• Interview – WilliamsWarn – The World’s First Personal Brewery

    After posting our article about the WilliamsWarn personal brewer we received a few really good comments on reddit.com.  We took the questions that didn’t have answers in the FAQ section of the WilliamsWarn website and sent them over to Ian Williams and Anders Warn as a follow up.  Below are the answers we received back from Ian.  Thanks to those guys for taking the time to respond to us!!!  Also, a big thanks to DCnC, deangreenz, kyleisgod, aphex732, and praxela for their opening comments on reddit!!


    Several people have made comments about the cost.  How long do you think it will be until the cost of the brewer comes down in price to something more reasonable for the average beer lover?

    We are in negotiations with a US group about licensing production in the US. The price will likely be cheaper than here but I can’t confirm until we actually get the first made.  Hopefully it’s a pleasant surprise for all of us.


    Your site mentions a “special clarification agent”.  What is this product and does it need to be purchased exclusively from you, or can it be bought from your local homebrew store?

    This is one of our few secrets. Took me a while to figure this part of the process out so it’s our IP for the moment.


    There have been questions about creating a quality beer product in such a short period of time.  Due to the nature in which the brewer works are you limited to only certain types of beers?  What types of beers have been found to not work well with this system?

    The 7 day process is for ales. But it’s not short its quite normal and there’s nothing negative about it. Guinness is made in 5 days. Even Foster’s Lager is made in 7 days. Homebrewers have a tradition of long ageing due to the history when it was all bottled and aged for 7 weeks. The only reason they keep bottles for so long is to get them carbonated, it’s not for flavour. But it seems people think beer needs to be matured like wine. We’ve eliminated the extra carbonation step so don’t have the delay like in bottled or kegged homebrew. Beer is best fresh. It’s like bread. It stales. So the last thing you want to do is keep it lying around for some mythical ageing process to improve it. There are a few styles than can benefit in some cases from ageing but generally once you’ve got the flavour you want after fermentation its best to chill it, clear it and drink it. The main thing is to make sure you have no off-flavours before you put the cooling on.


    For lager it can take a bit longer but it depends on how much yeast you pitch and what temperature you ferment at and the taste profile of the yeast. If you chose a lager yeast that ferments fast and doesn’t produce too much diacetly or sulphurs then the 7 days can almost be met in those circumstances too. But for really cold fermentations around 10’C it’ll take a while as those types of beers do. Can be weeks. But once fermentation is over and the beer is cold, clarification still only takes a day or so and then you can consume.


    The only beers that may not work are those that may be made with a very non-flocculent yeast that our clarification agent can’t force out of the beer and the brewer wants clear beer. So we usually recommend to use yeast that will at least flocculate reasonably well.


    A lot of brewers like to tinker with beers through the brewing process.  How much flexibility is built into the system to allow this to happen or does the system work in a way that nothing can be changed after the process has started?

    You can adjust the carbonation level to any level during fermentation

    You can adjust the temperature during fermentation and maturation between 10-26’C

    You can manipulate the clarity to a certain extent but we normally are aiming for clear beers in general so don’t do that very often

    You can chose the dispense temperature

    You can change carbonation levels afterwards


    But the main tinkering you should be doing is with the ingredients at the start……


    While you offer a solution to bottle the beer, you state the oxidation will allow it to last only 1-2 months.  Is there any method to age the beer longer?

    It’s me just being paranoid about oxidation. The beer will last many months if bottled well. It’s actually a matter of opinion. Beer oxidation happens to be my subject wihin brewing so I’m a little over-the-top about it. The average beer drinker doesn’t really know what beer oxidation is, although they do drink less beer when its oxidised. If you want aged beer for some reason then you can leave it bottled for years if you want.

  • Interview – Chick Brewing Company

    After we finished our review of Chick Beer I was able to catch up with the owners of Chick Beer and ask them a few questions as part of our ongoing interview series.  I included some of the responses from the community in the series of questions.  Thanks to all who posted their comments which helped contribute to this article.

