The Chicago Buyer’s Club: In Conversation with: Ria Nieri

ria-mashtun01

Once every few months or so, If I’m lucky, I see a gathering of what I call The Beer Buyer’s Club at my bar in the south side of Chicago.  These ladies are some of the few women of influence in the Chicago Beer industry, and it’s great to see them all in one place. It’s usually a Friday afternoon and I walk up to these cholos and say the same thing. “What the hell are you guys doing here? Slumming?

These ladies are all members of the Illuminati of the Chicago beer industry: They are Sellers and Buyers of Beer. They are tastemakers and industry insiders and often determine the allocation lists of the world’s most coveted beers. They decide what you get to drink at yer local watering hole by offering their beers for sale to retailers and if you play nice you get the good shit.
Few of you will ever get to know these women, but all of  us in Chicago are affected by their decisions. One of the cats in this secret club is Ria Neri. She knows how to play nice, and she is an inspiration to us at Mash Tun Journal. I’ve known Ria for a while now and she inhabits the same neighborhood as me, Bridgeport, the Community of the Future. We don’t see each other enough, but that’s because she is super busy being the Beer Buyer for some of Chicago’s most celebrated restaurants and bars: Bangers & Lace, Trenchermen, Lone Wolf and Nightwood. I bugged Ria at one of those ad hoc meetings and asked her to just answer a few questions to inspire people working in the industry. She agreed.
Ed: What was your first hospitality job? And how did that go?

Ria: Nightwood Restaurant in Pilsen.  I was a barback.  It was my kind of gig.  Working behind the scenes allowed me a glimpse of the madness (the fun kind) that is the hospitality industry.

EM: I remember you telling me that you and Kevin Heisner used to brew shit tons of beer. When did you first start getting into beer? When was that first brew day, what did you make?

RN: S*#T tons! (I don’t swear).  I had expressed a desire for a new hobby, so my good friend Kevin got me a Beer brewing kit- not just one, but six kits.  On the first brew day, Kevin decided he wanted to make all six beers in one day.  I agreed.  We went for it.  We were clueless.  And the hot water went out.  It was a mess.  We ended up with two brews –  a Wit and a Stout — and a whole new respect for beer brewing.

EM: How do you decide on a concept for a beverage program? Do you have a methodology for choosing beers and beverages for the places you manage?

RN: The concept is always determined along with the restaurant/bar as a whole.  I find that it is almost always an organic process.  In the end, I always strive for balance.

EM: I often hear about how horrible bar owners and buyers are to distributors and reps of beer companies, and it is startling. But sometimes distributors won’t allocate or give access to rare beers. How do you deal with a distributor that does not give you product you want to present to your patrons? Especially when another bar down the block gets it.

RN: A mutual respect & understanding is required here.  It’s not personal.  It’s beer, and there’s s*#t tons of it!  S*#t tons!

EM: What are some of the most important things you have learned working in the industry?

RN: Cutthroat competition has no value.  The desire to be the Ace of Spades will get you lost in the shuffle.  Essentially, a deck is worthless when it’s missing a few cards.  I think collaboration and a sense of community are prerequisites to a thriving industry.  Also, I think the industry platform is a fantastic vehicle for sharing knowledge.  Be a source of inspiration, get inspired, and don’t forget to have fun.

EM: I think that Chicagoland might be headed for large-format craft beer bottle fatigue. It’s hard to find shelf space for all the small guys. What are your thoughts about the explosion of breweries and brands coming to the Chicago market? How do you choose to support new kids on the block?

RN: Viewing the explosion of the craft beer movement with a positive outlook is an attitude that needs to be practiced on a daily basis.  As a beer buyer, do I feel overwhelmed at times? Absolutely.  Do the products I am presented with always taste up to par- (subjectively)?  Most of the time, but not always.  Do I think these eager new players have longevity?  I hope so.
The forecast of a looming collapse in the craft beer movement is an image I prefer not to fixate on.  I readily adopt this craft beer explosion with a sense of optimism, perhaps one might say with a bit of naiveté, but I do see an outcome that allows for more creativity, a push towards more innovation, in order to stay afloat.

More importantly, it strengthens a craft brewer’s ingenuity and resourcefulness –  almost requiring an “outside the box thinking” –  and being artists that they are, I can only look forward with great anticipation to the craft that can only be accomplished by the best of them. Besides that, I think the movement allows for more exposure to a mass audience, who probably never considered that “craft beer” a common household term. In the near future, we could see barrel-aged sours pop up at family dinners.

EM: What advice do you have for people interested in getting into the hospitality industry and how would you suggest they are able to attain a position of beverage director?

RN: I think getting into any industry requires a vast curiosity.  Read often, taste often, listen, learn from your peers an don’t be an asshole. There is always much more to know.  It never stops. As Eleanor Roosevelt said:  “Do the things that interest you and do them with all your heart….We can only grow as long as we are interested.”

+

Mash Tun 2014 Homebrewer’s Ball

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.42.33 PM

 

Mash Tun Society and Mash Tun Journal present:

The 2014 Homebrewer’s Ball

Join us at Mash Tun Society’s First Annual Homebrewer’s Competition!

For $30 ( $25 for Mash Tun Society members)  you get:
- Tastes of all the Homebrew entries
- A Mash Tun Tasting Glass
- A Homebrewer’s Ball T-shirt Live  Silk-screened by Teetsy! (supplies limited)
- Vittles by The Doner Men and The Salsa Truck
-  A vote for best brews in the competition. The winner gets their beer brewed at Marz Community Brewing Company
- A copy of the new Mash Tun Guide to Craft Beer in Illinois
- Tastes of Marz Community Brewing Co. beers

Featuring beers by:
Armando Cobian and Christina Cobian, Chuck Patella, Cassie Webster and Brody Webster, Kyle Shaver and Kevin Shaver, Steven Schaab with help from Mark Paris, David Erwin Merz III and Cameron Mark Cieglo, Robby Zahm and Jacques Laramie, Walter Ornelas, Joel Timm and Taylor Southworth, Chris Chesser, Sean Fitzpatrick, Oscan Montenegro and Dany Reyes, and Josh Smith

TICKET INFO
Non Members must visit this link for tickets.

Mash Tun Society Members use this link for the discounted price. The membership password has been emailed to you.

Judging of the event is open to members of the Mash Tun Society only. Proceeds of the event go to the Public Media Institute, the non profit that publishes Mash Tun Journal and organizes The Mash Tun Society.

The Mash Tun Society is a craft beer and artisan food club that presents programming throughout the year in the city of Chicago. The Society was established for people who enjoy the pleasures and aesthetics of craft beer and how it intersects with food, culture, & society. The Non profit organization publishes The Mash Tun Journal and produces many events and programs like the Mash Tun Festivals, The Homebrewers Ball, the annual Art of Beer exhibition and other exclusive drinking and eating events and gatherings.

