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Beer 101 Breweries

Tom Spends A Day With Brewer Tadhg Campbell of Slack Tide Brewing Company

We have been sitting on this article for quite some time.  Not because it wasn’t done well, we just wanted to hold onto it until Slack Tide Brewing Company was ready to release their first run of cans.  While we were awaiting the boys to let us know, something very cool happened, they went out and one a Bronze Medal at The Great American Beer Festival for Avalon Amber Ale!  So as this article goes to press their cans of Angry Osprey, Bell Buoy, and Tipsy Dipsy are available in 12 oz 6 packs at the brewery and select locations around South Jersey.  Without further adieu, here is Tom’s article born of sweat and hard work while yours truly sat in air conditioning!

John Couchoud, Editor-In-Chief

A Day With The Brewer

I recently spent a couple days with Tadhg Campbell of Slack Tide Brewing Company  to experience what a brew day consists of. The first day started with cleaning and sanitizing the equipment that will be used for the day. On day one Tadhg and assistant brewer Shawn Karge were going to be brewing a BBL batch one of mine and my wife’s favorite, Avalon Amber Ale. Apparently we are not the only ones who think that.3   This beer just took home the Bronze in the American-Style Amber/Red category for the Avalon at the Great American Beer Festival. Tadhg mentioned to me that it’s not a popular style, but I don’t understand why. It has beautiful color, and a nice toasty, malty flavor. For this batch we milled 110 lbs of base grain, and another 90lbs of specialty malt grains. While the grains did their thing in the Mash Tun we started cleaning kegs, and getting things set up to transfer Sand Spike Session IPA from the fermenter to the Brite tank. While the Sand Spike transfer was taking place I was able to clean 12 half kegs and 19 sixtels in their Keg Commander cleaner. We will be filling those the next day with Sand Spike, their Session IPA. My first day was only about 3 hours, but it was a great warm-up for what was to come on day 2.

Day 2 started out at a balmy 86 degrees in the brew house at 6am. That day Tadhg and assistant brewer Chuck Wieland were going to be brewing a double 10 BBL batch of Bell Buoy,  their award wining Belgian Blonde .  The grain bill for each batch will be a little over 700 lbs. While the first batch of Bell Buoy was in the Mash Tun we started kegging the delicious Sand Spike out of the Brite Tank which yielded 12 half kegs, and 19 sixtels which I had cleaned yesterday. By 8:30 we had the first 10 BBL batch of Bell Buoy in the Brew Kettle and all of the Sand Spike in kegs.  It is balmy in the brew house, currently in the low 90’s, thankfully the cloud cover is saving us. As I thought about the process of brewing, the one word that keeps popping into my head is “multitasking”. As Forrest Gump said “There’s always something to do and somewhere to go”. It’s 9 am, and we start to sanitize the 20 BBL fermenter that housed Sand Spike the day before, and will be the new home for the double batch of Bell Buoy for a couple of weeks. At around 10 am we add the hop bill to the first batch of Bell Buoy and start to pull out the spent grains from the Mash Tun which will be picked up by a local farmer to feed his livestock. I also took some of the spent grain and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies with them that turned out really good (Editor’s Note:  They were good!). The sun is out, and it’s about 100 degrees inside the metal building which houses the brewing operation.  so much for me and my big mouth talking about the cloud cover. As we finished removing the first batch of spent grain, Tadhg started pumping the Bell Buoy through the heat exchanger, and into the freshly sanitized 20 BBL fermenter.

As always there is something to sanitize, and prep for the next stage. It’s like a grain, hops, water, and sanitizing symphony that is kind of special to be a part of. It’s now 11:25 am and is about 110 degrees in the brew house, Chuck is moving to the taproom, and we are joined by sales representative Jordi Nicolau to finish up the day in the brew house. We are now ready to move the second batch from the Mash Tun to the Brew Kettle, and we are still sanitizing the Brite Tank to get it ready for the next batch of liquid gold to go in it. Time check is now 12:45 pm, and I just pulled out the second batch of grain from the Mash which comes in at about 1800 lbs when saturated, and the second batch is boiling. Although Tadhg’s day is far from over I’m ready to taste test some of the Sand Spike we kegged, and grab a few crowlers for the 4th. I can’t thank Tadhg, and his brother Jason, and everyone at Slack Tide that I worked with over the 2 days. It was an awesome experience, and it was hot, and hard work, but if you love what you do you never work a day in your life. I can’t wait to do this at another brewery, and have another great experience.

