Posts Tagged With: brewing class

The Wookie and the Sasquatch

Homebrewing, 2002

When I first started homebrewing back in 2002, I used to bring my homebrew into Boundary Bay to get feed back from the then Head Brewer Skip Madsen.  Skip is a large hairy guy and is known by many as “The Wookie.”  Skip was very encouraging with his feedback and would send me home with some yeast for my next batch.  In 2005 I started working at Boundary Bay as a Cellarman and Assistant Brewer in 2006.  Sadly, Skip wasn’t there anymore as he’d left to start the Waterstreet Brewery in Port Townsend and now American Brewing Company in Edmonds.

I found two new teachers in Head Brewer Aaron Jacob Smith and Assistant Brewer Steve Ellison.  Working in the brewery at Boundary Bay is kind of like an apprenticeship where I have to do the same thing many many times before being taught the next thing.  I started washing kegs, but by the end of my first week I was doing transfers and filling kegs.  Next I was washing and sanitizing tanks, harvesting yeast, bottling beer samples…bit by bit learning all the aspects of brewing.  It took about a year and a half of dedicated effort for me to work my way onto the brewdeck, fulfilling my dream of becoming a professional brewer.

the past and present brewers of Boundary Bay Brewery (Anthony pictured at left, Skip pictured center, back)

As soon as I started working at Boundary Bay I’ve made many efforts over the years to increase my brewing knowledge.  I’ve attended seminars and classes, read many books, applied for scholarships, brewed a lot of beer and tasted a few along the way.  After 6 or 7 years of applying, I have recently been awarded the Glen Hay Falconer Scholarship to the American Brewers Guild Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering Course (link to ABG}.  This is a monumental achievement for me.  I know that in the future I will look back at this class as a pivotal point in my career.  I share this victory with my co-workers Aaron and Steve who have taught me so much already.

It can be frustrating applying year after year, I have a folder with all my applications and denial letters.  You don’t know if you were in the top five or bottom fifty, you just know that you weren’t selected.  Some years I took it kinda hard, doubting if I was on the right path.  Other years I made fresh determinations to be the best brewer I can and continue to apply.  I entered contests and drawings, everything I could think of to get a chance to attend classes on brewing.  I have a degree in Environmental Science from Huxley College at Western Washington University.  With the Brewing Science course I hope to be able to create a new niche for myself in the brewery, maintaining the consistent quality of our beer as we expand production in the future.  I am determined to share what I learn through this course with my co-workers, other local breweries and local homebrewers.

I teach beginner homebrewing classes and beer tasting classes at the Bellingham Technical College, the next class is a Winter Beer tastingon January 21st.  Matt Hansen, a BTC culinary alumni and Boundary Bay kitchen manager, will be preparing foods paired with the beers. I will also be teaching a beginner homebrewing class in April and British Beer tasting class in May, next quarter.  I started doing these classes because I meet so many people who say they want to start homebrewing but don’t know how to take that first step.  I tried doing a hands on class the first time but it was logistically very challenging.  The class is set up now as a demonstration/ lecture/ Q&A class.  I have a friend, Robbie Lowry help keep an eye on the stove while we brew a batch of extract beer in the class.  I bring hops and malts, discuss ingredients, the brewing process, I get people practicing bottling with some water…I just try to give them enough confidence that yes, they can do this themselves in their own kitchen.

The beer tasting classes have been fun, but they are much better now that I have Matt doing the food.  He prepares food right there in the class room while we are tasting and discussing the beers.  I started doing the tasting classes because I meet so many people who don’t know what distinguishes different beer styles and/or don’t know what they like or don’t like in a beer.  The great thing about tasting several beers side by side is that you can compare and contrast them to see what you like and why.  Do you like the hoppier beers like an IPA or the malty sweet Scotch ale?  Doing this kind of tasting helps people know what they want to buy or order in the future.  Otherwise if you have a beer one week and a different beer the next it’s hard to compare the two and know which you liked best.

