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.


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.

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

If you can’t eat it, ferment it. A recipe in action

Fermenting in Action

The other day I was given a 28 pound bucket of previously frozen local raspberries that were going to be thrown away because they were too mushy to use. I took them home and threw them in a carboy (a carboy is a glass vessel used for fermenting, like a large water jug) with some pectin enzyme, sugar, yeast nutrient, and two packs of wine yeast. It was kinda last minute because we were supposed to leave early the next morning for three days and I didn’t have any way to store the bucket of raspberries while we were gone. It became a rather comic and messy business of getting 28 pounds of raspberries and 10 pounds of sugar quickly boiled in water into that small carboy. My wife had to shove the raspberries down the funnel with a chopstick while I poured them in, trying not to overfill the funnel and spill raspberry juice all over the floor. I would have used a larger 6.5 gallon carboy for the raspberry wine, but the two I have were being used at the time. In the end we had a very full carboy that looked like it was full of jam with all the raspberries floating around. The next morning I went down in the basement to grab a few things to load into the car and found that there had been a raspberry eruption overnight. I spent the next forty minutes cleaning up with a shop-vac and a mop. I then had to peel a raspberry splattered layer of insulation off the ceiling. In the picture you can see the raspberry wine on the left after it settled down a bit. In the middle is some mead made from local honey and on the right is a kriek lambic using cherries from my neighborhood.

Since the eruption I went down to Northcorner Brewing Supply and bought a large plastic fermentation bucket that is ideal for primary fermentation with fruit. I also bought a larger funnel with a strainer, no more chopstick plunging I hope. Overall the experience was a bit of a nightmare, but a learning experience and a funny story all the same. I’m sure that it will turn out well based on my previous experience with erupting beer. My third batch of beer was an imperial stout that launched all over the living room wall, over the stairs, and fourteen feet up on the vaulted ceiling. I called it Mt.Vesuvius Imperial Stout and it was voted “best beer in the porter/stout category” at Best of the Bay homebrew competition.

This morning I made some blackberry cordial with my neighbor’s recipe and I think it’s going to be great. I got some of the ingredients from Wonderland Teas on Railroad ave. and the blackberries from my neighbor’s yard. Here is the recipe I got from my neighbor, I don’t know where she got it from so I can’t credit who wrote it, sorry.

Blackberry Cordial (makes 1 quart)
4 cups blackberries
3 cups bottled water
4 whole cloves
3 black peppercorns
3 cardamon pods, lightly crushed
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into 2-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups cognac or other brandy

In medium saucepan combine berries with water, cloves, peppercorns, cardamon, cinnamon & bay leaves. Bring just to a boil then reduce heat. Cook for 30 min. on low heat. while gently crush the berries against the side of the pan. Strain berries through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl without pressing the berries. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Let cool. I used a large metal bowl and cooled it by making a ice water bath in my sink, then placing the bowl in the sink and stirring the cordial it cooled very quickly. Once cool stir in brandy and pour into bottles. Seal bottles tightly and store in a cool dark place for two weeks before serving.

My wife and I bought some cool little bottles and stoppers at North Corner brewing supply and they will make great gifts. You can pour the cordial straight into the bottles, I didn’t have mine yet so I put it into two large canning jars. I noticed a small amount of sediment on the bottom of the jars so I will probably strain it one more time when I bottle it.

Want to learn more about making your own liqueurs? I have a great little book to suggest, Classic Liqueurs, the art of making and cooking with liqueurs by Cherly Long and Heather Kibbey. I believe it says in the book that they live in the Pacific Northwest so many of the recipes will be easy to make with local produce. It also has recipes for cooking with the liqueurs you can make, so a fun little book. There’s so much fruit getting ripe right now, it’s a great time to make wine, beer, mead, liqueurs for the fall and winter. Feel free to bring me samples at Boundary Bay. Cheers!

Craft Beer Generational Amnesia

Remember the 90's

When I was studying environmental education at Huxley we studied a book by professor Peter Kahn. In his book he pens the term “environmental generational amnesia” to describe how each generation has a fresh perspective of what is the norm vs degradation. That is not the most exact description but maybe an analogy would make sense. I grew up in Bellingham, WA and when I go around town I see houses where there used to be forests, but to the next generation they don’t see any change, to them there has always been houses there. I think we could steal his theory and apply it to other areas of society. We could coin the phrase “technological generational amnesia” to describe the youth of today and tomorrow. I grew up in a world without Internet and cell phones and have seen them become an integral part of modern society. Children born today never lived in a world without the Internet. I saw in the news the other day a poll of college freshmen and these freshmen felt that e-mail was too slow and that Nirvana is classified as classic rock. That tripped me out. It made me feel so old- e-mail too slow…, Nirvana classic rock… what next?

