Liquid Dreams: Lagunitas TapRoom Party

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Our friends at Lagunitas Brewery want to help us with our Kickstarter campaign to build our new FM radio station! Hell, we might even build a studio there! So they are throwing us a party at their TapRoom on June 16.

Please check out our Kickstarter campaign page and select the “Liquid Dreams Reward” to claim your admission ticket! All the net proceeds of this event will go towards the campaign. There is one that is $30 (for one admission) and another that is $60 (for two admissions).

The Kickstarter Campaign that features tickets to the event is located here:
http://kck.st/1EEy3i1

Details of the party below:

Liquid Dreams Lagunitas TapRoom Party
June 16, 5:30pm- 8:30pm

Join us from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on June 16 at Lagunitas Company TapRoom (2607 W 17th Street) for a fundraiser in support of Chicago’s newest FM radio Station: WLPN, Lumpen Radio. For only $30 you get to enjoy culinary delights by Publican Quality Meats; three drink tickets, a live set by some of the best jokers in Chicago’s comedy scene ( The Comedy  Butchers featuring: Mitch Nathan, Abby Stassen, Ray Holleb & James Vickery); Audio action by DJ Major Taylor, the new issue of Mash Tun Journal featuring an in depth interview with Tony Magee, and a chance to win a slew of Raffle Prizes. All additional drinks cost $ ( including rare TapRoom only beers) and the net proceeds from the tap room go towards building a new studio for Lumpen Radio.

Lumpen Radio: http://www.lumpenradio.com

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Edmar’s Top 13 Tips For Opening A Brewery

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Ed Marszewski ( Edmar) is the Publisher and Editor of Mash Tun Journal. He is also the co-founder and owner of Marz Community Brewing Co. based out of Chicago.  (Photo credit: Edmar – Tony Magee & Eric Olson hanging at Marz.)

In the past few years I have incubated and launched  a brewery in Chicago with a group of friends and members of my family.  It has been an amazing journey. These are  a few tips I scribbled down for people interested in getting into the biz. These  insights were inspired by the horrors of opening a business in Illinois, but I think some of these tips will help you wherever you decide to make your liquid dreams come true.

1. Just brew it!
No matter what you do: make beer! Test your recipes, tweak them, tweak them again and then again. Join a co-op or home brew club. Meet other brewers. Ask them for advice, criticism and “pro” tips. Listen. Maybe your coconut ghost chill porter really isn’t that great. Add some lacto? Hmmmm.

2. Find some money.
Well obviously you need money, but how much money is dependent on the size of your brewhouse, tank farm, chillers, boiler (if needed), bottling or canning lines you will need to buy and/or build. If you start as a nano- or pico- brewery you can probably find enough cash to start your project. If you are a welder or super smart guy, you can build your own system and save a lot of money. If you have investors or happen to be a trustafarian, well, cool. But you still need to think about how much money you will have to spend and just get on with designing a system that can help you reach your goals.

3. Make that business plan.
If you can secure funding, you then need to make a business plan. If you don’t know how to do that, you better learn how to do it or find someone to help you.  Some questions to answer when making your plan: Are you going to start off contract brewing? Are you going to wait for your system to be installed before you brew? Do you need to make accurate forecasts to find investors? Do you know which retailers might buy your beer? Do you know how to price your beer? Are you self-distributing or do you want to sign up with a distributor? Do you know how many employees you will need to make your beer? If you can’t answer these questions right now then you better do some research. Just know your business plan is a living document that will always evolve and change. And don’t worry about this fact. Roll with it.

4. Look for buildings.
This sucks. Looking for fantasy facilities when you don’t even have any money or a solid business plan is pretty futile. But you must look. You must determine what size place you want to open and where it will be located and how much it will cost before you can begin even making a plan. It will drive you crazy. You will meet awful landlords and building owners and skeezy real estate people. They will try to squeeze as much money as they can out of you. You also have to convince the owner of the building to give you a conditional lease based on whether or not you get your licensing approval. Which means they have to wait 6-12 months for your sorry ass to get your shit together with your brewers notice and licenses from the state and still hold onto the property for you should you even get to that point.  Not many property owners will do that.  Also make sure you find a space that is zoned for manufacturing and make sure the local politicians or officials will allow you to open up a tasting room. Do not believe them when they say they can change the zoning for you. Make sure its zoned for that type of activity from the get go. You must serve beer on premise if you want to survive and grow your business.

5. Decide on a brewing system.
Visit every brewery around you and see what system they are brewing on. Get the specifications of their systems.  Ask questions about the durability of their gear.  If you’re lucky maybe you can volunteer at a local brewery and learn how they work on their system. If you have time and tuition waivers, learn how to brew at the Siebel Institute or a university that offers a degree in brewing. The formal education will help you make better decisions on choosing a system to brew on and make you a better brewer.

5. Can you make great beer (or at least good beer)?
If you can’t make beer that is as good or better than the ones being poured at your favorite watering hole then really sit back and think hard. Maybe you shouldn’t do it. Don’t open a brewery. We don’t need mediocre beer. You will be one of those guys ruining it for the entire category. But if you believe you have the gumption to make great beer then revisit Tip #1.

6. How much money can you bleed?
You will spend at least one year spending tons of money without a prospect of earning a single dime. The start up burn rate is scary but it is what it is. If you can’t stomach or afford to lose all that money then you might want to consider NOT opening a brewery. Breweries (like all small businesses) are riskier investments than dot com stocks in 1999.

