Union Corners Brewery: Madison’s Newest Brewery Opens with Emphasis on Community Involvement

DSC_0338.JPGMadison’s newest brewery will open its doors to the public for the first time at 5 p.m. today. Patrons will not only be welcome to enjoy the new brews at Union Corners Brewery but are encouraged to help create them as well.

“Anyone can come in with a beer idea can come in and fill out a submission,” said Owner Eric Peterson. “We go through and pick one we think has a lot of potential and create the recipe based on that concept.”

After a recipe has been formulated by the brewing team, Union Corners Brewery will schedule a day and time to brew the beer and allow community members to reserve a spot to observe that brewing. Participants can hang out in the classroom next to the brew space and watch the live feed via brewery camera, or they can watch from within the brewery. Head Brewer John Puchalski will explain the process step-by-step and also talk about the recipe and the history of the style.

Those who attend the brewing will have the exclusive ability to order growlers of that beer. The person who suggested the beer idea will have some say in the naming of the brew and will work with Puchalski and staff to find a name that works best.

Puchalski has been brewing for almost a decade. Before starting at Union Corners Brewery, he was the manager at the Brew and Grow hydroponic gardening and homebrew supply shop formerly located at 1525 Williamson St.

“Working at Brew and Grow was a great opportunity. I was working on a pilot system and my beer definitely improved over the time I was there,” said Puchalski. “I really enjoy brewing some of the lesser-known traditional styles. I really like shining light on styles you don’t see a whole lot of. I think if people give some of these beers a chance they might become one of their new favorite styles.”

Union Corners Brewery will open with a limited lineup of three beers brewed in collaboration with friends at Capital Brewery and Rockhound Brewing Co. Below are the initial offerings and how Puchalski describes them:

Kentucky Common: A dark cream ale brewed with corn. Expect a light-bodied, easy-drinking beer with a roasty finish.

Roasted English Porter: The name says it all. Puchalski loves a roasty Porter and brews this one with four kinds of roasted malts and two grades of crystal malt to give this brew a roasty, but not sweet, flavor. A total malt bomb.

Belgian Single: Essentially a sessionable Belgian Pale Ale. The base beer is similar to a Pilsner and is somewhat aggressively hopped. A floral cousin to a Hefeweizen with a Belgian twist but not so much of the banana esters one would expect to taste in a Hefeweizen.

The three initial brews were not yet named as of the writing of this article, but Peterson says they will all have names by opening on Friday. Union Corners Brewery will carry kombucha, ciders, nitro cold brew coffee on draught, and wine. Craft beers from other breweries will occupy some of the 24 available draught lines as the brewing team ramps up beer production in-house. The brewery will also have a full chef-crafted menu and table service available.

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From left to right: Head Chef Joe Tharp, Head Brewer John Puchalski, and Owner Eric Peterson

“Our food is outstanding,” said Peterson. “We really went all out and have good chefs. Not just traditional brew pub fare.”

The final menu will be released on Friday when Union Corners Brewery opens and will include Head Chef Joe Tharp and his team’s house-made ice cream. Once some heavy dark beers are brewed, the brewery plans to offer ice cream floats featuring the house-made ice cream to serve in the restaurant and the patio, once that opens up for the season.

The atmosphere in the taproom/restaurant has an industrial look and feel to it, which compliments the brewery’s brand and emphasizes the namesake of the Union Corners neighborhood and hard-working union people.

“We wanted a simple yet impactful logo that incorporates the fact that we are a brewery along with the theme of union corners,” said Peterson of the bold, gear-toothed, single hop cone that adorns the entrance to the building. “We have multiple versions incorporating our logo that pay homage to the different trade crafts. We decided to play on that along with a steampunk look and feel.”

ucbPeterson says that in addition to the cog logo currently used as the brewery’s Facebook profile, they will also be releasing more one-off designs that similarly feature other trades such as electrical and plumbing. Speaking of plumbing, Union Corners may very well have the coolest urinal in town.

For more information visit the Union Corners Brewery Facebook page or their website at unioncornersbrewery.com.

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Racking Our Wine

wine1Today we racked our wine that we picked grapes for on September 27th. We got what was left at the vineyard which turned out to be a mix of Prairie Star and Delaware grapes.

The specific gravity has dropped to a .996 but the wine still has a bit of tartness. We added 2.5 campden tablets and 4 ounces of lightly toasted oak chips. In a month we will have to see how it tastes and then decide if it needs any sweetening. wine2

Reinheitsrevolt! Homebrewing Contest

Reinheitsrevolt_Poster_Proof-1Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace Presents

REINHEITSREVOLT

Homebrewing Competition

During Madison Craft Beer Week 2014 Tex Tubb’s went out on a limb and collaborated with five local breweries to produce six amazing brews using unique ingredients once forbidden by the German Purity Law known as Reinheitsgebot. Tex Tubb’s is now challenging the Greater-Madison Homebrewing Community to brew with two or more of the ingredients we used in our 2014 brews.

