Saturday, May 20, 2017

DysfunctionAle (Columbus Craft Beer Week Collaboration Beer) Review

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If you're not familiar with it, this is Columbus Craft Beer Week (CCBW), a celebration of all things having to do with Columbus Craft Beer with events happening nightly, all ending with a beer festival called Six One Pour. The Six One Pour festival has breweries from all over this great state and is put on by the Ohio Craft Brewer's Association (visit and for more information).  

CCBW has been fun for the last 3 years. It's a time for breweries to collaborate, celebrate, and enjoy/give back to the community that supports them. The first year (2015), breweries were paired up with a 'name out of a hat' type drawing, there ended up being 7 different collaboration beers made for it (find a listing at Pat's Pint's blog) with the Six One Pour event happening at the old Brewer's Gate building. That was like a greenhouse where it was 90+ degrees in there, you had to drink beer to stay cool and quasi hydrated. There was also the tallest tap handle contest (see below picture). 2016 had a single collaboration beer, Saison 994, brewed with 16 breweries at North High's facility. The Six One Pour event was moved to Huntington Park (home of the Columbus Clippers). 

(2015 Six One Pour's tallest tap handle competition/winner)

2017 sees the Six One Pour event returning to Huntington Park, but a different take on the collaboration beer. 20 different breweries gathered at Columbus Brewing Company in early April to brew 60 barrels (31.5 gallons per barrel, barrel being a unit of measure in this instance, not the oaken vessels used to age wine/spirits) of a hoppy pale ale ( for a list of breweries, or see below). This beer is the first collaboration for CCBW to be packaged. Half of this beer was canned, while the other half was kegged off for your enjoyment at bars/growler fill locations/festivals. We had to snag a few of these cans for ourselves

Enough dicking around. It's the end of Columbus Beer Week and we'd be doing an injustice to this great industry if we didn't do something for it. We bring you our review of this collaboration beer. It's weird, I can't find any reviews on it other than Untappd and even there, there aren't that many reviews. People have written about the brew day (see Pat's Pints). This historic brew needs recognition.

This pours a very clear orange-brown color (see picture). It's been 2 hours since I poured it and snapped the picture at the top (had to research the 2015 collaborations as I couldn't remember how many were done, then my best friend/neighbor popped by for beer/talk/bourbon). The head on this is still remaining, almost like it was just poured.
Yes, I let this warm up for a while. Maybe longer than I should have, but interruptions happen, just like life. As I get back into the groove of writing, I put on some thinking music and finish my bourbon, followed by a palate cleanser of cheap American lager.

As I mentioned, this is clear. This is a picture of this blog post so far, looking through the beer glass.  

The aroma on this is stellar; citrus fruit heavy, hints of pine and sweetness. The initial sip is a whirlwind of flavors starting with a lighter bitterness that instantly goes into a wave of malty sweetness; two row graininess with lighter hints of honey. Then the malty rush dissipates as the hops start to come toward the front. Citrus, candy, lighter notes of pine (like the aroma). These drop out and leave a grassy-like flavor while light bitterness slowly builds, leaving a slight numbing sensation on the tongue. Smooth drinking, lighter body at only 5.9%, this would not suck to have in the summer months as a 'doing yard work in the sun' beer. It's a solid pale ale with a great balance of flavors. 

While you're enjoying the last little bit of Columbus Craft Beer Week, seek this out.  Go taste and enjoy the fruits of a collaboration beer that went right. Go thank a brewer/rep for this.

As a final thought before I turn this over to my partner-in-life/crime/drunken-shenanigans, here is a list of the breweries that partook in the collaboration (listed alphabetically):
The Actual Brewing Company
Barley's Brewing Company
The Brew Brothers
Buckeye Lake Brewery
Columbus Brewing Company
Combustion Brewery and Taproom
Elevator Brewery
Four String Brewery
Grove City Brewing Company 
Ill Mannered Brewing Company 
Kindred Beer
Lineage Brewing
Land Grant Brewing Company
North High Brewing
Pigskin Brewing
Platform Brewing (Columbus Branch)
The RAM Restaurant and Brewery
Seventh Son Brewing Company
Wolf's Ridge Brewing Company

If you aren't from Columbus, be sure to check these places out as they all have stellar brews. If you are from Columbus, complete your Ale Trail booklet and drink local tasty beers.



