Friday, September 30, 2011

Meet the Brewer: Dave Lagueux, Part II

In case you missed Part I of the interview, I would strongly suggest catching up on that first!

Here's Part II:

Brew England: How did your parents feel about you going to Chicago to learn how to brew beer? Did they see that you could succeed at it and be happy doing that for a living? Were they skeptical?

Dave Lagueux: They weren't skeptical. They saw me working a lot for free, and how interested I was in making beer. I've always had an interest in mechanical/technical things, and they were happy to see me use that side. I think my parents understood that it was a trade like anything else. I can't thank them enough for being supportive and putting up with all the beer I had (and still have) around their house.

BE: You mentioned that you worked for Lowell Beer Works for about a year...What brought you to Trumer Pils in California? Did you transition immediately from New Hampshire to California?

DL: We toured a lot of breweries in Europe, but one of my favorites was the Trumer Brauerei in Salzburg. The tour was great, and the brewery is incredible. I saw an opening for a shift brewer at the Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley and sent my resume out. The next thing I knew, I was in California for a week-long working interview. I guess they liked me, because I've been at Trumer for over two years! I left Beerworks after a year to come out and work here. It's been a great experience so far!

BE: Moving from New Hampshire to California must have been a big move for you! When you were deciding to take a job in California, what were some of the things that influenced your decision? What was the working interview like?

DL: I think the biggest factor in me moving to CA was that my brother Mike was living in the Bay Area as well. I knew it would be nice to move to some place new, and it would be great to hang out with him while he was living here. I went to visit my brother for a few days and happened to see the opening at Trumer around the same time. I got in contact with them and said that I'd be in the area for a day or two.

I knew that working at Trumer would be a great experience for me, so I just went for it. They asked me to extend my trip and work for a few days. The working interview was a great way to figure out if I liked California enough to live here, and if I liked working at Trumer. It was also a good way for them to figure me out as well. I met all of the guys at the brewery, and shadowed them as they did their jobs. I remember washing kegs for a very long time. I busted my ass doing that. I wasn't about to leave that place after 4 days of work without a job.

A picture of the brewery at 2am

BE: You said you're a shift brewer at Trumer, correct? Was this the position you were hired for initially?

DL: Yes. I came out here with enough experience to do all of the necessary tasks. Though being a "shift brewer" at Trumer is sort of different than most places our size. We are cross-trained to do every job in the brewery. I rotate around every 2 months, and switch between an AM shift (5am-3:30pm) and a PM shift (3pm-1:30am) Monday to Thursday. I might run the brewhouse for a few months, then to the cellars, then filtration. It keeps us really on our toes. It's easy to forget little things that can have a huge impact.

The Trumer Pils bottling line

Six 800bbl (25,200 gallons each) Maturation Tanks

This helps figure out the scale of the brewery!

BE: What do you like most about the brewery there? Do the other brewers have similar backgrounds as you?

DL: I'd say I like the 4 day work week the most! No, I like the fact the we rotate around the brewery and get our hands involved in everything. My favorite shift is probably filtration, just because it's so complicated. It was probably what I was least familiar with when I started. It still seems funny to me that I can filter 12,000 gallons of beer in my shift. The guys I work with have all kinds of backgrounds. A few guys have related degrees, like Chemistry and Food Science. Other guys got into brewing some other way, like I did. Most of us have had some formal training as brewers either at Siebel or UC Davis.

BE: It seems like being a brewer can be a lot of fun, but at the end of the day it's still work. What do you do outside of work for fun?

DL: My girlfriend and I ride our bikes a lot. We do a lot of outdoor activities and cook a lot of food. We've been making a point to see all the important spots out here in California like Yosemite and Big Sur. Just last weekend, we did a kayaking/camping trip in Half Moon Bay which was really awesome.

BE: California is home to many great breweries, and a lot of us on the East Coast only know about some of them (Stone, Russian River, Sierra Nevada, etc). What are some of your favorite beers out there? Are there some small breweries or brewpubs that you really like?

DL: I love Ballast Point, down in San Diego. Upright Brewing in Portland is another one of my favorites. They're brewing lots of interesting Saisons. There's a lot of great brewers out here doing interesting things. Locally, I like Drake's, Black Diamond and Firestone Walker. We're really spoiled out here with the selection of Belgian beers, too.

I'd really like to thank Dave for being the first interview conducted here at Brew England. He gave a lot of great insight on his transition from homebrewer to commercial brewer. Stay posted to new posts coming soon, including a Meet the Brewer segment with Helder Pimentel of Backlash Beer!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Contest: NH BrewFest at Redhook

As announced last week, Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth, NH is the host for the 3rd Annual NH BrewFest on Saturday October 15th, and we have a pair of VIP Session Tickets to give away!

Just a quick reminder about the finer points to the festival overall:

- 30+ Breweries
- 100+ Beers
- Live Music
- Food
- Session 1 runs 1-4pm
- VIP Session 1 gets you in at 12pm, an hour before the general public
- Session 2 runs 6-9pm

Now to the important to win the FREE VIP SESSION TICKETS!