7. The TTB is your friend.
Government bureaucracy = bad. And the forms that need to be filled out to get your Brewers Notice might as well have been written by Kafka’s boss. But do not be afraid. Call the TTB. Ask them questions. They are really nice. Or if you’re lucky, someone you know that started a brewery will show you how to fill out the forms. You could also pay them for their time. Brewers sure need the money.

8. Hire a graphic designer that doesn’t suck.
If you cannot hire or have in your employ an outstanding designer that can realize the aesthetic considerations of your company brand and the individual beer brands you hope to create, then you better find one or find the budget for one now. DO NOT hire your family members to do the design. DO NOT do it yourself. You are not that good at it. (Otherwise you would not start a brewery, right? You would be a graphic designer.) You will not be able to sell your beer if you cannot create a brand that looks as good or perhaps even better than the taste of your beer. This is just my personal opinion as many breweries make great beer but have shitty packaging and marketing materials and they still sell tons of beer.

9. Brewers are not therapists.
People in the industry are busy. They have a lot to do. Do not share how hard it is for you to start your brewery with them. In reality no one really cares about your problems. Don’t make them feel uncomfortable by sharing your sad songs and expecting them to hold your hand or give you a back massage.

10. Murphy’s Law is always in effect.
No matter how well you make plans, everything you think will happen will not. All of your plans will not fall into place. So fail fast. Accept it and learn from it. Equipment will break, your Standard Operating Procedures need constant tweaking, you will forget to order something, you will have to buy more equipment you didn’t even know you needed. Everything will break. Everything. And you need to fix it. That’s yer job.

11. Make sure you can do everything.
Speaking of your job.. If you want to truly understand your brewing business you need to be able to do everything it takes to operate a brewery like: create recipes, secure contracts with suppliers, brew beer, clean everything, package your beer, sell the beer, do accounting, do yer taxes, hire and train people, deliver beer, schmooze, and make everyone believe your beer is the best in the world. By understanding all of these roles you will be well equipped to tweak and forecast the costs of your goods and labor. You will be able to use these figures to determine how much liquid you need to brew and sell to get out of debt. Maybe some day you will make a few bucks and take a day off.

12. Never release mediocre, or even worse, bad beer, to the public.
If you do not know if your beer is bad then you are in deep shit. If you discover you have made flawed or bad beer then do not release it. Dump it. In this marketplace, you can only make a few mistakes before you will get a rep as a shitty brewery. And then it’s a slow death.

13. Don’t be a hater.
Just because you think you’re hot shit, doesn’t mean you are.  So please don’t shit on your fellow brewers and breweries because you think you make better beer than they do. The one thing that will kill this industry is the insecurity and fear of competition that craft brewers have for newcomers to their market and the new kids on the block. Remember, we are all competing against two companies, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, who now own more than 200 brands based in 42 countries (including 18+ in the U.S. alone). We have a long way to go before the entire craft brewery industry of over 3,500 breweries even makes a dent in their massive empire. Not all businesses and certainly not all breweries will survive. The failure rate is very high in the hospitality industry and the breweries that suck will eventually close. Don’t be dogging other breweries because you feel the heat. Just make your own beer and shut the fuck up. Let the people who drink beer decide what they like and leave your insecurities in the mash tun. The breweries that make garbage will close.

Ok, Good Luck.. You will receive even better advice  by seasoned cholos  in issue 6 of the Mash Tun Journal!

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Omnipollo Gets It Right: The Art of Beer with Karl Grandin

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Interview appears in issue #6 o the Mash Tun Journal

Karl Grandin is part of the dynamic duo that is Omnipollo, a Swedish-based beer brand that he and Henok Fentie created in 2011. The beers have been sporadically making it into the US marketplace, and they are both unique and delicious in their packaging and taste. Conceptually and aesthetically the bottle labels leap from the shelves and entice you to pick them up. A mixture of psychedelic abstractions and pop/religious culture icons, the artwork is unique, almost mind-blowing, really. Omnipollio bottles are collected by beer nerds and designers alike. We bugged Karl to see what is ticking in his mind, to give us the story of their liquid dreams, and to explain how important it is to present their beers the way they do.

Ed Marszewski: Please tell me how the idea of Omnipollo started. How did you and Henok meet?

Karl Grandin: We were introduced by a mutual friend in 2010. She is a curator at a gallery and knew about my art and Henok’s brews, and thought the two of us should create something together. The first time I met Henok, he had recently returned to Stockholm after spending a year in Belgium. He told me about this strange new beer that he was working on. We ended up spending a whole day talking about Max Ernst, René Magritte, Hieronymus Bosch, Cabaret Voltaire and Dadaism, and never really stopped.

E: Were there any other breweries that inspired you?

K: We were excited by what a lot of different breweries were up to at the time, new as well old ones. It seemed like things in the beer game were changing—many people trying out new ideas and new ways of working, not only in the US and Europe but all over the world. But it was also important to us from the very beginning not to look too much at what other breweries were doing. Instead, we wanted to find our own way of doing things and create something that we really enjoyed.

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E: What breweries do you make your beer at? And how difficult was it to get your beer distributed?

K: We have been brewing most of our beers at De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium, but we work closely with a number of other breweries as well. Like De Molen in The Netherlands, Buxton in the UK, and Pub Dog in the US. We have also brewed in Brazil, Spain, Denmark, and even a few beers here in Sweden.

E: Does the artwork inspire the recipe or does the recipe inspire the artwork?

K: Both ways. Usually our ideas feed off each other. Rather than trying to make artwork that would somehow describe or portray the style or taste of a beer, I look for what is going on around Omnipollo and try to capture something less obvious. There is always a synergy between the beer, the artwork, and the name. Sometimes it’s straightforward and obvious, and sometimes it is more cryptic.

