Monday, July 18, 2011

Brew trifecta for Kane

Three brews in the fermenters at New Jersey's newest craft beer-maker, Kane Brewing.

The Monmouth County brewery broke the seal* on its brewhouse earlier this month with a Belgian single (a blonde ale) dosed with a Trappist ale yeast from East Coast Yeast.

After a short production break to fine-tune some of the brewery's control systems (i.e. gylcol), brewer Clay Brackley and founder Michael Kane fired up the kettle at the end of last week, brewing an American pale ale and a West Coast IPA.

"The first brew day was little longer, since were getting used to everything. The second and third days went smooth. We hit our gravities and volumes," Michael says. "The flavor profiles are looking good."

For beer geeks and the curious, German pils malt, some Vienna malt and wheat make up the grain bill for the 5.2 percent ABV Belgian blonde that's likely to be just one batch this summer but is expected return next year as Kane's summer seasonal. It's hopped with Styrian and Saaz.

The brew also serves as a step-up for the Trappist ale yeast, since it will get used in an upcoming big Belgian brew intended for the fall season taps, although the actual style hasn't been decided yet.

Michael traced the specifics of the second brew, the American pale ale, describing its grain bill as 2-row with some Munich malt, a touch of rye, and crystal 77, and hopped with Columbus and Hallertau in the boil and finished with Cascade and Centennial. You can expect the "C" hops for the dry-hopping.

"We hope (the rye) will add a little spiciness, more than you get with the average pale ale," Michael says. The brew will be around 5.5 percent ABV.

The third beer features pils, 2-row, cara-pils and crystal 44 malts, angling for a lighter color and drier finishing IPA at 6.5 percent ABV. "We weren't going for a super malty IPA, but we wanted to make sure there was some body to it," Michael says.

The brew was hopped with Columbus and Chinook in the boil, with later additions of Citra, Ahtanum and Centennial. Michael says it will be dry-hopped with some combination of those varieties.

This year has been an especially active one for craft brewery start-ups in the Garden State, with three licensed so far. Right now Kane Brewing is the state's newest craft brewer, a title it's not likely to hold for long, as Carton Brewing in Atlantic Highlands moves closer to licensing and its official launch. That could come sometime next month.

Calling Ocean Township home, Kane occupies industrial park space not far from where Heavyweight Brewing made its celebrated artisanal beers before closing shop five years ago. The closing left Basil T's brewpub in Red Bank as Monmouth County's sole craft brewery.

Basil's opened its doors in 1996 – a big year for craft brewery start-ups in the state – and Red Bank in particular has been at the forefront of craft beer in New Jersey, with the long-defunct Red Bank Brewery and its craft lagers part of that history. (Departing Basil's brewer Gretchen Schmidhausler got her start with Red Bank Brewery.)

In addition, Triumph Brewing once eyed the artsy town for a second location. (Triumph opened in Princeton in 1995 and followed that up years later with brewpubs in New Hope, Pa., and Philadelphia).

Triumph is again considering a presence in Red Bank. If that comes to fruition, Monmouth County could end up with four craft breweries, more than any other county in the state, and outpacing its neighbors to the north, Middlesex County and Essex County, by one. (Middelesex County is home to brewpubs JJ Bitting, Harvest Moon and Uno Chicago Grill & Brewery. Essex County has craft brewers Cricket Hill, Gaslight brewpub and Port 44 Brew Pub. It's also home to the outsized mainstream brewer Budweiser in Newark.)

*Figuratively speaking, of course. Not an equipment malfunction.

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