In the past, we have simply asked those who enter our contests to simply state their favorite beer by XYZ brewery, but we've decided to change things up a little bit. While we still want to know what your favorite Redhook beer is - mine is Longhammer IPA, we also want to comment on this post letting us know why you should get the tickets.

You'll also want to be following Brew England on Twitter and be a fan of us on Facebook, because I mean hey...why not be following or liking us on Twitter and Facebook? You'll earn extra bonus points if you Tweet "I just entered for a chance to win free NH BrewFest tickets at!" (please Cc: us using @BrewEngland so we can see) or by writing on our wall on Facebook...but, remember the comment here is the 'official' way to enter the contest!
The cut off date to enter is Friday October 7th at 11:59pm, and the winner will be announced at noon on Tuesday October 11th.

Good luck!

Monday, September 26, 2011

22nd Annual Harpoon Octoberfest Boston

Harpoon Brewery will be hosting their 22nd Annual Octoberfest this Friday and Saturday at their Boston brewery. Both sessions will give incentives for Friends of Harpoon card holders, but you don't have to be a FOH to attend.

Friday's session runs from 5:30-11pm with doors closing at 9:30pm. If you show your FOH card, not only will you have an exclusive line (pretty much guarantees you'll skip many people), but you'll receive 1/2 price admission! The ticket is $10 and includes one drink ticket. You can bring one other person to skip the line, but if they aren't a Friend of Harpoon they'll be stuck paying full price for their admission, not to mention all their beers.

Saturday's session runs from 2-9pm with doors closing at 7:30pm. You and a friend can still use the FOH entrance, but unfortunately the admission is full price and does not include any of your beers. However, all Friends who enter through that line and have your FOH card scanned are entered to win a prize package!

Get more information on this cool event here.

Friend of Harpoon Night on Thursday

Harpoon Brewery, in conjunction with the British Beer Company Pembroke, will be having a Friends of Harpoon Night this Thursday from 7-9pm. The BBC will still be pouring their other selection of beers, but all FOH card holders should show the Harpoon rep their cards, and they will buy you a pint of their Octobefest. I also highly recommend you get there early, because there will be a limited supply of Harpoon IPA glasses handed out (while supplies last).

Last year Sarah and I went to the British Beer Company Walpole for Harpoon's 100 Barrel Series Pint Night, where we not only received a free pint of the latest 100 Barrel Series beers (which was the Glacier Harvest '10 Wet Hop Ale), the special 100 Barrel Series glasses, but the rep who was there also hooked Sarah and I up with free tickets to the Harpoon Octoberfest Friday Session! I can neither confirm nor deny they will be handing out tickets again this year, but the pint and glass alone were worth the trip.

British Beer Company Pembroke is located at 15 Columbia Road.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Meet the Brewer: Helder Pimentel

Coming soon...

A few weeks ago my buddy and fellow Guest Blogger Mike Micalone ran into Helder and Maggie from Backlash Beer at the Beer Summit/Sam Adams Octoberfest at the Castle. We hadn't been inside the event for more than 20 minutes when we saw them, said hello, and actually spent the next few hours hanging out and getting to know the two of them.

We were very, very into having a good time that night...

I had just concluded Part I of my interview and initial Meet the Brewer segment with Dave Lagueux, and was telling Helder about it. I asked him if he would be interested in being the second interview, and he instantly said yes!

So in the next week or so you'll see our interview with Helder here at Brew England, and it is sure to be a lot of fun!

Reminder: QAS Wine & Beer Tasting, Tonight!

This is just a friendly reminder that the "Quincy Animal Shelter's 2011 Wine & Beer Tasting presented by Frozen Freddies" is happening tonight at the Kennedy Center in Quincy, MA from 6-9pm. This event is the featured and most attended fundraiser for Quincy's only animal shelter, which is a NO KILL shelter (very important to us).

Tickets are just $30 (cash or check) and are available at the door or online by clicking here. Every paying attendee is automatically entered to win a $125 gas card, and the price of admission includes samples of wine and beer, as well as light refreshments and entertainment. Canton, MA based Blue Hills Brewery, along with Atlas Liquors, Shop-N-Save Liquors, and National Wine & Liquors will be on hand to give out samples of their selected liquid refreshments!

Sarah and I are excited to attend this special fundraising event, and hope to see some of you there!

