Monthly Archives: September 2010

From Homebrewer to Professional

When Boundary Bay Brewery opened in 1995 I was a junior at Sehome High School. It wasn’t till years later when I was in College that I started going to Boundary for beer. Craft beer was still establishing itself and I was just getting into beers other than Pabst. I would say that my first beer sampler here probably taught me more about beer than anything else before becoming a brewer. The great thing about beer samplers is that they allow you to try different beers side by side so that you can see how different malts and hops create totally different flavors.  It also helped me identify what I like and/or don’t like about certain beer styles.

When I first started homebrewing Skip Madsen was the head brewer here and he was a great mentor to me in my brewing career. Before becoming one of Boundary’s brewers, I used to bring Skip my homebrew and he’d give me feedback and some more yeast to go home and brew with. By the time I started working at Boundary Bay Brewery in 2005, he had already moved on to Water Street in Port Townsend.  This last week Boundary Bay celebrated 15 years of “saving the ales” and I realized that I’ve been here for the last third of that.

I have been witness to many changes at Boundary Bay over the last five years. Since I started working in the Brewery we’ve grown to the second largest and then the largest brew pub in the country for a few years running…which has required some changes in the brewing process here.  The first thing I would mention is the Munzinger Bung Extractor built in 1934, but only brought here a few years ago. This replaced the previous system of sitting on the keg and popping the bungs out one at a time with a chisel and hammer while wearing one of Skip’s old hockey goalie gloves. I used to fill kegs one at a time as well, but now have the “Octo-filler” that Adam Lent built. Now I can now fill eight kegs at a time. This is good because our production level here has grown steadily over the years. I’ve heard tales about back in the day when they used to only brew a few times a week. We now brew pretty much every day. Some days we do two batches, so we’re averaging 7-10 brews a week.

In the summer, in particular, it is always a juggling act to make sure that we never run out of anything. Locally, we sell lots of Scotch ale, but overall IPA is by far our biggest selling beer. Of the 7-10 batches brewed a week IPA is going to account for at least four of those. There has definitely been a shift in which beers we sell more of now than 10 years ago. We have also developed some new beers over the years. Some like the Triple, we brewed last year, remain (sadly) a one time brew. Others, like the Imperial Red and the Single Hop Series, have become annual seasonals. There have been changes in equipment like our new mash tun, which is way more efficient than our old one. Despite the changes with equipment over time, the focus remains to keep the beer consistent and delicious.

Looking back, I have also seen tremendous growth in the Bellingham and national beer culture as well as the evolution of craft beer in our country. There are some great interviews I’ve read from the pioneers of craft brewing that I find really inspiring. These guys were inventive, original, & often rebellious, fighting against archaic beer laws and big breweries with deep pockets. Also, we as a culture didn’t know as much about different beer styles or what a good beer is. It was revolutionary to get anything besides an ice-light, dry-draft, all-tasting-the-same lager. Now I think that the craft beer industry as well as the public’s palate have developed to the point where it’s not enough to just make something different, it’s got to be good. Especially when you look at all the choices we have now compared to ten years ago. I’ve really enjoyed working in the craft beer industry. The people who drink the beer and the people I make it with are awesome.

At our 15th anniversary party, I had a chance to meet up with Boundary’s brewers new and old.  It was really cool to hang out and have a beer with all the brewers that have climbed in and out of that kettle over the years. Cheers to Howard, Dave, Skip, Aaron, Steve, and I guess me. I’m proud to be part of the brewing tradition here; following in these guys boot prints.

Boundary Bay Brewers new and old: Anthony Stone, Steve Ellison, Aaron Jacob Smith, Skip Madsen, Dave Morales, Howard Koon and Nick Crandall

It’s very rewarding to me to be able to see our tap room full of people from all walks of society relaxing and enjoying a beer and a meal together. Pub is really short for “public house” and that’s how I think of Boundary Bay. The owner and manager do a lot to support local charities and give back to the community and when I see people hanging out here I can’t help but feel that Boundary Bay is part of the glue that holds this town so close together. Congratulations to Ed and everyone at Boundary for 15 great years and a huge thank you to everyone supports us and keep me making beer.

Cheers!


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Categories: Beer, Brewing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Underage Forever?!

Try our Pilsner, if you dare...

I guess it’s a good thing that nobody reads this or I might have a bunch of angry Twilight fans after me. The other day Nick Crandall our keg washer/cellar man and I were talking in between kegs about the love lives of vampires. On a side note Nick got engaged this week to his girlfriend Katy- so congratulations to them.

Anyways, we were talking about the recent vampire craze. There are all these shows on t.v., movies and books centered around the undead. I think it’s kinda funny that vampires would be popular with teenagers now. I’ll bet that the goth kids aren’t considered any “cooler” by the other high school kids even if vampires are making a comeback. I doubt that the Dungeons and Dragons geeks got any more popular when Harry Potter came out. I guess high school is just always going to have those social stratifications that dissipate after graduation. I remember though going to the Archer Ale house in Fairhaven on the same night of a Harry Potter book release party at Village Books. It was crazy to me to see high school kids wearing official Harry Potter robes and scarves waving plastic wands at each other. I heard one casting a mock spell on the other “Silencio!” instead of just saying “shut up.” It was pretty funny.

But back to the potential love interests of a teenage vampire, I don’t get it. I haven’t read the Twilight books, but it seems they are more about the romantic interests of young women then they are about vampires. I read Interview with a Vampire and those vampires had rules about not turning children into vampires, which makes sense. Imagine how much high school sucked and then having to be that age forever. One of the first things that comes to mind is the inability to buy beer, but I guess vampires probably only drink blood. I wonder if a vampire would get drunk from drinking the blood of someone who was wasted? Could you imagine being 300 years old in the body of a seventeen year old? Would they like the taste of beer with iron in it, which tastes like blood? Anyhow, nobody would give you any respect, you couldn’t go to a lot of places. In short, you wouldn’t be a legal adult. It would have severe social and legal limitations. So teenage vampires don’t really make sense to me.

Another thing that always confused me about vampires is where does all that blood go that they drink? They can only hold so much in their bodies and you never hear about them getting rid of any. They don’t have the same bodily functions that the living do because they don’t eat, so where does the blood go? Do they sweat it out, are there bulimic vampires, does it just evaporate out of their perfect hair, or would they get red and bloated from drinking too much blood? Another note, vampires probably wouldn’t ever want a haircut because their hair wouldn’t grow back.

Then there is a whole slew of issues about the love prospects of vampires, much of which I probably can’t put into print. I think it’s safe for me to sum it up with two words: necrotic flesh. If you are a living person in love with a vampire what do you do, hold hands for eternity? What happens as you get older and your teenage vampire boyfriend/girlfriend stays the same age? At some point it would get a little weird. Imagine a 30 year old woman walking around holding hands with a 17 year old boy with pale skin. Would she get in trouble for having a relationship with a minor, even after she explains they’ve been dating since she was in high school.

Well, we don’t live forever and we can enjoy good beer so I hope that all that read this are having a great week. See you at the brewery.
Cheers.

Categories: Beer, Random, Twilight, Vampires | 1 Comment

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