• Interview with Brian Carl – Brewer for Burley Oaks Brewery

    I met up with Bryan and his brew master, Brian Carl, from Burley Oak Brewery at the Oktoberfest in Berlin, MD for a couple of interviews. This is the interview with Brian Carl the brew master. This is the first part of the interview I did with owner Bryan Brushmiller, and this is the second part.

    Scott: Are you Brian?
    Brian: Yeah.
    Scott: Hey man, I’m Scott.
    Brian: Scott, ‘sup dude.
    Scott: So you’re the brewer for Burley Oaks Brewing?
    Brian: Yeah
    Scott: Cool.  So do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
    Brian: Who are you…whats the….
    Scott: Indybeers.com
    Brian: Oh nice.  That’s kinda scary actually.
    Scott: Whats that?  Whats scary?
    Brian: This.
    Scott: Oh, you being interviewed.
    Brian: Yeah (laughter)

    Scott: Yeah. So how long have you been brewing beer?
    Brian: 10 years
    Scott: Was it home brewed stuff for 10 years or were you actually working for other companies?
    Brian: No, I home brewed for a few years and then started doing some commercial stuff.
    Scott: And who did you work for prior to coming to Burley Oak?
    Brian: A couple of places.  San Diego, and then New York, Outerbanks and now I’m in  Maryland.
    Scott: What kind of beers do you typically find yourself brewing?  Is there a favorite or do you just…is there a swath of beers that you like to brew?
    Brian: I don’t know, I’d have to say my beers are kind of like a fingerprint.  They’re never the same.  I take a style and I tweak it to make it my style.
    Scott: And do you apply that to every beer that you brew?
    Brian: Yes.

    Scott: This is obviously the most recent beer that you’ve brewed. (holding up my glass)
    Brian: Yeah it’s Octoberfest.
    Scott: Whats the most consistent beer you’re brewing over there?  This is obviously a seasonal–
    Brian: I’ve brewed 12 batches since I’ve been there and no beers been the same and I’ve tried to find what people are looking for, what people are liking and tried to veer it towards that maybe in 1 or 2 batches, but I don’t see myself having 5 main beers on tap all the time.
    Scott: It could just change all the time.
    Brian:  Yeah.

    Scott: How did you and Bryan initially meet each other?
    Brian: He posted an ad on ProBrewer and I got up with him. And we took it from there.

    Scott: Are you guys in the same area?  Obviously you lived out here as well?
    Brian: No, I’ve been all over the country since high school, and now I’m in Maryland.
    Scott: Did you come to Maryland to expressly brew for him?
    Brian: Yup.
    Scott: What was it about him that brought you to Maryland to brew beer?
    Brian: Location.
    Scott: You wanted to come to Maryland.
    Brian: No. Location was, it was close to the ocean (laughter)..I could surf…
    Outside voice: I mean, he’s wearing a Quicksilver shirt man. He’s a surfer dude!  From San Diego!
    Brian: And Brian and I just kinda clicked.  He surfs, he’s super cool, and I’d worked for a bunch of dicks previous to this and…
    Scott: What do you think of the surfing scene here?
    Brian: East coast surfing is awesome when you can get it.
    Scott: So have you caught any of the hurricane action?
    Brian: Oh yeah.  But surfing on the east coast sucks.  You know, you get 2 days of good surf and then you wait for 3 months. (laughter)  So, its you know… it is what it is.  But I’m stoked, you know? Openin’ up a brewery makin’ some kick ass beers and everyone’s loving it.

    Scott: So what has been, so far, working for Burley Oaks, your most favorite moment in the whole process of being an employee and brewing the beers?  Whats been the “this is awesome!” moment?
    Brian: (Pause).  Its all kinda cool.  Its all very challenging.
    Scott: Right.
    Brian: There’s been no like, one instance where like wow, we’re kickin’ ass.  But…because there’s daily challenges that put you back on your heels and go “ok, what do I do now?  How do I improve this, What do i gotta do…”  You know, its intense.  So, every day, if I get a beer on tap, that’s a great improvement.  For the system  I’m working with, you know?
    Scott: Whats been the most positive experience in terms of feedback you’ve received from somebody drinking one of your beers so far?
    Brian: I wouldn’t say 1 person but I would say that I am running out of beer because people are drinking it.  I shut off growler sales because I can’t make that much beer.  We are running out of beer serving pints.
    Scott: Wow.
    Brian: Its stupid. So that’s not a bad thing.

    Scott: Have there been any negative experiences along the way?
    Brian: On the beer side, no.  No, there’s no negative its just good hard work and I’m loving it ’cause I get to just figure it out.  And its…dude working a brewery is intense anyway.  It’s just a lot of problem solving daily in this place.

    Scott: Just for the record I think Todd had just announced in the background that they’ve tapped the keg on the Burley Oak.
    Outside voice:  Its gone.  Awwww.
    Scott: Its all gone. You gotta go to the brewery. (laughter).
    Brian: And I gotta go to the brewery and fill kegs now (laughter).