    On reddit.com “hopster” says, “This retarded gimmick is an insult to the millions of women who enjoy craft beer.”  Has your product overly simplified and stereotyped women?  Do you feel this negativity is based on the fact that the beer is marketed to women, or would response have been the same if you painted the male beer drinker with a similar broad brush stroke?

    Wow, is someone really using the word “retarded” to tell us how insensitive we are?  Really?

    Beer has been around for thousands of years.  Women have been around for even longer.  So how is a beer for women a gimmick?  Is beer a gimmick?  Are women?  Can we agree that the major light beers are marketed directly to men, what with all of the women in their commercials being bimbos and the charges that the drinkers are “unmanly”?  Market segmentation is clearly not concept invented by us.

    Chick Beer is a choice.  We’re not telling anyone that they have to drink our beer.  If someone wants to drink Chick Beer because they like the sexy packaging, or its positive statement about women, because they love the taste, or because we donate 5% of our profits to women’s charities, then they have that choice.  If they don’t value those things, then they should drink something else.

    In the comments below our Chick Beer review, Jon says, “There are plenty of women who drink craft beer, write about craft beer, and brew craft beer. It’s clear this beer was created by someone more concerned with business and appearances…”  Do you feel that is the case?  Were you more concerned with business and appearances than creating a beer just for the love of brewing?

    Chick Beer has never been about making a brewing statement.  Chick Beer is making a cultural statement.  The fact is that – whether you like it or not – light American lager is by far the most popular style of beer in America. Chick Beer is merely acknowledging that women aren’t a niche market.  At 25% of the market, they are more like a Grand Canyon.  Women choose to drink Chick Beer because it is a brand that is for them.

    That being said, we’ll blind-taste Chick Beer against any light lager.  At 97 calories and 3.5 carbs, you simply cannot beat us.

    I invite anyone out there who wants to make an Imperial IPA for women to give that business model a try.  About 5% of beer sold is craft beer.  That means that the female craft beer market is perhaps 1% of the total beer market.  You simply cannot build a business on a base that small.

    Jon goes on to state, “It’s what is inside the bottle that matters, not the labeling, appeal, or advertising. Hence, this beer totally misses the mark.”  Do you see a lot of this reaction to the name?  How do you market a beer to the craft beer community when the beer may be perceived as a gimmick?

    If Jon is right, then the best-selling beers in the U.S.- Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light and Miller Lite – are also the best-tasting, best-made, highest-quality beers out there, right?  The success of ANY product is based upon a combination of marketing and production.  If “totally missing the mark” means being commercially successful, then we’ll take that.

    We are not marketing Chick Beer to the craft community.  We are marketing it to the beer drinking community, 95% of whom are NOT craft beer drinkers.

    Where have you seen the greatest positive response for your beer so far?

    From virtually any woman that we talk to.  Women love this brand.  No, not every single woman, but certainly the vast majority of them.  We’ve also seen broad support from beer distributors around the country, which is why you will see impressive expansion from Chick in the coming months.

    Are the responses consistent among men and women, or does one group like the beer, or the idea of the beer, more than the other?

    Women are more receptive to the brand, but that was pretty much the idea to start with.  Men are typically neutral about the brand, but some men seem to be threatened by it.  We’re not psychologists, so we aren’t sure why.

    It was mentioned in the comments of the review, and from the people I’ve talked to about the beer, price seems to be a sticking point.  We paid $9.80 ($8.99 before tax) for our six pack used in the review, which is similar to many other craft beers, but yours is unique in that it is a light beer.  Do you feel that $8.99 is an optimal price point for Chick Beer?

    We don’t control, or even have much influence, over retail prices. $8.99 is certainly at the higher end of where we’d like to see Chick Beer priced at retail.  We are a craft-brewed light lager, which means that we should be priced between the majors and craft brews, which is typically where we are priced. As competition does its job, we think that you’re generally going to see us priced under $8.00 at retail.