And, as always, Enjoy Your Pour!

                                       

10 Questions With... Breweries

10 Questions With…Ingrid Epoch, Head Brewer of Tuckahoe Brewing Company

I recently sat down with the new Head Brewer of Tuckahoe Brewing Co. Ingrid Epoch to talk about her past, and present with Tuckahoe Brewing. Ingrid started out her professional brewing career with Devil’s Creek Brewing in Collingswood in the spring of 2016. In September of 2017, she brought her skills to Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing where she brewed until April of this year when she became Head Brewer of Tuckahoe Brewing Co. Although I only had a short time to interview Ingrid due to a rigorous brewing schedule, I got the impression that this is going to be a good fit. While she will continue to brew our favorite recipes we have enjoyed over the last 7 years, she will also bring in some new styles for us to enjoy. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Tuckahoe Brewing. To learn a little more about Ingrid I asked her our 10 questions which is one of my favorite assignments because of the great tips and knowledge they produce.

What was the first beer you brewed, and how was it?

After reading “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing” by Charlie Papazian AKA “The Bible” to most homebrewers I knew I was going to love to brew. I started out more ambitious than most and made an all grain Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout. It had some off flavors and didn’t come out as I had hoped, but my friends liked it. They were not as experienced at the time with craft beer so they were not as critical as I was.

What is your favorite style to brew, and why?

Although I really love to brew Belgium beers there is such a broad range of answers to that question. I love brewing all the seasonal beers for the variety. I love a great Quad in the winter, and a good Saison in the summer, but my favorite time is fall when my first run of Stouts start to come out.

Do you look at ratings on Untapped, Beer Advocate, or Rate Beer, and does it influence your recipes?

More than I really should. I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but I know what I want from my recipe better than someone who is reviewing it. In the end, I want to make beer that I like to drink, and it seems most people like to drink it as well. I do like it for legitimate concerns like bad draft lines, and if there is any out of date kegs floating around out there. The best piece of advice I got was to lose my Untapped account.

How do you stay connected to the local area in relation to ingredients?

Great question right at this time. We are using malts from Rabbit Hill Farms in a collaboration beer with Slack Tide Brewing that will be out soon. We try to get local hops to do small wet hop collaboration batches. Even more local I’m trying to grow hops on the side of the building. Of course, we are using some blueberries for a Saison that we are making, and we use local produce in the Firkins we do every 3rd Thursday.

What is one tip you would give home brewers to make better beer?

Get the right equipment to measure things properly. Do not rely on the old school eyeball method for anything. Although cleaning is the biggest part,  monitoring your recipes should not take a back seat. The one thing that helped me make the jump from a home brewer to a professional brewer was keeping good records. I have sheets that I write down every possible thing so I can consistently hit those marks every time. Repeatability is the difference between home brewing and professional brewing.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to open a brewery?

Save up twice as much money as you think you will need. Also, you need to realize you will need at least 6 months from the time you brew your first beer to the time you sell your first beer. What has become a common answer in New Jersey is be prepared to wait for permits, licenses, and whatever else comes up. Have your brand, know your brand, and understand it. There are a lot of great breweries making really good beer so you need to know how you’re going to sell it, and who you’re going to market it to. That needs to be part of your package from day one. The label on the outside is just as important as the beer on the inside.

If there was a beer you could brew with no regards to cost, production, or sales what would it be?

I would do a high ABV Scottish Export Stout, but barrel age it in Oloroso Sherry Barrels that they use for scotch. It would be a Scotch on Scotch. The barrels are extremely expensive, and the grain bill I have written up for it is prohibitively expensive too.

Looking back at your first day forward, what was the one thing that surprised you?

Having an insane amount of good, knowledgeable help was great. Everyone was so into the program I wanted to put into place. A lot of time when a brewer leaves everyone follows, but that wasn’t the case here.

