causes beer haze and how do brewers control it? Brewers arrive

BEER HAZE 101   Beer haze is measured in formazin turbidity units (FTU for short), which are a measure of the transmission or scatter of light as it passes through a sample of beer. The most accurate form of analysis is with bench-top or in-line instruments. Knowing the FTU of a beer is useful for brewers as a quality control step for their clarification processes, but doesn’t mean much to the average – or even über-geek – beer drinker. In common terms, a beer is brilliantly clear when there is absolutely no visible haze, and gets hazier from there, all the way to completely cloudy or opaque. Haze is harder to see in darker beers, and can be almost impossible to detect in beers like stouts unless at very turbid levels.   The two main sources of beer haze are yeast and chill haze. Suspended yeast will make for cloudy beer in large quantities. Fermenting beer, which often contains over 50 million cells of yeast per milliliter, is typically opaque, and starts to clear up as the yeast flocculates at the end of fermentation. Flocculation is the clumping together of yeast cells as they stop actively fermenting, causing them to gain mass and fall out of suspension. This important quality of brewing yeast allows brewers to collect the yeast from the bottom of the fermentor and reuse it to ferment subsequent batches of beer. Flocculation behavior is strain-dependent, with some yeast strains dropping like rocks at the end of fermentation,

HOW BREWERS CONTROL HAZE   Brewers arrive at clear beer through a variety of means, and it all starts in the brewhouse. Malts with a lower percentage of protein are preferable for brewing clearer beer. After the wort has been separated from the mash, it should be boiled with enough intensity to cause sufficient hot break formation, which is another coagulation of proteins and tannins. Brewers often use kettle finings, which assist in the coagulation process. Irish moss, a seaweed product, and processed derivatives like whirlfloc are typically boiled for the last ten minutes to achieve this. The hot break

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Above: A Velo diatomaceous earth filter. Beer is pumped into the main bell housing on the left, which contains a set of vertical metal mesh screens that are coated with DE in the pre-coat step before filtration starts. During operation, DE is mixed with beer in the dosing tank to the right, which is then dosed into the beer as it enters the filter, allowing for more solids to be retained in the filter bed during operation. Left: An in-line haze meter on the outlet side of a filter monitors the clarity of the filtered beer. the number on the left is particulate matter, and the number on the right is the Formazin Turbidity Unit measure, which is the standard for quantifying haze in beer. 16 | Fall 2013


is then separated via a whirlpool step after the wort boil ends, keeping it out of the fermentor. Quickly chilling down to fermentation temperature then forms cold break, which is another protein-tannin complex of a smaller size than hot break. The yeast will utilize some during fermentation, and the rest will settle out and be removed from the bottom of the tank. Poor boiling or chilling technique can leave excessive amounts of haze-forming proteins and tannins in beer.   Once fermentation is completed, yeast will drop out of solution as it flocculates. This can be promoted by chilling beer to near-freezing temperatures. Chilling is typically done as quickly as possible with ales, to promote rapid sedimentation of yeast and other particles like dry hops. Lagers are usually chilled at a slower pace in order to get the yeast acclimated to colder temperatures, as they are expected to carry on a small amount of activity during the cold lagering period. Chilling to -1 Celsius, or 30 Fahrenheit, promotes maximum chill haze formation but is just warm enough to not freeze normal-strength beers.   Once beer has been chilled, time and gravity take over. Stokes’ Law describes the settling effect of a particle in suspension by gravitational force. Given enough time at freezing temperatures, most haze will eventually settle out. That said, brewers looking to sell beer can be an impatient lot, so they have developed various means to shorten this period of time. One of the easiest ways to shorten settling time is to decrease the depth that particles have to settle. Lagering tanks are traditionally horizontal instead of vertical for this reason. You can also speed up settling by using finings, which are electrically charged and bind to haze-forming particles, promoting their sedimentation. Finings are mixed into beer as a liquid slurry. Isinglass, a purified collagen product from fish swim bladders, is traditionally used by ale brewers in casks, though it can also be used in the fermentation or lagering tank. Isinglass mainly binds to yeast, though it will also bind to proteins. Gelatin is another popular fining for many small brewers in the US and mainly binds to tannins and yeast. Due to its tannin removal ability, gelatin is popular among brewpubs that frequently dry hop their beers, as it is effective at removing the excess tannins that contribute to dry hop haze.