    While you’re based out of Maryland, it’s brewed and bottled in Monroe,WI.  How did you find Minhas Craft Brewery to brew the beer for you?  Why them over someone who may have been able to brew it closer to home?

    We have always envisioned Chick Beer as a national brand, and not as a regional craft brew.  So the key for us was finding the place that could brew the best beer, regardless of its proximity to Maryland.  We began our distribution in Maryland because that’s where we live.  We wanted to learn our early lessons in our own backyard.  Minhas is the second-oldest brewery in the country.  The folks there are terrific brewers.  We couldn’t be happier.

    Do you own the recipe to the beer, and if so, are you allowed to have it brewed elsewhere if you needed?

    We don’t release details about the recipe, and Minhas will be able to handle our needs for the foreseeable future.

    Did you use Minhas’ existing Maryland distribution channels to get into the market, or did you develop your own?

    Minhas brews primarily for the mid-West and Canadian markets.  We love their beers, but sadly, they aren’t available in Maryland.   So we’ve developed our own distribution networks, utilizing Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and independent distributors.  If we go into Canada, we’ll probably ask Minhas to show us the way.

    What are the current hurdles involved in widening the distribution to other states?

    The main hurdle is cutting through the fog of the hundreds of brands out there.  Every distributor is bombarded with requests to carry new craft beers.  But Chick is unique in that it is the only brand that is targeted to the 25% of the drinking public that is female.  We are extremely pleased with the reception that we’ve received from distributors.

    As a new beer company, how much beer are you brewing per week?

    As a privately-held beer company, that is not information that we release.

    What local women’s charities do 5% of your profits go to?

    We’ve been on the market for less than three months, so it’s safe to assume that we haven’t generated a ton of profits yet.  We are investing heavily in building the brand.  However, we’re already involved in raising funds locally for a number of women’s charities, including Susan G. Komen For the Cure, Women in Film & Video, and the Soroptimists.  We have seated an independent board of directors to oversee our Chick Cares program.  This board will direct our charitable giving, and will issue reports on our website.

    Are there plans for other beers, or is Chick Brewing Company only going to produce its flagship product?

    As a company that has been selling beer for three months, our focus at this point is getting Chick Beer to all of the women out there who are asking for it.  We certainly have some ideas for additional products, but at this point we’re not ready to discuss them.

    If you are planning on producing any additional beers, can you offer any thoughts on what they might be?

    We could, but we won’t.

    Currently what is the primary means of marketing the product?  Word of mouth?  Advertising?  Or perhaps customers just seeing it in the store?

    We are primarily marketing Chick Beer through Facebook ads, which are by far the most efficient way to reach our core customers, who are women aged 21-34.  Those ads are generally targeted in the areas where we sell Chick Beer.

    Is your beer available on draft anywhere, or is it bottle only?

    No, we have no current plans for draft.

    Are there any upcoming events where your beer can be found?

    You will find Chick Beer at charity events, beer festivals and all kinds of venues.  As with any new product, it’s going to take awhile before we get to every event.

    On the website you state it took ” two years of effort” to get the beer made, how big do you see the Chick Beer brand in another two years?

    We generally don’t play the projection game.  It’s a hollow exercise.  However, we can say that we plan to expand aggressively into new markets. Chicks are everywhere!

    When you’re not drinking your beer, what beer do you prefer to drink?

    We have been on the retail side of the business, where we’ve sold (and tasted) hundreds of beers.  We believe that every beer has a corresponding occasion, whether that is cutting the grass, watching a football game, or a tasting session.  We generally take a mixed six-pack so that we can keep up with all of the great beers out there.

    What was the first beer you remember truly enjoying to drink?

    We were drinking very warm Guinness Stout back in the early 1980s, before people realized that serving it warm meant European cellar temperature, not 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  But it was so different than the mass-produced American beers that dominated in those days, we drank it anyway.

  • 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.

  • 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.