OK, so I may or may not be biased on this beer. I most definitely was not at brew day for this beer. Yet I have strong opinions about this beer. 

I fucking love it. This is one of the best collaboration beers I have had, and it's just NORMAL enough to kill your mindset on collab beers. Often they are rough. They can be really weird. Many times, they are just not that good. I am partial to a few: Dayman, which was the 2013-ish Stone Brewing homebrew competition winner and set the bar for coffee IPAs; Oak Skyhopper from the inaugural CCBW, a collaboration between Smokehouse and Zaftig, a pale ale featuring lemongrass and lemon zest and oak spirals; and Tropicalia, a delicious non-hazy IPA from Creature Comforts and Cigar City. 

I realize, as I sit here in my pajamas on a Saturday afternoon, that I have yet to have this beer in a glass. Unless I am reviewing it or it's my first time having it or I'm sharing a bottle, I tend to drink beers straight from the vessel. All you glassware nerds can mock me all you want. I have a cabinet full of proper-as-fuck glassware, but I'm also day drinking and not wearing pants, so I have that going for me. It's perfectly fine to be jealous.

I agree with Nathan's assessment of DysfunctionAle, so I won't dissect it much further. I will urge you to seek it out, if you can still find it around town. Many better bottle shops are running low on it, although it's still available if you search hard enough. If you can't find it in cans, you should be able to find it on tap. It will definitely be featured at Columbus Brewing Company's booth tonight at Six One Pour, so make sure you grab some tickets and go. Not only does Mary put on a fantastic, efficiently run beer festival, but the beer list for tonight is insanely good. And unlike Rock on the Range, there is a rain plan so that you don't have to get drenched or find something to do when they evacuate the festival. 

I will add this to Nathan's review of DysfunctionAle: I was fascinated with the aroma. Hell, I still am. There is a lovely peach/stone fruit note that I haven't found in many other beers. It's lemony, too, probably from the use of El Dorado hops or the hop formerly known as Equinox. This is an insanely good pale. It's fruity, and delightfully hoppy, and one thing that impresses me is that it's completely different from any other hoppy offering from Columbus Brewing. (And they know their way around some hops.) Tony is some sort of hop wizard. 

I am super sad that this is my last can of this delicious treat. Guess I should put on some pants and go seek out some more, because I'm not quite done loving on this beer.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Behind the Brew Day: Big Boots Brew 2017

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Every year, Pink Boots Society members come together to brew a beer to promote the education and furthering of women in the brewing industry. Last year, I was honored to be invited to help with the brew. Lineage Brewing hosted the 2016 brew day, and we brewed Mother of Summer, a delicious wheat beer with lemon peel, coriander, and black peppercorns. The brew day was a blast, and I learned a lot, both brewing in a brewery that I was not familiar with as well as learning from several local kickass women who are leading the craft beer revolution in central Ohio. Imagine my surprise when, back in early February, the emails started flying and I was once again invited to participate despite my then-unemployment. This year, Weasel Boy was hosting the brew day, and several other breweries and industry professionals were also invited to participate.

Pink Boots Society, as I mentioned above, is an organization dedicated to the education and empowerment of women who work in the brewing industry. The organization is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary in June, a pretty amazing accomplishment, if you ask me. Teri Fahrendorf founded Pink Boots Society and has engaged several other women who I admire to help their fellow brewsters. Every year, around March 8, International Women's Day, those of us who are local to one another get together to collaborate on a beer whose proceeds goes back to Pink Boots Society. This brew day is called Big Boots Brew, and Pink Boots will suggest a style as a base guideline, although it is by no means a requirement to brew that particular beer. This year, the style suggestion was Historic Ales (a broad category, for certain). We women in central Ohio decided to brew a grisette with local pawpaw fruit and spicebush berries. I'll delve more into what we brewed below.

