Sunday, November 15, 2009

If there's winter wheat doppelbock ...

Then that High Point Icestorm eisbock is only a string of winter days away.

OK, maybe that's oversimplifying, since it's only mid-November, and the requisite below-30 degree temperatures to convert the doppelbock to eis have yet to pay visit to New Jersey. But have faith that it will happen, and Ramstein Winter Wheat will find its rich, velvety alter ego.

High Point turned loose the 2009 version of its Winter Wheat on Saturday with a signature, ceremonial barrel tapping before a capacity crowd at the brewery. (The turnout in Butler was exceptional, given that the weather was drizzling a rain that didn't clear up.)

The doppelbock's scheduled to be bottled this week, says owner Greg Zaccardi, who's fresh off a trip last month to the Mondial de la Biere festival held in Strasbourg, France. (High Point shipped over its Blonde and Classic wheat beers for the fest.)

Speaking of that trip to the Alsace region of France, High Point was approached with offers to export the Ramstein brand to Sweden, France and Germany. It's a high compliment, but one that's a bridge too far right now.

"Our production capacity really doesn't lend itself to being able to support that in a good way," Greg says. "We're keeping the lines of communication open. As we grow, we want to include them as well, because consumers in Europe, for centuries, have appreciated the style of beer we brew. It would be foolish for us not to bring beer to an area that really enjoys that type of beer."

Greg says there's every reason to be patient and re-examine the idea after a year's time. But it's more important to grow within High Point's local markets, those places where brewery has immediate interests. "We could just export and pat ourselves on the back, but you need to go beyond the one-night stand," Greg says.

At these beer releases, you run into a lot of familiar faces, and get to meet a lot of new people.

For Amanda and Bryan Stuht from Landing in Roxbury Township (Morris County), the wheat doppelbock release was their third Ramstein open house, putting them solidly on track to becoming regulars at the events.

Beginning homebrewers, they're avid beer enthusiasts with an appreciation for all styles (although Amanda will profess to a preference for hefeweizen). In addition, they enjoying a beer excursion whenever possible, like to Rattle N Hum Bar in Manhattan ... and High Point on a gray November day.


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