To become a member of the Mash Tun Society please visit:
http://www.mashtunjournal.org/the-mash-tun-society/

New members will receive complementary entry to the 2014 Homebrewer’s Ball.

+

The 2014 Mash Tun Homebrewer’s Ball Call for Beer!

homebrewersballposter
( Photo by Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting )

Mash Tun Society and Mash Tun Journal present:
The 2014 Mash Tun Homebrewer’s Ball Call for Beer!

The 2014 Mash Tun Homebrewer’s Ball is our first annual home brewers competition.  The 2014 winner will have their liquid brewed and distributed by Marz Community Brewing Co. The competition is open to home brewers in the Chicago land area and entry to competitors is FREE!

Judging of the event is open to members of the Mash Tun Society ( see below). Proceeds of the event go to the Public Media Institute, the non profit that publishes Mash Tun Journal and organizes The Mash Tun Society.

Here’s how it works:
•    Any homebrewer, whether a member of a homebrewing club or not, is encouraged to enter his or her beer in the competition. For free.
•    A maximum of 25 beers will compete. You must email us immediately to state you are going to compete.
•    The Ball and competition both kick off at 2pm at the Co-Prosperity Sphere on August 9, 2014.
•    Mash Tun Society members will sample competing beers and vote on their favorites.
•    Four finalists will be selected based on Mash Tun Society voting results.
•    A panel of judges lead by Master Cicerone and Mash Tun Journal Editor, David Kahle, will choose the winning beer through a blind tasting.
•    The Winner will have their beer brewed by Marz Community Brewing Co.

How do homebrewers Qualify?
1.    You need to decide if you are going to compete ASAP. And then email ed@mashtunjournal.org Email Ed your name, address and phone number.
2.    The competition is open to anyone, regardless of homebrew club affiliation. There are no “official club entries”.
3.    Register early! ONLY THE FIRST 25 ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED. However, there will be a waiting list. You must email ed@mashtunjournal.org and inform him that you will be competing. The first 25 persons to email will be put on the list of competitors. Persons who wish to compete after the first 25 sign up will be put on a waiting list. Ed will contact you to receive information about your submission.
4.    You must be a Mash Tun Society Member to enter the event or to taste and judge the day of the Homebrewer’s Ball. And hey, you can join at the door! Brewers do not have to be a Mash Tun Society member or pay to attend.
5.    Only one beer may be entered per person.
6.    One co-brewer is allowed. Please, no brewing teams of three or more.
7.    Beers may be submitted in Cornelius ball-lock kegs or pin-lock kegs ONLY—no bottles will be accepted.
8.    Brewers must will supply all tapping equipment. We supply the sampling glasses, buckets and ice. ( We do not have 25 tanks of gas or tapping systems, sorry).
9.    Beer submissions must be dropped off during business hours at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar  by Wednesday, August 6th, with NO exceptions. No late submissions will be accepted! You must label your submission with your name, phone number, email and name and style of beer.
10.    Beers not received by Wednesday, August 6th will be disqualified from the competition, and a new entry from the waiting list will selected in its place.
11.    It is not guaranteed that the winning beer will be the exact beer that will be made by Marz Community Brewing Co—e.g., if the winning entry is a sour beer, we will not be able to brew it. Regardless, the winning brewer will select the recipe and work directly with Marz brewers to make the beer.
12.    The locally released beer will be a collaboration between Marz and the winning homebrewer(s) only.
13.    We cannot accept recipes for bacterially soured beers, Brettanomyces beers, beers brewed with artificial flavorings or ingredients, or beers requiring extended aging (more than 60 days) for brewing on our system.
14.    Employees of Marz Community Brewing Co. and their family members are not eligible to compete.
15.    Winners of the annual Mash Tun Home Brewers Ball  are not eligible to compete for 2 competitions after their winning entry. E.g., if you win in 2014, the first competition you’d be eligible to enter again would be in 2017.

Important Information on How to Submit Your Beer
•    All beer must be submitted in Cornelius ball-lock kegs or pin-lock kegs NO bottled beer will be accepted.
•    Kegs must be dropped off at Maria’s between Sunday, August 3rd and no later than Wednesday, August 6th, during regular store hours ( 11pm – 2am)
•    Participating homebrewers must bring their own gas, and tapping equipment, we will supply the rest.
•    Sorry, but WE CANNOT ACCEPT DAY-OF BEER SUBMISSIONS. Beers MUST be submitted on or before Wednesday, August 6th.
•    Any changes to your entry (e.g. different beer or name) must be submitted no later than 4pm on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014.

Any questions? Email Edmar  ed@mashtunjournal.org

/////////

About the Mash Tun Society

Mash Tun Society is a craft beer culture club that publishes Mash Tun Journal and produces dozens of beer, food and art related events, such as Mash Tun Festival, The New Wave Brewers Bash, The Mash Tun Invitational, The Art of Beer and many others.

How to Join the Mash Tun Society.
http://www.mashtunjournal.org/the-mash-tun-society/
Dues are $50 a year.

For $50* you will get:
•   A one year subscription to Mash Tun Journal
•    A one-year renewal for current Mash Tun Society Members at a discounted rate (or a brand new one-year membership!)
•    The chance to taste some of the most awesome homebrews in Illinois.
•    Voting rights in the Homebrewers Ball competition—you decide which beers are best!
•    The opportunity to enter contests and win prizes.
•    Your very own Mash Tun tasting glass
•    Exclusive invitations to Mash Tun Society and other craft beer and food events at a discounted rate!

*You can pay your Mash Tun Society membership fee at the door.

+

Mash Tun’s Chicago Craft Beer Week

The Mash Tun Society is hosting a few events during Chicago Craft Beer Week. Join us for these special events with our friends and pals in the craft beer universe.

Mash Tun Society presents
Backstage at Penrose Brewery

May 22, 20147-10 pm

Admission is $40 RSVP HERE
Limited space so order soon!!

Penrose – map
509 Stevens St
Geneva, IL 60134

Join us in Geneva for an evening with Illinois’ darling new brewery, Penrose. Our special event includes a private reception, a four beer flight and guided tasting, an exclusive tour with the owners as well as a Q and A session led by Mash Tun Journal. This event has very limited capacity.

You will also receive a Mash Tun Tasting Glass
Copy of Issue #5 – Our hot off the press issue
Copy of Issue #4 – Which features an interview with Tom Korder and Eric Hobbs of Penrose.



Mash Tun Society presents:
The Olympic Mash Up
May 24, 2014 7 – 10 pm

The Olympic Tavern – map
2327 N Main St
Rockford, IL 61103

Admission: $25 for Regular Admission RSVP HERE
$20 for Mash Tun Society Members
We will be charging at the door, but please bring your ID so that we can check you in.