    After a quick break from checking on the keg situation, we started talking again…

    Scott: Are you working with a distributor?
    Brian: Do not sign up with a distributor.   Do not, do not, no. Wait ’til next year.   Wait ’til next year.  We’re not established yet.  We’re not big enough yet.  And he’s all getting these great offers…
    Scott: So do you think signing up for the distributorship has aided in making it difficult to produce enough beer, because your selling that much beer?
    Brian: No, because we’re not selling it to the distributor but, to sign up for all these festivals, yes.  I’ve had to put the brakes on.  If we sign up with a distributor and they said, “ok, we got you in 8 festivals, and we’re gonna need this much beer”,  and i said “No, I cannot…no.”  Where do you wanna be?  Do you wanna be in house or do you wanna be–
    Scott: Well if you’re not selling your beer through a distributor, where is your beer being sold that you’re running out of it?
    Brian: In house.  Like, right at our own bar.
    Scott: At your own bar?
    Brian: Yeah (laughter). Thats insane.
    Scott: Cheers.
    Brian: Selling pints, you know?  Like I can’t keep beer on tap ’cause we’re selling stupid pints.  Not even growlers.
    Scott: Not even growlers.
    Brian: Pints.  No growlers.  We’re out of beer.  I’m having to rush my beers.
    Scott: So what are you going to have to do to increase production?  Is it a matter of equipment?  Is it a matter of man hours?  Is it a matter of both?
    Brian: Its mostly storage.  And equipment.  I don’t want to say equipment, but storage.  Which means serving tanks, and/or kegs.  I like serving tanks better myself ’cause you put a whole batch in there and serve right to the bar.

    Scott: How many square feet is the current location?
    Brian: 6000.
    Scott: 6000. And how much of that is used for brewing?
    Brian: (Thinks). 5000.  Or 4500.
    Scott: If you were to take a guess as to how many barrels of beer you could produce on an annual basis what do you think you could do with that in the current location.
    Brian: No se.
    Scott: No se?
    Brian: No se.
    Scott: No se.  What are you currently producing?
    Brian: (Goes back to question from before). Because my beers….I don’t like to rush my beers.  I’m doing an ale and I like to lager an ale so that it comes out how it should be.  I don’t like to push my ales for 7 days to get it out there.  I like to give my beers an extra week, an extra 2 weeks, so that they’re that much better.

    Scott: How would you describe your own Octoberfest, if you were gonna talk about the taste.  How would you describe the taste of your Octoberfest?  The aroma?  The mouth feel?
    Brian: Fall time.
    Scott: Fall time.
    Brian: Very earthy.  It starts smooth but it finishes very…after you take a sip it finishes very earthy, very true.
    Scott: We were actually discussing earlier saying that we felt it had an earthy tone to it.
    Brian: Yeah. Thats what I was going for.  So, I’m glad you guys picked that up.  (laughter).  Shit yeah.
    Chris: I’m glad I got what you were aming for.
    Scott: You did. He was the one that said earthy.
    Brian: Yeah. Its real light, it goes down smooth, then you’re like wow, let me get another taste of that.  Thats the bomb.
    Scott: Right.
    Brian: Thats what I’m trying to do for my beers you know?  You give them that extra little bit of time.  Give it that extra week or 2 in cold and it just comes out like, bam.  You can’t deny it.

    Scott: If there was one beer so far that you’ve brewed for Burley Oak that has made you most proud as a brewer, what beer would that be?  The one that when you tapped it you were like, “ooh thats money.”?
    Brian: Nope. None.
    Scott: None. You’re equally as proud of all the beers.
    Brian: Yeah.  Absolutely.  However they’re all equally still in the works.  (laughter). They’ll always be evolving you know?
    Scott: Sure.
    Brian: They’ll all still gonna be evolving.  You know, I can put out a beer and not be stoked about it but everyone else is.  But to me I just kinda, I’m gonna throw in my 2 cents here and tweak it a little bit.  So, its a fun ride, you know?
    Chris: There’s always room for improvement?
    Brian: Always.  You know, you don’t get a recipe and say “Thats it”.  You get a recipe and say how can I improve this?  How can I tweak it?  How can I make this different?  Maybe I’ll try hopping, maybe i’ll a little of this in, a little of that in.  A handful of…you know?  Thats what brewing is, at a pub level.  You go to Evo…they make great beer.  They do.  They make kick ass beer.  Cask conditioned.  Barrel aging.  They are putting out some insane beers.  But, I’d say 90% of that brewing is factory stuff.  You know, they have to produce to supply the man.  Which is tough.  And on my end, I can brew a batch today, and not like it and brew that batch to begin next week and tweak it.

    Scott: When you lived in San Diego what was your favorite craft beer to drink that you weren’t involved in the process to drink of the brewing?
    Brian: I’d say Stone’s Arrogant Bastard.
    Scott: (laughter). Thats a great beer.
    Brian: They do a Double Arrogant Bastard, they do a…..but Arrogant Bastard wasn’t…I hate it, i drank it to get drunk to begin with.  And then I started brewing and learned what went into beers and figured out…and I couldn’t figure out how they produced such a,  such a huge beer, so nicely.  And thats what I’m trying to do here, is make big beers.  Just like, big heavy beers so good, you know?  My next 3 beers are over 8% and they’re gonna be the bomb. (laughter).  So sick.  I don’t know if everyone else is gonna like it but I’m gonna be stoked on them.

  • Interview with Bryan Brushmiller – Owner of Burley Oak Brewery – Part 2 of 2

    I met up with Bryan and his brew master, Brian Carl, from Burley Oak Brewery at the Oktoberfest in Berlin, MD for a couple of interviews. This is the second half of the interview done at the brewery later in the day.  The first part of the interview I did while we were standing in the beer garden earlier in the day.  This is the interview with Brian the brew master.

    Scott: Where did you get the inspiration for the design of the tree?
    Bryan: I just drew it one night
    Scott: You drew it yourself?
    Bryan: Yeah, we just drew it up. My buddy’s got a killer Mac. We were on his Mac messing around, and like, found some stuff, and then like, kind of sketched it. And then our boy is like a super good artist. He was just made the gnarlyness of it he made it twist around he just added some stuff to it.
    Scott: So on your website it says that the Burley brewery name was derived from what you feel is a historically accurate representation of the town Berlin, Maryland.
    Bryan: Yeah that’s what Wikipedia said.
    Scott: So were you looking for a name for the brewery and decided to query Wikipedia on what Berlin was or did you have that in your head ahead of time?
    Bryan: No I was just had it like, Burley, Burley Oak. That’s a wicked name you know what I mean? I was like, alright. ‘Cause we wanted to do Burley, kinda keep it local cause we didn’t want to be like Ocean City you know? Burley is kinda abstract so its not really…then the whole oak part comes from the building…the building is like this 120 year old building. So.
    Scott: This building is 120 years old?
    Bryan: Yeah. It actually used to be a cooperage at the turn of the century so they made barrels, wooden barrels, and then they make them in the back and then they pack them with oysters or seafood and then take them down to the railroad tracks you guys walked down and sent them to Baltimore. So its was cool it was like a package house. You know we’re all into like, oak aged beers, and diggin’ like, sours, and chardonnay barrels or whatever. So it’s kinda cool.

