Friday, February 29, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pilot Batch #1

One of my goals is to promote session beers. Session beers have low alcohol contents and are very drinkable, meaning that a person can easily consume several of them without feeling overwhelmed. They're good beers to stick with over the course of a long drinking session, such as spending the evening at a pub. Session beers are relatively popular in the British Isles and Germany, but the resurgence of craft brewing in the states has largely relied on strong ales. So why brew session beers?

The big reason is because they naturally moderate alcohol consumption. I'm not gonna lie to you; I like having a beer in my hand. It relaxes my nerves and boosts my confidence. A session beer is a willing security blanket that won't knock me out with a sucker punch and write dirty words on my forehead. I love drinking big beers, but holding an empty glass for an hour between each pint of IPA isn't my favorite way to make a night of it. In addition, session beers are great for informal and unplanned drinking. Do you ever feel like stopping by the pub on the way home from work? Have a quick session beer, say hi to a few friends and get back to what you were doing.

That all sounds great, but why don't more people drink them here? I think it's because most brewpubs charge standard prices for them. Are you willing to repeatedly pay full-price for 3.2% abv beer? We're not going to make the same pricing mistake.

All of this background brings me to the real purpose of this post, which is to describe my first test batch. My intent was to brew a beer with a light copper color, a sweet/bitter balance that leans very slightly toward bitterness, about 3.2% abv and enough body to avoid the common watery mouthfeel of many session beers. Aside from being brewed with all organic ingredients, it's modeled after a traditional style of English ale that you can only buy on draught (as far as I know). Once the beer was ready, I had a few highly qualified sensory analysts - aka friends - try it and give me their honest thoughts. The response was very positive and the group confirmed that I accomplished most of my goals, aside from having a more dominant hop flavor than I wanted. A note to brewers: adding your last hop addition 30 minutes from the end of the boil will still result in a strong flavor. Myth busted!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Remembering the Hyphen

You will be missed.

We got a much better response to RePublic than I expected! Several folks suggested that we use it as the pub's name, and we're gonna roll with it unless we come up with something better. No alternative spelling except for the capital P - we're not opposed to the idea altogether, but it would need to have a specific meaning so we're not perceived as out-of-touch old folks trying to sound hip. Limp Bizkit!

Themed bars are tricky because they tend to engage specific people and discourage everyone else. Using the dog idea as an example, we'd need to do a lot of research to determine if the area has enough people who are both dog lovers and craft beer drinkers (mmm... Venn diagrams). Dogs are inspiring, but a lot of other beers and breweries are named after them. Unless we think of something that blows us away, we're going to avoid themes.

Up next: tasting notes from our first test batch!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Coming Someday

Welcome to The Re-Public! We're a brewpub-in-planning that hopes to grace Madison, WI with our presence in the next two years.

Our goal is to be a small, neighborhood pub that happens to brew its own beer. Our food will be simple enough that we won't be mistaken for a restaurant. Expect us to buck the trend toward large, upscale brewpubs in favor of a quaint, informal gathering place for friends, family and neighbors. Organic and local ingredients will be used as much as possible, but we don't want to over-hype it. We haven't found a location yet - if something good becomes available in your area, we'll discuss it with you before committing to it - but we'd love to be within walking distance of people's homes, much like the locals of London. Hence dubbing this website The Re-Public: we hope to bring back the public house in all of its anti-glory.

The business is a partnership between two friends. Joe, a former aerospace engineer from the 'burbs of Detroit, traded a decent salary for brewing jobs at J.T. Whitney's and Otter Creek/Wolaver's. Jane Doe, a native townie whose true identity is concealed to protect her from her employer, is hoping to reverse her backwards progression of job titles: Bartender With Lots Of Experience -> Cog, Large Software Development Company.

We're still trying to decide on a name for the bar. Got any ideas?