To simply call this summer “busy” doesn’t quite explain it well enough.
This was our first summer brewing and selling canned beer. We were told that cans sell better in the summer, which makes sense, since you can bring them to parks, beaches, and other places where you can’t bring bottles. And, that was the trend we observed – but the magnitude of the demand was much, much larger than we expected.
And so, we buckled down and made beer. Lots of beer. Between 90-95 % of the beer we made was our annual (Hayburner, Low Bridge, and Excavator) or seasonal offerings (which for the summer, was FC, our our “fantastically crushable” summer session wheat IPA we brewed for FC Buffalo). That’s not to say we didn’t have anything new going on – this was the first time we canned FC, and we did release the second batch of Packet, our inaugural Lock IPA series beer, right before July 4th (to some pretty nice praise I might add).
But, innovation certainly took a backseat to production this summer, without a doubt. In order to run a production brewery at full capacity, it takes a lot of concentration and saps a lot of creative energy; when the left side of your brain is working at 110%, there isn’t much room for the right side to do much of anything.
But, as a craft brewer, we want to – or rather, we need to keep innovating. It’s part of what makes us who we are. So, after a few months of very little in the way of innovation, we’re proud to present several beers that we’ll be releasing over the next several weeks and months:
Gin-Barrel Aged Beautiful River. When Bobby from Tommyrotter Distillery told us that the oak barrels he used for his award winning Cask Strength Bourbon-Barrel Gin were available for reuse, we jumped at the chance to fill them with beer. We had already been kicking around the idea of adding brettanomyces (“wild yeast”) to our Beautiful-River Belgian-style farmhouse ale; brett in saisons are not only historically accurate to some degree, but the brett helps to dry out the beer and provide wonderful complexity. So, we added a pitch of both Brett bruxellensis (which produces classic brett funk flavor) and Brett claussenii (which produces more fruity, pineapple aroma) and let that sit for several months. Finally, we decided to dry hop with both Galaxy and Motueka hops, to give the beer a bit of a tropical and citrus aroma pop. The result is incredibly complex; you get the brett in the aroma, with a touch of lime from the hops; the flavor is fairly gin forward, which lends some citrus and pine flavors, followed by a mellow oakiness. The beer is dry but not overcarbonated, allowing the flavors to cascade on the palate. I’ve tasted this beer four different times now and got something different every time I tasted it.
The beer is 6.6% ABV and will sell for $14 per 16oz bottle, limit 2 bottles per person. Only about 200 bottles will be for sale. We'll be serving a limited amount of 1 oz pours at our tap room as well for $1. Tommyrotter will also help us create some nice craft beer cocktails to serve during the day as well (cocktail list still TBD).
Meloneweizen. Most new beers we make at the brewery get differing opinions from our brewery staff – maybe a few love the new beer, a few think it’s solid, and maybe a few think the beer could warrant some improvement. This was not the case when we brewed a beer for a wedding we hosted at the tap room in July. The couple wanted something light and fruit forward, and our brewer Todd had suggested a Watermelon Hefeweizen that he had brewed in his past. The couple, guests, and all of our brewers loved it – enough that we decided to scale the recipe up and brew a production batch. No good beer is easy to brew, and this beer is no exception – it will contain over 1300 pounds of freshly juiced watermelons. The delicate clove and banana flavors from the yeast are complimented with a spritz of fresh melon flavor resulting in an extremely refreshing summer beer. It will be tapped around August 18th and on through the rest of the summer.
Lock IPA Series #2 – Fip. The second installment in our Lock IPA series Fip, is named after a coin worth about six cents that was used during the days of Canal construction. A fip was commonly used to purchase a glass of grog, or ale, after a hard days' work. Fip is brewed with Mosaic, Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe hops, resulting in an IPA with a burst of citrus, honeydew, and tropical punch flavor. It will come in at 6.8% ABV and cost $14 for a 4-pack of 16 oz cans. Expect to see this on sale at the brewery on or around August 26.
Plenty more innovating has been going on as well! Here are some other Innovation Series beers you'll see soon:
- Corey will show off the return of Jalapeno Cream Ale in the next few days, which features slight sweetness from the flaked corn used in the mash, and subtle heat and spicy tanginess in the finish from the use of jalapeño peppers in the fermenter!
- Devin will be bringing us an Elderberry Wheat Ale, which features fruitiness from the wheat and ale yeast and some tartness and mild bitterness from the elderberries added – an interesting summer beer indeed!
- Dave will be bringing us his Vermont-style IPA, which is brewed with Hallertau Blanc, Amarillo and Simcoe hops, for more orange and grapefruit hop flavor mixed with grape and passion fruit overtones. Could this be the next Lock IPA series beer? Stop down for a try when it’s around and let us know what you think.
We’re excited to be serving some new beers for the first time in a while, and we hope you enjoy them. See you soon.