A trip 5 years in the making

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It seems like just yesterday, that my brother had one of his crazy ideas. You know those what if, silly ideas  for a product  or movie that you talk about but no one ever really acts on. On this day it was different it was an idea for a beer, what is the idea you ask? Well that is top secret, but don‘t worry that’s not important what is important is that day something came of it, we decided to act. It was day one. Some people have a near death experience, some get fed with their current job and quit randomly one day, but for me it was much more subtle, I didn’t know this day was so prolific so life altering until years later.

I was 20 at the time, with some research we found out you can make beer at home pretty cheap. We went on E-bay, bought our first homebrew kit and began learning the art of making beer. At the time I personally was at a crossroad and after Fall 2007 I dropped out of UNR. I knew two things when I dropped out: one, I wanted to make beer for a living and two, I had no idea how I was going to make that a reality.  Fast forward  a few months, I had three jobs: one at a gas station, one at a smoothie shop and bartending one night a week with my sister in law. During this time I had time to think and I figured well if I am going to own a brewery one day I need to learn how to run a business. Thus I started back to school this time with a goal. Fast forward a few years it is the summer of 2011, I am a year out from graduating from UNR and my brother left his job to work for High Sierra Brewing Company. Fast forward to April 27, 2012  and we get to the topic of this post.

My brother Jeff and I were at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. for the MBAA spring technical meeting. During the drive from Carson City to Chico it hit us just how far we had come, my brother had made the leap to professional brewer, I finished college in a few weeks and we were at one of the god father breweries of the American craft beer revolution  rubbing elbows with guys like Russian River and Bear Republic. It was hard to keep our excitement in check but we played it cool.

The meeting was awesome it was in Sierra Nevada’s “Big Room” and it covered things like how to properly care for oak barrels and the different techniques for dry hopping. The dry hop portion was my favorite part, they put together a panel with brewers from Sierra Nevada, Moylan’s, Russian River and Bear Republic. The best part was it gave you an idea of how it is done from the big guys down to the pub brewers. For example Sierra Nevada uses their “Torpedo” that gets packed full of hops and gets beer pumped through it to get the aroma from dry hopping and Moylan’s just opens the top of their fermentation tank and dumps in the hops.

Dry hop panel

A Torpedo

Outside of the meeting, the trip was awesome just to get to check out a brewery like Sierra Nevada. The amount of detail that they put into the brewery is amazing, down to the art on the tiles. They also offer up a wide array of ways to be more sustainable boasting hydrogen fuel cells and solar panels. The place is truly incredible, I could tell the amount of pride and commitment employees had for the brewery.  Which most likely comes from how well they are treated as employees, I mean they have a doctor on staff one day a week employees can see for free. Now that is rad.

Big Foot bathroom tile

The trip served as a reminder of the work my brother and I have put in as well as the work we have to go. Now it is time to find a job working for a brewery and that is easier said than done but just as the last five years it is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and it will surely come. This weekend we head to Anderson Valley for a brew fest and you can bet I will have my business card waiting in my pocket ready to handout to anyone hiring. The day will come where just like I set out to do five short years ago, that I will indeed work in a brewery for my living.

Tenaya Creek Tour

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Beer Diary,

A while back I did a beer review on Tenaya Creek Brewery, which led me to an interview with their GM Karl, which led to an open invite to check out the brewery whenever I was in Vegas. Well a few weeks back I was in Vegas so I took them up on the invite. They started up in 1999 and started bottling in 2008, they are a great bunch of guys. I did a post on them in November so you can read about them and some of their beers in more detail here or on their website tenayacreek.com

Karl was out sick that day :( , but he gave Anthony the brew master a heads up so he showed me around and we had a nice chat. We talked about the state of the Reno and Las Vegas craft beer scene, the fall of Buckbean, off flavor trouble shooting, a number of breweries, Tenaya Creeks Barleywine and a bunch of other beer geek topics. Anthony could not have been a nicer guy, he showed me all around, sampled beers with me and sent me home with their barleywine, hell ya! Side note Tenaya Creek is back in Northern Nevada, I saw them at Aloha in Carson this weekend and I am sure they are in most Ben’s liquors and Total Wines in the Reno/Carson area, check them out!

Old Jackalope Barleywine

It was funny because in my MGT 480 class the week before I had got in a debate with my teacher about how I don’t feel like I need to “kill my competition” when I own a brewery. My point was the reason why I picked the industry was because of the people and community involved in it. I like the fact that my fellow brewers are willing to sit down with an aspiring brewery owner to offer advice and war stories for the journey. I plan on doing the same when I am in a similar position.