Other than your beer, what is your go-to after a long day at the brewery?

Not to sound cliché for the area, but Tonewood’s Fuego. It’s so great, and I only live a couple blocks from the brewery so it’s easy to pop in and fill my growler.

Where do you see the brewery in a year? In 5 years?

We want to double the capacity by adding 2 more 30 BBL fermenters, and 2 additional 30 BBL Brite Tanks. In 5 years I would love to see us distributing in all of New Jersey, in Philadelphia, and beyond. I want us to be in Delaware, and possibly the eastern shore of Maryland.

Bonus 1: What was the best beer you ever had?

 It was a Foudre Aged Sour Saison from Stone Brewing that I had at a dinner they hosted at The Blue Monkey in Merchantville.

Bonus 2: What do you listen to when you brew?

Almost always listen to 36 Chambers by Wu-Tang when I boil because the album is about an hour so it’s a mental focus thing since I know when the end is coming. Other than that we self DJ and someone puts on an album and we rock and roll.

Join us at South Jersey Beer Scene in welcoming Ingrid to Tuckahoe Brewing, and stop in to say hi, and have a beer. I’m really excited to try one of her recipes. 

And, As Always, Enjoy Your Pour!

                                       

Beer Biz Profiles Events

Talking Beer With Guy Corrado of Eastern Homebrew, Sponsor of the SJ Beer, Food, And Music Festival Homebrew Competiton!

I recently sat down Guy Corrado, owner of Eastern Homebrew located on Tilton Road in Northfield, to talk about the Homebrew Supply business, and his upcoming 2nd annual Homebrew Competition at the South Jersey Craft Beer, Food, and Music Festival being held at ACCC on Saturday, June 2nd. Guy opened his doors in July of 2015 and has been supplying a great many of the homebrewers in the South Jersey area ever since. Guy worked in corporate sales for 33 years and would homebrew as a hobby.  He found homebrewing to be very therapeutic and learned his craft over many years. He also worked part-time for Shawn Grigus at Tap It Homebrew Supply in Egg Harbor City. When Shawn closed to open up Tomfoolery Brewing with Gayle D’Abate in Hammonton, Guy saw a need in the area and put his plan into place to open Eastern Homebrew.

Guy initially started making wine after a visit to his sister out west and she introduced him to the hobby. He found that the homemade wine didn’t give him an allergic reaction like commercial wine did. When he decided to expand into brewing beer he dove right into brewing a Triple Belgium from an extract kit, and another brewer was born. From the beginning, Guy didn’t have a favorite style, he likes to brew them all. He really enjoys the seasonal brews, as do most of us. I think seasonal brews give us all something to look forward to all year long. When I visited, Guy had just finished brewing a Kölsch which should be ready right when the weather gets warm. He also enjoys brewing German Alt’s, Anchor Steams, and California Commons which are a 100%  American Lager. These are not your normal choices for home brewers, but Guy loves a challenge. He does most of his brewing in The Grainfather which is a nice self-contained system that he sells at the store. I tried a few samples that he brewed in it, and I must say it does a really nice job. Guy is kind of The Godfather of The Grainfather.

As I was sitting in the shop, I noticed he had a beaker of yeast swirling away being conditioned for an Apricot Sour Berliner Weiss. With a background in chemistry, I quickly realized Guy has a wealth of knowledge and really cares about helping people make better beer. “You don’t get into the homebrew supply business to make a lot of money,” Guy told me, “You do it for the joy of it all.”  Like most breweries, it has taken him about 2 years to break even and to start making a living. Most of his business is repeat customers, but he does see some new faces come through the door which is nice to see the craft is still expanding.