    Scott: I’m seeing a good brewery set up behind you. You’ve got a stainless steel tank, I see a copper tank back there. When you’re talking about the oak barrels…and more importantly, on your site you talk about taking old age technologies and blending them together with new technologies to make beers. So between the 2 of old technologies and new technologies where do you find yourself making the beers more?
    Bryan: Right now it’s all straight up off the system you know what I mean? Like off the system Franken-system we put together. You know I mean, I definitely like, we’re working on like designs for like a cool ship and just stuff like that but fucking we can’t make beer enough to supply our festivals for 6 hours. So you know, like, our main goal is to just try and make beer.

    Scott: OK so I am going to put you on the spot on this one because you do say it on your website. You do say something to the effect of “I’m blending the old with the new”. So give me the old and give me the new.
    Bryan: So the new would be all this technology and you know, using heat exchangers and glycol systems, but I guess the old would be like we don’t filter any of our beers, we don’t use any finings no filk no isinglass, no irish malt, no preservatives so its…I mean the thing you’ve got has 4 ingredients: hops, water, barley and yeast that’s it.
    Scott: So you’re standing to the German beer laws?
    Bryan: Yeah, we try to, you know what i mean? We think that’s where the beer is going to be the best instead of adding a bunch of shit to it, you know? Like, I know ales are supposed to be fermented for 2 weeks but, you know what? If they’re in the cold tank for an extra week think it friggin’ tastes a lot better you know what I mean? We don’t filter so it just grows up, you know what I mean? We don’t taking the yeast out of it….
    Scott: So as a processor your saying your starting with the German beer laws, but does that exclude any beers that you would include in your suite of products available because they wouldn’t be that type of beer?

    Bryan: Yeah like rye…the local rye would be, you know what I mean?

    Scott: What’s the beer that you haven’t made that you’re most excited to try making?
    Bryan: Saissons.
    Scott: And why haven’t you made that beer yet?
    Bryan: I think because of the yeast. You know yeast is super expensive and its even more expensive because we can’t harvest it, so we only have like, one tank that we can really harvest yeast from, everything else is done in bottoms. So it like you go into this whole romantic idea that yeah, but then there’s some actual logistic problems…I can’t spend $200 on saissons yeast and not harvest it 9 times, right? We harvest our Kolsch yeast so we don’t have a lot tanks we can harvest yeast from. We’ve always said like bean counters don’t make brewers? It doesn’t make sense that we use like crazy grain, like 9 different grains in our Rude Boy. We use a lot of grain We spend a lot of money on beers ’cause we want it to be good beer. Its all about the beer, you know?

    Scott: Considering the fact that there is not an empty stool at this bar currently, would you consider the town of Berlin to have a positive response for your beer?
    Bryan: For sure, yeah man, they’re awesome.
    Scott: How long did it take after opening this establishment to find that positive response?
    Bryan: We ran out of beer in about 2 weeks [Laughter]. Literally we had 1 keg left until we were kegging off our Belgian and that was going to be like, a special beer. We made it, we let it sit and we were like, fuck, we gotta keg this shit off, dude. So it was a Friday night at 8 o’clock we had 1 keg left out of 3, me made 3 batches, and 1 keg in the walk-in, a half keg up front here and we finally kegged off the Belgian and it was BOOM alright we got 2 beers on for tonight, you know?

    Scott: What’s the turn around time for you to produce a beer? If you say right now, today, I need a beer, how quickly is that beer on tap?
    Bryan: Probably like 16 days.
    Scott: 16 days.
    Bryan: Yeah, definitely, but I mean, then we’re like, ahhh we can keep it in the cold for 1 more week and then it will just be dank as fuck, you know what I mean? So we’re like, that’s what gets us in trouble, you know? That’s why we’re always like, its all about the beer.

    Scott: What’s beer have you found so far out of the beers that you’ve produced has responded most favorably to being left alone longer?
    Bryan: The bigger beers. Like our Rudeboy it’s 9 different malts, this big red ale. It just loves the cold, getting funky, you know what I mean?

    Scott: What’s the beer that you feel has most quintessentially defined your brewing company so far out of those that you’ve presented to the public?
    Bryan: Either Rude boy with that big malt bill 9 different grains and just all those notes and complexity. Or, I’d like to say Pale Rider because we got local grains, you know what I mean? Like that’s fucking awesome. Like we’re using a farmer whose growing grains and we put in our beer and then we take all that grain and we give it to a cattle farmer and he feeds his cows with it and he brings us back beef, you know what I mean and we eat it for lunch. So, that’s what’s cool.
    Scott: Along those lines, outside of the water that you put into your beer, what percentage of the product that you’re putting into the beer is local?
    Bryan: It’s still a small percentage. I mean like, next year you tell me, I’d have to say like, a large percentage. I mean like, we’re working with farmers right now. I have some brilliant farmer his name is Brooks Claybell with Penn State, he’s like an older farmer, he teaches other farmers how to farm. He’s fucking money. He’s actually growing a seed, a 2 row barley seed, for other farmers to take that seed and use as a cover crop. So, instead of using like, winter wheat and tilling it under, not getting any money at all, dude, if we can make a 2 row barley, its called Charles, and we can have these farmers use that as their cover crop for the winter, they’re making like $1400 an acre…you know this is what we’re guessing….this is a guestimate.

