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Posts tagged "beer"

News from the FRB Brewhouse 4/1/19

April 1st, 2019 Posted by 0 thoughts on “News from the FRB Brewhouse 4/1/19”
What’s Releasing this week:

We are happy to report that as of Friday 4/5 Blazing Paddles American Wheat is BACK on the FRB Tapwall!

What’s Brewing this week:

3/25 Siren of the Shenandoah Hefeweizen

What did our week look like? 

        • Brewday preparation for our Siren of the Shenandoah Hefeweizen then brewed the next day.
        • Cleaned more kegs! Stocked the to go can refrigerator. You all are thirsty!
        • Sanitized the Brite Tank and moved Canoe Capitol IPA over to “Flair” (Brite Tank) for carbonating.Cleaned/CIP’ed “Thundercat” (Fermenter)
        • Kegged off Gizmo (Serving Tank). We put the last of the Lost Tree Orange Ginger Saison into Kegs. 
        • Cleaned/CIP’ed “Gizmo” (Serving Tank)
        • Kegged Canoe Capital IPA and moved some to a serving tank. (Gizmo)
        • Cleaned/CIP’ed “Flair” (Brite Tank)
        • Worked on some details for our National Homebrew Day for May 4th /Cinco De Mayo/May the 4th Be with You… Weekend Event that we are planning. Applied for VA BC Banquet License so we can do tastings and have FRB Beer outside. (More details to come on this soon)
        • Worked on some details for creating our new FRB Annual Membership Program that we will be releasing in June. Applied for VA BC Banquet License so we can do invite our Brewery Friends to help us have a mini Beer Fest outside. (More details to come on this soon)
        • Researched some new beer that we plan on releasing in the Fall.
        • Dropped and Harvested yeast from the Knight of the Valley and Friendly Confines Fermenters.
        • Worked with our amazing Neighbor’s at Art in the Valley on some new artwork for labels for a new beer that we have planned. https://artvalleyva.com/
        • Made some plans for our first Craft Beer Fest of 2019. April 6th. Imbibe Fredericksburg, VA. https://www.imbibeva.com/ This one looks to be super cool!
        • Cleaned/CIP’ed and Sanitized “Chopper” (1BBL Brite Tank)
        • Transferred our Trail Series #11 Sabro/Citra IPA over to “Chopper” for carbonation and conditioning.
        • Cleaned/CIP’ed “R2D2” (1BBL Fermenter)
        • Kegged Trail Series #11 Sabro/Citra IPA
        • Cleaned/CIP’ed and Sanitized “Chopper” (1BBL Brite Tank)
        • Had Manager Meeting with FRB General Manager, Kitchen Manager, President, VP, and Entertainment Booking Manager.
        • Worked on our next VA ABC Product Approval submittal
        • Transferred our Blazing Paddles American Wheat over to “Flair” for carbonation and conditioning.
        • Cleaned/CIP’ed “Megatron” (Fermenter)
        • Had a tasty Trail Series #11 Sabro/Citra IPA!
    Questions for me? 

    Are there any questions that you might have about the Brewing Process or running a Brewhouse? I’d be happy to hear them and possibly answer them for you in my next post. Please feel free to email me at tarndt@frontroyalbrewing.com

    Can’t wait to see you all in the Tasting room this week for a tasty beverage!

    Cheers,

    Tim Arndt, Head Brewer Front Royal Brewing Co.

Rappahannock Cellars Port Wine Barrels, Sabro Hops and much more!

March 25th, 2019 Posted by 0 thoughts on “Rappahannock Cellars Port Wine Barrels, Sabro Hops and much more!”
What’s Releasing this week:

• A fresh batch of Canoe Capital IPA comes back on tap Wednesday!

• Get ready for what is releasing this coming Friday: 3/29 Trail Series #11 Sabro/Citra IPA 73 IBU’s 6.4% ABV (From FRB’s Small Batch 1BBL Pilot System)

What’s Brewing this week: 

• 3/22 ESB Trail Series #8 Extra Special Bitter- ESB 5.1% ABV: 4/12 Release date.

• 3/25 Siren of the Shenandoah Hefeweizen

 

What is happening in the FRB Brewhouse this week?