Homebrewing, with son Sawyer, 2011

The Glen Hay Falconer Foundation has an annual event, The Sasquatch Brewfest which will be held Saturday May 12th, 2012 in Eugene, Oregon.  So I went from learning from the Wookie, to the Sasquatch.  I will be going down with some beer and I hope that many people from Washington, especially Whatcom and Skagit Counties will attend as well.  There is a brewam golf tournament that pairs professional brewers with amateurs, if you’re a golfer please come down and participate. This is the 10th anniversary of the Glen Hay Falconer Scholarship and they’ll be inviting all the previous winners to attend the festival.  As this year’s winner, I will be representing Boundary Bay and Bellingham, Washington in a central position.   I hope that I can bring more people and beer from Washington to this event, so please put that date on your calender, check out the website, train your liver and come down to the Sasquatch Brewfest.

Cheers!   -Anthony Stone, Assistant Brewer at Boundary Bay Brewery
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April was a busy month for Beer and I.  I recently taught a beginners homebrewing class at the Bellingham Technical College (BTC).  I also taught a Beers of the British Isles tasting class, which was a lot of fun. For this class the idea was to have classic beers from England, Scotland and Ireland, then compare them with American examples of the same styles. This not only shows how and why craft beer took off in America, but how these classic beer styles have evoloved into new styles of their own.  At the World Beer Cup for example there are separate sub-categories for English IPA and American IPA.  I hung up some flags and maps, put on some Irish and Scottish music and we had a great time.  Another plus, for the first time we had a chef preparing food pairings right there in the room.  Matt Hansen is the kitchen Manager at Boundary Bay and is an BTC Culinary alumni.  His pairings were both great tasting and clever.  For example he paired a Indian curry with the India Pale Ales.  Hopefully Matt and I can join forces together for my next beer tasting class, which, probably won’t be until the Winter quarter.  I’m taking the Summer and Fall quarters off from teaching any classes.  I’m open to ideas until then so if you have a suggestion, post it on this blog.  April was topped off with the annual April Brews Day beer festival, which is a fundraiser for the Max Higbee Center.  I made two special beers for this event: Ginger-Peach Blonde Ale, and Vanilla Bourbon Oak Aged Imperial Stout.  The stout turned out really good, but I think last years was better, I will definitely do it again next year.  The Ginger-Peach is always evolving and I think I’ll need to get more peach into it next year.  If you tried either of these and want to give me some feedback for next year, please post it on the blog here.  Thanks to everyone who attended the April Brews Day and who came to my classes.  Without the support of beer lovers in Bellingham, there would be no craft beer here.
Slainte, -Anthony Stone

Matt Hansen, culinary genius

The pairings were:
  • IPA with Curried Apple Soup
  • ESB with Frisee aux Lardons
  • Porter with Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart
  • Stout with Irish Soda Bread
  • Wee Heavy Scotch with Peanut Butter Ganache Pretzels
Categories: Beer, Beer & Food Pairing, Brewing, Cheese, Homebrewing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Cool is Your Beer?

I’ve had a number of people asking me about beer temperature lately.  I know that people want a simple answer like, “40 degrees,” but different beer styles are best served at different temperatures.  We’ve been told by commercials for years that beer is best when it’s ice cold.   Unfortunately when beer is too cold it sorta numbs our taste buds so we won’t be able to taste as much.  This isn’t a problem if the beer doesn’t have much to taste to begin with, but for more flavorful beers you’d be missing out.  So here at Boundary Bay Brewery, our beer might seem a little warmer than at some other bars, but we think the flavor is the most important part. We don’t want you to miss a thing!

excerpt from "Tasting Beer" by Randy Mosher

There is a great book by Randy Mosher called “Tasting Beer” that has some great information on beer serving temperatures.  He says that in general lager beers should be about 40F and ales should be served between 50 – 55F.  Another general rule he suggests is stronger and darker beers should be served warmer than weaker and/or lighter colored beers.  I stole a graphic from his book to help illustrate this point.