I headed home for the long drive back to home with a restored focus and energy towards the goal of starting a brewery. Which led me to this post, it was the clear choice for my first post back from my hiatus from the blog. I finish college in a few weeks and for the first time the path towards the goal is not decided. Before it was always working towards finishing school, now I am seeking the other opportunities (jobs, contacts etc.) that will better prepare me for opening my own brewery, I can not enroll in hands on experience 101 thus the path is less clear, it is exciting and scary at the same time.  So I have decided to add a topic that my blog will cover, the journey towards the brewery, journalizing my search for a job in the industry and the stories along the way.

 

Better Late than Never Nevada Day Porter Brew Day

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Last Nevada day I was part of an epic brew of a beer we dubbed Nevada Day Porter. This year we wanted to brew it again but Andy my friend and world’s best  graphic designer couldn’t make it up for this year’s brew on Nevada day. It just didn’t feel right brewing it without him so we waited till Thanksgiving weekend to brew it so he could be here.

OATS

Chocolate Malt Weighed and Ready

The beer is a porter with a heavy hop aroma, is well balance between the sweetness of the malt and bitterness of the hops and dark grains. We use the nice clean American Ale yeast from Wyeast. The idea is to brew it with ingredients only from Nevada. Maybe one day juniper, mountain sage, and pine nuts. For now the spirit of this brew is the environment it is brewed in is one of drunken, lovingly talking shit to one another, reminiscing about past times where we got drunk and lovingly talked shit to each other, and talk about our future plans to conquer the beer world. This beer represents everything I love about brewing, enhancing beers with non-traditional ingredients, community of brewing brings, drinking great beer, having fun with friends and family, and developing a new beer.

The system

Boil

We also got to crack open the two remaining bottles of the original Nevada Day Porter that were aged for over a year. The beer had defiantly changed over the time it lost most of its aroma which was expected. But it matured very well it was like a bourbon barrel aged beer without the harsh whiskey flavor, it was smooth to drink, it still came through with its dark malt soul. It was interesting to see how it aged, usually our beer gets drank up in a matter of weeks or even days. It makes me eager to try develop a  beer meant for aging.

The Cracking

The cheers and drinking

I can’t help but to think/hope this is genesis of our future brewery. Building traditions early and starting so cliche in our garage. We are scared enough of normal jobs, crazy enough to think it will work, think we are creative enough to stand out,  have a plan and vision the only thing left is to continue execute it. Going for the gusto. Thanks for the photos Andy!

Jeff my Brother Cleaning up

Top 7 Drinking Songs

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Get ready to rock your socks off! I have complied a list of my top 7 drinking songs. You think I missed a gem? Let me know if I think it’s better I’ll put it on the charts.

7. Drunken Lullabies – Flogging Molly

6. Corn Liquor – Buck Owens

5. Beer – Reel Big Fish

4. My Drinkin Problem – Hank III

3. Irish Drinking Song – Buck O Nine

2. You Drink You Drive You Spill – NOFX

1. Chug-A-Lug – Roger Miller

 

Reno trying to become a USBG chapter city

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Through the magic of Twitter I got wind that Reno was trying to become a chapter city of the USBG. What is the USBG? It is the United States Bartenders Guild and their mission statement goes like this:

The United States Bartenders’ Guild is an organization of beverage service professionals dedicated to the continued refinement of our craft. Such refinement is achieved through advanced product education; original hand crafted cocktail competitions; and aggressive involvement with other professionals in the beverage industry throughout the country and internationally. It is our intention, desire and main focus to become the most skilled, knowledgeable and professional group of bartenders in the industry.

I thought this idea was rad and worth reporting on so I got in touch with the fine young lady leading the charge to make Reno a chapter city, Nicole Barker is the Reno Chapter President and she was gracious enough to grant me an interview.

Why should Reno be excited to be a chapter city of USBG?

Reno should be excited to have a chapter of the USBG because the organization is a valuable asset to our community. It offers great networking and educational opportunities that can potentially put individuals, bars and our city on the map. USBG offers support in nationally recognized events, accrediting and competitions. USBG will potentially bring more industry based tourism to Reno. As well as aid in raising the local bar. Tourists and locals alike will benefit from a higher level of service, greater product knowledge and more passionate members of the service industry.

Say I am looking into becoming a bartender or I am out of work bartender why would joining USBG help me get a job?

Members of the Service industry will benefit from becoming members by advancing their education, product knowledge, by building a stronger industry network and showcasing themselves to a relevant market. If you are looking to break into the service industry or to trade up for a better position, being a guild member can only help. You will be introduced to many other service industry members who share your passion, building a sense of comradery. You will have the opportunity to better yourself in a rapidly expanding market, thus making yourself a commodity. We can all learn from one another and benefit from each other’s contacts and experiences.

Does it cost anything to join?