965039_10152413379219789_4538855709340330103_o

Join us at Olympic for an evening with the Publisher of Mash Tun Journal, Ed Marszewski and brewers from Marz Community Brewing Co from Chicago. Ed and pals from Marz will be bringing some special brews to share from the newest generation of brewers from Chicagoland. You can also meet your Mash Tun pals and get some Mash Tun schwag and copies of the journal.

Attendees will also receive:
A Mash Tun Tasting Glass
Copy of Issue #5 – Our hot off the press issue
Six tastes of an assortment of Chicagoland brewery beer ( Marz, Pipeworks, and others TBA )



Mash Tun Society presents:
New Wave Karaoke Freak Out with Marz Community Brewing Co.
May 21, 2014 7 – 10 pm

Rock Island Public House – map
13328 Olde Western Ave
Blue Island, IL 60406

Join the gang from Mash Tun Society as we host an 80′s YouTube karaoke freak out KJ-ed by Ed Marszewski and Eric Olson of Mash Tun, Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar and drink some tastiness from their soon to be opened Marz Community Brewing Co. Come ready to sing your favorite 80′s hit and can win some prizes!

Participants will receive:
Hosted tasting ( 2 pours) of Marz Community Brewing Co’s secret concoctions.
A Mash Tun Tasting Glass
Copy of Issue #5 – Our hot off the press issue
Marz brew masters will be in the house

Members contact info@publicmediainstitute dot com for invites if you haven’t yet received them. Order a membership at mashtunjournal.org

+

May 3, 2014 is Mash Tun Festival: The New Wave Brewers Bash

mashtunnewwave

Mash Tun Festival: The New Wave Brewers Bash

May 3, 2014  3-7pm
Co-Prosperity Sphere
3219 S Morgan Street

Join us as we celebrate the release of Mash Tun Journal # 5 and meet the new generation of breweries that have recently launched in Chicagoland. You get a copy of the new issue of the mag, a tasting glass, and pours of brews by New Wave breweries like: 18th Street, One Trick Pony, Horse Thief Hollow,  Dryhop, Off Color, Ale Syndicate, Slap Shot, Atlas, Lake Effect, BuckleDown, Une Année  and others. Complementary vittles and other surprises in store.

Admission is $35  ( $25 for Mash Tun Society Members – What is that? ) •  You must RSVP and purchase tickets online via our Eventbrite site or in person at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar.  Major credit cards accepted. No Refunds.

After purchasing admission your name will be on our RSVP list at the door. Please bring your ID and show your receipt from paypal.
 
Eventbrite - Mash Tun Festival’s New Wave Brewers Bash
 

+

A Conversation with Tom Korder and Eric Hobbs of Penrose Brewing Company

penrose2

Tom Korder and Eric Hobbs know craft beer. They know how to make it, know how to sell it, and certainly know how to talk about it. Mr. Korder and Mr. Hobbs have partnered to open Penrose Brewing Company this fall in Geneva, IL, hoping to create both great beer and a great beer community.

Korder and Hobbs have over a decade of experience in the industry—most recently at Goose Island, where Korder was the brewery manager for 4 1/2 years and Hobbs was a market manager. When Hobbs started thinking of opening a brewery—the kind of brewery he wanted—he knew that it could only exist if Korder signed on to join him.“ I was a good home brewer at the time but that was about it. I was not a professional brewer and I did not want to enter this market—even knowing three years ago how crowded it was getting—without a partner that really knew how to make great beer all the time, build a brewery, manage a brewery. That was what I was looking for and Tom was the guy.”

Interviews are condensed and edited for clarity, but not for content.

Let’s start with the name, Penrose.

HOBBS: Tom found the Penrose tiling pattern when we had shifted away from our original name after trademark concerns. He showed me the tile and got really excited, explaining how the math and the science create this balance between art and science—pretty fitting for a brewery.


And you have an engineering background?

TOM KORDER: Yes, mechanical engineering.


So, how’d you go from engineering into brewing?

TK: I went in a different direction than most people. Most people start home brewing and really get into it; I started professionally at the largest brewer in the world, Anheuser-Busch, and worked for them as a manager for about a year and a half. I learned all about beer and I got a very scientific look at how to make consistent beer, time after time. From there I went to one of their bigger breweries in Georgia, and I decided it was getting a little too big and factory for me. I wanted to go to a craft brewer and really make my mark, so I ended up going to Goose Island as the brewery manger running day to day operations. I helped grow and define their barrel program. Then it was really time to branch off on my own. I was looking at some other opportunities but Eric and I met up, and I started listing off things [I wanted in a brewery] and it just meshed there, so we ran with it.

EH: We spent a lot of time figuring out how we wanted this thing to look and feel. We knew right away that we wanted to brew Belgian styles. We started thinking about what we wanted to do with recipes but it was always in the back of our minds that we had to get the whole business side of it figured out.We did months of business planning and delivered a plan to our investors – and these are the same guys we’ve got today. They’ve been with us now for almost three years.


When I think art meeting science, I think creativity, innovation, complexity. Are these things that you want to inspire your beer?

EH: Absolutely. The hardest thing about brewing is doing something very simple, very clean, making it well, and being consistent. It’s like laying a canvas. Then you can introduce complexity with things like alternative fermentation, wild ales and barrel aging, and that’s where you show that “I really understand the rules and here’s how I bend them.”

 

penrose3

Do you have a plan for what you are going to start with?

TK: Yeah we’ve got our four main beers dialed in that we’re working on: “Proto Gradus” and “P2,” a Belgian single and a Belgian pale ale will be our first two. Once those two kind of hit the market, we’ll roll out “Navette,” which is a Belgian Black Ale made with toasted buckwheat. It’s not really a stout, but it has a very dry, nice malt body, and a lot of Belgian yeast character. The fourth will be our French Saison, “Levant.”

EH: We decided to go with the French version of the saison, rather than the Belgian: when we were doing our test batches we just found ourselves gravitating more towards the French style.

TK: Yeah. I mean it was really clean and the Belgian Saison is very spicy at times. It’s kind of the typical saison aroma that most people think of but this one is just a little cleaner and not as spicy.


You’re also going to have your own in-house lab?

TK: Yes, we’ll be able to do all of our own micro, all of our own cell counts, and make sure what the consumer’s tasting is what we’re tasting. It’s one thing to taste your beer fresh every time but then when the consumer is tasting it, it might be six weeks later, so you need to be doing the same thing. So we’ll do comparative taste panels and all that stuff in house.

EH: There’s too many great brewers out there these days to not have really great beer. That’s why when Tom said he’s going to put a lab in I was like “Yes. That’s awesome.” There’s inevitably going to be somebody that’s gonna be on untappd (the social beer drinking app and service) and say they feel something is wrong with our beer. Context is important: we need to know exactly what a customer is drinking and when they’re drinking it, and when it was made. That way, if there is something wrong we can check; or if they’re just not used to tasting beers — or they don’t like beers like that — we can quickly help them understand that we’ve got the same beer sitting in our lab right now, that we’ve tested it and we’re confident in it.