    Scott: Where do you want to go as a brewery? I mean obviously you’ve already got a nice suite of products but is there a particular part of the market that you’re trying to be accompanied with or is there something that you’re saying I want to be a bigger producer and whatever beer comes to mind, whatever beer we brew….
    Bryan: I dunno. I want to be a community brewery you know what I mean, where we can…so we can use the farmers and grow grain for us and give it back to the other farmers that grow cattle and just like the whole local system, you know what I mean.
    Scott: Like a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture.
    Bryan: Yeah. How cool is that. Yeah. So we’re helping out the community. You know what I mean. That’s what its about, you know. That’s responsible business. But as for beers. I love Belgians you know. We made a wicked one, we just kicked it last night. I just like drinkable good beers. We have 3 beers coming out that are like 8-9%. I dunno, like its cliche to say like pushing the limits of beer but I dunno. (pointing at the beer I have in my hand) What style would that be? Think about it.
    Scott: I’ve got the Pale Ryeder. I personally don’t think that’s a pale. Its not even close to a pale. But that’s not to say its not a good beer, its a very good beer.
    Chris: A Pale what? A pale ale or a pale rye?
    Scott: No this is…you can take a look at the color. Oh okay, so Chris…go ahead Chris.
    Chris: Its a Pale Rye. Its a different type of beer, man.
    Bryan: That’s what I mean, to define us as…
    Chris: And that’s where the “independent” comes in.
    Bryan: …To be like, fuck styles, you know what I mean, that’s what we want to make.
    Chris: Totally twisting it up a little bit.

    Scott: So what is your favorite beer to drink that is not something you brew?
    Bryan: Hmmmm, {long pause] Rodenbach or Leffe from New Belgium.
    Scott: And what types of beers are those?
    Bryan: They’re both sours.
    Scott: Sours
    Bryan: Yeah, Rodenbach, I can fuckin’ drink Rodenbach every night.

    Scott: Do you find those in town?
    Bryan: No. Like, Max’s on Broadway.
    Scott: Where in town do you find a beer store that sells good craft beers?
    Bryan: Cheers. Cheers is fucking money.
    Scott: They looked like they were good. Now lets talk closer to Ocean City. Where in Ocean City do you find good craft beers sold by the 6 pack?
    Bryan: Dude its crazy. If you asked me that a year ago I’d be like, I don’t know. Now its like the Green Room, The Citgo right next to Crabs to Go.
    Scott: Oh out there 589.
    Bryan: Yeah, yeah right on 589 and 15.
    Scott: Well Bob.
    Bryan: Yeah Bob! [laughter] He’s got the dank shit, dude! Oh man.
    Scott: But specifically within the town limits of Ocean City? Where would you find a good place? I was told–
    Outside voice: Anthony’s is money.
    Scott: Anthony’s, I’m not going to argue Anthony’s is money. So the funny thing about this question I keep trying to ask, is that every time I ask it I find that I’m having to refine it. So here we go, in Ocean City, during the off-season, where can I find a place to buy good craft beers?
    Bryan: 65th street liquor and kegs right next to the Galaxy.
    Scott: Right next to Galaxy? But do they have good craft? They have a large selection.
    Bryan: Yeah they got like a lot of 750s now.
    Scott: Okay.
    Bryan: Lets see, where else. See that’s all I really would know. Like, if I was in town I would be like, alright, like right now I would go there.
    Scott: We really had a difficult time finding good craft beers and it kinda put us back a little bit.
    Bryan: But you know they weren’t cold.
    Scott: It doesn’t matter to me.
    Bryan: But they have a shelf of 750s.
    Scott: You know what, I assure you I’m looking and I’m not seeing so, yeah finding a good craft beer…there was a place out here on…you know where Steer Inn…
    Bryan: Hops of Barley?
    Scott: Yeah Steer Inn, across the street from them.
    Bryan: Was that good? I’ve never been there.
    Scott: They had a very good collection. Now I will describe their collection as this: it was a great craft beer selection. However, its very clear that they’re using the same distributor as some of the other craft beer distributors that find themselves promoting business in Maryland because you see your Evolution, you see your Flying Dog, you see your Sierra Nevadas out there, you see your Magic Hat. Honestly it was the ones that were at the Good Beer Festival last week. So its difficult to say what you’re seeing but you’re absolutely seeing the independent breweries brewing the independent beer.
    Bryan: Yeah. For sure.
    Scott: I’m sorry that was totally a plug. [Laughter]

    Bryan: I would say Cheers has a lot of them, too. Definitely. (pointing at the other people around me) So what kind of style would you say that was?
    Bryan: Ask these guys, they’re all drinking. Here’s the thing…I wanna know. I mean that’s my question I ask everybody.
    Peter W: Sure. I’m really enjoying this.
    Scott: What are you guys drinking over here? Peter?
    Peter E: Uh, the September Fest.
    Scott: Joe?
    Joe: September.
    Scott: September? and Chris? September.
    Chris: September
    Scott: And what is your initial impression of the September?
    Joe: It doesn’t suck.
    Peter: Rich.
    Scott: I would almost say nutty.
    Bryan: Yeah Pale Rider and that nuttiness.
    Scott: Yeah, I’m getting nutty in the Pale rider. And its not like a nutty like a peanutty its more like a pine-nutty.
    Bryan: Yeah yeah yeah definitely. Definitely. That’s that rye. Rye does crazy stuff man we’re like whoa, what’s this going to do? next time. Now we’re going to add, like, double. We’re going to add 100 next time.
    Scott: Yeah this is absolutely pine-nutty. That’s what I’ve come up with. [Laughter}

  • Interview with Bryan Brushmiller – Owner of Burley Oak Brewery – Part 1 of 2

    I met up with Bryan and his brew master, Brian Carl, from Burley Oak Brewery at the Oktoberfest in Berlin, MD for a couple of interviews.  This is the interview I did while we were standing in the beer garden.  The second half of this interview was done at the brewery later in the day.  This is the interview with Brian the brew master.

