Time to get my hands dirty.

For years I’ve written a biweekly print beer column, and this wonderfully informative blog, with no qualification other than I’m a bigmouth and I have a laptop. That’s about to change.

It’s time to get my hands dirty, to re-learn this industry from within the trenches, to lift a shovel and wield a scrubbing brush. Today I will begin interning at CB’s Brewing in Honeoye Falls, New York. Hard labor, here I come.

-Mark

3 Head’s ‘The Common Man’ releases in Rochester today.

I’ll be writing a fair bit about this one. The beer that will, as 3Heads co-owner Geoff Dale described it, “unite the common beer drinker and the hardcore beer geek” has arrived.

Of course, since these guys don’t do anything normal, it’s a California Common ale (St*am B**r to those of you who aren’t trademark layers for the Anchor Brewery). It’s a jury-rigged style developed during the California gold rush that uses lager yeast, but ferments it at warmer ale temperatures. The result is an interesting hybrid with much of a lager’s crispness, but crazy esters hanging around in the background.

The Common Man lives up to its billing; it’ll be my choice for many a summer beer on the patio of the Tap and Mallet this year. It leans clean, with a pronounced, heavy body (sort of like a Helles), and an intense bitter snap that could be toned down just a hair to turn it into a world-class refresher. At 5.5%, it’s pretty damn sessionable as well.

You can get The Common Man right now at The Tap and Mallet (which I think I’ll go do), and it’ll be launching all around Rochester this evening. They’re launching it with a big pub crawl. If you see the 3 Heads guys come stumbling into your bar tonight, you’ll know what to order.

-Mark

Beercraft column: Rochester gets its own Beer Week

Beer Week organizer Chris Schultheis

Boston has one. So do Philadelphia and San Diego. Across the country, big cities celebrate their vibrant beer scenes with annual week-long events.

This summer, Rochester will join the elite during Rochester Real Beer Week. The event kicks off with the Rochester Real Beer Expo on June 15th and runs through June 23.

”It’s a natural extension of last year’s Real Beer Expo,” says Chris Schultheis, Bar Manager of The Tap and Mallet and creator of the event.”Between that success, and the way the Rochester Brewing scene has matured over the past few years, we thought it was a good opportunity to create a great event.”

The Tap and Mallet is spearheading Real Beer Week, and they’ve partnered with pubs, breweries, distributors and retail beer stores throughout The Greater Rochester area. participating merchants will offer special tastings, discounts and premium real beer selections.

”Any place that serves good beer, sells good beer, and has made a commitment to beer as a staple is invited.” Schultheis says.

Many participating venues will use the  week as an opportunity to introduce real beer to a wider audience, holding beer and food pairings, and special tastings that give people the chance to talk face-to-face with the brewers who make all thats delicious local beer.

Schultheis hopes that Real Beer Week will really shine a light on what those local brewers are making. The explosion of artisan breweries in the surrounding reason is one of the main factors that make the festival possible.

In terms of popularity and production, real beer is still growing explosively, and Schultheis expects that to fuel expansion of Real Beer Week over the coming years. He envisions Jazz Fest-style VIP badges, or tickets that Offer entry to multiple events.

For this first year, however, he is content to. Keep things light and relatively informal, letting the venues sort out how things will go.

Judging from the enthusiastic crowds at last year’s Real Be Expo, the crowds are here and they’re thirsty. Who knows? Maybe one sunny summer week of fine beer just won’t be enough.

The week’s itinerary and calendar of events is at www.rochesterrealbeer.com, and the current list will grow as partners and activities are added.

Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at https://beercraft.wordpress.com. Find me on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to beercraft@rochester.rr.com.

3 Heads Brewing looks back on a year in the business


by Mark Tichenor

in early 2010, three friends took a giant leap. Buoyed by unshakable confidence that the beer they brewed at home was world-class, Dan Nothnagle, Todd Dirrgl and Geoff Dale surmounted the last in a long line of bureaucratic hurdles and 3 Heads Brewing was born.

Fourteen months later, Dale seems pleasantly dumbstruck by how far his beer has come. Not only is it all over Rochester, but you can even get a bottle of 3 heads in Chicago or Boston, where it sells steadily despite being a relative unknown on shelves full of Dogfish Heads and Victorys. For Dale, the growth of 3 heads is a journey, and he still has a long way to go.

“I feel like, we’ve finally reached the point where we’re not getting surprised. We’ve sort of dealt with how the industry works,” he explains, reflecting back on the challenges of building the business from the ground up. “The first year was sort of tough because we all dealt with stuff we haven’t done before.”

Dale is quick to praise his local community and retailers for being supportive as they learned how to schedule their brews, get label approval, and cope with initial demand that was higher, and lasted longer, than projected.

He credits that to the high quality of his beer, and to being friendly, approachable and genuine. “Look at me,” he says. I’m in a dirty hoodie because I’m out delivering kegs. My sales pitch is, we’re drinking some beers” he chuckles.

3 heads partnership with CB’s Brewery also factors into their success. Although long term plans are to open their own facility, all their beer is currently brewed at CB’s in Honeoye Falls. “We’ve really strengthened our partnership with them. We’ve become their biggest customer and they’ve invested in new equipment to meet our demand” Dale says.

Until this point, 3 heads beer has been big and on the strong side (their flagship IPA, “The Kind,” is that dangerous sort of beer that might not pack the hardest raw alcohol punch, but compensates by being deceptively easy to drink). The guys aren’t shy about whimsical flavors, the (bacony smoked-maple “Bromigo”) or style combinations (“Loopy” is an oatmeal-red ale). Every quarter sees an fun, experimental and often downright exciting new seasonal beer. With their next release, “The Common Man,” 3 heads is ready to move in a different direction.

“The Common Man” will be a take on a celebrated American style that’s really only regularly brewed by San Fransisco’s Anchor Brewery. Anchor calls it steam beer (and no one else can or they’ll hear from Anchor’s lawyers), but  the broader term is California Common Ale.

“Now we’re coming out with our accessible beer,” Dale explains, and he’s not afraid to speak boldly. “It is the beer that is going to unite the everyday beer drinker and the beer snob. It’s a beer that will cross all those boundaries. It’s going to change who we are as a company.”

Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at https://beercraft.wordpress.com. Find me on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to beercraft@rochester.rr.com.