Judges will choose a Best-in-Show entry based on adherence to base style and proper incorporation of one or more of the special ingredients. The Best-in-Show winner will then go on to assist Next Door Brewing Company Lead Brewer Bryan Kreiter in brewing a three barrel batch of the winning beer.

The winning beer will be released at Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace Friday May 1st during Madison Craft Beer Week 2015 and subsequently on tap at Next Door Brewing Company while supplies last.

More Details About This Contest Can Be Found Here: http://textubbstacos.com/events/?title=home-brew-contest

 

Check out Brewsconsin

Apologies for those who follow the blog. I haven’t written much as I have spent the last 6 months working with 5 breweries to create six unique beers for my restaurant. Please check out my other blog if you are interested in knowing more. We made the following beers.

Barrigon Barril Cafe:

We collaborated with our friends and neighbors at One Barrel Brewing Company to create this Imperial Brown Coffee ale made with Tex Tubb’s special blend of Just Coffee beans. After primary fermentation, we aged half of the batch in firkins on maple wood and Costa Rican cacao nibs from Tabal Chocolate in Milwaukee. One Barrel Brewing Co. will be aging the other half of the batch on oak and another cacao liqueur and then releasing it simultaneously at their brewery two doors down from Tubb’s.

Enrique Sucio:

At 5:30 we will tap the first custom beer in our House of Brews double feature: Enrique Sucio. Enrique Sucio is an Imperial IPA aged on lightly toasted/Scorpion Mezcal-soaked oak chips that boasts a strong yet subdued malt backbone, while featuring the citrusy aromatics and flavors of Amarillo hops. With notes of oak and smokiness, reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s voice, this sweet-finishing brew begs the question: “Do you feel thirsty? Well, do ya, punk?”

Pancho:

Pancho is a bold yet refreshing Mexican IPA featuring cirtusy hops from New Zealand and zested lime peel. The brew is named after revolutionary general and Mexican hero Pancho Villa. While Pancho is the featured brew, Hydro Street might dazzle us with one or two of their other creations. Brewmaster Aaron will be on hand to chat beer with all of our beer-curious friends and patrons. The first 100 customers to order Pancho will receive a free commemorative pint glass. ¡Viva la revolucion, viva Mexico, y viva la cerveza!

Saison De Cilantroctus:

Saison De Cilantroctus is a traditional Franco-Belgian Farmhouse Ale featuring fruity/spicy esters in the forefront. Traditionally farmers brewed these beers in the winter with whatever ingredients were on hand. We took a similar approach using roasted cactus paddles and cilantro from our kitchen. The only difference between us and traditional farmhouse brewers is we won’t be waiting until summer to indulge in this brew.

Rey Rye:

Rey Rye is a malt-forward Imperial Rye Vienna beer with low hop bitterness and a spicy rye finish brewed for us by  Next Door Brewing Company. Rey Rye was brewed with German Pilsner, Vienna and Rye malts and features German hops from Gorst Valley in Wisconsin to give the brew a distinctive hop nose. Brewmaster Keith will be on hand to address the masses. The first 50 royal subjects to order Rey Rye will receive a commemorative pint glass.

Templo:

Templo. Templo is a Smoked Chocolate Chipotle Porter featuring roasty character and a complex layering of Bolivian cacao nibs and chipotle warmth that will set your heart on fire! Kali Ma… Kali Ma… Shakti de!

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Esquire Beer Geek Article Didn’t Butthurt My Feelings

By: Will Mueller @brewsconsin.wordpress.com

There has been a bit of a buzz on the Facebooks as of late regarding a certain Esquire article titled “The Most Mockable Things That Beer Snobs Do” that has geeks all over the world calling for the “imbecile” author’s head. After laughing my way through the “douche’s” article and realizing that in some way I exhibit every one of the behaviors listed, I think Aaron Goldfarb (terrible pseudonym) hit his target gravity exactly.