Guy has tons of stories of helping brewers reach their dream. One day, not long after Guy opened, There were a couple of guys who stopped in and said they wanted to learn how to brew with the goal being to fulfill their dream of opening up a brewery. Guy started to show them some extract kits, and they said, “No no! We want to do all grain, and we want the best equipment you have”. Guy questioned, “are you sure?” They replied “You don’t understand. We run into burning buildings when people are running out!” Those two gentlemen were Kurt & Karl Hughes who are now the owners of Bucket Brigade Brewery in Cape May Court House, N.J. Another pair of Guy’s steady customers are Jason Filoon and Tim Smith who are in the process of opening up Devil’s Alibi Brewing.  Jason and Tim have been creating quite a buzz in the Homebrew competition circuit the past few years. We wish them the best of luck making their dream come true so more people can enjoy their beer. I’m sure they may have an entry or two in Guy’s Homebrew competition which is taking place on June 2nd! I’m sure there many stories like this, and we thank Guy for being a great steward of this craft.  I truly enjoyed my visit with Guy at Eastern Homebrew, and can’t wait to see him at The South Jersey Craft Beer, Food, And Music Festival being sponsored by The Joe & Rachel Show on Cat Country 107.3.  Make sure you stop by and see us at our booth at the event!  We will be selling some of our  T-Shirts and will have a few special surprises for you!  Hope to see you there!

And, As Always, Enjoy Your Pour!

For more information on Eastern Homebrew, visit them on the web at www.easternhomebrew.com

Visit Eastern Homebrew on Facebook @easternhomebrew

 

 

For Tickets and Information on the Joe & Rachel Cat Country 107.3 SJ Beer, Food, and Music Festival follow the link HERE

Breweries

Mudhen Brewing Co. of Wildwood is Open For Business!

This past week we had the pleasure of visiting Mudhen Brewing Co. in Wildwood, the latest venture of Brendan and Robin Sciarra who also own the Dogtooth Bar & Grill just around the corner. The name Mudhen takes its name from the nickname given to the first passenger train in Wildwood which started running in 1883. The train would have to take a bridge through the marshlands from Cape May Court House and was often washed out during high tide, thus the legend of the MudHen was born! We arrived shortly after they opened and the place was already buzzing with activity.  As we walked up we were impressed with the transformation from what was once Harley Davidson of Wildwood to this impressive new brewpub.  The outside of the building is emblazoned with a giant Mudhen sign that fits the Doo Wop atmosphere of Wildwood perfectly.  The brewhouse itself is able to be seen from the street through glass garage doors which will allow you to watch Head Brewer Tony Cunha doing his craft.

We met with Marketing Director and Resident Artist Russ Simmons for our tour of the Brew House and restaurant area. Russ is also responsible for the impressive artwork for the labels on the crowler cans, and the original paintings can be found hanging upstairs in the 2nd-floor loft hallway.  As soon as you walk through the door you realize a lot of thought and craftsmanship has gone into this establishment and as Russ walked us through the building he pointed out many details that were carefully selected to add to the overall theme of the brewery.  From the reclaimed bricks and doors brought in from Philadelphia to the wall leading up to the 2nd-floor loft that is adorned with Oak Barrel Staves which give the wall a 3D effect, there is a stunning attention to detail and style that is truly remarkable.  The main room is large and has an industrial feel with high ceilings and rows of tables that remind me of a German Style Brewhaus, communal but far enough apart that you are not on top of each other. Although the high ceilings and big space may remind you of a lot of breweries you have visited, it’s clever use of large round lighting fixtures covered in fabric and a large wall hanging of a Mudhen that help deaden the sound and allow you to have a conversation is a welcome sight.  The bar lines the entire West end of the brewery, just below the reclaimed brick wall with the initials MH smack in the middle.  Just off the main floor is another area called  “The Wildwood Bar” that has high tables along with another bar.  The main wall of the room has the “Wildwood” sign that was in the Harley Shop.  The room also has a glass garage door that can be opened in nice weather. Right outside the garage door is a great outside area with picnic tables, a fire pit, and corn hole.  Back inside, there is a stairway that leads to the aforementioned loft area. Once you are up on the 2nd floor you have a great view of almost the entire restaurant. In addition to the extra seating for dining, there is a nice lounge area that is decorated in a very eclectic style. There is a nice half moon bar as well as restrooms.