This year March 8 happened to fall on a Wednesday. I awoke that morning extra early in order to drop off my child to school and head out to Zanesville, not quite an hour east of Columbus. If you aren't familiar with how collaboration brews work, the hosting brewery not only hosts brew day, but they also decide the beer to be brewed (while everyone contributes a bit to the recipe) and accommodate the fellow brewers and have to fit it into their brew and fermentation schedule amid the other beers they produce, as well as organize a release party. It is not a small feat. This year, in addition to the women of Weasel Boy and Lineage, women from Seventh Son and the head of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association agreed to participate. We had a stellar all-star cast to brew this year's beer. Have I mentioned how fortunate I am to be included in this? Oh, and by "women of Weasel Boy" I mean the incomparable Lori Wince. I'm a fangirl with no shame. Lori started Weasel Boy with her husband Jay nearly 10 years ago (their decade anniversary party is coming up in July, so make plans now to get your ass out there), effectively making her the grand dame of central Ohio breweries. She knows her shit, and she's one of the nicest people you will ever meet (although she's also tough as nails, so I wouldn't want to disappoint her. It would feel worse than disappointing your parents). 
Lori Wince of Weasel Boy and Mary MacDonald of Ohio Craft Brewers Association tending to the wort grant.
Brew day had started at 8:00am. I was unable to make it out there until much later that morning. When I got there, we were in the middle of the mash. Lori came right up to me and told me, "I have a job for you," and set me to helping monitor mash temp. Little did she realize that there is my weakness. I screw it up on pretty much every all-grain brew I do, somehow. Figure in that I'm on an unfamiliar system, and disaster seems certain. As the temperature crept toward 170, I got nervous. She had quickly shown me the hot and cold water valves, and I set into a staring match with the thermometer on the wall. We were hanging around a healthy range of 165-170. She ducked off to conduct some interviews, as there were a few media crews on hand. I stared at the thermometer. It stared back. Watching paint dry or grass grow seemed to be an interesting alternative. And then the temperature started to drop. I panicked, and Lori was talking to media people. I tossed a frantic look to Jess Byrne (of Lineage), who was monitoring the wort grant, a modified keg that recirculates the mash. Jess was also unfamiliar with the controls. "What the hell do I do?" I thought to myself as the temperature nose-dived. OK, it can't be that hard. Turn on the hot water to bring the temperature up, right? So I did just that. But then the temperature over-corrected and skyrocketed above the 170 ceiling we had discussed. So I turned on the cold water and the temperature nose-dived. This was a finicky system! Lori noticed the erratic temps a couple of times and came over to save me and the precious wort we were making. Thank goodness. 
 Mary MacDonald (OCBA) shoveling spent grain out of the mash tun
Once the mash was done (typically about an hour), we transferred it to the boil kettle. I also got to monitor that process. The fact that I was still allowed anywhere near the brew deck surprised the crap out of me, so I took this very seriously. Once the wort had been moved from the mash tun to the boil kettle, we broke for lunch. Pizzas and salads were offered. If you haven't had Weasel Boy's pizza, do yourself a favor and drive out to Zanesville for a couple of pints and a delicious pie. You won't be disappointed.
Liz Stout and Caitlin Davis, both of Seventh Son, cleaning out the mash tun.
After lunch, the wort approached a boil, and Nichole Endicott (then with Lineage, she announced her departure for BrewDog a week or so later) and Lori added the hops to the wort. A typical brew day fully within my comfort zone filled the rest of the afternoon: we hopped, we transferred, we cleaned, we loaded spent grain into a farmer's truck, we shot the breeze about everything under the sun. 

Nichole Endicott (Lineage) and Lori Wince (Weasel Boy) add the hops.