There is no denying that beer events, as Goldfarb says, are “predominantly male gatherings of dorks squeezed into obscure brewery T-shirts,” and crowds are “scruffy, pale, and a few pounds overweight but mostly in the belly.” During Madison Craft Beer Week this year my restaurant released a Sci-Fi-themed ale and had about half a dozen “Comic Book Guys” waddle in two hours before the tapping asking if they could just get a taste. Two hours later the entire bar area was packed with a similar ilk and a mad dash for the beer was on. We sold the beer for $4/10oz but could have charged $8 or $10 just none would bat an eye. In the articles I have read of Goldfarb’s, a whopping two in all, he comes across as Beerstradamus. But I’ll stop tugging the guy off since I didn’t even know what the hell Esquire was until I read all the beer geeks ironically complaining about its pretentiousness. I’ll just go ahead and explain why I embody all of the of the annoying things that beer geeks do, even though I claim to live in the low range of the geekiness spectrum. For every “annoying” action of my own, I have seen ten-fold how geeky geeky can get.

NOTETAKING

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I don’t take notes per say, but I do check every unique beer I have into Untappd and have been doing so since December 20th 2012. And, whether it is a testament more to alcoholism or geekiness, I am currently at (checking smartphone) 462 unique beers and plan to hit 500 before my first year of Untappd is up. Pretty sure I get a badge for that. How many badges do you have? While I don’t put much stock in taking notes or rating the beers, I do walk into a bar and intentionally order something I haven’t checked into and usually check in after my first sip. If you want to know what beer I drank last for whatever reason, friend me on Untappd @bigbeardbrewsconsin or @brewsconsin on Twitter, because for some reason I feel the need to put all of that information out there.

ADVOCATING

My brother's birthday cake from last year.

My brother’s birthday cake from last year.

When people ask me for a light beer I generally point them to the shelf that has Miller Lite, PBR, and 12 Mexican beers that all taste the same (like butts) and if they are unsure I try to get them into a gateway beer like New Glarus Spotted Cow or Capital Supper Club. My favorite beer order is when someone asks for a Miller 64. I tell them, “I don’t have it, but I do have Miller Lite and water. Do you want me to make you one?” Sometimes I think I am the only person who gets that joke. The customer will usually order a Corona Light or something and we will both walk away from the experience wondering how we failed to connect. I just want people’s mouths to be happy. Is it wrong for me to think they can do better? Why can’t I just be happy for them for liking what they like? I’ve never classified myself as a beer geek, but somewhere along the line I became the self-righteous snob with annoying behaviors that Esquire is accusing me of being.

FORUMS

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While not active on any of the forums, I probably have signed up for and have an account for all of them. And, when I am not busy getting drunk (the last few months apparently), I do have my own beer blog and have done more beer writing with my $50,000 in journalism degrees than I have using those skills trying to get a grown-up job. I might be more inclined to get involved, but in reality, I just don’t care that much what strangers think about beers. I usually only care what I think about beers (because I am a self-righteous snob…and lazy). But, when the beer community got all in an uproar about being judged for acting exactly like they act I decided to chime in. Perhaps my blog will become a forum and I can quit my night job?

APPROPRIATE GLASSWARE

Dia De Los Muertas. Drinking a beer finally resurrected from the dead.

Dia De Los Muertas. Drinking a beer finally resurrected from the dead.

I pretty much drink everything at home out of a pint glass or a tulip and am pretty anal about glassware in my house. I like to have even numbers of glasses and matching sets. Pint glasses are the only exception. I don’t want to have more than one of the same pint glass, but I want them each to tell a story of where I have been and how I came upon that particular pint glass. I do, however, get off on bars like the Malt House here in Madison where every beer comes in the glass the brewery wants the beer served in. I don’t get there much though, since it is usually jammed packed with beer geeks from the local club. If you want some good geek talk that is the bar to be a fly on the wall of for sure. They’ll astound you with stories of brewing rituals and dazzle you with official-sounding terms like cold break. They might even try to cut into a few local favorites for you. They’ll make no real points, mind you…but it is going to be a lot of fun.

RELEASE PARTIES

My favorite annual collaborative release.

My favorite annual collaborative release.

There is something special about getting the beer before everyone else. When the Wisconsin Brewing Company beers came out this week I was quick to point out that I tried most of them when they were test batches at the Great Dane and tried the others at the pre-opening friends and supporters party. I tend to get invited to these things because I occasionally write about beer and free press is usually looked upon as a good thing. In fact, WBC just unintentionally got a shout out here, so  I guess their evil plan to wine and dine me worked. And all it cost them is two free beers and one handful of chocolate candy corn I regret taking on my way out the door. Why do they even make that stuff? I have run a few beer release parties in the last few years and intend on doing several more collaboration releases for 2014 with a few of my favorite local breweries. Beer releases are great because the geeks always come. Even if your beer is just okay, it will be talked about it like it was something great. Why? Because at the end of the day the beer will be gone and the few who tried it will be so grateful that they will sing its praises to all those less fortunate than themselves.