And you’ve mentioned barrel aging? It looks like you’ve got good space for a program.

TK: Yeah, we’re gonna get a good size barrel program rolling right off the bat so that way we can get some good beers cranking out — not just have two barrels and call it our “barrel program.”

EH: What we think is important in a barrel program, and what Tom has done so well over at Goose over the years is create vision for what a beer should be, then take different barrels, of varying amounts of oak or funk or acidic character, and blend it into a specific, intended, style. That’s tricky, a lot of people just throw stuff in oak and whatever it is…it’s that.


Is that where you’re primarily trying to put your footprint?

TK: Well, I wouldn’t say primarily. You’re obviously not going to be able to do that right away. You look at a local distillery, they produce gin and vodka first and they worry about bourbon later because they can. We have to have a year round core line up so that we can do those things. We’re going to start off with “sessionable” Belgian beers that kind of filter into that same vein of barrel aging and alternative fermentation, things like that.


Are you sourcing the barrels anywhere local?

TK: We’re working on a lot of different avenues for them. Obviously, a lot of the bigger distilleries have more bourbon barrels. Nobody local really has that many bourbon barrels.

EH: Wine barrels are coming from upper Michigan and Wisconsin. We’ve got a lot of different irons in the fire.


Are there are plans for distribution?

TK: Absolutely. We’ll roll out some market and kegs first. Which is a great way for us to get our name out there and keep the beer fresh.

EH: Right –we want to see what people want to drink. That’s important for us because we know what WE like to drink and we have a pretty good idea of what we anticipate our relative sales being. We think we know which styles people will gravitate towards but you never know so the last thing we want to do is assume what the market wants. Eight counties of the Chicagoland area will be our primary focus and really that is all we’re thinking about right now. The way the whole craft beer industry is going, if you start up now, it isn’t all that likely that you’ll be a big national player. I think you really have to try to go deep in your home market and if that doesn’t work, you’re going to have to take a hard look at yourself and figure out if this is the right thing. So our goal is just to go deep in Chicago because we know that we’re not going to be the most popular, highly rated beers on RateBeer and BeerAdvocate because we’re rolling out really simple, really clean styles with a low ABV. But we do think a lot of craft beer drinkers are gravitating towards those styles more and we’d like to be a little more accessible, a little more available. A lot of the beers we’re going to do are going to play really well in the oak program. So it’s sort of a little cross pollination between projects.


So do you take any influence from places like Untappd or RateBeer?

EH: Sometimes that might influence us, but it doesn’t change anything. It might help us plan for production amounts and quantities — but you can watch rating websites and drive yourself insane.

TK: If we developed our business based solely on Beer Advocate ratings we’d be only brewing Citra Hop beers and barrel aging everything.

E: There’s a time and a place for that, and we intend to do some of it, but we love sessionable beers. If I sit down at a place that has only beers with an ABV above 7% that disappoints me. We’re looking towards folks that want to drink some sessionable beers as the starting point.

T: Plus there are 9 million other breweries doing Citra Hop beers, Citra Hop pun names, and that’s just not our style.


So why Belgian inspired session ales?

TK: From a brewing standpoint there’s a lot of freedom. There aren’t so many set rules. Even a Belgian blonde ale has so many different taste profiles that is nice to know that we can have loose set up guides and just play from that. So that’s why we say “Belgian-inspired” brewing. We play around with a lot of different yeast strains but it’s not like we’re just going to make a double and a triple and a Witte beer, you know? There are so many other ways we can take this.


Are you going to do any Lambics?

TK: Absolutely. I mean, obviously we’re not in lambics because we’re not in Brussels but we’ll definitely do a lot of wild ales a lot of sours.

EH: We’re going to have 10 handles in the tap room. Eight along the cooler which will be direct draw, but then we’re going to have a separate tower for sours, wilds, and barrel aged stuff. The best part about the tap room is we can be like “you want to come by and taste this? Because we just threw it on, and it’s only going to be on for two days, and we want to see what people think.” It’s like a beautiful focus group. Except people seek it out and then they pay you for it, which is even better


You guys use “community” a lot in describing your beer and your brewery.

EH: The only way this is successful for any of us is if we grow the community. That has to be everybody’s goal—day one. If we don’t, we all keep going to fish in the same fishing holes. Bangers and Lace has a ton of handles and Ria will always have great beer on there, but that’s just one place. We all have to keep going and finding two or three more Rias to make sure that we figure out how to introduce the rest of the world.

TK: As far as the craft beer community, I mean these are people we’ve been working with for the last 10 years and a lot of the guys that are opening up places now, were at Goose Island when I was there. John Laffler (Off Color Brewing) and Jared Rouben (Moody Tongue Brewing Company), these are guys I’ve been working very closely with for a long time. It’s just a matter of supporting everybody and helping everybody else out.


You recently did a collaboration with Perennial, do you have any other ones coming up?

EH: The Perennial collaboration we did—this batch that we brought for Chicago Craft Beer Week and some events around here— that was really just kind of a trial to see how it was received. The full-scale collaboration, which will be at retail in bottle and on draft, will be out in October. We’re going back down to Perennial here in a couple weeks to brew with them to get that done. You should be able to get at any of the good craft spots around Chicago.


Will you have any guest taps in the tasting room?

EH: Wish we could. Legally we’re not allowed to. We were really aware of our position in the community of Geneva. We wanted people to want to sell our beers down the street and so we always said we’re not going to be a brewpub. We’re not going to have food, we’re going to have limited hours. The only way for us to have guest taps would be to have a brewpub license. So no guest taps, at least not for now.


Do you like the direction everything is going in?

EH: Oh yeah. I’ve been very pleased with how Tom is dialing in on his styles.

TK: Right now it’s just a matter of tweaking. Do I like 10 percent buckwheat or 15 percent? It’s just kind of seeing the little subtle differences.

EH: We’ve played with some flavors too. We might do one for the market and then we might add lemon grass or green coriander or something like that just to kind of change it up a little bit [for our tap room.] And if we think this is something we like better, then we can just do it that way.


So, you’re starting with the kegs and market, then the tap room, then package and distribution. What’s next after that?

EH: Honestly, for us, like I said we want to go deep in Chicago. There’s no reason to rush.

TK: We don’t want to rush it. It’s a matter of doing it well here and then we can worry about other stuff later.


I’m sure anyone who home brews, brews professionally, they probably dream about being able to do this. For you, it’s almost here. How do you feel?

TK: Everyday there’s something more exciting. Like yesterday when I was pulling those (fermenters) in, it was just crazy. And when I get to be in here and I mapped out and taped out everything. It’s another step. And one of these days we’ll have beer and it will be just surreal. I’ll look back at these last three years and think “where’d that time go?” I mean hundreds of pages of business plans and recipe development and just thinking about what we want to do and different properties we’ve looked at. It’s just kind of surreal right now.