So, what was the beer that we produced, despite my apparent intentions to completely screw up this beer? Lori wanted to brew a grisette with locally sourced ingredients. Pawpaw and spicebush berries were added later to the beer, after fermentation was complete. A wheat malt from Haus Malts in Cleveland was procured. If you aren't familiar with a grisette, it's basically a table saison. Table meaning that it's rather sessionable, around 5% ABV or less. Saisons are a popular style currently. Most are rather light in color, and they can run the gamut from having all sorts of clove/banana/bubblegum flavors to being very neutral and almost champagne-like. They typically finish quite dry, and my favorites are rather refreshing on a hot summer day with subtle and restrained Belgian esters and phenols. Pawpaw and spicebush are Ohio native plants. None of us in the group were really familiar with spicebush, although a bit of research before brew day indicated that it is very similar to allspice. Lori had taken some of her blonde ale (a rather neutral beer) and had dosed it with a spicebush berry tincture so that we could all get an idea of the flavor. My palate detected that it was, indeed, very reminiscent of allspice berries. 
 Jess Byrne (Lineage), Jessica Page (Lineage), and Mary MacDonald (OCBA) share a laugh toward the end of brew day.

We also made plans that day for release parties, although without knowing precisely when the beer would be finished, final plans could not be made on brew day. Everyone departed as the taproom opened. Lori kept us all apprised as to the progress of fermentation throughout the process. She pureed and added the pawpaw once primary fermentation was complete, and added the spicebush berries to the brite tank, right before kegging the beer. 

      Nichole Endicott (then of Lineage, now with BrewDog) cleans the boil kettle at the end of brew day. 

One reason that I always really enjoy this brew day is because it's challenging to me. Thus far we have brewed beers that are outside my typical repertoire. I've only brewed one other wheat beer, and one saison. In fact, before this year's beer was released, I had only had a grisette one other time. And that grisette was completely different from the one that we brewed. I admire every woman in this brew crew, and every one of us brings a different skill set to the table. The camaraderie is also evident whenever we gather. 

 Nevertheless Persist, enjoyed on Weasel Boy's patio overlooking the Muskingum River

In mid-April, the beer was released. Mary MacDonald had suggested that we name it Nevertheless Persist and we all fell in love with the name. Lineage held their party first, and the following night several of us went out to Weasel Boy for the release party there. The final party was held at Seventh Son the following week, although Liz was busy working in the brewhouse throughout the party. 

Jess Byrne (Lineage) and Lori Wince (Weasel Boy) look on during the Nevertheless Resist release party at Lineage.

So, how was the beer, you ask? In a word, delicious. It ended up at 5.6% ABV. Hmm, maybe my messing up the mash temp worked in my favor, although Lori wanted it to end up below 5%. As you can see in the picture above, it was a lovely golden color with a fair amount of haze and cloudiness. There were plenty of esters and phenols, both from the yeast as well as from the pawpaw and spicebush berries. The pawpaw softened the beer a bit and lent its own unique flavor to the beer. The spicebush added so much interest, it was a really thoughtful addition, and I want to use it in another beer. This style and these ingredients are so outside my comfort zone, but I really enjoyed the finished product. Another thing that we all noted was how much the beer changed as it warmed. I preferred it, as I do most of my beers, a little warmer. The banana, bubblegum, and clove notes that were there became less harsh and mellowed out as the beer warmed up. The pawpaw and spicebush berries came to the forefront. Great mouthfeel and moderate carbonation made it tickle the tongue.

Jessica Page (Lineage) gets ready to transfer the beer to the fermenter. 

If you are worried that you may have missed out on this beer, it is still on tap at a few places around central Ohio. There is a little bit left in the taproom at Weasel Boy, and the following places still have a keg of it: 
  • Barrel and Bottle in the North Market
  • Prost in Reynoldsburg
  • Westend Ciderhouse in Athens
  • World of Beer at Easton  
So go get yourself a glass of it while you still can, before it is gone!