Posts Tagged With: Northwest

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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Brewing For Best of the Bay

2002

I first started homebrewing in late 2002. My first few batches of beer were less than stellar and I might have given up if not for the patient support of Robert Arzoo at North Corner Brewing Supply. When he suggested that I enter a beer in a local homebrew competition called Best of the Bay in 2003, I thought that I surely wouldn’t win anything but it would be good to get some feedback from more experienced brewers. I entered my fourth batch of beer which was an imperial stout that had erupted all over the house, I called it Mt.Vesuvius Imperial Stout and it was voted best beer in the porter/stout category.

Mt. Vesuvius aftermath

After repainting the walls and recovering from the mess, I was surprised at how good that beer turned out. This experience gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to make good beer and ultimately led me to pursue my career in brewing at Boundary Bay.

There wasn’t a club for homebrewers in Bellingham at the time in 2003, and Best of the Bay hasn’t happened since. When I saw that the Bellingham Homebrewers Guild (BHG) was being formed and that some of the members had taken the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) tests to be beer judges, I thought it was time to revive Best of the Bay.  I wanted our local brewers both old and new to have the same kind of confidence building experience I had in 2003.

entries for 2011 Best of the Bay

I started out in Feburary by contacting Jesse Nickerson who was organizing the club at the time. We met and discussed what kind of event we wanted Best of the Bay 2011 to be. We set a date and registered with the national BJCP program and with the National Homebrewers Association. Jesse and I then formed a steering committee and met every two weeks for months planning the event. Ian Harper handled all of the website/internet stuff and as he was elected President of the BHG he helped co-ordinate with the club. Justin Bajema became our judge director and spent many hours contacting, organizing, and running the judging sessions. Alex Cleanthous painted the bung awards and was always willing to handle the loose ends. Robert Arzoo was a great mentor sharing his experience with running the Best of the Bay in the past. Chris McClanahan handled our promotion and gathered prizes donated by many sponsors including Boundary Bay Brewery, Chuckanut Brewing, Lagunitas Brewing, North Corner Brewing Supply, Northern Brewer, Avenue Bread, Artisan Alloys and others.

2011 Best of the Bay judges

Our event became two separate events as we held the judging on a Friday and Saturday; then Sunday we had an awards ceremony/ homebrew rally in the Boundary Bay beer garden. It was a tremendous success all around. We had 196 beers get registered with a final 184 official entries from throughout the state and even some sent from California. Winners received prizes and a Gold/Silver/ or Bronze bung. The best of show got a $50 gift card from Northern Brewer plus a free entry into the National Homebrew Competition which will be held in Seattle in 2012.  Our event in the garden was saturated with great beer and people. We had homebrew to taste, judges on hand to taste the beer and give feedback and homebrew set-ups to look at. Robert also made a series of hop teas so that you could taste hop flavors individually.

We plan on making this an annual event and hopefully it will get bigger and better each year. For next year, in particular, we need more beer judges. So if you are interested, join the Bellingham Homebrewers Guild and take the BJCP test this year. Thank you to everyone who supported us behind the scenes. I may have forgot to mention some of you specifically and I’m sorry if I did. I especially have to give a huge thank you to Ed Bennett and Janet Lightner of Boundary Bay Brewery. We could not have pulled off this event without their generous support. I also want to thank Ilana for catering the food for the judges and Brian for grilling all our burgers. See you at Best of the Bay 2012. Cheers! Anthony Stone

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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

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

I Still Play With Toys

I’m going to expose what a geek I am with this one.

I was a science major in college, I was a band nerd in high school, and as an adult I still play with trains.

Last year I found a box at my parent’s house with me and my father’s old train cars.  I had some space in my basement so I thought I’d try to set up a train layout.  I had no idea what I was doing so I attended some meetings of the local model train club at the Bellingham Railway Museum.  Some of the guys were going to Boundary Bay Brewery after the meeting so I joined them for a pint and some serious train talk.

Atlas Golden Spike Club Car 2010

They got pretty excited of the pictures of the old train station and round house that are hanging in the men’s bathroom here at the brewery.  I learned from the group that Atlas has a Golden Spike Club that makes a special car each year that is only available to the club members and this year it was going to be a Bellingham Bay Brewery 3-B boxcar.