E: How important is the presentation of your beer to the public?

K: We want Omnipollo to be about more than just the beer and the artwork. Presentation and stories are important parts of what we create. The shape of Omnipollo will keep developing and shifting. We have made handmade glass cups, garments, jewelry, and a book on homebrewing. Through all the people we meet, the collaborations we do, and the ideas we dream up, Omnipollo is becoming more than the sum of its parts.
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E: You said, “Omnipollo is an imaginary world that is developing with each bottle. Most of the Omnipollo images are about transforming and distorting the meaning of symbols and other popular references.” Can you give me the narrative of that world to date?

K: Most of the Omnipollo images are based on my dreams, and I try to bring that psychedelic and enigmatic sort of logic into the artwork. It’s an open-ended cosmos. Although the Omnipollo imagery is often allegorical, I encourage people to explore their own interpretations rather than explain my intentions.

E: Can you tell us a bit about Brygg öl? It looks like the most beautiful home brewing book I have ever seen. Where can we buy it?

K: Brygg öl, translated as “brew beer,” was published in spring 2013. About a year before, I was contacted by an editor at Natur & Kultur, a Swedish publishing company well known for their books on food, and she asked me if we was up for making a book about making beer. There are many books about brewing and most are explaining the complexity of the craft. We wanted to make a book about the joy of brewing and show people that this is something that anyone can pull off, that you can actually create something amazing in your own home. The way we did the book was more or less a documentation of Henok teaching me how to brew in his kitchen. You can get the book from most book shops here in Sweden or from the Omnipollo website. Brygg öl is in Swedish, but hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to make translations of it in the future.

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E: You said, “My ambition is to change the perception of beer… forever.” I think your contribution to exalting the art of the beer bottle has helped accomplish that goal. What advice would you give to other budding breweries when they consider their marketing and branding strategies?

K: Go your own way and have a good time!

E: Where should we drink when we are in Sweden?

K: At Omnipollo’s hatt, our bar opening in Stockholm in Spring, 2015. Welcome!

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The Lager Beer Riot Reenactment! April 25, 2015

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To mark the 160th anniversary of the Lager Beer Riot, Chicago’s first act of civil disturbance, and to celebrate the city’s growing beer culture, Pocket Guide to Hell and Marz Community Brewing Company are hosting an audience interactive dodgeball reenactment and beer tasting on Saturday, April 25, 2015 starting at 6 pm. The event is part of Version Festival 15 and is a fundraiser for Benton House, the historic nonprofit charitable center in Bridgeport. BUY TICKETS HERE!  Mash Tun Journal will be releasing a brand spanking new issue at the event!

The Lager Beer Riot occurred at the Clark Street Bridge in April 1855. The reenactment is going to be staged in the Benton House gymnasium as a game of dodgeball following National Amateur Dodgeball Association rules.

One team, consisting of representatives of Law & Order under the command of Mayor Levi Boone, is to be made up of 10 representatives of Chicago area breweries.

The revolting Irish and German bar owners are to be portrayed by 10 representatives of the Bridgeport community.

The Strange Brews podcasters (Alison Cuddy and Andrew Gill) are going to provide play-by-play coverage with color commentary from Randy Mosher (The Map Room, Five Rabbit) and Tim Samuelson (City of Chicago Cultural Historian).

Historical referees, halftime music by Brass Inferno Productions, and a working model of the Clark Street bridge round out the experience.

The Lager Beer Riot reenactment is going to consist, per NADA rules, of 10 three-minute matches, with an 11th if a tiebreaker is needed. There will be a halftime show after 5 matches are played.

A beer tasting of specially brewed beers run from 6-9 pm at Benton House in the remains of the former Ramova Grill.

Participating Breweries:

Marz Community Brewing Company

Revolution Brewing

Goose Island Brewing

Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Middle Brow Beer Co.

Urban Legend Brewing Company

Spiteful Brewing Company

Ten Ninety Brewing Company

Cademon Brewing Company

Ale Syndicate

Tickets:

$30 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, and a NEW issue of Mash Tun Journal.

$40 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, the special issue of Mash Tun Journal, and a limited edition event poster by Kathleen Judge. (Limit 20)
$50 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, the special issue of Mash Tun Journal, limited edition event poster, and the chance to play in one of the 10 dodgeball matches (Limit 10)

Proceeds benefit the programs offered by Benton House

 

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Drinking up The Chicago Flag

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We are loving the Drinking Up The Chicago Flag series that is in progress on the ChooseChicago website. Our new pal, Elizabeth Garibay, is writing about Chicago beer history using the five stars of the flag as starting points for her tales. Here are the links to the  Star 1, Star 2 and Star 3  stories   #4 and #5 will be published in forthcoming weeks.  Enjoy the reads!

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Feb 14: The Power of Sour

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Marz Community Brewing Co presents: The Power of Sour

Feb 14, 2015 4-8pm

Western Exhibitions • 845 W Washington Blvd. 2nd Floor Chicago, IL 60607

Marz Community Brewing is excited to bring you an anti-Valentines Day event on Sunday, February 14th at Western Exhibitions.

We have been dying to do an Art of Marz Brewing event with Paul Nudd, one of our favorite painters, trouble makers and friends along with his gallery, Western Exhibitions. Paul made the painting of the “Bubbly Creek” monster which adorns our Bubbly Creek Berliner Weiss bottles. For this event we are releasing a limited edition four color silk screened print made especially for this Power of Sour event. And Paul’s work will also be on view.