You could apply it to craft beer too, “craft-beer generational amnesia” or “zymurgy generational amnesia.” I remember a time when there was really only three beer companies in this country making basically the same type of beer. Now we have many breweries making every kind of beer style imaginable, even creating new styles. The new beer drinkers in the Pacific Northwest today don’t know what the past was like until they go on vacation to the Mid-west or the South. I’ve heard people tell me about taking a trip somewhere and being shocked to not find any local craft beer. That is changing still and I think we have a bright future for beer in this country ahead of us. Many of the craft brewers today were inspired to brew beer after visiting Europe, especially England and Germany. When they realized they couldn’t find beer like that here in the states they started making their own. That’s what I think inspired the craft beer revolution. There was a time when it was enough just to make something different than the usual ice-light-dry-draft that was the norm. Now that craft brewing is firmly established it’s not enough just to be different, it’s got to be really good to compete with what is already out there. I think that our beer culture has grown dramatically these last few decades. I remember the first time I went to the World Beer Cup and I met some German brewers with a big attitude about how Americans can’t make good beer. Their focus was on maintaining the brewing tradition where they lived. I respect that and they make great beers that deserve to be admired. I could go without the attitude though; that we don’t know how to make beer “properly” in this country. I was very amused later that night when a bunch of Japanese breweries won awards in German beer categories. Later I found out that a lot of those breweries in Japan had hired German brewers, so it made sense. This year at the World Beer Cup in Chicago a brewery called Brew Dog from Scotland won the gold in the Imperial IPA category. That really blew my mind because Imp. IPA is such a West Coast American style. It showed me that the brewers in the States that were originally inspired by the brewing traditions of Europe are now inspiring the next generation of brewers in Europe with new styles of beer brewed in North America. The world is getting smaller as information travels faster (even at the slow speed of e-mail), and the world of craft brewing is ever expanding. I wonder if someday Imperial IPA will be served all over Germany and the youth drinking it will not remember a time when tradition over-ruled taste. Here’s to a better tasting tomorrow! Cheers!

Prepare to be Rammed

The Sea Shepherd

Last weekend I went charter fishing for salmon with my family off the coast of Westport.  The captain wasn’t very impressed with my Sea Shepherd hat, especially when he read the line “prepare to ram.”  I caught one wild Coho and one undersized Chinook, both had to be let go.  I thought it was pretty cool that we have those hatchery fish out there and that the sport fisherman have to release the wild silvers to preserve their runs.  I don’t know if the captain understood that I don’t oppose all commercial or sport fishing but I do not condone the Japanese hunting of whales under the weak guise of “scientific research.”  As an Environmental Science major at the Huxley College of Environmental Science I don’t ever remember being taught to kill things to study them, and then sell their meat on the market.  I also am very opposed to factory trawlers that strip the ocean of all life they encounter with nets big enought to hold a jet.  The by-catch is wasteful and destructive to the ecosystem and to local fishing communities.  I could write pages on this, but I won’t because I’m not trying to get up on my soap box, I’m just saying I think he didn’t like me because of my hat. 

I also want to add that I will not buy or eat farmed Atlantic Salmon.  When I’ve travelled around the country I forget that probably 46 or 47 out of our 50 states don’t have wild salmon runs and don’t know much about salmon.  If I go to a restaurant that serves salmon, I usually ask them what kind of salmon it is.  Outside of the Pacific northwest I will usually get a confused “what do you mean?” response.  If they don’t know what kind of salmon it is, then I have to assume it is farmed Atlantic salmon and I won’t eat it.  In fact several times I’ve had the people I’m dining with ask about why I won’t eat it.  By the time I’m explaining how they dye the meat they have changed their order. 

