This fully armed and operational brewing station…

The newly relocated Rohrbach Brewing Company brewery is ready to produce beer.

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The brewhouse, ready to work some mojo

Although the percussive sounds of construction still echo through the converted warehouse, The brewing system is entirely assembled. The first batch to brew will be Highland Lager. Although the month spent not brewing while the equipment was moved has left supplies of the popular Scotch Ale are perilously low, the longer fermentation and maturation time of the Lager requires that it be brewed as soon as possible.

Certainly, Bruce and fellow brewer Jim McDermott have developed their share of grey hairs as they watched their beer stock dwindle like the Aral Sea. Now, their challenge is to replenish the inventory of accounts regionwide.

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Fermentation vessels await their precious cargo

And that probably won’t be too difficult. The increased work and storage space will hopefully facilitate a faster workflow, and once the 7-barrel system goes up at Rohrbach’s Buffalo Road location, the brewery will be making more beer than it has in years.

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Brewer Jim McDermott makes the final connections

Beercraft news

Beercraft has grown up! Thanks to a rapidly growing readership, we’re turning the blog into a full-fledged standalone website. This will allow more reader features, better presentations, and the simple and hassle-free joy of running my own server.

We will accomplish the move today, barring the nigh-infinitesimal chance of a technical issue. Check back this evening for the new URL. Beercraft is about to be better than ever. And I have you guys to thank for it.

-Mark

Beercraft Newspaper Column #56: Low alcohol, big flavor

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Low Alcohol, Big flavor
By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

So how were you feeling under the harsh dawn of New Year’s Day?

A bad hangover, which some of you readers undoubtedly had, can put a person off of alcoholic beverages for quite a while, and rightly so. A hangover is a message from your brain that you were drinking in an irresponsible fashion.

One of the trends in craft beer over the past few years has been to make the occurrence of those hangovers much more likely. Strong beer has been king. The alcohol content of craft brew by volume usually tops 6%, and routinely spikes over 8%. Some of the strongest “extreme” beers pack an alcoholic punch eclipsing wine, up to 22% alcohol by volume in some cases.

These are fine, but it’s difficult to have more than two of these alcohol-bombs and still remain socially acceptable. Fortunately, and especially if you’re cool with drinking imports, there’s a whole range of commonly available beers that offer huge flavor while treading a bit more lightly on the old liver. If you’re planning a longer night out, you can’t go wrong with any of the following.

We’ll start with the obvious session beer: Guinness Irish Stout. Imposing, nearly opaque black, and bursting with dry, nutty, roasty flavor, Guinness does much to explode the myth that high alcoholic content is necessary for a satisfying beer.

Guinness is the beer we use to free beer newbies from their preconceptions. Many people believe that darker beer is stronger and heavier. But the only thing that makes Guinness dark is the roasting of the malt before brewing. A heavy roast results in grain that’s nearly black in color, and the use of this grain in brewing gives Guinness its inky, seductive hue.

Take a look at the numbers. The black beast of Dublin clocks in at 4.2% alcohol by volume, the same as a Bud Light. At 220 calories per pint, Guinness isn’t murder on the waistline either.

Of course, the flavor of Guinness isn’t for everybody. If you prefer a crisper, lighter, clean-tasting beer, a Pilsner might be just the thing. Pilsner Urquell, from the Czech Republic, is the original Pilsner beer (it’s brewed in the town of Pilsen). Over the years, the term “Pilsner” has become bastardized to refer to any light colored lager.

But the original Urquell is packed with flavor. You can taste the sweet malt in each sip, bready, yet light on the tongue. As you swallow, that clean sweetness rounds into a gentle bitterness imparted by Czech Saaz hops, lingering on the back of the tongue and inviting another sip.

Urquell is refreshing enough to drink outside on a hot day, complex enough to stand up to most food pairings, and, at 4.4% alcohol, light enough to make it your “go-to” beer when out with friends.

Our third suggestion comes from the Rhine river town of Cologne (spelled ‘Koeln’ in German). The city’s breweries are famous for their Koelsch- a slightly sweet, light colored low-alcohol ale that serves as an accompaniment to many meals and an excellent social lubricant in the evenings. It’s not the easiest style to find in Rochester, but Gaffel Kolsch has recently been on tap at the Tap and Mallet, and is available bottled at Beers of the World.

While Gaffel Koelsch is in fact an ale, its clean flavor and grassy body seem very lager-like. The key to this beer is balance, with neither the hops nor the malt dominating the flavor. Instead they combine to impart a gentle spiciness with noticeably grain and floral aroma.

Gaffel checks in at an underwhelming 4.8% alcohol, making it a good choice if you’re planning to have multiple brews over the course of an evening.

So who says you have to compromise? Pick one of these beers, or really pretty much any Irish stout, Koelsch, or Pilsner, and you can be assured you’re drinking a beverage that’s absolutely delicious, and is likely to split your bladder prior to splitting your skull. High alcohol content is great from time to time, but moderation hurts less in the morning.

In other beers

The annual Scottsville Ice Arena Winterfest is taking place on Saturday, January 19th, from 5pm to midnight. Included in the $10 admission is a beer and wine tasting from 7-9pm. Head on over to darkest Scottsville and sample the finest from Southern Tier, Rohrbach, Brooklyn Brewery and many more fantastic New York State craft brewers. There’s also music provided by The Meddling Kids and Random Act, and by you if you bring bongos and join the rhythm-optional drum circle.

Bruce is a certified beer judge and commercial brewer. Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at https://beercraft.wordpress.com. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to beercraft@rochester.rr.com.

 

Allagash over a barrel

We headed up to The Old Toad last night for the area’s first taste of barrel-conditioned Allagash Curieux. The place was unexpectedly packed. I’d like to think it was all Beercraft readers, but that probably isn’t the case.

Anyway, the beer itself was a bit anticlamactic to me. It seemed a case of the Belgian Tripel style not quite meshing with the barrel-conditioning. I missed the pinprick carbonation that counters a Tripel’s heavy sweetness, and combining that sweetness with none-too-subtle bourbon notes from the barrels made the Curieux just a bit too cloying.

Still, it was a rich, complex, and skillfully made beer. I just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to order more than one.
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Kira Barnes of UNYHA awash in Belgiany goodness

Sometimes that cat just needs a-killin’

“So we took a couple of firkins,” Jules Suplicki, bar manager of The Old Toad explained in her cute English accent “And we mailed ’em up to Allagash. We had no idea what they’d put in them. They shipped them back filled with Curieux.

“Cask-conditioned Allagash Curieux?” I asked, demonstrating my devastating logical abilities.

“Yeah. This is the first time that it will be availoable in Rochester on Cask.”

Jules was excited enough about this to print up a bunch of signs and make the tapping of the Allagash uber-beer a full fledged event. This Friday, January 11th, the two casks will be broached, and this Beer Advocate ‘A’ rated beer can be freely enjoyed by everyone who isn’t afraid to fill out a credit application.

I’m just saying… it won’t be cheap. but by the end of the night it’ll probably be gone.

-Mark