To enjoy Paul’s art Marz will be sampling out our expanding line of South Side Sours. Our sour ales are made with a strain of Lactobacillus plantarum discovered by Marz Brewer, Al Robertson, and isolated by Omega Yeast labs. It’s our secret weapon in converting beer drinkers to a style of sour ales that are tart, mildly acidic, delicious and made here in Chicago.

During the Power of Sour event we will provide complementary pours of our Bubbly Creek Berliner Weiss, The Duchess de Bridgeport sour brown ale and our brand spanking new Gose style beer called Ruby’s Tears. Sampling glasses will be provided by our sister project, Mash Tun Journal.

A suggested donation of $15 will get you one of the prints made by Paul. If you want to guarantee you will receive one of the edition of 100 or so prints you must purchase Admission online at EventBrite. The link is below :

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-power-of-sour-tickets-15611467319

See ya there.

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Mash Tun Five Pack

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Mash Tun Journal
is a perfect gift for your beer geek buddy. Get all 5 issues of the Journal for $35!
We sell em at UnderTheCounterCulture

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2014 FoBAB Winners

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The 2014 Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB) is bigger than ever this year – expanding to three sessions over two days (Nov. 14 and 15) with over 90 breweries serving up at least 300 beers that have been in contact with wood. The beers are judged by a panel of industry experts, awarding gold, silver and bronze medals to beers in 11 categories.  This year was a tipping point for the festival. It will soon become one of the world’s most important and must attend craft beer festivals. Go Chicago! Go BRoBAB!

2014 National Wood-Aged Beer Competition Results at FoBAB

Best of Show

Port Brewing Veritas 013
Runner up: Perennial Barrel Aged Abraxas

Classic Porter / Stout

Gold: Saugatuck Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout
Silver: 5 Rabbit Barrel Aged Yodo Con Leche
Bronze: Perrin Lil Griz

Strong Porter / Stout

Gold: Pipeworks Barrel Aged Jones Dog
Silver: Great Divide Barrel Aged Yeti
Bronze: 4 Hands Barrel Aged Bonafide with Cinnamin

Barleywine / Wheatwine

Gold: Revolution Straightjacket
Silver: 4 Hands Volume 2
Bronze: Firestone Walker Abacus 2013

Classic Styles

Gold: Ei8ght Ball Reintarnation
Silver: Glacier Beam Marzen
Bronze: Sun King Soul Shakedown Party

Strong / Double / Imperial Pale Beer

Gold: Revolution Filibuster
Silver: Southern Prohibition Barrel Aged Mississippi Fire Ant
Bronze: Rock Bottom Chicago Gin Blitz

Strong / Double / Imperial Dark Beer

Gold: Milwaukee Brewing Louie’s Resurrection
Silver: Sun King Sympathy for the Devil
Bronze: Glacier Buffalo Trace Eisbock

Fruit Beer

Gold: Off Color Yuzu Er’d Og Begravet
Silver: Lake Effect Cerise De Michigan
Bronze: Goose Island Clybourn Vainglorious

Experimental Beer

Gold: Perennial Barrel Aged Abraxas
Silver: Breakside Aquavit Barrel Aged IPA
Bronze: Temperance Boulevardier Barrel Aged Might Meets Right

Wild Beer / Brett

Gold: Off Color Papillon
Silver: Trinity Easy Swinger Wild IPA
Bronze: Oakshire Hermanne 1882

Wild Beer / Acidic

Gold: Port Brewing Veritas
Silver: Trinity 365 Day Sour
Bronze: AC Golden Dark Creek

Cider / Perry / Mead

Gold: Virtue Lapinette
Silver: Vermont Wyder’s Reposado Pear
Bronze: Vandermill Chapman’s Oats

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Meet Your Equipment: The Mash Tun

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Meet The Mash Tun – from Issue #5

By Dave Kahle

 

If you’ve ever been on a brewery tour, the guide rarely gives you much detail about the brewing equipment – and rightfully so, as most people just want to get to the tasting room at the end. Most of us look at all of this brewing equipment in wonder. It has a magical feeling about it. How do all of these intimidating, giant pieces of metal, with a labyrinth of pipes and hoses connected to them, produce this simple pleasure in a glass? While I don’t want to downplay the well thought out engineering of a modern brewhouse, there’s no reason to look at a brewery as if it’s a NASA testing facility. That being said, this article is the first in a series meant to introduce pieces of brewing equipment, remove some of the mystique, provide detail as to why it’s constructed the way it is and what it’s real purpose is. This won’t make the brewing process any less magical, it will hopefully reveal some of the thought process a brewer must consider in crafting a beer, and why they could be looked at more as artistic laborers than magicians.

 

The mash tun is the first vessel used in a commercial brewery. The goal of mashing is to solubilize malt constituents, primarily extracting fermentable sugars, and dextrins (non-fermentable sugars) from malt. This is done by steeping the malt/grains in hot water. The mash tun is typically a stainless steel vessel, although copper is occasionally used. Copper is a good heat conductor and is malleable, but stainless is much easier to clean and maintain. Following the malt mill, crushed grain is sent to the mash tun. This is generally done with an auger inside of a tube that pushes grain up to a premasher fixed above the mash tun. In this premash mixer the grains are blended with hot water before falling into the mash tun below. The flow rate of both water and grain can be controlled by standard water shut off valves or a knife gate for the incoming grain. Some small breweries use pre-milled grain and pour it by hand from bags into the tun while hot water is introduced directly. When malt and hot water are combined in the tun, it is called, mash. The amount of malt used is approximately 1.5 – 2.5 lbs per gallon. This equates to using ~1000 lbs of malt for a 15 barrel batch of beer. A barrel is 31 gallons and 15 barrels is a standard size for many small American craft breweries to brew at a time.