For more information visit penrosebrewing.com.

Interview by Kathryn Baker in Issue #4 of Mash Tun Journal.

 

 

+

Drinking in Amsterdam

Unless you are a local, finding cool (non tourist laden) places in Amsterdam to drink in is a pain in the ass. But part of the fun of Amsterdam is wandering around, getting lost, retracing your steps, losing your rental bike, and pissing in the canals after drinking a place dry. If you only had a day in the ‘Dam these are my  go to places to grab a cold one.

bierkonig

De Bierkoning

It’s worth a break in the tumult to get over to de Bierkoning, the best beer shop in Holland. Founded in the 80s, it’s located right off Dam Square. They feature some of the greatest beers in the world and carefully cellar such rare and delicious brews that any beer geek may cry, get down on their knees and thank Ninkasi. The sours cellar may have made me giddy, but their American craft beer selection made me laugh. The only good stuff they have is smuggled in by beer nerds who trade American brew for stuff we think is rare.

bierkonig2

I spoke with the super friendly and awesome managers, Jan and Alice, who will happily show you the way to Beervana. Although a difficult task, they gave me their top ten favorite beers that they have in the store:


Jan’s Top Ten:

  • Oersoep The Brute, the Brett and the Funky
  • Christoffel Blond
  • De Molen Hemel & Aarde Bruichladdich BA
  • Emelisse Brett Blond
  • Rooide Dop Daily Grind
  • Ramses Hop
  • Jopen Ongelovige Thomas
  • Schans Saison
  • Bronckhorster Nightporter
  • De Proefbrouwerij Snaterende Arend Tapuit

 

Alice’s Top Ten:

  • De Schans Saison
  • De Eem Tasty Lady
  • Christoffel Nobel
  • Jopen Meesterstuk
  • Emelisse Blond
  • Duits en Laret Winterstout
  • De Molen Amarillo
  • Volenbier Pijtje
  • SNAB Roock
  • Rodenburg Terra Incognita

Paleisstraat 125  1012 ZL Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 625 2336
http://bierkoning.nl

 

deprael

Brouwerij de Prael

This brewpub is located near the north end of the Red Light District, down one of many narrow side streets. If memory serves, it was just around the corner from the Dildo Experience.  De Prael is set in a former auction house and wheelwright shop on the Prinsengracht Canal. It’s a pretty sweet brewery, using traditional methods 100% organic grains.  But De Prael is more than a brewery, it is also a social institution, providing jobs for people with psychiatric handicaps –the first of its kind in the Netherlands. De Prael is beer with a social mission, something I really admire.

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30  1012 GD Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 408 4470
deprael.nl

 

wildeman

 

De Wildeman

This legendary bar in a former distillery is a place you’ll find beer guru, Michael Jackson, hanging out with the Dutch beer cognoscenti on another cute-as-fuck side street. They have 18 drafts and about 250 bottles from around the world. For a taste of local, they have a lot of small Dutch brews from the likes of De Molen and Emelisse on draft.  So if you want to go Dutch, make it happen here. [Editor’s note: If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.] I do not remember how I got to this magical place, so good luck Google-Mapping it.

Kolksteeg 3  1012 PT Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 638 2348
indewildeman.nl

 

brwoerieij

Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Obviously [see adjoining article] Brouwerij ‘t IJ is my favorite place to enjoy a beer in Amsterdam. The brewery is only open from 2-8pm and it is simply amazing to sit under the windmill by a canal and drink an afternoon and evening away. The brewery serves cheeses that are made by a farmer who uses the brewery’s spent grain to feed his cows and goats. And Patrick knows the best butcher in town, so the menu also features his articulate charcuterie.

Funenkade 7  1018 AL Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 622 8325
brouwerijhetij.nl

 

The Beer Temple

The owner of Dutch beer bar Arendsnest (another bar you should check out), opened this American craft beer bar in 2009. They have 30 draft lines and around a hundred American bottles on their list. But why in the hell would you want to drink American craft beer while you’re visiting Holland? For the impressive draft list, of course; those genius mother fuckers from Mikkeller and Evil Twin often have their stuff here. But don’t think it will be more affordable. The good shit costs the same in Holland as it does in the US, if not more. Fucking Euro.

Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250, 1012 RR Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 627 1427
beertemple.nl

 

- By Edmar Mash Tun Journal 3

 

 

+

Feb 22: Floyds & Friends Beertacular!


Floyd’s & Friends Beertacular

This music art and beer freak out will be benefiting the Mash Tun Journal!! Besides the great work on the walls, David Yow will be performing live with the band, White Powder! How is that for awesome?

February 22, 7pm-11pm
Co-Prosperity Sphere
(3219-21 South Morgan Street, Chicago Illinois, 60608)

Join us for a very special evening of art and performances programmed & curated by Three Floyd’s Brewery as part of their their week-long celebration of craft beer in Chicago-land. This Beertacular features an exhibition of work by many of 3Floyds friends  and is a visual and aural exploration of work that inspires the liquid dreams of the brewery. Attendees will receive copies of the Mash Tun Journal, yer friendly craft beer culture magazine, and a complementary pour of 3floyds latest juice.

The event features work by : David Yow, Tim Kerr, Win Wallace, Ian Shults, Jeff Swanson, 666 Photography, Abi Daniel, Bill Jeffrey, Lance Bradley, Don Rock, Billy Baca, Jason Morales, Jon Langford, Carl Jamie Berger and others.

Admission is $20. You must be 21yrs and older to attend. Proceeds of the event go to the Public Media Institute, a non profit grassroots arts organization based in Bridgeport, the Community of the Future.

PMI publishes the Mash Tun Journal and hosts the Mash Tun Festivals.

After purchasing admission via paypal your name will be placed on the RSVP list. Please show your ID at the door.
+

Mash Tun 5 Call For Submissions

mashtun4

Hey kids! Mash Tun Journal is seeking submissions —written and photographic — on the exploding craft beer scene worldwide.

Mash Tun covers anything and everything about the craft and art of alcohol with a specific focus on how the industry intersects with food, culture and society. Past issues have included travel essays from Brazil to Holland; interviews with some of the world’s leading brewers; essays on the history and chemistry of beer; and how-to pieces aimed at everyone from the beginner to the expert. Some of the leading writers on food and beer have contributed to Mash Tun — and now we’d like to hear from you.

Submissions should take the form of a one or two-paragraph pitch. Photography is accepted on review; a sample slide is expected. Submissions can be sent to any of the emails below with “Mash Tun query” in the subject header. Submissions will be reviewed within 48 hours.

Mash Tun is four-colour, 160 pg. perfect bound journal published three times a year. Mash Tun is a published by the non-profit Public Media Institute by Ed Marzewski (edmarlumpen@gmail.com) and is co-edited by Jamie Trecker (jamie.trecker@gmail.com) and Shanna van Volt (shannapants@gmail.com)

+

Get the First Four issues of Mash Tun Journal for $20

masntun4pack

Mash Tun Journal 4 Packs!

