Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tun Farmhouse IPA in da house

Brewer Tim Kelly filters Tun's fest beer
American craft brewers love to ignore beer style guidelines and crash styles into each other. In the process, the unconventional has led to some conventions, like American IPAs – bold, strapping beers that have more hops than a hopyard and left their British IPA ancestors behind years ago.

Call 'em West Coast or American IPA, hophead tonic, or whatever. Just don't call 'em unconventional, because these days they're ubiquitous and true signatures of US craft brewing.

For the Atlantic City beer festival, Tun Tavern brewpub brewer Tim Kelly was looking to create a beer that bucked convention and spoke to fusion of styles. What he came up, a Farmhouse IPA, may sound like something Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, Maryland) did with last year's In de Wildeman tribute beer.

Aside from the style, there's only a minor bit of overlap (a specialty grain – rye), so there's no copying here (but you have admit, Flying Dog is good company to be keeping). Tim made sure to cut his own path with the Tun's version, using oats and crystal rye in the grist, along with some sour mash, plus raw apple blossom and goldenrod honeys in the kettle.

Simcoe, Cascade dry-hopping
"I often sit around at night and think, 'What can I do different?' The idea of a farmhouse IPA struck me. After I thought of it, I went online and looked around to see if anyone else had done it. I  came across only one; it was actually Flying Dog," Tim said Wednesday as he filtered the 4-plus barrels of the 6% ABV IPA brewed for the festival that starts Friday night at the neighboring Convention Center. "I tried to do some layers of things, so it's not a one-dimensional hopped beer, so there's some character to it."

With the brewing, the hops started off with Nugget, moved into Saaz, finished with Styrian Goldings, with a dash of Chinook in the whirlpool. Tim dry-hopped with a touch of Cascade added to Simcoe. (The beer was fermented with a saison yeast.)

"Simcoe tends to be not as citrusy as the Cascade. It's a little more like apricot flavor," Tim says.

The result: a bit of a bizarro IPA at 65 IBUs, he says, "not the American citrus hop, but something different, sweeter, you know earthy, funky, spicy."

FOOTNOTES: The Farmhouse IPA marks the third time the Tun has produced a beer specifically for the Atlantic City festival, and it's probably the only beer pouring at the festival that was made specifically for the event. (That's something brewpub's have more flexibility with than production breweries.) The beer also goes on tap at the Tun on Friday. It was produced in about a half-batch size, so it may not last long (plus, there's a maibock waiting in the wings.)

This year's brew, like the two prior – a dunkelweizen in 2010 and Belgian tripel last year – were made as part of a promotion with The Press of Atlantic City newspaper and its weekend entertainment guide, At The Shore. Mark Haynie, New Jersey columnist for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and a beer columnist for At The Shore, helped brew the beer.

Return to Home page

Monday, March 26, 2012

More gains for US craft brewers

Craft brewers across the country made more beer last year and sold more of it than in 2010, according to preliminary figures released Monday by the craft brewing industry's trade group.

Craft brewers saw volume surge 13 percent, with a 15 percent spike in retail sales from 2010 to 2011, representing a total barrel increase of 1.3 million. Additionally, the Brewers Association says the total number of operating craft breweries in the United States cracked the 2,000 mark by February of this year.

“While the overall beer market experienced a 1.32 percent volume decrease in 2011, craft brewing saw significant growth, surpassing 5 percent total market volume share for the first time,” says BA director Paul Gatza. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that with the variety of styles and flavors to choose from, Americans are developing a strong taste for high-quality, small-batch beer from independent brewers.”

Across New Jersey, 2011 was the hottest year for brewery start-ups since 1996, a nascent year for the craft brewing industry in the Garden State. Five new breweries were licensed in the state last year, while two new brewers – Flounder Brewing and Turtle Stone Brewing – have been given the green light by state regulators this year. That puts the tally of Garden State craft breweries at 24.

Since 2010, only two new craft brewers in the state – Port 44 Brew Pub in Newark and Great Blue Brewing in Franklin Township (Somerset County) – have thrown in the towel.

Production has been up for virtually every New Jersey craft brewer, with some, like High Point Brewing in Butler, opting to pass on participating in some festivals in order to keep the beer flowing unabated to draft accounts.

Meanwhile, Flying Fish continues its move from Cherry Hill to Somerdale, toiling away with building a new automated brewery that will triple its capacity.

Monday's release of statistics by the Brewers Association comes a little over a month before the May 2-5 Craft Brewers Conference, when industry members will gather in San Diego to hear finalized analyses of the business of small-batch beer.

Some of what the BA put out in those statistics echoes the usual booster talk the trade group has made in prior years' analyses. Still, the data are indicative of a hot sector getting hotter:

  • In 2011, craft brewers represented about 5.7 percent of volume of the U.S. beer market; that's up from 4.9 percent in 2010.
  • Production last year topped 11.4 million barrels.
  • Craft brewers' sales last year amounted to an estimated $8.7 billion, up from $7.6 billion in 2010. Increased retail sales accounted for slightly more than 9 percent of the nearly $95.5 billion U.S. beer market.
  • The number of U.S. craft breweries operating last year jumped 11 percent to 1,989; 250 of those were new. Last year saw 37 craft breweries close.
  • On the jobs front, U.S. small breweries employed about 103,585 workers last year.

Here's a footnote off the BA news ... If you doubt the sunny outlook consider this: In February, the Brewers Association hired a Manhattan public relations company, The Rosen Group, to help with getting the message out and other programs. Things have gotten busy for the BA, too.

Return to the Home page