  Vegetarians and vegans are likely to find gelatin and isinglass to be less than desirable process aids, even though they don’t actually end up in your pint. Biofine Clear is a non-animal-derived alternative fining agent that is made from silicic acidand is effective at removing yeast and protein from beer. Biofine Clear is used like gelatin or isinglass in the fermentor and many small brewers have adopted it as an effective, vegan alternative.   Working on the gravitational force variable in Stokes’ Law, centrifugal separators — also commonly called centrifuges — are used to rapidly sediment solids from beer by pumping it through a spinning chamber. This drastically increases the gravitational pull thanks to centrifugal force. A series of settling plates within the centrifuge catches solids, which are then discharged. Centrifuges are effective at reducing most haze, but are very expensive and relatively large, so are not very common in small breweries. In larger breweries, centrifuges are often used as an intermediate step before filtration, in order to reduce the amount of solids that the filter has to handle. FILTRATION   While many small brewers find that finings and cold conditioning are all that is necessary to arrive at sufficiently clear beer, filtration is the most effective way to achieve stable, brilliantly clear beer. Diatomaceous earth (DE) filters are the most common in the brewing industry, and utilize powdered DE to form a filter bed on metal screens or fibrous sheets, through which beer is pressed under pressure in order to filter out yeast and chill haze. DE is made from the fossilized remains of marine diatoms, which are among the most common types of phytoplankton. They are kilned at extremely high temperatures to remove organic matter, and then pulverized into differing grades of coarseness. DE filters can handle a large amount of beer throughput because DE is continuously dosed into the beer stream as it enters the filter, increasing the depth of the filter bed over time. This allows the filter to capture a large amount of solids without causing the flow to stop. Beer run through a DE filter will be brilliantly clear if a fine grade of DE is used, but it may develop chill haze over time if no stabilizing aids are used to remove non-

coagulated proteins and tannins.   Other types of filters include cartridge and plate-and-frame sheet filters, both of which use pre-made filter beds that beer is pushed through under pressure. Neither option has the solid load-bearing capacity of a DE filter, so they are not as useful for filtering larger amounts of beer unless used as a finer secondary filter after a DE filter or centrifuge. The finest type of beer filters are membrane filters, which can go all the way down to sterile levels, removing 99.9% of beer spoilage organisms at the 0.45 micron level. Large brewers like Miller use sterile filtration instead of pasteurization to ensure biological stability in their bottled beer. Filtering beer this severely removes a significant amount of flavor and aromatic compounds; this type of filtration is essentially non-existent in small breweries, where flavor and aroma are more important than guaranteed biological stability.   In order to ensure that filtered beer remains clear over time, some brewers add process aids to remove the proteins and tannins that can pass through the filter and form chill haze over time in the package. Silica gel is added to absorb haze-causing proteins, while polyvinylpolypryrrolidone (PVPP) is added to absorb tannins. Silica gel and PVPP can either be added to the DE dosing slurry in a DE filter, after which it is filtered out in the DE bed, or added after the DE filter and before a secondary cartridge or sheet filter, which then removes the PVPP and silica gel along with the proteins and tannins that they have bound to. Effective utilization of these two filter aids ensures that filtered beer will remain clear over time. IT’S ALL ABOUT TASTE   For a long time, in a market overwhelmingly dominated by pale lagers, clear beer was seen as a necessity for consumer acceptance. More recently, however, as more styles of beer have become commonplace, hazy beer has become more accepted and even expected in some cases. Beer drinkers today understand that witbier or hefeweizen are appropriately cloudy beer styles because of the wheat content and suspended yeast. Bottle-conditioned beers, like most Belgian styles, are also oftentimes cloudy due to the yeast in the bottle.   Some brewers refuse to filter their beer

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on philosophical grounds, preferring to brew beer in a more “natural” state. Living yeast in beer can be beneficial to health, due to its B vitamin content. Some brewers and drinkers prefer unfiltered beers on the grounds that they have more flavor. It is true that filtering does take some character out of beer, as suspended yeast lends a slightly bitter flavor from absorbing hop acids during fermentation, and tannins from hops that are filtered out contribute somewhat to the mouthfeel of hoppy beers. Filtered beer can often be described as “cleaner” and “crisper” in impression, lacking some of the character of the unfiltered beer, but possibly for the better depending on your tastes. Besides appearance, filtration is employed to stabilize flavor, as yeast left in