DRAIN POUR

We found these warm fellers in a cabin during a long backpacking trip. What would ordinarily be drain pour was like gold to thirsty hikers.

We found these warm fellers in a cabin during a long backpacking trip. What would ordinarily be drain pour was like gold to thirsty hikers.

Admittedly, this is one of the downfalls of snobbery. But to be honest, there are certain flaws that beer can have that are just not enjoyable to drink. As a BJCP Certified Judge (official after next weekend’s point is tallied), we judges dump a lot of beer. Everyone has to learn to brew somewhere, and a lot of homebrew batches just don’t turn out that well. Some taste like poison; Though nothing one can do in the normal brewing process can cause actual poison, the bottles and glasses don’t get finished. Often times we save really bad ones for the classes to help others learn what beer shouldn’t taste like. Sometimes in the commercial brewing world bad batches exist. Sometimes beer gets too old, intentionally or unintentionally, and doesn’t stand the test of time. I usually finish beers, even questionable ones, but everyone should have their limits of what they are willing to finish. If it tastes like cardboard, band-aids, or butter…by all means, DON’T finish it. Something went wrong. It is okay to let that beer go, it wasn’t meant to be. Just accept that you are a fat, bearded, pale, middle-aged snob and be happy because your mouth is happy.

#notbutthurtatall

MobCraft

Henry Schwartz realized when he was 19 years old that it was legal for him to buy brewing ingredients, but not legal to buy beer. A few years later he and two friends (Giotto Troia and Andrew Gierczak) started MobCraft and recently released its first commercially available beer: Participation Pale Ale. The malt-forward heavily-hopped pale ale was the result of crowd-sourcing which differentiates MobCraft from the rest of the pack.

Each beer brewed by MobCraft is the result of an online vote where fans can submit votes and even recipes for which beer they would like to see brewed next. But, the video can probably explain it better than I can.

Currently, MobCraft is brewing at the House of Brews off of Stoughton Road in Madison, Wisconsin where they lease space for the tanks they bought from brewmaster Page Buchannan. MobCraft hopes to be able to build their own brewhouse in the near future when they plan to add a subscription option tho their beer distribution.

MobCraft-beerThe subscription would involve a three, six, or 12 month commitment where subscribers would get a four-pack of 22oz bottles of each brew delivered either to a local pick-up location or to their home. The home delivery option would be a bit more expensive as it would involve the beer being (for legal reasons) back to their homes. The beer will cost an estimated $25 per four-pack before shipping charges, but Schwartz says the crowd-sourced beer will be worth it.

“The focus of the company will be to make really cool beers,” said Schwartz. “Not just Ambers and Pale Ales, but indigenous beers with non-traditional brewing ingredients.”

Currently MobCraft’s Participation Pale Ale is Available at Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace, the Majestic, 8 Seasons Grille and the Lakefront Pub in Whitewater. MobCraft only made seven barrels, so I recommend trying this beer while you can, because before long the beer will be replaced by the highest vote getter. The Most Mobbed Double IPA is next on their brewing schedule.

Wisconsin Brewing Company #003 Porter

WBC#003I just so happened to be at the Great Dane in Fitchburg yesterday following an Ultimate Frisbee game and was fortunate enough that is was also the release day for Wisconsin Brewing Company‘s #003 Porter. I hadn’t been able to try any of the previous WBC releases so I bought a pitcher to share with the team.

I Say:

The nose is of dark roasted malt and the ensuing roast flavor is coupled with chocolate overtones and a strong malt backbone with a well-balanced bitterness. The beer had a nicely retained off-white head and a surprisingly full body for a beer that weighs in at a mere 5.2% ABV.  Kirby really nailed this one! This Porter was a refreshing way to replenish some nutrients after having a good sweat on the Ultimate field without being too filling.

They Say:

Kirby is using a blend of caramel, special roast and deep chocolate malt to create a deeply rich tasting Porter. Wisconsin grown Brewer’s Gold Hops add the needed bittering to balance the malt intensity. The resulting beer is bold and assertive, yet is quite sessionable.

 

The Porter is available at the four Madison-area Great Dane locations and the Vintage Brewing Company while supplies last. The Porter is the third beer in WBC’s test series following the IPA and the Golden Amber Lager. Now that Dark, Hoppy and Light styles have been covered, it is anyone’s guess as to what Kirby will brew next. Perhaps a Scotch Ale or something Belgian?

Who is Wisconsin Brewing Company?

There is a lot of speculation in the craft beer community about Wisconsin Brewing Company (WBC) and what they will be bringing to the increasingly crowded craft beer marketplace.