If you missed the original announcement, or want additional information on tonight's event, please click here to read the full press release!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NH BrewFest at Redhook

Redhook Brewery Hosts Third Annual New Hampshire BrewFest: Oct. 15 A Celebration of over 100 Fine Craft Beers, Local Food, and Good Music;Tickets on Sale Now – VIP Package Available

Portsmouth, N.H. – Sept. 21, 2011Redhook Brewery, Master Brewers Association of the Americas New England Chapter, Prescott Park Arts Festival, and 100.3 WHEB & Rock 101 are teaming up to host the third annual New Hampshire BrewFest on Saturday, Oct. 15. Featuring more than 100 quality brews, the annual BrewFest will take place at Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth, N.H. The New Hampshire BrewFest encourages New Englanders to come out and enjoy great craft beer, food and music and will benefit the Prescott Park Arts Festival and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

As a nonprofit organization, the Prescott Park Arts Festival has presented music, art, theater, and dance to families on the banks of the Piscataqua River for the past 36 years, and was just voted ‘Business of the Year’ by the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce. The Master Brewers Association works to improve members brewing skills through scholarships and professional training sessions. The NH BrewFest will send two brewers to training courses to help raise the quality of beers they craft for all to enjoy.

What: Third Annual New Hampshire BrewFest
Join Redhook Brewery, 100.3 WHEB & Rock 101 in sampling more than 100 fine craft brews with 31 hardworking brewers. Hosted in Redhook Brewery’s backyard, this charitable event benefits the Prescott Park Arts Festival and the Master Brewers Association. Open to those 21 and over, the BrewFest will also feature local food and live music from Jeff Conley Band and The Raft.

When: Saturday, Oct. 15, times vary (see below for details). Tents will be available in the event of rain.

Where: Redhook Ale Brewery, 1 Redhook Way, Portsmouth, N.H. 03801

Tickets: NOTE: The N.H. BrewFest offers two sessions. Entrants are only permitted to attend one session. Pre-sale tickets are available online at and Redhook Brewery’s Cataqua Pub. Pre-buying tickets is advised as space is limited. Food is not included with admission and all purchases at the gate and inside the event are cash only.

Session 1 Matinee: 1-4 p.m., $25 Advanced, $35 Day-of-Fest

Session 1 ‘VIP’ Matinee: 12 –1 p.m., Pre-session plus 1-4 p.m. $45 Advanced purchase only with Live Music by Jeff Conley Band

Session 2 Evening: 6-9 p.m., $30 Advanced, $40 Day-of-Fest with Live Music by The Raft

VIP Upgrade for Session 1:
VIP upgrade includes face time with the Brewers one hour before the Session 1 Gates open. Guaranteed full selection of all the flavors the brewers are pouring and help tap the first kegs of the day. No beer lines, no waiting.

About Redhook Redhook was born out of the energy and spirit of the early 80’s in the heart of Seattle. While the term didn’t exist at the time, Redhook became one of America’s first “craft” breweries. From a modest start in a former transmission shop in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, to the current breweries in Woodinville, Wash., and Portsmouth, N.H., Redhook has become one of America’s most recognized craft breweries. While Redhook has “grown up” over the past 30 years, one thing has never changed – it’s still brewing great beers like ESB, IPA, Copperhook, Pilsner and seasonal brews. Most importantly, Redhook makes sure it has fun doing it. Redhook's beers are available in both draught and bottles and are distributed nationally through a network of wholesale distributors. For more information, visit

BBC Walpole Oktoberfest

I didn't get a chance to post this last week, but I thought I'd let everyone know that the British Beer Company is having their annual Oktoberfest this Saturday September 24th from 2-6pm. Food, beer, music, lederhosen (maybe), and more will be available at the Walpole location this weekend, with some of your favorit local breweries pouring their fresh beer.

Here's the press release:

What: Octoberfest
Where: British Beer Company in Walpole
When: Saturday September 24th from 2-6pm
Why: It’s a mini Beer Fest with 20 breweries and 75 beers

It’s that special time of the year again: football, foliage and of course…Octoberfest at the British Beer Company in Walpole. This autumn affair scheduled for Saturday September 24th from 2-6pm is really a mini beer festival with over 20 breweries and 75 different beers available to sample. Octo(BEER)fest might be a better title. Nothing says “party” like a big tent out front of the BBC, with live music, right next to a mobile Paulaner beer truck!

There will be plenty of fresh seasonal beers to sample, along with some of the most highly rated flagship beers in the world. Beer lovers will be able to savor brews from these gracious purveyors and all proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Walpole Community Food Pantry. Good beer for a good cause!

Breweries include: Allagash, Mayflower, Wachusett, Peak Organic, Notch, Berkshire, Shipyard, Stone, Harpoon, Guinness, Paulaner, Wolaver, Otter Creek, Sixpoint, Avery, Hobgoblin, Monty Python, Troegs, Cape Anne, Ommegang, Full Sail and Sam Smith.

In addition to all the beer tasting and reveling outside, three casks will be available at the bar. Beer soaked sausage and brats will be donated by the BBC along with a variety of delicious cheese that’s perfect for pairing with beer. The Racky Thomas Band will be busting out the blues up on the patio as brewers share knowledge and pour their sweet nectar.

Media Contact
Graham Wilson
Follow: @BritishBeerCo

British Beer Company
85 Providence Highway (Route 1), Walpole

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beer Nut Homebrewing Contest

The Beer Nut: Enter our Homebrewing Contest.