 

The combination mash/lauter tun is cylindrical and outfitted with perforated plates set a few inches above the bottom. The plates act like a colander allowing the malt grain bed to float above the sugar water extract (now called wort). There is a set of rakes inside the tun that are turned by a motor mounted above the mash tun. These rakes, mixing both horizontally and vertically, move slowly through the mash breaking up any clumping of the grain, insuring an even temperature is maintained throughout and no hot spots or scorching occurs. Enzymes, which we’ll touch on in a bit, are also distributed more evenly with the rakes.

 

The speed of the rakes is often controlled by a computer or control panel. If the rakes spin too fast they will spin all of the mash instead of simply mixing it evenly. Spinning the mash can cause oxygen to be introduced by creating a vortex. Oxygen is generally avoided as much as possible in the mash tun, since oxidative staling compounds can form that carry through to the finished beer, giving the beer stale off flavors. Small or traditional breweries will mix the mash by hand with a mash paddle, if they don’t have a rake system.

 

Most mash tuns are heated by steam through tubes in a jacket that surrounds the vessel. Small breweries can mash with no integrated heat source, as long as the walls of the mash tun are well insulated. This usually means a few inches of insulation jacketing the tun. On rare occasion a brewery will have a direct-fired mash tun. The direct heat can cause an uneven temperature throughout the mash and scorching can occur. Managing the temperature of the mash is the most important variable for a brewer at this stage of the brewing process. In brewing, there are numerous enzymes at work. An enzyme is a chain of amino acids that acts as a catalyst for biochemical reactions. The tricky part of dealing with enzymes is they are temperature sensitive and whether they work quickly or become inactive can be a matter of just a few degrees.

 

The key enzymes in the mash are proteases, which break down proteins, and amylases, which break down carbohydrates into smaller sugars. Brewers control the ratio of fermentable to non-fermentable sugars by setting the temperature of the mash. If the mash temp is in the 140-150F range, Beta Amylase is active, the activity rate increasing with the temperature. Beta Amylase breaks carbs into maltose, which is the most abundant sugar in wort, and is highly fermentable. If a brewer mashed at a temp favorable to Beta Amylase, the finished beer would have less body, a drier mouth-feel, and more alcohol. Alpha Amylase is active in the 148-159F range. Alpha Amylase breaks carbs into slightly longer chain sugars (dextrins) that are generally unfermentable by brewers yeast. However, these dextrins are now easier to break down further by Beta Amylase. If the brewer chooses a temperature that favors Alpha Amylase, the finished beer would have more body, more sweetness, and lower alcohol levels for the amount of grain used.

 

In a large brewery, the mash tun is not the point at which grains are separated from the wort. The mash is pumped to a second vessel called the Lauter Tun, in which the wort is separated from grains, the grains are rinsed to extract more of the sugars and pumped to either a holding tank, or into the brew kettle. In a small or mid sized brewery, the mashing and lautering are often done in the same vessel. With this setup, the grain bed becomes a filter of sorts, as wort is drawn off below the perforated plates and hot sparge (rinse) water is sprayed over the top of the grain, rinsing out more sugars along way. After lautering, sparging, and pumping all of the wort to the brew kettle, the spent grains are either shoveled out of the tun, or pushed out with a grain-out plow. The grain is removed through a door set at the height of the perforated plates. Spent grains are typically given or sold to farmers to feed cattle. This arrangement is ideal for brewers, as thousands of pounds of grain take up a large amount of dumpster space.

 

After the grains are removed, cleaning begins. Typically, a CIP (cleaning in place) protocol entails spraying hot water, with a percentage of caustic solution, through slots in ball shaped CIP heads. These spray balls spin ensuring the cleaning solution hits all parts of the interior of the mash tun. There is another series of spray heads set underneath the false bottom that sprays the cleaning solution upward through the perforations in the plates. This pushes out any grains or husk material that might’ve fallen below.

 

A mash tun serves a relatively simple function, steeping grains in hot water. The tun is outfitted for ease of use, speed, and a largely self-cleaning ability. However it handles a critical point in the brewing process. The brewer must control temperature, water chemistry, ph, oxygen uptake, and flow rates within the mash tun, or the finished beer could have wildly varying results. Consistency is extremely important in a commercial brewery, and it all starts with the Mash Tun.

 

 

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Homebrewer’s Ball Winners!

Mash Tun Fest - First Annual Homebrewer's Competition and Ball - August 9 2014 - Co-Prosperity Sphere - MashTunJournal.org

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon for a beer festival in our Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport, known as “The Community of the Future.”  Many Homebrewers and beer enthusiasts that did not go to the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin made their way down to our gallery, The Co-Prosperity Sphere, to participate in our first annual Homebrewer’s Ball.

Mash Tun Fest - First Annual Homebrewer's Competition and Ball - August 9 2014 - Co-Prosperity Sphere - MashTunJournal.org

This year we had twenty two entries that competed to win the prize of having their liquid entry made by our new brewery, Marz Community Brewing Company. Our Marz project started about the same time as Mash Tun: A Craft Beer Journal some two years ago. After a grueling wait, we are finally up and running and are making some exceptional and delicious brews. You can try them all the time at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar and other fine drinking establishments throughout Illinois, if yer interested. We also poured a few brews at the Ball to let these Homebrewers know we are not fucking around.