    Scott: So 10 kegs and you just tapped it today.
    Bryan: Yeah.
    Scott: That’s good stuff.  What other beers do you have on tap right now?
    Bryan: Here or at the brewery?
    Scott: Well do you have anything else on tap here?
    Bryan: Uh uh.
    Scott: No. So at the brewery?
    Bryan: Yeah we have like 4 or 5 beers at the brewery.
    Scott: 4 or 5 beers at the brewery?
    Bryan: Yeah, we kicked the keg last night. So we have….we kicked the Belgian last night. So we have a Lani-kai which is a single hopped galaxy beer. So we used galaxy hops all the way throughout the whole brew. And then we did a Pale Ryeder, which is our IPA that we do with rye from a local farmer. And September Fest, which is like a big red….imperial red ale.  And then we have Octoberfest.
    Scott: The Octoberfest.
    Bryan: Yeah.

    Scott: What other beers do you like personally to drink the most?
    Bryan: Whatever is in my hand at the time.
    Scott: Whatever is in my hand. (laughter).
    Bryan: Yeah.
    Scott: Good answer. Good answer.
    Bryan: I stole that from Sam. (laughter)

    Scott: So what was it that you….you just recently opened the brewery, correct?
    Bryan: Yeah like, 6 weeks….7 weeks ago.
    Scott: 7 weeks ago?

    Bryan: Yeah
    Scott: What was it that inspired you to open a brewery?

    Bryan: I got fired from my job construction (laughter). And then I was always home brewing, building…geeky with like, building equipment and stuff so I built a little brew house in my garage, you know, like everybody does, right?  Hook some kegs up, and i made it a little bigger and built a bigger one, and then just started like, trying to find used equipment. And built like what I got now going on. So.

    Scott: How long were you brewing beer prior to opening the brewery?
    Bryan: Kinda like, 3 years.
    Scott: 3 years.

    Bryan: Yeah.
    Scott: What kind of types of beers did you experiment with prior to opening the brewery?

    Bryan: Just like Belgians and Saissons.  Just stuff that people weren’t doing, you know what I mean?  Like if I can go somewhere and drink a beer I just go and drink a beer. But like, if I wanted like a Saisson that was like….I dunno or something crazy I would….that’s what I would try to make so.  That’s really what inspired me is just me trying to make beers, like push the limits.  And thats what we do at the brewery, you know?  Like, I dunno you guys should come check out the beers ’cause they’re real styles.
    Scott: Yeah we were hoping to come by the brewery at some point.
    Bryan:  We’re open until 2am Thursday Friday and Saturday.  There’s a full bar.

    Scott: Are you guys going to be doing anything after Octoberfest tonight?
    Bryan: Yeah, we’ll have a whole fucking party there, go down until like 2am. It’ll be nuts. (laughter). I’m serious. (laughter).

    Scott: So you brew all the beers on those premises.
    Bryan: Yes, and Brian..you’ll meet him later hes just walked by.
    Scott: I’m sorry, who?
    Bryan: Brian, the other Brian is the brew master.  Yeah.
    Scott: So you are B-R-Y-A-N
    Bryan: Right, he’s B-R-I. Yeah, I’m the brewing assistant.
    Scott: So is it the 2 of you in business together?  Who’s the owner of the company?

    Bryan:  I’m the owner, yeah.
    Scott: You’re the owner.
    Bryan:  I just hired him.  He’s a Siebel alum.  I went through the Siebel connections and hooked it up.  He’s, he’s the man.

    Scott: Are you local here in Berlin yourself?
    Bryan: Yeah. I’m just right down the road in Salisbury.
    Scott: So, obviously then, Berlin, you wanted to find a location close to where you already lived to open the brewery.

    Bryan: Yeah yeah. Well, i wanted to find a town that would embrace it.  And Berlin came to me and was like, “dude what can we do for you?” And every other town was like–
    Scott: The Chamber of Commerce?
    Bryan: Just like the economic development director and the mayor…like, I’m good friends with the mayor… (pointing) he’s over there.  They were like “what can we do for you to come here?” Where every other town was like “this is what you need to do.”  Like, fuck, I’m going to Berlin, you know?   I don’t need any more hard fight you know than dealing with all this other stuff, like dealing….you know dealing with everything else to have a town be like, “You know, whatever you need, you know, we’ll make it happen.  You need a grant, to fix up  the front of that old building you bought?”
    Scott: The funny thing is, for myself, I’ve been coming down to the ocean obviously my whole life, but recently, more actively over the past 10 years and this is my first time to main street Berlin.

    Bryan: Sure.  That’s awesome.
    Scott: Obviously it was your beer that brought me here.

    Bryan: Oh, awesome.
    Scott: So hopefully you can be that kind of draw to the township.

    Bryan: Definitely, definitely, that’s what we want to do.  We want to give back to the town.  That’s why we do like events, a lot of charities and stuff

    Scott: Who’s promoting this event?  Is this you?
    Bryan: Yeah, me and the chamber of commerce.  You know, Michael Day, the economic development coordinator, the mayor, Mayor G Williams, you know, we just all hang out and its like, alright what can we do?
    Scott: How long did it take to plan this event?  Or rather I should say how long has this event been in the planning?

    Bryan: A couple of months.
    Scott: A couple months?  Was it originally put forth by you or was it–

    Bryan: No!  By these other 2 home brew guys.  And then the town kinda just ran with it.
    Scott: Do you know their names?