The Real Beer Nut, aka Norman Miller, is putting on his second annual homebrewing contest on Sunday October 23rd at Strange Brew Beer & Wine Making Supplies at 416 Boston Road East in Marlborough, MA.

Entries must be dropped off at the MetroWest Daily News at 33 New York Ave in Framingham from now until October 20th (anytime between 9am and 5pm) and will be scored on aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression. The Grand Prize winner gets the chance to brew a special beer (for some reason not their own winning beer) at Wormtown Brewing Company in Worcester with Brewmaster Ben Roesch. That beer will then be available for purchase at the Horseshoe Pub in Hudson, MA, Peppercorn's Grille & Tavern in Worcester, Prezo Grill & Bar in Milford, with the possiblity of more being added!

The contest is full of local beer geek judges, including Norman himself, Wormtown's Roesch, Jack Hendler of Jack's Abby Brewing in Framingham, Aaron Mateychuk of Watch City Brewery in Watham, Brian Powers of Strange Brew, and a sixth judge to be named later.

Visit Norm's blog to find out the full details and categories in which you can submit your homebrews for. Last year my buddy Mike and I went to the Horseshoe Pub, where the contest took place. This year looks to be a different event if you plan on attending, as there is no food or beer (as far as I can tell), but it would be a good opportunity to mingle with fellow homebrewers and possibly win some cool door prizes!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ipswich Ale Harvest Festival

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, why not consider hitting the Ipswich Ale Brewery's Harvest Festival on Saturday! The weather is supposed to be sunny, but cool, which should make for a true fall-like day. Here are some of the important details:

*Great beer and Mercury Soda Pops from the Tapmobiles
*Live Music by the Orville Giddings Band
*Delicious Food from Tennessee's BBQ
*1860's Rules Vintage Base Ball (all day)
*Good times with friends and family

The event is taking place at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm, located at 5 Littles Lane in Newbury, MA and runs from 12pm – 6pm. Admission is free, but drinks and food are available for purchase - I have confirmed that beers will be $4 for a 16 oz beer (not a bad deal if I do say so). The Ipswich Ale Website doesn’t provide much in the form of other details, but you can check out their Facebook page, as well as the Harvest Festival Facebook event page to RSVP.

The brewery would like to emphasize that this is a family friendly event. There will be children’s activities, such as pumpkin decorating and other games for kids of all ages (even the adult children). The farm also has a bunch of animals, which the children can get up close to.

It sounds like this is going to be a fun event!

Monday, September 12, 2011

50 Back Launches Bottle Cap Campaign

If you're like me, you probably haven't heard much about 50 Back, a Pepperell, MA based brewing company, who is attempting to raise funds for American Veterans. Built into 50 Back's name, is its mission - to donate 50% of their proceeds to charities which directly support veterans and their families.

I know that I had heard of this company, somehow, but didn't really know much about them at all, until I received the following press release:

50 Back --The Brew of the Brave--Launches Bottle Cap Campaign
$1.00 Purchase Helps Keep 50 Back Marching Forward

(Pepperell, MA) – 50 Back, The Brew of the Brave, wants to keep marching forward in its quest to support veterans, active duty military personnel and their families. The company has launched a Bottle Cap Campaign, asking those who support the brand to purchase a magnet, pin or golf ball marker made from a limited edition 50 Back Bottle Cap. Each item is priced at $1.00 and is available online at

50 Back aims to sell 120,000 bottle caps by December 31, 2011. Funds raised through the campaign will help 50 Back implement additional marketing strategies, increase brand recognition, increase sales support and enable 50 Back to continue its mission of helping veterans and their families.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the success of 50 Back to date,” said Kimberly Rogers, co-founder of 50 Back Brewing Company. “There is great demand for the product and in order to meet this demand, 50 Back needs to expand. We are asking those who believe in what we do to help.”

Created in 2010 by Massachusetts residents Paige Haley and Kimberly Rogers, 50 Back is an American-style lager. For every purchase of 50 Back Lager, the company donates 50% of the proceeds to charities committed to supporting veterans and active duty service members and their families, all of whom who have sacrificed to protect our nation and the freedom for which it stands. Today, more than 250 restaurants and retail outlets proudly carry 50 Back Lager.

50 Back Brewing Company currently supports five veteran organizations, including the USO, Homes for Our Troops, the Ahern Family Charitable Foundation, the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund, and America’s VetDogs. In addition to Massachusetts, the product is available at Harris Teeter stores throughout North Carolina, and is proudly sold on Fort Bragg.

“By raising money through the bottle cap campaign, we hope to expand the reach of 50 Back to a wider audience,” said co-founder Paige Haley. “The more beer we sell, the greater impact we can make on veterans and active duty military personnel and their families. Everybody wins with this campaign.” For more information on 50 Back, please visit

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meet the Brewer: Dave Lagueux

A few weeks ago I reconnected with an old buddy of mine, Dave Lagueux, on Facebook. Dave is a professional brewer and currently works for Trumer Brauerei, a brewery located in Berkeley, California, and he was kind enough to submit to the tortures of an interview with Brew England.

