Page 4 of 5
Where are you taking the brewery?
Well, something we've been doing for a long time but that we want to embrace even further is barrel-aging. We have a small facility here, but what we're hoping to do before the year is out is have a separate barrel-aging facility nearby where we could put up to a thousand barrels or so that would allow us to do longterm barrel-aging projects. Black Ops, which is aged in Woodford Reserve barrels, is the only one that we release to the public on a regular basis, but then we have a whole other range of stuff that we take to events and dinners and things.
Probably the most fun of that stuff is something we're working with the guys at the Red Hook Winery. They're producing some wines that are 100 percent natural, meaning they just press the grapes and they don't add any yeast for the fermentation, which is the way that wine used to be made. So we take the yeast sediment from their wines and add them to our beers in-barrel, which basically takes the beer in wild directions. The beer becomes unpredictable. We've seen over time where it tends to go, but then we'll blend our barrels—you know, one that's really funky, one that's nice and clean, etc.—and we'll do blends. These are sours, but they have a really nice type of acidity. This is the most interesting, fun stuff. It's a way of taking a piece of countryside and literally getting it down to a couple of gallons of liquid. This is stuff that I'm really interested in. We have a beer called Wild Streak coming out in the fall that we have some wild yeast in. It's been in barrels for months and months. It'll be a bottle release.
We're also getting more deeply involved with the farmers. It started a few years ago with Sorachi Ace and really getting to know the guys who were growing that hop. The next beer we're bringing out combines something new with something that we came out with years ago that people didn't quite get. The original beer was called Scorcher, and it was from 2004 or 2005, and it was like a light version of IPA. A lot of bitterness, huge hop aroma, but only 4.5 percent. Back in those days, when we brought it out, we loved that beer, but the beer geek community was not in love. They're like, "But it only has 4.5 percent." I'm like, "That's the point, you can have five of them!" They're like, "We want special beers to be 8 percent" and I'm like, "Well, this one's 4.5."
We wanted to do a beer like that now to feature a hop variety that's so new it doesn't even have a name yet. It's called 366, and at some point the people who are growing it will name it, and it will have a name. It's only on 1.2 acres in Yakima, Washington, and we got enough of it to make this light IPA, and that's gonna be a lot of fun. The stuff that I've been writing about it, the stuff that will go out to people, has the names of the growers. It's kind of like, "These are the guys who developed it and this is how they did it, and this is where it is." They started growing this thing in 2001. It takes a long time to get a hop variety to market. When people see these new hops come out, like citra, they don't realize it may have taken someone 15 or 20 years to make that into something commercial. There's a reason it's so scarce—this stuff is grown by people, and sometimes people think it just comes out of thin air. As we connect ourselves more deeply to our farmers, we want to connect the people who are drinking the beer more closely to the farmers as well, so they know there are actual people behind what we're doing, which I think is what differentiates craft beer from something else.