    Bryan: No I don’t but I knew that they were like the guys that wanted to get this all started.  So….that….you know you kinda gotta give credit to those guys too.  Then they kinda couldn’t do it ’cause of the laws, (interruption with “Cheers”) so the chamber of commerce was like, “alright, well we’re gonna do it coz its a good idea”.  And at first I was like, man you gotta have, you know, next year hopefully it”ll be like, every brewery in Maryland.  You know I kept pushing like, don’t just have me have every brewery and their Octoberfest or their pumpkin beer or whatever.  It’ll be crazy, you know what i mean?  But they were like oh, we just want to showcase you for now.  So I’m like, alright, that’s fine.  But I’m going to run out of beer, which, I’m getting ready to do.  We’re putting the last kegs on right now and its only 3 o’clock and it goes until 6, so.

    Scott: (laughter) Wow, that’s the last keg?
    Bryan: I think so.

  • Walmart and Craft Beers a New Marriage

    So it seems Walmart is going to give more beer space to craft beers.  This can only be good for craft beer lovers giving you more choices in more places.

    In another sign that the fast-growing segment is going mainstream, the nation’s largest company and biggest beer seller is planning to add shelf space to accommodate more craft brews, former Walmart CEO Lee Scott told distributors this week at their annual convention in Las Vegas. Mr. Scott, who retired as CEO in 2009 but still serves on the board, said he recently talked to a top Walmart official who is “clearly is in line with the fact we’ve got to make more space, we have to have more representation on assortment.”

    I’m very happy to see this news.  While I don’t often find myself in a Walmart, I know millions of Americans do.  Giving these individuals more choice in the products they see may help bring new craft beer lovers to the table.  Mr. Scott goes on to say:

    Walmart, Mr. Scott added, “built the company on two things: One was price, but the other was assortment, and you can’t take an area like beer where people are moving to craft and ‘under-assort’ yourself because the person who is buying craft beer and wants that assortment will drive to Kroger and pay the 15% more.”

    I’m glad to see that even a super store like Walmart can find value in showcasing the small business products!!

    Source: adage.com

  • Craft Beer Growing – Big Beer Slowing

    Poor ol’ big beer.  This economy is being blamed for the downward turn in sales over the last three years:

    The last three years have been brutal. In the 52 weeks ending in late August, the number of beer cases sold in stores was down 1.5% from the year earlier, according to Nielsen, while spirit volume sales were up 3.2% in the year ending in mid-September. By year’s end, experts are forecasting beer volume to be down some 2%. That would mark the third year in a row of a decline, which hasn’t happened in 50 years

    The funny thing is craft beer seems to be doing just fine:

    On the other hand, smaller craft brands — which tend to appeal to wealthier drinkers — are still on fire. Craft was up 14% in the first half of the year

    That’s great news for craft beer lovers; however, I’m not sure about the editor of Beer Business Daily’s reason for the upswing in craft beer:

    “The brands that are growing are the brands the rich people drink,” Harry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily, said in a convention presentation. Crafts also rarely do any expensive advertising, relying instead on social media, events and word-of-mouth buzz.

    Maybe, just maybe, people are sick of watered down, generic beer.  Maybe, just maybe, people want something that not only has great flavor, but is brewed in their own community and not by a corporate conglomerate.  I personally think the increase in craft beers is more about flavor and supporting local business owners, and not about a rich demographic supporting the cause.  What do you think?

    Source: adage.com

  • Oktoberfest – Berlin, MD

    Berlin, Md hosted its first ever Oktoberfest, and IndyBeers was on hand for the event.  Overall it was a great time.   There was a good size crowd on hand for the event with the downtown Main Street area being well packed.  We headed from the north end of town down past the center towards the beer garden, as that was the only place one could procure a fine malted beverage.  Entrance to the beer garden was free, but tickets were $3 each, which is a great price for drinking a delicious craft beer.

    After getting our handful of tickets we stood in line for about 10 minutes to get our first sample of the newly released Burley Oak Oktoberfest.  As it was, however, we only managed to get 1 beer each of this earthy toned beverage, as the keg ran out while I was interviewing brew master Brian Carl.  From that point we switched to the Flying Dog Marzen.  That worked out well because we had been drinking the same beer earlier in the day before coming to the festival.  While we were standing around drinking we spotted Bryan Brushmiller, the owner of Burley Oak Brewery.  I quickly introduced myself and jumped right into asking about his beer.

    After talking with Bryan for a while, he introduced me to his brew master, Brian.  Brian and I discussed his passion for brewing and why he decided to come to Burley Oak Brewing.  It was during this time the the keg went dry, and he half jokingly said, “I gotta go to the brewery and fill kegs now.”  While he went back to business, Chris and I took some time to survey the scene.  There was a place serving big barbequed pieces of meat, so Chris purchased one to try out.  He said it was really good.

    After a few more beers we decided to head back to the brewery and see what was going on there, as well as sample some of the other beers that might be available.  As we walked back North through town we passed the live music which was offering up some traditional Oktoberfest style melodies.

    After about a 15 minute walk from the downtown area we found ourselves at the brewery.  The brewery was very modest and unassuming in looks from the outside.  Except for the small sign in the front, you wouldn’t know that there was a brewery inside.  They have only been open for about 2 months, since August of 2011.

    Inside the brewery was a sizable bar area.  There were plenty of places to stand and or sit and enjoy some of the beers they currently had on tap.  I went with a Pale Ryeder (which was full of a great rye flavor) and Chris went with the September Fest.  Both were high in alcohol content, and after a day at the Oktoberfest everyone was beginning to notice the effects.