Dave and I originally met back at Central High School in Manchester, NH, something like 12-14 years ago (holy shit, I can’t believe it was that long ago). We were both musicians – he one of the best drummers I’ve ever met, and me a guitar and trombone player – and played together in a jazz band during my senior year (his junior year). We actually wound up being in a ska/punk band called 5 Bucks! after high school for about a year, touring the greater New England area and beyond.

Dave behind the kit at Axis in Boston during the Hometown Throwdown

Adam playing on stage at Cafe Eclipse in Concord, NH

I would become a working stiff after graduation, but Dave ended up doing a few tours with 5 Bucks! before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. He eventually joined the Boston based band Big D and the Kids Table and extensively toured the US playing the Vans Warped Tour and in support of studio albums. After touring with the bands, Dave worked at a few New England area breweries before participating in the Siebel Institute of Technology’s World Brewing Academy in both Chicago, IL and Munich, Germany. Dave returned to work at Lowell Beer Works, before moving to California to work at Trumer Pils.

Part I:

Brew England: Assuming you drank crappy beer, what got you into better beer? Did you start getting away from say Bud, moving to fuller beers like Killian’s, Sam Adams, etc?

Dave Lagueux: I guess I never really had a phase when I was drinking swill beer like that. The very first beer that got me excited was Newcastle. Then I got into those amazing beers from Unibroue. I have to say though, I really respect those macro brewers. To produce beers like that is very difficult, and to make it on that scale, with that level of consistency is really admirable.

BE: You graduated HS, you went to Berklee, took time off to tour the world with Big D and the Kids Table, and then returned to Berklee - right? When you were done with Berklee, what did you imagine you would be doing? How did that transition into the world of beer? What sparked your interest?

DL: I went to college for music. I have a BA from Berklee College of Music. I was kind of overwhelmed with things when I finished music school. I didn't know if I wanted to go to graduate school, or play music on a cruise ship or something. I knew that I had to somehow make money by playing music- not an easy task. I had been homebrewing for a while, and my girlfriend Megan paid for me to be a "brewer for a day" at Milly's Tavern in Manchester, NH. If I didn't get involved in brewing, I'd probably be playing weddings with a cover band every weekend.

BE: What got you into homebrewing?

DL: I started extract homebrewing right after college, and then went on to the all-grain thing pretty quickly. A lot of the things I brewed were for my own benefit. Sure, I wanted to make tasty beers, but I also wanted to understand what one variety of hops would taste like, or one base malt. I got a kick out of brewing "single hop" beers, with one variety.

BE: You mentioned that your girlfriend paid for you to be a "brewer for a day" at Milly's? How did that work? What did you get to do during the day?

DL: I think we saw it in the menu, and she ended up giving it to me as a gift. I showed up on a brew day, and just watched the process and marveled at all the fancy equipment. I had been homebrewing for a while, so it was a totally new experience for me. At the end of the day, I was excited and I just asked the brewer if he needed help in the future. Unfortunately it wasn't a paying gig, but I got some experience and got a lot of free beer.

BE: Tell me about your volunteering stint at Milly's Tavern - what was your "schedule" like? How many days a week, what did you do there, etc?

DL: Milly's was a great experience for me. The brewer at the time, Mike Roy (now at Franklin's Brewery in Hyattsville, MD) really helped me get a handle on pub brewing. Mike's a super patient guy who brews some delicious beers. He's a great teacher who let me get my hands dirty and ask a million questions. Mike even let me ruin a few batches of beer!

I would usually work 2 days a week, unpaid, doing some brewing, a little cellar work, and a lot of keg washing. My experiences at Milly's were really valuable because they helped me understand that even though brewing is really hard work, it was something that I was interested in doing for a living. I decided that I needed to learn more about brewing if I wanted to get my foot in the door somewhere. Mike really encourage me to go and do the Siebel program.

BE: Could you explain for the readers what cellaring is? What's the difference between the brew house operations and cellaring?

DL: In a production brewery there are usually two sides of the operation, hot and cold. Brewhouse means you're making wort all day on the hot side. Milling, Mashing, Boiling... although some folks think you're the "king of the castle" it's probably one of the most boring jobs in the brewery!

The term "cellar" comes from back when breweries had underground cellars for fermentation and we still use that term today. At Trumer a cellarman is responsible for harvesting yeast and cleaning and sanitizing everything the wort will contact, like pipes to carry wort/beer or individual tanks. Other responsibilities include tank transfers, filtration and carbonation.
As brewers, we rotate around these shifts pretty frequently, but I think the cellar shifts are my personal favorite. Handling yeast and beer can be tricky, and I like that.

BE: How did working at Milly's transition to working for Pennichuck Brewery? Tell me about your time spent there - how long did you work there? What did you do there specifically? Did you create any of your own beers? Did you do tastings, tours, events?