I had to get one of these for Boundary Bay Brewery.  With some help from our social media guru Amy and the generosity of Atlas we got some of these train cars which are based on an actual historical photo of this car in front of the Bellingham Bay Brewery.  We traded one with the railroad museum for some track, an engine, and a caboose.  Now you’ll find our mini-train above the bar in our tap room.

the Bellingham Bay Brewery with the 3B traincar in front of it

Dale the museum historian brought us some photos of the old 3-B brewery, located around current Ohio street, and some pictures of Railroad ave. where Boundary Bay is now.  I’ve been fascinated with our local history ever since my Bellingham history class in third grade at Silver Beach Elementary.  It’s really fun for me to see pictures of Railroad avenue with trains on it, now the location of Boundary Bay Brewery, with our train on the bar with a historic replica of the 3-B train car.  It will be even more exciting next time we brew 3-B and have it on tap at the bar.

Bellingham Bay Brewery

In the meantime I’ll be working on my Beer/ Zombie apocalypse themed train layout six feet from my keggerator.  I’m looking for ideas of how to build HO scale (1:87)  hop and barley farms..

Categories: Beer, Brewing, Brewing equipment, Collecting, Random, trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brewmaster’s Dinner at Semiahmoo

This last week I had the great fortune to have some great food with our beer.  On Thursday I went to a brewer’s night at the Trainwreck pub in Burlington which has great burgers with hand-cut fries and their own jalapeño ketchup.  We ordered some jalapeño popper appetizers, not those frozen fried guys, but fresh hand-made, wrapped in bacon.  It’s weird because jalapeños are usually not that spicy but we were all feeling the heat from these ones.  It might have been more intense by all the Boundary Bay IPA I was drinking because hoppy beers can make spicy food taste hotter.

Friday I attended the third of three brew master dinners at Semiahmoo Resort.  Each course was paired with and/or cooked with Boundary Bay beer by their talented head chef Andy Dixon.  There were three appetizers all paired with ESB. They were all great but I think my favorite was the profiteroles filled with beer braised short ribs, chantrelle mushrooms and roasted shallots.  I gotta say though, that I don’t eat oysters and I had two of these poached with cheddar-beer fondue and gratined with Berkshire bacon.  The bacon is what really sold me.

The first dinner courses were also eye openers for me.  I was always a little picky since I was a kid. I’ve never liked dark meat or eating fat, skin or meat on the bone.  That said, I’ve never been a big fan of duck, as it is usually dark and pretty fatty.  The duck confit was delicious with the meat in thin strips on top of comte cheese and mizuna greens.  So, two foods in a row that I usually wouldn’t eat, but really enjoyed, and they went well with the beers paired with them.  The next dinner course was exciting for me because I had never had sturgeon before. I was surprised by this meaty fish.  Chef Andy really impressed me with this well thought out dish and pairing.   The sturgeon was served on a bed of Beluga lentils that resembled caviar and a curry cream sauce.  It was paired with Boundary’s IPA and I liked how he paired an English curry (with Indian influence) with an English beer style (again with an Indian connection).  So it impressed me on two levels. Not only was it well thought out and clever, but it also tasted great.  That would have been the high note for me if it wasn’t for the next course, which I think was most people’s favorite.  The malted beef tenderloin was a chocolate malt encrusted fillet with rogue bleu cheese on top.  Underneath this beautiful tender meat was a bed of roasted acorn squash and a wort infused demi.  We had to find an extra plate and split it up between us at my table because we loved this so much.  It was paired with Imperial Oatmeal Stout which might sound like a big heavy beer but it worked on several levels with this dish.  Imperial oatmeal stout goes well with creamy bleu cheeses and it also went well with the chocolate malt encrusted around the tenderloin.  Dessert was a caramelized fig tart paired with Old Bounder Barley wine, which was a nice way to finish up the night.  Well done Chef Andy!

Beer pairs well with food just as well as wine, and many times it pairs better.  A great resource if you are interested in pairing beer and cheese is a chart made by the Brewer’s Association: http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/beer-and-food/pairing-tips/pairing-chart
Cheers and Bon Appetit!
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