The other thing that is different than other breweries in our area is they are also a restaurant with great food. This also means they are not allowed to distribute outside of the brewery, but they can fill growlers, and crowlers to take home. When Brendan was ready to develop the beer for Mudhen, he hired renowned consultant Scott Morrison.  Scott is one of the most sought-after consultants in the business and has a closet full of medals from The Great American Beer Festival and The World Beer Festival.  As for the beer, the evening we visited they were offering 6 different beers with a wide range of styles. From the Mud Light Pilsner to the Baker’s DIPA, Brewmaster Tony Cunha has made something that will fit everyone’s palette. With a degree in Hospitality Management from UCF, Tony definitely knows how to make people happy. After stops in Vegas, Orlando, and Baltimore as a restaurant manager, Tony realized he wanted to turn his love of home brewing into a career.  In 2013 Tony began to follow that passion and started at Rock Bottom Brewing in King Of Prussia. His next gig was at Sterling Pig Brewery in Media, Pa,  with Multiple GABF Medal winning brewer Brian McConnell, who Tony had worked with at Rock Bottom. It was at Sterling Pig when he heard that Brendan was planning on opening a brewery in Wildwood. Tony, who has his roots at the shore and is a graduate of Lower Cape May Regional High School, immediately knew he had to be the brewer, and the rest is history.   We spoke with Tony at length in the brewhouse and it is clear that they couldn’t have made a better choice to brew!  I’m really excited to sit down with Tony after Labor Day when he can catch his breath, and do our “10 Questions With The Brewer”  feature.

After we spoke with Tony and Russ, we decided to stay and sample some beers and have dinner.  The food was more than typical bar fare with a wide range of interesting cuisine.  There is a heavy barbecue presence, but I have no doubt that there is something on the menu for everyone!

Needless to say, we were suitably impressed with Mudhen and had a great time!  Being one of the few brewpubs in the southern part of the state, we suspect that this will be one of the go-to places for those who visit South Jersey this year!

Thanks to Tony, Russ, and the staff for being such great hosts and we look forward to seeing everyone again soon!

And, as always, Enjoy Your Pour!

Mudhen Brewing Co. is located at 127 West Rio Grande Ave, Wildwood, NJ 

For more information, visit Mudhen Brewing Co. on the Web at www.mudhenbrew.com

Follow Mudhen Brewing Company on Social Media @mudhenbrew

 

 

10 Questions With... Breweries

10 Questions With…Paul Simmons of Glasstown Brewing Company

Back in January when I sat down with Paul and Jen Simmons to talk about their upcoming 4 year anniversary I also did a “10 Questions with the Brewer” segment.  Paul is a really great guy and we talked for well over an hour, and I could have talked to him for another 10 more!  These articles are one of my favorite things we do here at South Jersey Beer Scene and Paul’s was no exception!  We get a lot of similar answers, but how they each got there is often times very different.  Glasstown will be having its 5th Annual Adult Easter Egg Hunt at the brewery on 3/31 at 11:45 AM.  Paul, Jen, and the rest of the staff at Glasstown hide 1500 Eggs with a chance to win prizes!  You must be 21 or older to participate, and the number of eggs you will be allowed to find will depend on the number of people who show up.  This is a really fun an unique event that gets bigger and bigger every year, so get out to Millville and find those eggs!

What was the first beer you brewed, and how was it?

It was an Amber Ale kit from Northern Brewer. I had been out in Colorado and had a New Belgium Fat Tire, and really enjoyed it so I wanted to make something similar. It turned out really good, and it went really fast. It was right after that I brewed a Helles Lager since I just got a refrigerator for the garage to control the fermentation temperature. Initially, it tasted good, but after about 2 months it started getting an onion taste.

What is your favorite style to brew, and why?

It would have to be IPA’S. I am a hop junkie, and have to try IPA’S wherever I go. There are so many ways to change the characteristics of them from the kind of hops, to the time you add them to the boil. It’s just a very dynamic style for something that seems so narrow. I also enjoy a big, heavy, barrel aged Stouts. I’m not really a whiskey guy, but I do enjoy a hint of whiskey in my beer.

Do you look at ratings on Untapped, Beer Advocate, or Rate Beer, and do they influence your recipes?