    I continued talking about beer with Bryan and he explained why he had decided to brew beer, and why Berlin was the location for him.  I was hoping to get a tour of the brewery, which could be seen through a large window behind the bar, but something had spilled in the back, and it wasn’t a good time to bring people through the area.  Oh well, I guess I’ll have to come back again!!!

    The end of the day final came for us and it was time to head back home.  Bryan was happy to step outside with us for a couple more pictures.  It was pretty funny, actually,  as he was prone to goofing off while the pictures were being taken and there are more than a few that made me laugh looking at them later.

    Notable Quotes for the day:

    -Pete Arslanian
    Q: You had a beer called the 7 finger farmer?
    A: The farmer only had 7 fingers, lost in a machine accident, so [Bryan] named the beer after him for growing the hops.

    -Dennis Krembel
    Q: So what do you think you’re gonna get here.  You’ve got the Flying Dog, the Ocktoberfest…?
    A: I’ll take a Flying Dog. 2 of ’em.

    -Mark Jersey Cerbo
    Q: In terms of the beers that you’re distributing, how many of them were part of Anheuser Busch, Miller, or Coors…what percentage?
    A: Our portfolio when I was with Carry Distributors at the time Unibev was buying everybody up, they owned a large percent because at that point Miller and Coors had merged together.  We had a strong portfolio.  I mean we had Yuengling, we had Heinekin and Corona,  I mean we had pretty much all the big hitters but Anheuser Busch.
    Q: How difficult did you find it to distribute your beer not having Anheuser Busch in your portfolio?
    A: Not hard.  ‘Cause we had, you know, percentage-wise if you looked into say, a package store we were probably anywhere from 65 to 70% of the door space.
    Q: Outside of distributing the Anheuser Busch, Miller, Coors products how difficult was it to push craft beers into the market?
    A: In the beginning it was a little difficult, but once Dogfish opened up in Delaware in our back yard, you know, Dogfish was an easy swing into the craft beer industry for us down here, you know.  And they have quality products and they expanded, you know, in the right point of time.  They didn’t try to grow too fast, they came along at a good pace that, you know eventually they’re world wide now.
    Q: Do you feel that because of the fact that Dogfish Head made a presence in the Delmarva scene that it made it easier to push craft beers locally?
    A: Absolutely.  Good question.
    Q: So you feel that because of Dogfish Head, craft beers are better appreciated in this area.
    A: Well, in this area down here I think they really were the first stepping stone in the craft beer industry, so with their success grew craft beer in our area, so.  With Burley Oak opening up here in Berlin, I mean I think they’ll do well.

  • Local Beer Gets More Local

    Wine has long been a product in which the grapes are grown near where the wine is produced, often on the same farm.  This is a trend that may be starting soon with beer as well.  A project started in downtown Toronto, Canada is looking to grow hops in the city to be used in making local beer. If you’re planning for 3 Days in Toronto, then you can check these out!

    This spring, hops were planted on the property of businesses such as I deal Coffee and restaurant/bar Parts & Labour (both located in the west end of downtown Toronto), a handful of residential backyard gardens and Wychwood Barns, a park and community hub. Katie Mathieu tended to the hops at Parts & Labour – she runs a planter garden project on the building’s rooftop, growing vegetables and herbs for use in the restaurant. Ms. Mathieu says the hops thrived in planters on the roof.

    This is a really positive move towards a more green method of brewing beer, and I hope to see more of it.  Michael Clark, co-founder of Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery had this to say:

    “Even if the city hops program isn’t a colossal money-maker, there’s a tangible benefit to the greening of space and having it produce something that connects people to that space,” says Mr. Clark.

    Source: theglobeandmail.com

  • What is the worst beer in the world?

    What is the worst beer you have ever had the misfortune of tasting?  A true lemon among a bounty of better beer.  For Garrett Oliver brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery that beer was in Vietnam:

    That’s an interesting question. I had a Vietnamese beer a few years ago that was called Saigon and it was just, it was really, really ghastly. I didn’t remember—though I do realize that beers existed that still tasted quite that bad—it reminded me of one that I had in East Germany in the mid-1980s, when there was an East Berlin. I drank a beer when I spent a day in East Berlin, and I thought, “Boy, Communism is certainly bad but I didn’t know it was so bad that it could even make Germans produce terrible beer.” And it had. I don’t know whether Vietnam is still considered particularly Communist, but apparently it hasn’t done anything to their beer industry anyway.

    For me, the individual worst beer I ever had was in a small bar about 2 days after New Years Eve.  I don’t think the place had been open for a week, and I arrived about tthe time the were opening their doors for the first time that year.  I caught a Budweiser (I was young and uninformed) fresh out of the line after sitting for all that time.  I think I almost threw up.  I had never tasted a beer skunked so badly.

    As for the worst beer that was properly served, I would have to say a pumpkin ale I had last year.  Every year at my house I give away tons of candy for the kids, and pumpkin ales for the adults.  I also have a few seasonal beers for those that don’t want a pumpkin.  By the end of the night half my neighbors have a red solo cup in their hand.  I usually start collecting various pumpkins at the start of October, and by the time Halloween comes around there are 5-6 from which to choose.  I only had one, as I had given the others away, and I honestly don’t recall who made it, but it was like drinking the worst pumpkin pie you’ve ever had.  Over spiced to the point where you almost wanted to gag on first taste.  From now on I decided to only serve Dogfish Head’s Punkin ale (and maybe 1-2 other choice craft pumpkins) as it is always reliable and easy to find in my area.

    So what’s the worst beer for you?

    Source: gothamist.com


  • Beer Drinking Blamed for Red Sox Demise

    The Red Sox had a downward spiral at the end of the baseball season that ended with a loss to my hometown favorite, The Baltimore Orioles.  There has been plenty of speculation on what may have have been the cause of such a dismal end to a good season, but boston.com yesterday posted an interesting take on the situation.