Mash Tun Fest - First Annual Homebrewer's Competition and Ball - August 9 2014 - Co-Prosperity Sphere - MashTunJournal.org

We were delighted that over 140 people showed up to vote for the final four beers that would be entered in the final round of judging by Master Cicerone, David Kahle, Marz Brewing brewer, Tim Lange, and Beer Superfreak and CHAOS Hombrewers club member, Eric Padilla.

Mash Tun Fest - First Annual Homebrewer's Competition and Ball - August 9 2014 - Co-Prosperity Sphere - MashTunJournal.org

Mash Tun Fest - First Annual Homebrewer's Competition and Ball - August 9 2014 - Co-Prosperity Sphere - MashTunJournal.org

While we were waiting for the final vote tally and judging we treated everyone to The Doner Men Food truck. If you are smart you will follow them on Twitter and figure out a way to try their German Stye doner wraps, and curry wurst. My god it’s good. And the food pairs perfectly with beer. Attendees were also able to procure an on the spot silk-screened t-shirt, tote bag and/or bar towell from our best buds at Teetsy!

Mash Tun Fest - First Annual Homebrewer's Competition and Ball - August 9 2014 - Co-Prosperity Sphere - MashTunJournal.org

The competition was pretty tight. There were about 10 brews within a few votes of each other. The People’s Choice was the Blood of the Bine Imperial IPA by Frank and Danielle Costanzo. And the final award winners of the Hombrewer’s Ball are as follows:

Mash Tun Fest - First Annual Homebrewer's Competition and Ball - August 9 2014 - Co-Prosperity Sphere - MashTunJournal.org

Honorable Mention: Morning Rush, a Coffee & Oatmeal Stout • ABV: 8.5%  by Oscar Montenegro + Dany Reyes
Third Place: Blood of the Bine, a Double IPA by Frank and Danielle Costanzo
Second Place: La Ley, a Wheat Beer with fruit and peppers • ABV:5.3%  by Walter Ornelas and Oscar Sanchez
and First Place went to Lazy Susan, an American-style Strong Pale Ale • ABV: 7.35% by Joe Sumrall  and Eric Franklin.

Mash Tun Fest - First Annual Homebrewer's Competition and Ball - August 9 2014 - Co-Prosperity Sphere - MashTunJournal.org

We are super thrilled to have been able to taste so many great brews from Chicagoland based homebrewers. We know some of these guys will be turning pro real soon. Thanks for joining us and see you at the Ball next year!

For  more awesome photos by David Ettinger please visit this link!

 

 

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Liquid Dreams: Lagunitas TapRoom Party

Our friends at Lagunitas Brewery want to help us with our Kickstarter campaign to build our new FM radio station! Hell, we might even build a studio there! So they are throwing us a party at their TapRoom on June 16. Please check out our Kickstarter campaign page and select the “Liquid Dreams Reward” to claim your admission ticket! All the net proceeds of this event will go towards the campaign. There is one that is $30 (for one admission) and another that is $60 (for two admissions). The Kickstarter Campaign that features tickets to the event is located here: http://kck.st/1EEy3i1 Details of the party below: Liquid Dreams Lagunitas TapRoom Party June 16, 5:30pm- 8:30pm Join us from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on June 16 at Lagunitas Company TapRoom (2607 W 17th Street) for a fundraiser in support of Chicago’s newest FM radio Station: WLPN, Lumpen Radio. For only $30 you get to enjoy culinary delights by Publican Quality Meats; three drink tickets, a live set by some of the best jokers in Chicago’s comedy scene ( The Comedy  Butchers featuring: Mitch Nathan, Abby Stassen, Ray Holleb & James Vickery); Audio action by DJ Major Taylor, the new issue of Mash Tun Journal featuring an in depth interview with Tony Magee, and a chance to win a slew of Raffle Prizes. All additional drinks cost $ ( including rare TapRoom only beers) and the net proceeds from the tap room go towards building a new studio for Lumpen Radio. Lumpen Radio: http://www.lumpenradio.com

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Edmar’s Top 13 Tips For Opening A Brewery