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Lagering tanks at Smog City the beer can die over time and lend brothy umami flavors to beer. This is uncommon in my experience but is a possibility depending on how the beer is handled. For hoppy beers like IPAs, some brewers feel that unfiltered beer has more hop aroma and is best fresh, but does not age as well due to yeast and other solids interacting with hop compounds over time. Filtering hoppy beers can take a bit of the hop bite and aroma out, but over time may hold up better. Then again, most brewers would prefer that you drink their hoppy beers as fresh as possible. As with most aspects of beer, it all comes

down to personal taste. Some people prefer hazy, unfiltered beers, and some prefer clear beers that have been filtered, centrifuged, or fined. Neither approach to brewing is necessarily superior. At the same time, an overly turbid pale ale or lager likely has an excessive amount of yeast left in the beer. Some yeast strains are fussier than others, but most non-wheat beers will clear to the point of a light haze, given a proper coldconditioning period.

Into the Brew is sponsored by The High Dive in Bay Park, San Diego


Firestone

Walker:

Venice By Randy Clemens

F

irestone Walker Brewing Company’s longrumored plans to open a brewery outpost in Los Angeles have been confirmed. The Paso Robles-based craft brewery recently announced that they’ve acquired a space in the Venice/Marina Del Rey area where they’ll not only be pouring their beers, but also serving up food. Growler fills too? “Very definitely,” declares co-proprietor David Walker. He also confirmed via email that there are hopes of installing a “very small pilot system to brew a series of Venice/experimental beers”.   The new location will occupy 3205 and 3223 West Washington Blvd., just west of Lincoln Blvd., utilizing two separate buildings that previously housed a Sizzler and medical offices. As for when the new venture is expected to open, Walker offers, “We are in the ‘lap of the gods’ on this one, but our sincere hope is the second half of 2014.”   The brewery proper began operations in 1996, and their Los Angeles project has been in the making for some time. “We’ve been talking about [coming to LA] for at least 10 years, but haven’t been able to seriously consider it until the last two years,” Walker reports. And he’s no outsider phoning it in; in addition to living in Santa Monica back in the early ‘90s, he has remained a familiar face at many local craft beer events, as has brewmaster Matthew Brynildson.   Since its inception, Firestone Walker has garnered a great deal of respect and popularity in the Southern California market, as well as internationally. They’ve been named “Champion Mid-Size Brewing Company”—a prestigious top honor—at the World Beer Cup an unprece-

David Walker, photo by Bernie Wire

dented four consecutive times. Brewing an estimated 110,000 barrels of beer in 2012, they’ve grown to become the 20th largest craft brewery in the US by sales volume, and they’re projecting 150,000 barrels for 2013, a 36% increase over last year.   Walker fully admits that they are very early in the planning stages for Venice, and it’s not clear yet how they’ll be handling food quite yet. They will draw some inspiration from their two existing taprooms, one adjacent to the brewery in Paso (close to a four-hour drive from Venice on a good traffic day) and another in Buellton (two hours and change), but they’re also looking to incorporate some local flair. “Over time, we have created food we love—and think others love, too—that pairs well with beer,” says Walker of his current taprooms. “This will be a starting point [for food at the Venice location], but much will be decided as we dig into the neighborhood

and discover what the locals are looking for.”   He describes the number of jobs that will be created in Venice and the size of their financial investment as “significant”; obtaining the two new buildings already reflects a buy-in of approximately $7.5 million. He continues, “I’m neither economist nor politician, but we hope to have a marketing crew, some educational staff, and a full taproom contingent pouring beer, serving food, and making folks happy.”   All told, he and the company are excited to become a bigger presence in the burgeoning Los Angeles craft beer scene, closing our interview with this last note: “Although many of us have been living craft beer in LA for decades, I think LA is just beginning to officially romance craft beer… and like all its romances, it will be steamy. I think the party is in full swing and we are pleased to be part of it.”