Think about yer Beer Geek buddy. (S)he needs the first 4 issues of Mash Tun Journal – our bad ass magazine about the culture of craft beer. You can now buy them online at our new shop. The four pack costs $20.

Purchase Link: http://underthecounterculture.bigcartel.com/product/mash-tun-4-pack

+

The Chicago Buyer’s Club: In Conversation with: Ria Nieri

Once every few months or so, If I’m lucky, I see a gathering of what I call The Beer Buyer’s Club at my bar in the south side of Chicago.  These ladies are some of the few women of influence in the Chicago Beer industry, and it’s great to see them all in one place. It’s usually a Friday afternoon and I walk up to these cholos and say the same thing. “What the hell are you guys doing here? Slumming? These ladies are all members of the Illuminati of the Chicago beer industry: They are Sellers and Buyers of Beer. They are tastemakers and industry insiders and often determine the allocation lists of the world’s most coveted beers. They decide what you get to drink at yer local watering hole by offering their beers for sale to retailers and if you play nice you get the good shit. Few of you will ever get to know these women, but all of  us in Chicago are affected by their decisions. One of the cats in this secret club is Ria Neri. She knows how to play nice, and she is an inspiration to us at Mash Tun Journal. I’ve known Ria for a while now and she inhabits the same neighborhood as me, Bridgeport, the Community of the Future. We don’t see each other enough, but that’s because she is super busy being the Beer Buyer for some of Chicago’s most celebrated restaurants and bars: Bangers & Lace, Trenchermen, Lone Wolf and Nightwood. I bugged Ria at one of those ad hoc meetings and asked her to just answer a few questions to inspire people working in the industry. She agreed. Ed: What was your first hospitality job? And how did that go? Ria: Nightwood Restaurant in Pilsen.  I was a barback.  It was my kind of gig.  Working behind the scenes allowed me a glimpse of the madness (the fun kind) that is the hospitality industry. EM: I remember you telling me that you and Kevin Heisner used to brew shit tons of beer. When did you first start getting into beer? When was that first brew day, what did you make? RN: S*#T tons! (I don’t swear).  I had expressed a desire for a new hobby, so my good friend Kevin got me a Beer brewing kit- not just one, but six kits.  On the first brew day, Kevin decided he wanted to make all six beers in one day.  I agreed.  We went for it.  We were clueless.  And the hot water went out.  It was a mess.  We ended up with two brews –  a Wit and a Stout — and a whole new respect for beer brewing. EM: How do you decide on a concept for a beverage program? Do you have a methodology for choosing beers and beverages for the places you manage? RN: The concept is always determined along with the restaurant/bar as a whole.  I find that it is almost always an organic process.  In the end, I always strive for balance. EM: I often hear about how horrible bar owners and buyers are to distributors and reps of beer companies, and it is startling. But sometimes distributors won’t allocate or give access to rare beers. How do you deal with a distributor that does not give you product you want to present to your patrons? Especially when another bar down the block gets it. RN: A mutual respect & understanding is required here.  It’s not personal.  It’s beer, and there’s s*#t tons of it!  S*#t tons! EM: What are some of the most important things you have learned working in the industry? RN: Cutthroat competition has no value.  The desire to be the Ace of Spades will get you lost in the shuffle.  Essentially, a deck is worthless when it’s missing a few cards.  I think collaboration and a sense of community are prerequisites to a thriving industry.  Also, I think the industry platform is a fantastic vehicle for sharing knowledge.  Be a source of inspiration, get inspired, and don’t forget to have fun. EM: I think that Chicagoland might be headed for large-format craft beer bottle fatigue. It’s hard to find shelf space for all the small guys. What are your thoughts about the explosion of breweries and brands coming to the Chicago market? How do you choose to support new kids on the block? RN: Viewing the explosion of the craft beer movement with a positive outlook is an attitude that needs to be practiced on a daily basis.  As a beer buyer, do I feel overwhelmed at times? Absolutely.  Do the products I am presented with always taste up to par- (subjectively)?  Most of the time, but not always.  Do I think these eager new players have longevity?  I hope so. The forecast of a looming collapse in the craft beer movement is an image I prefer not to fixate on.  I readily adopt this craft beer explosion with a sense of optimism, perhaps one might say with a bit of naiveté, but I do see an outcome that allows for more creativity, a push towards more innovation, in order to stay afloat. More importantly, it strengthens a craft brewer’s ingenuity and resourcefulness –  almost requiring an “outside the box thinking” –  and being artists that they are, I can only look forward with great anticipation to the craft that can only be accomplished by the best of them. Besides that, I think the movement allows for more exposure to a mass audience, who probably never considered that “craft beer” a common household term. In the near future, we could see barrel-aged sours pop up at family dinners. EM: What advice do you have for people interested in getting into the hospitality industry and how would you suggest they are able to attain a position of beverage director? RN: I think getting into any industry requires a vast curiosity.  Read often, taste often, listen, learn from your peers…

+

Mash Tun 2014 Homebrewer’s Ball

  Mash Tun Society and Mash Tun Journal present: 
The 2014 Homebrewer’s Ball Join us at Mash Tun Society’s First Annual Homebrewer’s Competition! For $30 ( $25 for Mash Tun Society members)  you get: – Tastes of all the Homebrew entries – A Mash Tun Tasting Glass – A Homebrewer’s Ball T-shirt Live  Silk-screened by Teetsy! (supplies limited) – Vittles by The Doner Men and The Salsa Truck -  A vote for best brews in the competition. The winner gets their beer brewed at Marz Community Brewing Company – A copy of the new Mash Tun Guide to Craft Beer in Illinois – Tastes of Marz Community Brewing Co. beers Featuring beers by: Armando Cobian and Christina Cobian, Chuck Patella, Cassie Webster and Brody Webster, Kyle Shaver and Kevin Shaver, Steven Schaab with help from Mark Paris, David Erwin Merz III and Cameron Mark Cieglo, Robby Zahm and Jacques Laramie, Walter Ornelas, Joel Timm and Taylor Southworth, Chris Chesser, Sean Fitzpatrick, Oscan Montenegro and Dany Reyes, and Josh Smith TICKET INFO Non Members must visit this link for tickets. Mash Tun Society Members use this link for the discounted price. The membership password has been emailed to you. Judging of the event is open to members of the Mash Tun Society only. Proceeds of the event go to the Public Media Institute, the non profit that publishes Mash Tun Journal and organizes The Mash Tun Society. The Mash Tun Society is a craft beer and artisan food club that presents programming throughout the year in the city of Chicago. The Society was established for people who enjoy the pleasures and aesthetics of craft beer and how it intersects with food, culture, & society. The Non profit organization publishes The Mash Tun Journal and produces many events and programs like the Mash Tun Festivals, The Homebrewers Ball, the annual Art of Beer exhibition and other exclusive drinking and eating events and gatherings. To become a member of the Mash Tun Society please visit: http://www.mashtunjournal.org/the-mash-tun-society/ New members will receive complementary entry to the 2014 Homebrewer’s Ball.

