Friday, February 13, 2015

My stint as brewmaster at Craftworks in Bangalore is coming to an end and I'll be moving on. It sure has been interesting ride - challenging, rewarding, frustrating and everything in between. In my three and a half years in India I put together one of the sweetest most efficient brewery's to be found anywhere and was around long enough to really make it sing - something that's a little more difficult to do in the developing world. I made about 150 thousand liters of beer (it sounds like more than it really is). A lot of which I'm very proud of. Beers that would hold their own alongside some of the best the U.S. and Europe has to offer. I made some beer styles that have never been brewed in India before, most notably Rauchbier. After brewing so much German-style Hefeweizen, I really came to understand the style and consequently, brew a better example of it. I educated a lot of folks on just how good beer can be, made a few converts and even more friends along the way. On March 6th I will pass the brew-paddle to my very able assistants, Shaan and Amit and expect them to keep the standards high and the beer flowing. Thanks so much for all appreciation and support I received while here! Cheers!

What's Next
I'll chill in the U.S. for a bit and hopefully spend a lot more time on my favorite little island in Maine. I will concentrate on reviving my brewery start-up consulting business - for the past 20 something years I've specialized on Asian projects, opening breweries in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau and Manila. I will probably focus most on India going forward. If you are a prospective brewery owner with funding, a location and looking for help, my contact information is in the "about me" section of the side bar. But keep in mind, it's always best when I'm involved early, before all the decisions are made. This invariably gets the client a better, smarter, more economical brewery and one I have a much easier time getting up and running with world-class beer. 

I'll try and keep the blog updated with new brewery openings in Bangalore, Craft Brewers Association of India news and of course, if I find myself working on other projects in India, I'll pick up where I left off.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The New Hop Crop is in da House

Hop Gathering by Samuel Ireland circa 1793

It’s taken a little longer than I expected but all of the new crop hops that I ordered are finally here. With the global hop shortage and yearly scramble for the most desirable varieties still going strong, I’d say Craftworks did very well indeed. We have hops that many craft brewers in the US were unable to get - Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo Centennial and Saaz. So “Bangalorean hopheads” rejoice. It will be a very hoppy year. The first beer pouring with the new crop will be a classic American-style Pale Ale finished exclusively and dry hopped with type 45 Cascade. Most brewers use and only have experience with type 90 hops. The 45’s are supercharged - twice as concentrated because the hop cones are stripped of the stems and outer leaves prior to processing into pellets. This makes for a more uniform pellet with much more lupulin (oil) and alpha acid (bitterness potential) or in other words, flavor. I liken it to the increased polishing rice goes through to make the higher grades of sake like Ginjo and Daiginjo. This analogy is particularly apt for me because it was in Japan many years ago while working as a brewery start-up consultant, that I first discovered and fell in love with type 45 hops...

I don't get out of Bangalore nearly enough. I blame it on the terrible traffic, not having a car of my own or just simply the amount of time and effort it takes to get anywhere good. But recently I got around all those excuses and found myself in Kombai, Tamil Nadu for a couple of days of hiking and mountain biking with my good friends Naveen and Pei. To say I wasn't a little bit sore when I got back to town would be a lie. The ice cold Craftworks Hefeweizen I brought along and polished off after a long strenuous hike, sure hit the spot...