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Homebrew Served with Style at SDHC By Brian Trout

O

n an uncommonly sweltering Friday night in Balboa Park, the San Diego History Center (SDHC) hosted an uncommon event: Homebrew Happy Hour. This event was part of the History Happy Hour series held at the ongoing Bottled & Kegged: San Diego’s Craft Brew Culture exhibit.   Homebrew Happy Hour was a collaborative effort between SDHC’s Matt Schiff and Nicole George and club organizer Stan Sisson, who gathered members from clubs including QuAFF, Mash Heads, Foam On The Brain, Society of Barley Engineers, and North County Homebrewers Association.   If you’re wondering why homebrewers were highlighted at an exhibit mostly featuring commercial breweries, it’s because San Diego’s brewing success derives straight from its homebrew roots. AleSmith’s owner Peter Zien, for example, is a former president of QuAFF.   Homebrewers provide San Diego brewers with indispensable help in tasting rooms through honest feedback, troubleshooting when there are issues, and also giving plenty of support when something is brewed well. Homebrewers are able to push the envelope, not worried about big losses in materials and time, and they keep commercial brewers on their toes. Most of the pros in San Diego started as homebrewers and some pros run small homebrew pilot batches in order to hone their more creative and delightfully strange batches on a homebrew scale.   For these reasons, the event had completely sold out more than a week prior, and the excitement was palpable in the sultry air. Over 200 attendees filled the SDHC ready to sample a plethora of small batch artisan tipples from many of San Diego’s most talented homebrewers.   When attendees entered the large space, the perimeter of which was laced with homebrewers serving at jockey box stations, they seemed a bit timid and overwhelmed. Those feelings dissipated upon getting their first drink. I saw their eyes light right up as I handed them beer; the first drink was met with “This is really good!

20 | Fall 2013

Did you brew this?”   As people slowly circumnavigated the museum rooms, they got more adventurous. Noses really got stuck deep into the tasting glasses, and the full sensory experience of a well-crafted brew was achieved with the help of posted signs at each station that described the beers’ stats: OG (original gravity), FG (final gravity), ABV (alcohol by volume), IBUs (international bitterness units), and SRM (standard reference method for beer color). This kept everyone engaged and would often help spark conversations with the brewers on hand.   “I’ve never heard of (insert beer style). What’s it like?”   “What’s a beer engine?”   “What’s a mead?”

They advised other attendees — both those they’d come with as well as new friends they made on the night — on what to try before the event was over.   What made the party even more fun was that it was my birthday, and hey, what better way to spend it than sharing beer with friends and geeking out with my extended brewing family. I got the opportunity to serve my Sir Maxwell English Mild on a beer engine. I did an impromptu pairing with some figs from my tree at home, topped with slivers of Noord Hollander cheese. I also poured my Vanishing Cookie Oatmeal Stout infused with Madagascar Vanilla Bean and a custom blend of Sumatra Volkopi Blue & El Salvador El Naranjo Coffee. I broke out some vanilla ice cream and served these as floats towards the tail end of the event.   Everyone who attended really enjoyed themselves and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. Here are some quotes I heard and overheard:   “This beer tastes like my favorite IPA, but three times better.” Photo courtesy Natalie Fiocre,   “I’ve never heard of an EngSan Diego History Center lish Mild. Can I try it?”   “I usually hate ciders, but I’m   There was plenty for everyone to explore lovin’ this one.” as they walked around the museum with a   “This pairing is delicious.” beer in hand.   “Somebody told me that this was the beer to try.”   Harold Gulbransen demonstrated how   “I’ve never had a mead before tonight. mouthfeel can alter the way a beer is perIt’s awesome!” ceived by serving an American Pale Ale on cask, nitro, and CO2. Liz and Curtis Chism   “This IPA is amazeballs.” poured a refreshing Saison. Chris Banker   The Homebrew Happy Hour could not presented his excellent Black Currant Cihave run smoother. In fact, it was so successful there’s been talk of another one hapder. George Thornton offered a well-balpening down the road. anced Belgian Amber. Mary Anne Bixby’s passion flower buckwheat honey mead was   Who knows, maybe homebrewing just mind-blowing. Kelsey McNair threw down might catch on in San Diego? Ha! with his Hop Fu, an IPA that brings home a   Bottle & Kegged: San Diego’s Craft Brew Culture opened April 6, 2013 and new medal and ribbon every week it seems. will run to January 20, 2014. The upcoming Jenny and Eric DuRose had a toasty malt Steam Beer that showed the lineage of the History Happy Hour on Friday, September style. There was so much on tap: ESB, 27 will see Dr. Chris White discussing how Wet Hopped IPA, Coconut Brown, Kolsch yeast plays a big role in the flavor of beer. Style, Calypso IPA, and Mocha Porter to Then on Friday, November 1 Stone Brewing name some. Co. will help kick off San Diego Beer Week   As the night went on I was happy to see with the last History Happy Hour. For tickpeople sharing the contents of their glasses. ets to these events, visit sandiegohistory.org


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West Coaster So Cal  

Fall 2013

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Fall 2013