It’s too bad I didn’t catch any keepers, but it’s not too surprising given the Stone family’s poor fishing history. I can’t remember a family fishing trip where we all caught fish. I was joking with my brother that when we go fishing we’re likely to catch a buzz rather than a fish. It was no surprise to me that my uncle & brother’s girlfriends caught two salmon each. My wife however, now a Stone, didn’t catch anything. I guess our family fishing curse is contagious. It’s a good thing that I don’t have to fish for my beer…

Thoughts on Centaurs

design by Mark Heimer

While filling kegs, my mind often wanders off into non-beer related realms. The other day I was thinking about centaurs, you know from Greek mythology- half man/half horse. My first thought was I don’t know how they were created but I bet a horse, not a human, gave birth to the first one, because imagine it the other way around, not gonna work. I’ve read my fair share of fantasy fiction and it seems that centaurs eat a lot of food and can drink quite a bit of beer in one sitting. Do they have two stomachs, a human and a horse? Or do they just have the one big horse stomach? You never read about centaurs putting down three pounds of bacon, so it makes me think they couldn’t digest meat in their horse stomachs. But if you had to eat enough grain for a a horse everyday through a human mouth your teeth would be ruined. I don’t know what the nutritional needs of the average horse is, but I know they eat a lot.

Another thing that bothered me about centaurs is that they are always depicted as these big buff men, but it doesn’t make sense to me. Why are they so ripped? Physiologically there are a lot of issues to figure out. Going back to the eating, do they bend over and graze all day, which would kill your human back/neck? Or are they harvesting grain and they shoving it in their little human mouths 20 hours a day? Mostly I picture centaurs running around shooting arrows and stabbing people with spears. It makes sense that their horse body is strong but the human body doesn’t. I can’t imagine a centaur doing a push-up or chin-up, it would be impossible. So how is their human torso so strong then? It makes me think that the traditional image of centaurs is all wrong. They should be a strong horse body with a wimpy human torso attached with really bad teeth prancing about the forest. That’s another thing about the common image of centaurs running around the forest; horses don’t live in forests, they live in plains. Oats, barley, ect. don’t grow in forests, so if centaurs live in forests it makes the eating thing even more confusing.

One thing that is certain to me is that centaurs would probably make awesome brewers. First of all to drink enough beer to get a horse body drunk they would have to make their own just to make it affordable. Secondly, if I was a centaur I would plow my own field and grow my own barley and oats (for oatmeal stout). I recently learned from Kevin, the head brewer at Chuckanut, that cows can more efficiently digest spent grain from brewing than raw grain. For the centaur spent grain from brewing would mean eating less (and wearing down less molars) while making beer. Also if a centaur made more beer than they could drink they could easily distribute it themselves. I think it would be cool to drink a few beers with a centaur. I wonder if he could give me a ride home afterwards? Yiamas! (Cheers in Greek, pronounced yia-mas).

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

If you can’t eat it, ferment it

Hello Everyone,

We are trying something new with a fun column by our brewer, Anthony Stone. It’s kind of like “Deep Thoughts”, but a little lengthier. And it’s not just about brewing beer, but about whatever is brewing in Anthony’s brain. We’ll see what happens… Thanks for reading!

Insert inappropriate caption here

“If you can’t eat it, ferment it,” this in my new philosophy regarding local fruit trees. Lately my wife has been making me go for walks around the neighborhood and I’ve been noticing how many fruit trees people have that they don’t do anything with. My neighbor’s cherries were getting ripe so I picked all I could from three different trees and now have a kriek (cherry lambic beer) fermenting in my basement. I got my eyes on my neighbor’s pear tree next and I might have to build my own apple press sometime soon. My other neighbor got me into making liquors which are super easy to make. The down side to using local fruit is that it might not be the ideal variety for what you are making. In the example of the kriek, there is no way I’m going to make a beer that is going to taste like one made in Belgium with their local cherries. My solution is to not try to copy a traditional kriek but to make one with my own local flavor or terroir. I also have some cider on tap in my kegerator made from local apple juice and some mead fermenting made from local honey. My neighbor and I are planning on making some blackberry cordial later this summer. She also makes great raspberry vinegar and uses the liquors in cooking. We are so fortunate to live in a place with such an abundance of good fruit. It makes me sad to see it rotting on the ground, so I instead put in a carboy with some yeast. If you don’t have any of your own fruit growing in your yard, ask your neighbor if you can take theirs. I think you can also give the fruit to the food bank, but mine is going to the yeast bank. Cheers.

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