DL: Mike Roy moved on to bigger and better things, and he passed me off to a guy who was working at Pennichuck named Damase Olsson. Damase completed the Siebel/World Brewing Academy program out in Munich. He's another guy who is full of patience. Damase got me involved in some brewhouse stuff, cellar work and packaging. I didn't brew any of my own ideas, but I remember the first time I saw beer on the shelves that I had packaged. It was glorious!

I worked with Damase up until I went to Siebel, so probably about 6-7 months. I used to read all of Damase's Siebel books during the lunch break at work. I think it gave me a little head start, or at least I knew I was getting into by looking at the books ahead of time.

I think the only real promotional event I worked with those guys was the Great International Beer Festival in RI. Some of what I was learning rubbed off on my homebrewing. I was still doing that a lot.

BE: You mentioned that working at Milly's gave you a handle on pub brewing - what did you mean by that? Do you find a greater difference between pub brewing and brewing at a brewery-only facility?

DL: Milly's showed me the direct connection between pub brewer and customer. It's like a chef working in an open kitchen- customers can see you working and they get excited about that. Pub brewing usually means you're a one man show. Production oriented brewing is just that- production. I work with a team of 10 other brewers and we all make it happen together. We're not really able to get away with variations in a production environment, where you could get away with more in a pub. If something doesn't turn out quite right, you can always call it by a different name!

BE: How big were the batches of beer you were brewing at Millys? Pennichuck?

DL: Milly's had a 15bbl system, manufactured by DME. Pennichuck was using a 15bbl system as well, but we filled 30 bbl fermenters.

BE: Tell me about the Siebel/World Brewing Academy? Meaning, your experience living in Chicago, the program itself, exploring the city, going over to Munich...

DL: From Pennichuck I went off to Chicago, to study at Siebel/World Brewing Academy in the spring of 2008. The program was split between theory in Chicago and practical brewing in Munich for a total of 3 months. The theory portion is pretty in-depth, but really only scratches the surface of what we know about brewing. In Munich, the practical side was cool. We worked on two beers, a Pilsner and a Weiss beer, building the two recipes and then seeing them through filtration and packaging. We also did some lab work out there.

BE: Did going to Siebel give you a good understanding of the craft? Did you learn things you never expected to know about the industry? Was it more geared to becoming a brewer, or did it also incorporate the business of beer?

DL: Brewing is funny. It's only of those things where you can't really learn it all. It's almost like "the more you know, the more you know you don't know" with this stuff. There are so many inter-related sciences in brewing. For me, Siebel provided a good science background that I didn't have before. The fact that I had some experiences in breweries also helped. I was able to take the subject matter beyond a PowerPoint presentation. That's probably the best advice I can give anyone who is interested in doing this for a living: Work first, even if you're working for free.

Getting his hands dirty with some brewing science!

BE: Chicago is such a great city! You mentioned you studied Theory versus Practical at Siebel - was that all you did in Chicago? When you weren't in class in Chicago, what did you do for fun?

DL: When I did the Siebel program it was 7 weeks in Chicago doing the theory side of things. We checked out a Breiss Maltings, Miller, and Goose Island. I think the program is longer now? In my time off, I did a lot of exploring. I had never been to Chicago before so I had a lot to see. I think Chicago has become one of my favorite cities.

BE: How long were you in Germany for during the program? What did you like most about your time in Munich? What time of the year was it? What else was there to do besides brewing/class?

Dave in Germany

DL: I arrived in Munich on Easter Sunday. Everything was closed except for the beer gardens! I spent 5 weeks there, doing the practical side of the program. I think the best part of Germany was working on Doemens' awesome brewery. It was tiny, around 5 bbls, but it had all the bells and whistles you would see on a huge system. It was a Huppmann system, completely automated and able to do multiple decoctions.

We also took 10 days and travelled around Europe to various manufacturers and brewers. We went to Hopsteiner, Weyermann, Krones, Ziemann, KHS, Pilsner Urquell, Brauerei Hofstettner, Frankenheim, Reisdorff, Chodovar, Budvar, Rothaus and the original Trumer in Salzburg.

BE: Did going to Siebel give you a good resume, which could land you a position in a commercial brewery?

DL: Sure, but I think it was a combination of experience and education that ultimately got me a job. After school, I was ready to hit the ground running.

BE: How did you wind up brewing at Lowell Beer Works after Siebel? Also, what did you do there? Was it brewing for distribution, or just for the local brewery?

DL: My friend Mike helped me out again. I was looking for work while I was in Germany and I had two weeks of downtime from when I got home, to when I had a job in Lowell. Mike Roy was brewing at their brewpub in Salem, and he helped me get in touch with Beer Works. I started in Lowell while they were still building the brewery. I got involved in some setup and construction initially, which was really interesting. Eventually we had a shiny new brewery to work in. I produced a lot of the same styles for those guys, most of which was sent out to the various pubs. It was fun work. I worked there for a little over a year, just as they were starting to get their bottling line running.

BE: You mentioned you were involved in some of the construction - could you be more specific? Were you setting up bright tanks, kettles, mash tuns, etc? Did you get hands on and technical with the equipment, or did they leave that to engineers and whatnot?