Speaking of beer and temperature, I just got back from a trip to the frozen mid-west to visit my in-laws.  It is a very small town but there is a small group of about 6 to 9 dedicated homebrewers there.  The day I arrived they had brewed 60 gallons of beer together and had bought a bourbon barrel to age it in.  It’s hard to find beer there beyond the usual Nascar beers, so the homebrew I tried was so good it reminded me why it is such a popular hobby.  It also made me realize how much I take for granted the awesome beer selection we have in the stores here compared to much of the country.  Not to mention that we have two award winning breweries in town, which makes life in Bellingham so much sweeter.  When we went to Iowa City to visit my brother in-law I got to have some of Goose Islands great IPA and some other mid-west beers.  Whenever I travel I love to try the local beers especially ones that I can’t get over here.
If all this talk of cold beer and cold weather is making you thirsty, you might want to sign up for my winter beer tasting class at the Bellingham Technical College on Sat. Feb. 19th.  We’ll be tasting some barley wines, strong ales and other winter warmers from local and abroad.  We had a great time at the last beer tasting class in January.  I’ll have one more beer tasting class in April which will focus on beer styles from Ireland, Scotland and England.  We’ll try iconic examples from their country of origin and then compare them to American examples, which I think will be every informative and fun to do.  I will also have one more beginner’s homebrewing class in April as well which has been well attended the last two times I’ve done it.  I know I’ve had a few people ask about a class on all-grain brewing but there are some logistical issues like class time that have kept it from happening so far.
Wherever you are, and whatever temperature you’re at, I hope you stay warm this winter sharing good beer with great company.  Cheers!
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More Paid “Hangover Days”

New Year’s is a kind of weird holiday.  When my wife worked in the corporate world she used to get half of New Year’s Eve off paid and all of New Year’s Day off paid.  Basically New Year’s Day is “Hangover Day” and nobody wants to work.  How would my boss feel if I walked in the office on March 17th and said, “I’m leaving early today to go out and drink heavily.  I want you to pay me for the rest of today, and tomorrow because I’ll be too hung over to work.”  If my boss complained I could play the discrimination card because it’s Saint Patrick’s day and that is how I celebrate my cultural heritage.  Why is New Year’s day a paid hangover day (for people who get paid holidays, that is) but the day after St.Patrick’s day and Cinco De Mayo aren’t?  I know a few people who’d never come to work if we got paid days off for hangovers.  I always thought it was weird that the precedent people want to set for their entire year is getting totally sloshed and waking up feeling miserable.  It’s no wonder that people make resolutions to cut back on their drinking the next day.

If you’ve made a resolution to drink better beer and/or to learn more about beer in 2011, please come join me at the Bellingham Technical College for some beer tastings.  On Jan.15th we’re doing an introduction to Craft Beer Tasting with food pairings.  February 22nd is a Winter Beer Tasting class with a number of local and imported strong ales, barley wines, and other winter warmers.  In April I will be teaching a beginner’s homebrew class again and a new Beer of the British Isles tasting class which should be really fun to do.  For more info on the classes check out our Bellingham’s Best Beer blog. Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2011, Cheers!

Editor’s Note: I was really hungover on New Year’s Day and was checking my email on my iPhone in one of the few Cafes open (Thank you for the coffee, Mount Bakery!). Anthony had just sent me this blog to post and a few things went through my mind. One was, “What the hell is Anthony doing writing a blog at 9am on New Year’s Day?” and “I wish I was getting paid today” and “Yep, I feel pretty stupid about starting my new year with a hangover”.  Then I forgot about posting his blog it until today. Sorry Anthony.

Categories: Beer, Beer & Food Pairing, Brewing, Cinco de Mayo, Holidays, Homebrewing, New Year's Day, Saint Patrick's Day | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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