Ed Marszewski ( Edmar) is the Publisher and Editor of Mash Tun Journal. He is also the co-founder and owner of Marz Community Brewing Co. based out of Chicago.  (Photo credit: Edmar – Tony Magee & Eric Olson hanging at Marz.) In the past few years I have incubated and launched  a brewery in Chicago with a group of friends and members of my family.  It has been an amazing journey. These are  a few tips I scribbled down for people interested in getting into the biz. These  insights were inspired by the horrors of opening a business in Illinois, but I think some of these tips will help you wherever you decide to make your liquid dreams come true. 1. Just brew it! No matter what you do: make beer! Test your recipes, tweak them, tweak them again and then again. Join a co-op or home brew club. Meet other brewers. Ask them for advice, criticism and “pro” tips. Listen. Maybe your coconut ghost chill porter really isn’t that great. Add some lacto? Hmmmm. 2. Find some money. Well obviously you need money, but how much money is dependent on the size of your brewhouse, tank farm, chillers, boiler (if needed), bottling or canning lines you will need to buy and/or build. If you start as a nano- or pico- brewery you can probably find enough cash to start your project. If you are a welder or super smart guy, you can build your own system and save a lot of money. If you have investors or happen to be a trustafarian, well, cool. But you still need to think about how much money you will have to spend and just get on with designing a system that can help you reach your goals. 3. Make that business plan. If you can secure funding, you then need to make a business plan. If you don’t know how to do that, you better learn how to do it or find someone to help you.  Some questions to answer when making your plan: Are you going to start off contract brewing? Are you going to wait for your system to be installed before you brew? Do you need to make accurate forecasts to find investors? Do you know which retailers might buy your beer? Do you know how to price your beer? Are you self-distributing or do you want to sign up with a distributor? Do you know how many employees you will need to make your beer? If you can’t answer these questions right now then you better do some research. Just know your business plan is a living document that will always evolve and change. And don’t worry about this fact. Roll with it. 4. Look for buildings. This sucks. Looking for fantasy facilities when you don’t even have any money or a solid business plan is pretty futile. But you must look. You must determine what size place you want to open and where it will be located and how much it will cost before you can begin even making a plan. It will drive you crazy. You will meet awful landlords and building owners and skeezy real estate people. They will try to squeeze as much money as they can out of you. You also have to convince the owner of the building to give you a conditional lease based on whether or not you get your licensing approval. Which means they have to wait 6-12 months for your sorry ass to get your shit together with your brewers notice and licenses from the state and still hold onto the property for you should you even get to that point.  Not many property owners will do that.  Also make sure you find a space that is zoned for manufacturing and make sure the local politicians or officials will allow you to open up a tasting room. Do not believe them when they say they can change the zoning for you. Make sure its zoned for that type of activity from the get go. You must serve beer on premise if you want to survive and grow your business. 5. Decide on a brewing system. Visit every brewery around you and see what system they are brewing on. Get the specifications of their systems.  Ask questions about the durability of their gear.  If you’re lucky maybe you can volunteer at a local brewery and learn how they work on their system. If you have time and tuition waivers, learn how to brew at the Siebel Institute or a university that offers a degree in brewing. The formal education will help you make better decisions on choosing a system to brew on and make you a better brewer. 5. Can you make great beer (or at least good beer)? If you can’t make beer that is as good or better than the ones being poured at your favorite watering hole then really sit back and think hard. Maybe you shouldn’t do it. Don’t open a brewery. We don’t need mediocre beer. You will be one of those guys ruining it for the entire category. But if you believe you have the gumption to make great beer then revisit Tip #1. 6. How much money can you bleed? You will spend at least one year spending tons of money without a prospect of earning a single dime. The start up burn rate is scary but it is what it is. If you can’t stomach or afford to lose all that money then you might want to consider NOT opening a brewery. Breweries (like all small businesses) are riskier investments than dot com stocks in 1999. 7. The TTB is your friend. Government bureaucracy = bad. And the forms that need to be filled out to get your Brewers Notice might as well have been written by Kafka’s boss. But do not be afraid. Call the TTB. Ask them questions. They are really nice. Or if you’re lucky, someone you know…

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Omnipollo Gets It Right: The Art of Beer with Karl Grandin

Interview appears in issue #6 o the Mash Tun Journal Karl Grandin is part of the dynamic duo that is Omnipollo, a Swedish-based beer brand that he and Henok Fentie created in 2011. The beers have been sporadically making it into the US marketplace, and they are both unique and delicious in their packaging and taste. Conceptually and aesthetically the bottle labels leap from the shelves and entice you to pick them up. A mixture of psychedelic abstractions and pop/religious culture icons, the artwork is unique, almost mind-blowing, really. Omnipollio bottles are collected by beer nerds and designers alike. We bugged Karl to see what is ticking in his mind, to give us the story of their liquid dreams, and to explain how important it is to present their beers the way they do. Ed Marszewski: Please tell me how the idea of Omnipollo started. How did you and Henok meet? Karl Grandin: We were introduced by a mutual friend in 2010. She is a curator at a gallery and knew about my art and Henok’s brews, and thought the two of us should create something together. The first time I met Henok, he had recently returned to Stockholm after spending a year in Belgium. He told me about this strange new beer that he was working on. We ended up spending a whole day talking about Max Ernst, René Magritte, Hieronymus Bosch, Cabaret Voltaire and Dadaism, and never really stopped. E: Were there any other breweries that inspired you? K: We were excited by what a lot of different breweries were up to at the time, new as well old ones. It seemed like things in the beer game were changing—many people trying out new ideas and new ways of working, not only in the US and Europe but all over the world. But it was also important to us from the very beginning not to look too much at what other breweries were doing. Instead, we wanted to find our own way of doing things and create something that we really enjoyed. E: What breweries do you make your beer at? And how difficult was it to get your beer distributed? K: We have been brewing most of our beers at De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium, but we work closely with a number of other breweries as well. Like De Molen in The Netherlands, Buxton in the UK, and Pub Dog in the US. We have also brewed in Brazil, Spain, Denmark, and even a few beers here in Sweden. E: Does the artwork inspire the recipe or does the recipe inspire the artwork? K: Both ways. Usually our ideas feed off each other. Rather than trying to make artwork that would somehow describe or portray the style or taste of a beer, I look for what is going on around Omnipollo and try to capture something less obvious. There is always a synergy between the beer, the artwork, and the name. Sometimes it’s straightforward and obvious, and sometimes it is more cryptic. E: How important is the presentation of your beer to the public? K: We want Omnipollo to be about more than just the beer and the artwork. Presentation and stories are important parts of what we create. The shape of Omnipollo will keep developing and shifting. We have made handmade glass cups, garments, jewelry, and a book on homebrewing. Through all the people we meet, the collaborations we do, and the ideas we dream up, Omnipollo is becoming more than the sum of its parts. E: You said, “Omnipollo is an imaginary world that is developing with each bottle. Most of the Omnipollo images are about transforming and distorting the meaning of symbols and other popular references.” Can you give me the narrative of that world to date? K: Most of the Omnipollo images are based on my dreams, and I try to bring that psychedelic and enigmatic sort of logic into the artwork. It’s an open-ended cosmos. Although the Omnipollo imagery is often allegorical, I encourage people to explore their own interpretations rather than explain my intentions. E: Can you tell us a bit about Brygg öl? It looks like the most beautiful home brewing book I have ever seen. Where can we buy it? K: Brygg öl, translated as “brew beer,” was published in spring 2013. About a year before, I was contacted by an editor at Natur & Kultur, a Swedish publishing company well known for their books on food, and she asked me if we was up for making a book about making beer. There are many books about brewing and most are explaining the complexity of the craft. We wanted to make a book about the joy of brewing and show people that this is something that anyone can pull off, that you can actually create something amazing in your own home. The way we did the book was more or less a documentation of Henok teaching me how to brew in his kitchen. You can get the book from most book shops here in Sweden or from the Omnipollo website. Brygg öl is in Swedish, but hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to make translations of it in the future. E: You said, “My ambition is to change the perception of beer… forever.” I think your contribution to exalting the art of the beer bottle has helped accomplish that goal. What advice would you give to other budding breweries when they consider their marketing and branding strategies? K: Go your own way and have a good time! E: Where should we drink when we are in Sweden? K: At Omnipollo’s hatt, our bar opening in Stockholm in Spring, 2015. Welcome!