    Boston’s three elite starters went soft, their pitching as anemic as their work ethic. The indifference of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey in a time of crisis can be seen in what team sources say became their habit of drinking beer, eating fast-food fried chicken, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games while their teammates tried to salvage a once-promising season.

    So it seems that beer is (partially) to blame.  Well, as an Orioles fan, that’s just fine for me.

    via: CBSnews.com
    Source: Boston.com

  • Brew Master Interview – Fordham/Old Dominion – Daniel Louder

    During the Good Beer Festival I was fortunate enough to talk to one of the brew masters for Fordham and Old Dominion beers, Daniel Louder.  Below is the transcript of that interview.


    Q: So what’s your name, for the record?
    A:Daniel Louder.

    Q: And you have a shirt on that says “brewer”.  Are you indeed a brewer?
    A: Absolutely.

    Q: For who do you brew?
    A: I brew Fordham and Old Dominion products.

    Q: How long have you been doing that for?
    A: I’ve been doing that for probably a year and half now.

    Q: What did you prior to brewing for them?
    A: Prior to brewing for them I was actually a construction supervisor for 7 years, and i did probably about 8 years of home brewing also on the side.  I’ve always been big into craft beers and just into making beers and the whole aspect and the science behind it.

    Q: So what was it that led you from home brewing to working for Fordham and Old Dominion?
    A: Actually I’m fortunate enough to know somebody inside of the company.  That got my foot in the door.  I started off kegging…worked on the bottling line for a while…then was in the cellar and brewing, all within one year.  I worked my way up the ladder.

    Q: Now your statement about who you worked for lumped these 2 brewing companies together and you said you worked in the bottling line.  Are they indeed bottled on the same bottling line or do they keep separate factories for brewing the beer?
    A: No, Fordham and Old Dominion are both brewed out of the same exact roof.  Its a total of 17 to 18 different beers between the 2 companies.  They’re still 2 completely different companies brewed underneath the same roof.

    Q: What is it about those 2 companies that keeps them brewed under the same roof?  What allegiance do they have to each other?
    A: They really don’t have an allegiance to one another.  Fordham was sent to Dover in 2003, where it started being brewed.  And in 2007 Fordham Brewing Company bought Old Dominion Brewing Company out of Ashburn, Virginia and moved it to Dover in 2009.

    Q: Did they buy that with their own funds or was there external backing behind that purchase?
    A: That I’m not 100% sure on.

    Q: And out of the beers that you brew, what is your personal favorite beer to drink?
    A: My personal favorite from the Old Dominion side would have to be Hop Mountain, and my favorite from the Fordham side would have to be Copperhead.

    Q: And if you had to go–by the way, for the record, those are my 2 favorites (laughter)–but if you had to go toe to toe between the 2 of those, which would you prefer?
    A: I would definitely have to go with Hop Mountain, because I’m a big IPA (or pale ale) fan.  I love hops!  I’m a hop head, but I’m also different than everybody else in the way that I’m a malt head.  I also….a  lot of people are into hops these days but nobody really looks at the true aspect of what makes a beer.  And that is the actual malt that is derived from the beginning throughout the whole process.

    Q: So those are your 2 favorite beers out of the (suite???) of products offered by the 2 companies, but what is your most favorite beer to brew?
    A: My most favorite beer to actually brew would honestly…i would have to say Scotch Ale, which is a fall seasonal which will be out next month if I am correct and that is actually my favorite brew to actually–or beer–to actually brew.

    Q: What beer out of the seasonal ales that you offer do you think gets the best reception from the public?
    A:  Ooohhh that’s a tough one.  I would have to say our Octoberfest.

    Q: Octoberfest?  Is it simply the season that makes it popular?
    A: I believe it is the season and also the basis that’s already been established for your Octoberfest beers.  A lot of people are already familiar with them and they look forward to the actual fall season when the Octoberfests come out and a lot of people try a different style Octoberfest.

    Q: What’s your personal favorite seasonal beer?
    A: My personal favorite seasonal beer would actually have to be our newly released Fordham Spiced Harvest Ale.

    Q: Do you have anything coming up soon that hasn’t been released yet that’s–
    A: Yes we actually have a couple coming up soon that hasn’t been released yet.  We have our Baltic(??) Porter which will actually probably be packaged this month.  We also have….and that is from our Fordham side I believe…we have so many different beers its hard to keep track.  And we also have from our…Dopplebock, which is Fordham, which will be coming out in the wintertime.  And we also have our Millennium by Old Dominion which is our barleywine which comes in at about 10, 10 and a half percent which is one of my favorite beers to sip on during the winter.

    Q: For this particular event, were you guys contacted by the event coordinators, or did you seek out this event to present your beer to the public?
    A: We were actually contacted by our distributors. The coordinators contacted our distributors.  This is our 2nd year here.  The distributors and the event coordinator have both done a great job with just keeping us updated and then having a great presentation for our overall product and our area where the beers are actually being poured.

    Q: So do you feel like this event gets a good turnout for the Maryland area compared to other events, or do you think this is on par with what you’ve seen elsewhere?
    A: I would say this is actually a great turn out.  Last year was their first year that I was here and on the first day of the first year here they had almost 2000 people  show up from what I was told and it looks like today I would say there’s at least a thousand people here today and I think its a great turn out.  I haven’t been to many other Maryland events but, as opposed to some of the other beer events that I do, this is one of the largest turnouts and well planned events that I’ve been to.

    Q: Where is the beer truck and where are you based out of?
    A: The beer truck is actually based out of Eastern Shore Distributing, is who provided the beer truck.  That is our distributor.  We’re based out of Dover.  Eastern Shore Distributor is our Maryland distributing company, so if you wanted to buy any of our products it would basically be whoever Eastern Shore distributes to.


    A big Thank you to Dan for the interview and Kelli for transcribing it.