DL: Beer Works had a good crew of contractors who handled all the serious stuff like pipe fitting, welding, plumbing and all the electrical. I helped unload and assemble the vessels, clean them and eventually get them up and running. It was a great experience for me to see how it all came together. You'd think that when you order a brand new brewhouse and put it into place everything will just work perfectly, but that's not usually the case. It was fun working out all the kinks.

Check back for Part II of the interview, which will cover Dave's transition to California and his current duties at Trumer!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

3rd Annual Dogfish Head Fest @ BBC

Other than hearing from Kate at Craft Beer Cellar letting me know my (first) keg of beer for my recently purchased kegorator (Harpoon Brewery Octoberfest) has arrived, I just got an email from Graham at British Beer Company with the best news I've heard all day.

The following press release is for immediate release:

What: Third Annual Dogfish Fest
Where: British Beer Company in Downtown Plymouth
When: September 17th and 18th
Who: Dogfish Head Brewing
Why: 19 Kegs

Dogfish Fest is one of the British Beer Company’s most popular and anticipated events of the year. So much so, they have turned this year’s event into a two day festival for fans to revel in this Country’s most celebrated craft brewery. Every single tap at the little BBC in historic Downtown Plymouth will be dedicated to Dogfish Head Brewing on Saturday and Sunday September 17-18.

The final line-up is official, all the following kegs are under lock and key, guarded by beer ninjas: Black n Blue, Red n White, 60 Minute IPA, Hellhound On My Ale, Palo Santo Maron, Namaste, Pangae, Sah'Tea, My Antonia, Festina Peche, Punkin, Theobroma, 90 Minute IPA, Indian Brown, Raison d'Etre, Midas Touch, Chateau Jiahu, Olde School and finally 120 Minute IPA. That’s 19…19 kegs of beer.

Dogfish Head’s greatest invention outside of the beer itself is a contraption called the Randall. This device filters beer through fresh herbs, fruits, spices or just about anything that can be squeezed into it. After the beer absorbs all the goodness and flavors…the best part is - someone gets to drink it! There will be three Randall's in service for Dogfish Fest.

This is a picture of the Randall, the Enamel Animal

Beers to be Randallized:
Punkin Ale run through cinnamon sticks and vanilla.
Festina Peche run through strawberry and kiwi fruits.
90 Minute IPA run through fresh whole leaf hops.
Indian Brown run through fresh coffee beans.

Taps will start flowing at noon on Saturday and Dogfish Head heads will want to get to Plymouth before any of the 19 kegs kick. Cheers!

Media Contact
Graham Wilson

British Beer Company
6 Middle Street in Downtown Plymouth

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall Has Officially Begun!

Even though the calendar reads September 7th, it is 'officially' fall. I mean, it's after Labor Day, the kids are back to school, Boston has doubled in capacity thanks to all the college students (I say thank you very, very loosely), and Fall Seasonal beers have made their way to your local package/liquor store shelves.

Part of me wants to put off drinking these beers. I'm a summer kind of guy. I mean, my birthday is July 29th, so I was kind of born to love summer. Giving in to the rash of Oktoberfests and Pumpkin beers means acknowledging that the warm weather is giving way to cool, brisk days/nights. It's something that I've hesitated doing in the past, but I have to honestly say that I really do enjoy fall - it's the dreaded season that comes afterwards that I'm not to fond of.

Anyway, if you can't be 'em, join 'em (whatever the hell that means in terms of seasons)! This is somewhat misleading, considering I've already had several Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales, what? who cares? I'm a grumpy old man sometimes, and want to hang onto the warm weather for as long as I can, but it's a losing battle when it comes to the calendar.

Having said that, I'm really looking forward to fall. September usually means the unofficial official "Fest Season", with last Friday's Mass Brewers Fest kicking it all off. The Beer Summit/Sam Adams Octoberfest is THIS Friday and Saturday, and Jim Koch and crew are rolling out the cooler weather beers in awesome fashion. Tapping of the keg Friday, all day session Saturday...good stuff!

As you have probably seen, Harpoon Brewery released their UFO Pumpkin, which is an unfiltered, slightly sweet, unfiltered pumpkin ale. While it's not the best I've ever had, it's also no the worst. It has a pleasant aroma, a slightly malty and sweet body, and is fairly drinkable. If you haven't tried it, it's worth the cash for a six pack (or a pint if you see it out somewhere). I also tried the Woodstock Inn's Autumn Ale Brew, which had some similar qualities. I wasn't blown away by this beer, but it was still cool to try - and at only a few dollars at Bert's Better Beers, you can't go wrong.

I was pleasantly surprised by the awesomeness that is Brooklyn Brewery's Oktoberfest. It has the perfect blend of malty and sweet flavor, with a floral aroma, and great color. I quickly went through the six pack I bought. A full review is likely in order, and even though it's not a New England beer, it deserves some recognition for being a great beer.