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The Lager Beer Riot Reenactment! April 25, 2015

To mark the 160th anniversary of the Lager Beer Riot, Chicago’s first act of civil disturbance, and to celebrate the city’s growing beer culture, Pocket Guide to Hell and Marz Community Brewing Company are hosting an audience interactive dodgeball reenactment and beer tasting on Saturday, April 25, 2015 starting at 6 pm. The event is part of Version Festival 15 and is a fundraiser for Benton House, the historic nonprofit charitable center in Bridgeport. BUY TICKETS HERE!  Mash Tun Journal will be releasing a brand spanking new issue at the event! The Lager Beer Riot occurred at the Clark Street Bridge in April 1855. The reenactment is going to be staged in the Benton House gymnasium as a game of dodgeball following National Amateur Dodgeball Association rules. One team, consisting of representatives of Law & Order under the command of Mayor Levi Boone, is to be made up of 10 representatives of Chicago area breweries. The revolting Irish and German bar owners are to be portrayed by 10 representatives of the Bridgeport community. The Strange Brews podcasters (Alison Cuddy and Andrew Gill) are going to provide play-by-play coverage with color commentary from Randy Mosher (The Map Room, Five Rabbit) and Tim Samuelson (City of Chicago Cultural Historian). Historical referees, halftime music by Brass Inferno Productions, and a working model of the Clark Street bridge round out the experience. The Lager Beer Riot reenactment is going to consist, per NADA rules, of 10 three-minute matches, with an 11th if a tiebreaker is needed. There will be a halftime show after 5 matches are played. A beer tasting of specially brewed beers run from 6-9 pm at Benton House in the remains of the former Ramova Grill. Participating Breweries: Marz Community Brewing Company Revolution Brewing Goose Island Brewing Haymarket Pub & Brewery Middle Brow Beer Co. Urban Legend Brewing Company Spiteful Brewing Company Ten Ninety Brewing Company Cademon Brewing Company Ale Syndicate Tickets: $30 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, and a NEW issue of Mash Tun Journal. $40 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, the special issue of Mash Tun Journal, and a limited edition event poster by Kathleen Judge. (Limit 20) $50 gets you admission to the Lager Beer Riot, 10 beer tickets, the special issue of Mash Tun Journal, limited edition event poster, and the chance to play in one of the 10 dodgeball matches (Limit 10) Proceeds benefit the programs offered by Benton House  

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Drinking up The Chicago Flag

We are loving the Drinking Up The Chicago Flag series that is in progress on the ChooseChicago website. Our new pal, Elizabeth Garibay, is writing about Chicago beer history using the five stars of the flag as starting points for her tales. Here are the links to the  Star 1, Star 2 and Star 3  stories   #4 and #5 will be published in forthcoming weeks.  Enjoy the reads!

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Feb 14: The Power of Sour

  Marz Community Brewing Co presents: The Power of Sour Feb 14, 2015 4-8pm Western Exhibitions • 845 W Washington Blvd. 2nd Floor Chicago, IL 60607 Marz Community Brewing is excited to bring you an anti-Valentines Day event on Sunday, February 14th at Western Exhibitions. We have been dying to do an Art of Marz Brewing event with Paul Nudd, one of our favorite painters, trouble makers and friends along with his gallery, Western Exhibitions. Paul made the painting of the “Bubbly Creek” monster which adorns our Bubbly Creek Berliner Weiss bottles. For this event we are releasing a limited edition four color silk screened print made especially for this Power of Sour event. And Paul’s work will also be on view. To enjoy Paul’s art Marz will be sampling out our expanding line of South Side Sours. Our sour ales are made with a strain of Lactobacillus plantarum discovered by Marz Brewer, Al Robertson, and isolated by Omega Yeast labs. It’s our secret weapon in converting beer drinkers to a style of sour ales that are tart, mildly acidic, delicious and made here in Chicago. During the Power of Sour event we will provide complementary pours of our Bubbly Creek Berliner Weiss, The Duchess de Bridgeport sour brown ale and our brand spanking new Gose style beer called Ruby’s Tears. Sampling glasses will be provided by our sister project, Mash Tun Journal. A suggested donation of $15 will get you one of the prints made by Paul. If you want to guarantee you will receive one of the edition of 100 or so prints you must purchase Admission online at EventBrite. The link is below : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-power-of-sour-tickets-15611467319 See ya there.

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