During my hardhat tour a few weeks ago, Marketing Coordinator Jessica Schulter didn’t give away much information about branding strategies saying, “We don’t want to be pigeon-holed…it is basically whatever Kirby feels like brewing really.”

While longtime Capital Brewery Brewmaster Kirby Nelson is known for his world class Dopplebocks and strong German-style brewing background, Schulter thinks that Nelson will embrace the freedom in his new role and produce some really great beers.

Nelson recently brewed a 10-barrel test batch at the Great Dane nof what will eventually be WBC’s American IPA. While WBC had expectations that the beer would sell out in a few weeks, it in fact shocked them selling out in just a few days. The American IPA along with a Golden Amber Lager released earlier are the first two sneak-peeks the public has gotten an opportunity to try.

Currently, there is a tasting set for their third trial beer which will be released at the Great Dane and the Vintage Brewing Company on Tuesday July 16th, but WBC isn’t saying what style of beer it is yet, but they are certainly building intrigue amongst craft beer seekers which is clearly part of their marketing strategy.

Wisconsin Brewing CompanyI asked Schulter what the risks were in opening a multimillion dollar brewery capable of producing 100,000 barrels of beer annually right out of the gate and she seemed more than confident that WBC will be successful.

“We’ve got guys who have been in the brewing industry since they legally could be,” said Schulter referring to Nelson and former Capital Brewery President Carl Nolen. “Think about it…Wisconsin…Beer…Perfect! How could it go wrong?”

Schulter also says that with the new brewery being a little more automated, Nelson will have more time to be the face of the brewery.

“I wish we could have Kirby give every tour,” said Schulter. “He is so knowledgeable and passionate about beer and the beer business.”

The brewery plans to give tours of their Verona complex which features a Wisconsin-made brewhouse ideally on November 1st (which also happens to be Nelson’s birthday). Until then, the beer-curious can stay tuned for information at wisconsinbrewingcompany.com.

In Our Opinion: Capital’s Mutiny IPA Will Be Huge In 2013

In Spring of 2010, when Capital Brewery released the brilliantly-marketed “Supper Club”, then Brewmaster Kirby Nelson told Milwaukee-based Suds, Wine and Spirits:

Supper Club is rolling along and doing very well. It is a great addition to our lineup. Wisconsin Amber is still the flagship beer, but Supper Club is catching up.”

While we don’t believe Capital’s new Mutiny IPA will be as big for the brewery as Supper Club was/is, we think Capital’s step away from their malt-forward German-style brews will diversify their fan base and increase their standing in the marketplace.

mutinyThe Beer

Mutiny pours amber in color and has a beautifully-retained off-white head. With a bit of caramel sweetness, the malt provides a good backbone to balance the 70 IBU’s derived from American varietals of hops. Mutiny weighs in at 6.2% ABV, and while it has a little bit of a hoppy bite to it, it goes down smooth and doesn’t fill you up like some of its higher gravity counterparts.

Why Will Mutiny Be Big?

It is our belief that price, drinkability, distribution, marketing and packaging will all play roles in Mutiny’s success.

For starters: How many really good IPA’s can you get in cans? A lot of venues don’t allow glass bottles limiting the beverage options one can fill their cooler with. Sure, Dale’s Pale Ale is good, and Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo really hits the spot sometimes, but those brands are far from local and a tad on the pricey side (in our opinion).

Say you are a homer like us, and you like to drink local whenever possible. In our opinion, Mutiny is by far the best canned IPA in the state, and at a low cost of $10.79 for 12 cans, a thrifty craft drinker would be nuts not to have this beer in their everyday lineup.

Capital brewery also has a well-known brand and has established tap lines and shelf space all over the state. They have a track record of making consistent products that do well in the market; they will have no problems flooding the market with their newest beer. Mutiny is marketed as their “coming out of our shell” beer after parting ways with long-time traditional German-style brewmaster Kirby Nelson.

Mutiny is Capital’s statement to craft drinkers in Wisconsin saying that they too can brew an American IPA. They did a pretty good job of it to boot.

While the hop craze seems to be dying down a bit over the last few years with Belgian and farmhouse ales taking some of the spotlight, there is still a loyal army of hop-heads out there waiting to pounce on anything with dank citrusy bitterness they can get their hands on.

Capital understood that this hop-loving sect of the craft-drinking population generally steers clear of their malty brands. With that knowledge they created Mutiny, giving hop-heads a reason to drink Capital at an affordable price and in a can that they can take anywhere. We’ve got a twelver in the office fridge and think you probably should too. Mutiny will have a great year and a great future in Wisconsin.