I have completely given up on reading those types of sites. For the first 2 years, I read every review on Untappd, and freaked out about a thousand times. If you don’t like a certain style then you can’t give it an educated review. Just because you don’t like a style doesn’t mean it’s a 2 star beer. It’s not just my beers either. When I see other local breweries getting 2 stars I feel angry for them, because I know that beer isn’t a 2. I truly put more stock about our brand from what people say on our Facebook page, at the Taproom, and at festivals. It would definitely be a NO when it comes to them influencing our recipes.

Author’s Note:  I agree with something that Paul said. I too think those types of sites will continue to lose credibility unless they change the rating system.

How do you stay connected to the local area in relation to sourcing ingredients?

We started using Rabbit Hill Farms lately as have a number of local breweries. In the fall when we make our Honey Brown we use local honey, and when the time comes to make something with blueberries, and cranberries we have a local source for that too. One other way we source local is with our glassware. Millville is known for their glass factories, and we would use Gerresheimer Glass Inc. for our growlers until they moved to Chicago. We now get our glassware from Duran Glass in Millville. All of our merchandise is made local, and we try to buy as much equipment local as well.

What is the one tip you would give home brewers to make better beer?

The answer that was given by Paul was one I heard often,You really need to control your temperature during fermentation. It is extremely difficult to put your wort and yeast into a glass carboy, and not have the temperature spike. If you want to consistently make good beer at home you need to control temperature during fermentation.”

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to open a brewery?

Don’t be afraid to start small. We didn’t have the money to start out with a 15 BBL system like we where told. You will need a realistic budget to work off of. We started out only brewing 12 gallons at a time, but if your numbers are right, and you figure out that you can hit those numbers you’ll be okay. You also need to be mechanically inclined so you can fix things on the fly. If you can’t afford something you need to know how to make it cheap.

If there were one beer you could brew with no regard to cost, production, or sales, what would it be?

Without question, it would be barrel aged beers. I would love to brew something, and stick it in a whiskey or wine barrel, and forget about it for 3-4 years. Firestone Walker does this, and I just think it’s so neat.

Looking back to opening day forward, what was the one thing that happened that surprised you the most?

We started out brewing mainly IPA’s, but quickly found out that the Millville area had a large dark beer loving colony, so we rapidly switched gears, and started brewing some. We where totally caught off guard by that, but we love making, and drinking them. Judging by the response everyone else likes drinking them too.

Other than your beer, what is your go to after a long day at the brewery?

Usually, it would be Founders All Day IPA, but I do like to enjoy some barrel aged stuff like Bourbon County or KBS. I also got my hand on a couple Founders Backwoods Bastard that I like to enjoy, but mostly All Day IPA. You can have 3-4 and get sloppy.

Where do you see the brewery in a year? In 5 years?

Just to continue canning. Hopefully be able to hire another part time or full time person. We would love to add another tank or two, and another fermenter or two. Also, start spreading out a little farther with our distribution zone. See if we can start opening 6-7 days a week. In 5 years we would want to be up to a 10 BBL system, and swap out some of the 7 BBL tanks for 20 BBL tanks. Increase our distribution area to about 2/3rds of the state, and maybe start sneaking into Philly. The ultimate 5 year goal would be to open a Farm Brewery on a piece of land we have our eye on. We would love to do a whole sustainable thing with growing some hops, and barley, and have some animals. We want to make it more of a daytrip for the whole family where you can walk around having a beer while the kids feed the animals spent grains, and learn about the whole brewing process. In the fall we would have a pumpkin patch, and hayrides.

Bonus Question. What’s the best beer you ever had?

That would have to be Firestone Walker’s Stickee Monkee.

Bonus #2. What do you listen to while brewing? I got this idea from Tadhg Campbell of Slack Tide Brewing.

It’s a mix mash of everything. Primarily it’s 80’s  90’s rock, and early 2000 alternative rock. There are a few rap days, and some jazz days thrown in for good measure. If we are canning, and Rage Against the Machine comes on it seems to speed up the process.

Thanks so much to Paul and Jen Simmons of Glasstown Brewing Company for spending some time with me!  They are truly 2 of the nicest people that you will ever meet!

Enjoy Your Pour!