+

The 2014 Mash Tun Homebrewer’s Ball Call for Beer!

( Photo by Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting ) Mash Tun Society and Mash Tun Journal present: The 2014 Mash Tun Homebrewer’s Ball Call for Beer! The 2014 Mash Tun Homebrewer’s Ball is our first annual home brewers competition.  The 2014 winner will have their liquid brewed and distributed by Marz Community Brewing Co. The competition is open to home brewers in the Chicago land area and entry to competitors is FREE! Judging of the event is open to members of the Mash Tun Society ( see below). Proceeds of the event go to the Public Media Institute, the non profit that publishes Mash Tun Journal and organizes The Mash Tun Society. Here’s how it works: •    Any homebrewer, whether a member of a homebrewing club or not, is encouraged to enter his or her beer in the competition. For free. •    A maximum of 25 beers will compete. You must email us immediately to state you are going to compete. •    The Ball and competition both kick off at 2pm at the Co-Prosperity Sphere on August 9, 2014. •    Mash Tun Society members will sample competing beers and vote on their favorites. •    Four finalists will be selected based on Mash Tun Society voting results. •    A panel of judges lead by Master Cicerone and Mash Tun Journal Editor, David Kahle, will choose the winning beer through a blind tasting. •    The Winner will have their beer brewed by Marz Community Brewing Co. How do homebrewers Qualify? 1.    You need to decide if you are going to compete ASAP. And then email ed@mashtunjournal.org Email Ed your name, address and phone number. 2.    The competition is open to anyone, regardless of homebrew club affiliation. There are no “official club entries”. 3.    Register early! ONLY THE FIRST 25 ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED. However, there will be a waiting list. You must email ed@mashtunjournal.org and inform him that you will be competing. The first 25 persons to email will be put on the list of competitors. Persons who wish to compete after the first 25 sign up will be put on a waiting list. Ed will contact you to receive information about your submission. 4.    You must be a Mash Tun Society Member to enter the event or to taste and judge the day of the Homebrewer’s Ball. And hey, you can join at the door! Brewers do not have to be a Mash Tun Society member or pay to attend. 5.    Only one beer may be entered per person. 6.    One co-brewer is allowed. Please, no brewing teams of three or more. 7.    Beers may be submitted in Cornelius ball-lock kegs or pin-lock kegs ONLY—no bottles will be accepted. 8.    Brewers must will supply all tapping equipment. We supply the sampling glasses, buckets and ice. ( We do not have 25 tanks of gas or tapping systems, sorry). 9.    Beer submissions must be dropped off during business hours at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar  by Wednesday, August 6th, with NO exceptions. No late submissions will be accepted! You must label your submission with your name, phone number, email and name and style of beer. 10.    Beers not received by Wednesday, August 6th will be disqualified from the competition, and a new entry from the waiting list will selected in its place. 11.    It is not guaranteed that the winning beer will be the exact beer that will be made by Marz Community Brewing Co—e.g., if the winning entry is a sour beer, we will not be able to brew it. Regardless, the winning brewer will select the recipe and work directly with Marz brewers to make the beer. 12.    The locally released beer will be a collaboration between Marz and the winning homebrewer(s) only. 13.    We cannot accept recipes for bacterially soured beers, Brettanomyces beers, beers brewed with artificial flavorings or ingredients, or beers requiring extended aging (more than 60 days) for brewing on our system. 14.    Employees of Marz Community Brewing Co. and their family members are not eligible to compete. 15.    Winners of the annual Mash Tun Home Brewers Ball  are not eligible to compete for 2 competitions after their winning entry. E.g., if you win in 2014, the first competition you’d be eligible to enter again would be in 2017. Important Information on How to Submit Your Beer •    All beer must be submitted in Cornelius ball-lock kegs or pin-lock kegs NO bottled beer will be accepted. •    Kegs must be dropped off at Maria’s between Sunday, August 3rd and no later than Wednesday, August 6th, during regular store hours ( 11pm – 2am) •    Participating homebrewers must bring their own gas, and tapping equipment, we will supply the rest. •    Sorry, but WE CANNOT ACCEPT DAY-OF BEER SUBMISSIONS. Beers MUST be submitted on or before Wednesday, August 6th. •    Any changes to your entry (e.g. different beer or name) must be submitted no later than 4pm on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014. Any questions? Email Edmar  ed@mashtunjournal.org ///////// About the Mash Tun Society Mash Tun Society is a craft beer culture club that publishes Mash Tun Journal and produces dozens of beer, food and art related events, such as Mash Tun Festival, The New Wave Brewers Bash, The Mash Tun Invitational, The Art of Beer and many others. How to Join the Mash Tun Society. http://www.mashtunjournal.org/the-mash-tun-society/ Dues are $50 a year. For $50* you will get: •   A one year subscription to Mash Tun Journal •    A one-year renewal for current Mash Tun Society Members at a discounted rate (or a brand new one-year membership!) •    The chance to taste some of the most awesome homebrews in Illinois. •    Voting rights in the Homebrewers Ball competition—you decide which beers are best! •    The opportunity to enter contests and win prizes. •    Your very own Mash Tun tasting glass •    Exclusive invitations to Mash Tun Society and other craft beer and food events at a discounted rate! *You can pay your Mash Tun Society membership fee at…

+

Mash Tun’s Chicago Craft Beer Week

The Mash Tun Society is hosting a few events during Chicago Craft Beer Week. Join us for these special events with our friends and pals in the craft beer universe. Mash Tun Society presents Backstage at Penrose Brewery May 22, 2014 • 7-10 pm Admission is $40 RSVP HERE Limited space so order soon!! Penrose – map 509 Stevens St Geneva, IL 60134 Join us in Geneva for an evening with Illinois’ darling new brewery, Penrose. Our special event includes a private reception, a four beer flight and guided tasting, an exclusive tour with the owners as well as a Q and A session led by Mash Tun Journal. This event has very limited capacity. You will also receive a Mash Tun Tasting Glass Copy of Issue #5 – Our hot off the press issue Copy of Issue #4 – Which features an interview with Tom Korder and Eric Hobbs of Penrose. Mash Tun Society presents: The Olympic Mash Up May 24, 2014 • 7 – 10 pm The Olympic Tavern – map 2327 N Main St Rockford, IL 61103 Admission: $25 for Regular Admission RSVP HERE $20 for Mash Tun Society Members We will be charging at the door, but please bring your ID so that we can check you in. Join us at Olympic for an evening with the Publisher of Mash Tun Journal, Ed Marszewski and brewers from Marz Community Brewing Co from Chicago. Ed and pals from Marz will be bringing some special brews to share from the newest generation of brewers from Chicagoland. You can also meet your Mash Tun pals and get some Mash Tun schwag and copies of the journal. Attendees will also receive: A Mash Tun Tasting Glass Copy of Issue #5 – Our hot off the press issue Six tastes of an assortment of Chicagoland brewery beer ( Marz, Pipeworks, and others TBA ) Mash Tun Society presents: New Wave Karaoke Freak Out with Marz Community Brewing Co. May 21, 2014 • 7 – 10 pm Rock Island Public House – map 13328 Olde Western Ave Blue Island, IL 60406 Join the gang from Mash Tun Society as we host an 80′s YouTube karaoke freak out KJ-ed by Ed Marszewski and Eric Olson of Mash Tun, Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar and drink some tastiness from their soon to be opened Marz Community Brewing Co. Come ready to sing your favorite 80′s hit and can win some prizes! Participants will receive: Hosted tasting ( 2 pours) of Marz Community Brewing Co’s secret concoctions. A Mash Tun Tasting Glass Copy of Issue #5 – Our hot off the press issue Marz brew masters will be in the house Members contact info@publicmediainstitute dot com for invites if you haven’t yet received them. Order a membership at mashtunjournal.org