The Reno Chapter is in the process of becoming official. Upon joining USBG, you will be joining a national membership. Dues are $100 per year. These dues give you access to the nation membership network, competitions, health insurance and local events. We host at least one event per month and are always looking for subject suggestions and new ideas. We also host competitions, tastings and seminars. We are diligently working to create a substantial local basis of industry members to support an official local chapter. You can visit www.usbg.org for more information and to become a member.

I am a beer man, so what kind of training and events will the Reno chapter be putting on that involves beer? Where can I find out more about them?

Beer is a rapidly expanding interest. USBG is on par with this genre of the bar. We spend an equal amount of time focusing on as many aspects of the bar industry. Beer is no exception. Currently we are putting an event together called Bourbon & Beer. This event will feature both bourbon and beer as well as cocktails involving the two. This event is scheduled in January. Specific date and time TBA.

Nicole Barker doin work at the Reno Usbg kick off event

What is your favorite: Beer, whiskey, vodka, gin and rum?

I thoroughly enjoy a variety of spirits in each genre… And my tastes are constantly changing an adapting.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of drinking a bourbon barrel aged barley wine that was fantastic. Just the right amount of caramel, laced with cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla. As far as vodka goes, I am not much of a fan, at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans last July, I was introduced to Purity Vodka which has a rounded earthiness that I could enjoy. I am currently swept of my feet with Nolet’s Silver Gin– a fabulous pet project of the family that produces Ketel One. It is light on the juniper, very floral with bright notes of raspberry and white peach. A beautiful and enticing profile for a gin. As far as Bourbon goes, I may always be a Knob Creek girl. I enjoy the rich spice and vanilla finish coupled with a stunning heat. The reserve is worth writing home about. For rum, I am going to deviate a bit with another similar spirit born in the carnival jungles of Brazil, Cachaca. It is made from sugar cane rather than molasses and has a rustic and roasted heat that is exquisite when properly mixed. It is a little outside the box, just the way I like it.

Original USBG Reno Members Left to Right Josh Taylor, Nicole Barker(Reno USBG President), Armando Rosario (Las Vegas USBG President), Annalisa Rox (Reno USBG VP), Vaughn Silva (Reno USBG Treasurer)

Where should I go, or who should I talk with to join the USBG?

You can access more information about USBG on www.USBG.org . You can also follow us on twitter and join the USBG Reno Chapter Facebook Page. You can contact me directly, Nicole Barker, at 916-494-1935 or savage_bynicole@yahoo.com.
We hope to become the first new official chapter in 2012. Please join the movement!

Happy Day

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Beer Diary,

Every year for 10 years now there is a special event called Happy Day. It is to the pub crawl to drinkers like Ironman is to a triathlon  athlete. A 12 hour test of your will, liver and common sense. It also usually leads to someone losing muscle control. I meant to write a post while under the effects of Happy Day but I forgot… Oops. The semester is almost over anyway sooo pretty soon I can write posts in the amount and time of my choosing.

ANYWAY back to Happy Day highlights. This marked the third year of my brother and I making Happy Day beer. We went bold this year and made an IPA. So for the first time I will review my own beer.

Hoppy Day IPA has the aroma of sweet citrus flowers on the breasts of a beautiful naked women. It hits your taste buds like the fists of UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Sontatos and the 7.3% alcohol warms your belly like a fire side chat with FDR. The hop flavor lingers on your tongue like the super drunk dude at the party who won’t leave and you totally just want to pass out but you think he will steal your Ipod. Yeah that is the one thing I didn’t like about it but hey that is the price you pay for hardcore IPA’s. Overall we learned some things with this brew and we will hit the drawing board for some tweaks to the recipe.

The rest of Happy Day was a blast, tons of laughs, good memories with friends and stories to talk about the next year. Happy Day can eat your alive if you aren’t careful but if you pace yourself and maintain your wits you’ll have a great time as I did. Cheers and I will see you all next year.

Beer Review: Hop Trip

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Beer Diary,

I got to try Hop Trip tonight! They got it on tap at Sassafras, I got all excited and was like “SWEET they have Hop Trip I have been meaning to try that shit!” To which I got some disapproving stares.  But hey what can I say I love beer. Also had the chicken fried burger at Sassafras soooooo good, don’t know what I mean think chicken fried steak but with a burger.

Hop Trip is a fresh hop ale done by Deschutes Brewery. It is a seasonal release. 5.4% and 39 IBUs. I got a nose full of grapefruit and nice spice notes in the taste. I really liked this beer lots of hop flavor but not overly bitter. Beer Advocate rating, beware half are from the past release in 2008. I recommend it to people looking to ease their way into pale ales or IPAs.

Check out the webpage for Hop Trip. It gives pairings, links to Deschutes Blog and cool to see! it gives a link to a clone recipe for Hop Trip for you home brewers.