Sarah and I also opted to knock back the bottles of Berkshire Brewing Co.'s Oktoberfest (one of my personal OFest favorites), as well as the Southern Tier Brewing Co's Pumking Imperial Pumpkin last night. We can't say enough about either beer, and don't be surprised to see a full right up of these either. At around $5, you can't beat a bomber of the BBC Oktoberfest, and the Pumking can be had for relatively short money as well - I definitely recommend both!

What beers are you looking forward to specifically? We'd love to hear what you're drinking, or soon will be drinking!! You can comment here, but you should also check out our poll posted earlier today on our Facebook page!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Guest Blogger: Oktoberfest Ale Update

by Mike Micalone

It's time for part two of my three part series on Adam and me brewing our Oktoberfest beers. If you missed part one you can check it out here.

Waiting for a beer to ferment can be pretty tedious. If you're too impatient you can end up opening up the fermenter before the beer is fully fermented. Now this isn't the worst thing in the world but my philosophy has always been to open the fermenter's lid a few times as possible so avoid any foreign bodies. After 17 days in the primary fermenters it was time to do some dry hopping (get your mind out of the gutters people, I said drying hopping).

Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to your beer to create a more aromatic beer. Hops that are used early on during the boiling process tend to add to the bitterness of the beer where hops towards the end or even after the boil are just for aroma. Both Adam and I's Oktoberfest recipes called for us to dry hop the beer. This can be done in a number of ways but the way most commonly done is to add the hops to the bottom of a secondary fermenter and siphon the beer directly on top of them.

Before I dry hopped our beers I decided it would be good to grab a gravity reading from each batch to ensure they were fully fermented. Using my (third in a long line of very fragile) hydrometer I found that my beer was sitting at 1.010 for a reading and Adam's was at 1.009. This tells me that all the heavy sugars that were once in the beer when the beer was much denser (a gravity reading of around 1.058 for my beer before it was fermented) had been converted to much less dense alcohol.

After taking the readings I decided to try out the green beer. Green beer is the term used for beer that's been fermented but not conditioned and carbonated. My beer had a lighter, more golden color, a lighter body and slightly bitter taste due to the amount of hops I used. Adam's beer was more of an amber color with a fuller body and a more malty taste than mine. Mine was pretty much crystal clear while Adam's was a little harder to see through. This could have possibly been due to the different colors of the beers or that some of the proteins in the beer have not settled out yet.

Next I prepared the secondary fermenters by sanitizing them and then adding a bed of hops to the bottom. In mine I added 1/2 ounce of Tettnang hops while Adam's called for 1/2 ounce of Hallertauer. I used my auto-siphon and moved the beer for each of the primary fermenters to the secondary ones. I took care not to aerate the beer too much since the beer already has a slight bit of carbonation to it. I also made sure not to pull any of the trub (left over grains, hops and yeast) from the bottom of the fermenters.

If I wanted to I could have saved the yeast from the bottom, washed it and reused it in a batch of beer within the next few weeks. I've done this in the past but decided I didn't have anything that called for German style yeast that I was planning to brew. I inserted the airlocks, closed the lids and tucked the fermenters away for another 7-10 days so they can absorb the aroma from the hops.

Stay tuned for the final part where I talk about bottling and sampling the finished beer!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beer Summit/Sam Adams OFest Beer List

The Annual Beer Summit Samuel Adams Octoberfest is just over one week away! The festive event is scheduled for both next Friday & Saturday September 9th & 10th, with special guest Jim Koch making his yearly appearance on Friday for the ceremonial tapping of the keg! Guest Blogger extraordinaire Mike Micalone actually won tickets to Friday's event through The Real Beer Nut Norman Miller's blog last week, and he is such a good friend (or is it that I'm such a good friend), that he is taking me with him!

Seeing how the OFest is coming up next week, I figured I would share the full list of beers that will be available for purchase and your enjoyment.

So without further delay, here is the list of beers on tap for this kick ass event:

Blackberry Wit
Black Lager
Cherry Wheat - If you haven't done so, try a Cherry Wheat with a wedge of lime
Boston Ale
Boston Brick Red - Hard to find on tap, but readily available at the TD Garden for Bruins games
Boston Lager - Perhaps my favorite offering by Samuel Adams
Cherry Wheat
East West Kolsch - Part of the Summer Mix Pack
Latitude 48 - Very solid IPA
Oaked Aged Porter
Sam Light
Simcoe - Part of the Deconstructed Latitude 48 mix pack
Oaked Ale/Maple Pecan - Mike tried it at the AHA Rally in Boston
Pumpkin - Introduced last year at the Beer Summit/Sam Adams OFest!

So if you haven't already purchased your tickets yet, this list might just give you a little incentive to do so. Tickets for Friday's session, which runs from 5-10pm, are $37.50 and include FOUR (4) beers, beer stein, live music, food (additional fee), and of course seeing Jim Koch tap the keg. Saturday's session, running 12-10pm, is $16.50 and includes your stein and your first beer (Octoberfest).

Click here for full details and ticketing information.