+

May 3, 2014 is Mash Tun Festival: The New Wave Brewers Bash

Mash Tun Festival: The New Wave Brewers Bash May 3, 2014  3-7pm Co-Prosperity Sphere 3219 S Morgan Street Join us as we celebrate the release of Mash Tun Journal # 5 and meet the new generation of breweries that have recently launched in Chicagoland. You get a copy of the new issue of the mag, a tasting glass, and pours of brews by New Wave breweries like: 18th Street, One Trick Pony, Horse Thief Hollow,  Dryhop, Off Color, Ale Syndicate, Slap Shot, Atlas, Lake Effect, BuckleDown, Une Année  and others. Complementary vittles and other surprises in store. Admission is $35  ( $25 for Mash Tun Society Members – What is that? ) •  You must RSVP and purchase tickets online via our Eventbrite site or in person at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar.  Major credit cards accepted. No Refunds. After purchasing admission your name will be on our RSVP list at the door. Please bring your ID and show your receipt from paypal.    

+

A Conversation with Tom Korder and Eric Hobbs of Penrose Brewing Company

Tom Korder and Eric Hobbs know craft beer. They know how to make it, know how to sell it, and certainly know how to talk about it. Mr. Korder and Mr. Hobbs have partnered to open Penrose Brewing Company this fall in Geneva, IL, hoping to create both great beer and a great beer community. Korder and Hobbs have over a decade of experience in the industry—most recently at Goose Island, where Korder was the brewery manager for 4 1/2 years and Hobbs was a market manager. When Hobbs started thinking of opening a brewery—the kind of brewery he wanted—he knew that it could only exist if Korder signed on to join him.“ I was a good home brewer at the time but that was about it. I was not a professional brewer and I did not want to enter this market—even knowing three years ago how crowded it was getting—without a partner that really knew how to make great beer all the time, build a brewery, manage a brewery. That was what I was looking for and Tom was the guy.” Interviews are condensed and edited for clarity, but not for content. Let’s start with the name, Penrose. HOBBS: Tom found the Penrose tiling pattern when we had shifted away from our original name after trademark concerns. He showed me the tile and got really excited, explaining how the math and the science create this balance between art and science—pretty fitting for a brewery. And you have an engineering background? TOM KORDER: Yes, mechanical engineering. So, how’d you go from engineering into brewing? TK: I went in a different direction than most people. Most people start home brewing and really get into it; I started professionally at the largest brewer in the world, Anheuser-Busch, and worked for them as a manager for about a year and a half. I learned all about beer and I got a very scientific look at how to make consistent beer, time after time. From there I went to one of their bigger breweries in Georgia, and I decided it was getting a little too big and factory for me. I wanted to go to a craft brewer and really make my mark, so I ended up going to Goose Island as the brewery manger running day to day operations. I helped grow and define their barrel program. Then it was really time to branch off on my own. I was looking at some other opportunities but Eric and I met up, and I started listing off things [I wanted in a brewery] and it just meshed there, so we ran with it. EH: We spent a lot of time figuring out how we wanted this thing to look and feel. We knew right away that we wanted to brew Belgian styles. We started thinking about what we wanted to do with recipes but it was always in the back of our minds that we had to get the whole business side of it figured out.We did months of business planning and delivered a plan to our investors – and these are the same guys we’ve got today. They’ve been with us now for almost three years. When I think art meeting science, I think creativity, innovation, complexity. Are these things that you want to inspire your beer? EH: Absolutely. The hardest thing about brewing is doing something very simple, very clean, making it well, and being consistent. It’s like laying a canvas. Then you can introduce complexity with things like alternative fermentation, wild ales and barrel aging, and that’s where you show that “I really understand the rules and here’s how I bend them.”   Do you have a plan for what you are going to start with? TK: Yeah we’ve got our four main beers dialed in that we’re working on: “Proto Gradus” and “P2,” a Belgian single and a Belgian pale ale will be our first two. Once those two kind of hit the market, we’ll roll out “Navette,” which is a Belgian Black Ale made with toasted buckwheat. It’s not really a stout, but it has a very dry, nice malt body, and a lot of Belgian yeast character. The fourth will be our French Saison, “Levant.” EH: We decided to go with the French version of the saison, rather than the Belgian: when we were doing our test batches we just found ourselves gravitating more towards the French style. TK: Yeah. I mean it was really clean and the Belgian Saison is very spicy at times. It’s kind of the typical saison aroma that most people think of but this one is just a little cleaner and not as spicy. You’re also going to have your own in-house lab? TK: Yes, we’ll be able to do all of our own micro, all of our own cell counts, and make sure what the consumer’s tasting is what we’re tasting. It’s one thing to taste your beer fresh every time but then when the consumer is tasting it, it might be six weeks later, so you need to be doing the same thing. So we’ll do comparative taste panels and all that stuff in house. EH: There’s too many great brewers out there these days to not have really great beer. That’s why when Tom said he’s going to put a lab in I was like “Yes. That’s awesome.” There’s inevitably going to be somebody that’s gonna be on untappd (the social beer drinking app and service) and say they feel something is wrong with our beer. Context is important: we need to know exactly what a customer is drinking and when they’re drinking it, and when it was made. That way, if there is something wrong we can check; or if they’re just not used to tasting beers — or they don’t like beers like that — we can quickly help them understand that we’ve got the same beer sitting in our lab right now, that we’ve tested it and…

+

Calendar

July 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Contact

Need help with your subscription? subscriptions@mashtunjournal.org

Do you have a question about your membership? marian@mashtunjournal.org

What to contribute to the magazine? ed@mashtunjournal.org

Need to change your shipping address?

Subscribe to our Newsletter