I get asked a lot on what a normal brewhouse schedule looks like from a day to day standpoint on days that we might not be brewing. So here is some insight on what all took place last week while we were busy working hard to get our Customers some amazing beer in their glasses: 
  • We Cleaned Kegs
  • Carbonated and Kegged some Tenfold Double IPA (Now available on Tap and in Cans to go)
  • Canned some of our Rappeller Irish Red Ale and The Craic Irish Stout: Available now for $15 a 4pack 16oz cans.

    The Craic Irish Dry Stout

    Rappeller Irish Red Ale

  • Kegged some small batch Skeleton Tree Roggenbier and Cleaned Chopper (Our 1BBL Brite Tank)
  • Prepped for our ESB Extra Special Bitter Brewday by sanitizing R2D2 (One of our 1BBL Fermenter Tank), Weighed out and milled the grains, Weighed out the water salts and hops.
  • Went out to Rappahannock Cellars in Huntly, VA. and picked up two awesome 53 Gallon Port Wine Whiskey Oak Barrels from the amazing Theo Smith, Rappahannock’s Winemaker. https://www.rappahannockcellars.com/
  • We then filled those amazing barrels with our Knight of the Valley American Porter. The plan is to Age the Knight in these Port Wine Oak Barrels for a special Bomber release in the Late Fall/Early Winter.
  • We took apart all the stainless pipes that connect our HLT (Hot Liquor Tank) to our Mash Tun and Boil Kettle and did a deep cleaning, replacing all the gaskets.
  • We brewed up a small batch pilot of our Trail Series #8 Extra Special Bitter- ESB 5.1% ABV and got it into R2D2 where it’s fermenting away as you read this for a potential 4/12 release.
  • We did brewday prep for our next Brewday on the 10BBL System for brewing up the next batch of Siren of the Shenandoah Hefeweizen.
  • Sabro Hops

    Our special release this Friday: 3/29 is our Trail Series #8 Sabro/Citra IPA (From FRB’s Small Batch 1BBL Pilot System). What makes this IPA so special is the Sabro Hops. http://www.johnihaas.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/HAA_Sabro-HopSheet_041818.pdf Sabro was previously known as HBC 438. Sabro is a relatively newer hop that is starting to take the Craft Brewing Industry by storm and features a neomexicanus heritage.
Sabro is a true indigenous North American grown hop. Neomexicanus is a distinct sub-species of the hop family. It’s been growing wild in the mountains of New Mexico for the past million years. Sabro exhibits an intoxicating and complex blend of fruity and citrus flavors. It is described as an intensely unique hop, notable for its complexity of fruity and citrus. It has a distinct tangerine, coconut, tropical fruit, and stone fruit flavor. Sabro is a strongly expressive hop that translates its flavor well into beer and gives a versatility that lends itself to many styles, particularly hop-forward beers. It seems to be a hop variety with an incredibly unique aroma and flavor profile. Alex Barth, CEO of John I. Haas (Whose breeding program brought back the resurgence of Sabro) states: “Aside from its wonderfully complex and unique flavor profile, we also love the fact that this new hop is more genetically diverse. If part of your heritage includes the desert and mountain environments of the Southwestern US, you have a strong survival spirit in your genes – the essence of sustainability.”

Sabro/Cirta IPA Trail Series Brew

I have chosen to pair the Sabro with Citra in what should make for an interesting and tasty IPA. I expect the Sabro to show up with a complexity of fruity and citrus flavor that is only intensified by the Citra Hops. An aroma of distinct tangerine, coconut, tropical fruit. Our standard FRB IPA backbone will provide some malt to balance. 73 IBU’s 6.4% ABV

Are there any questions that you might have about the Brewing Process or running a Brewhouse? I’d be happy to hear them and possibly answer them for you in my next post. Please feel free to email me at tarndt@frontroyalbrewing.com

Can’t wait to see you all in the Tasting room this week for a tasty beverage!

Cheers,

Tim Arndt, Head Brewer Front Royal Brewing Co.

Transition: Homebrewer to Professional Brewer & How to become a Brewer

March 18th, 2019 Posted by 0 thoughts on “Transition: Homebrewer to Professional Brewer & How to become a Brewer”
What’s Releasing this week: 3/22 Skeleton Tree Roggenbier 6.1% ABV (From FRB’s Small Batch 1BBL Pilot System)

What’s Brewing this week: 3/22 ESB Trail Series #8 Extra Special Bitter- ESB 5.1% ABV: 4/12 Release date.

 

Transition: Homebrewer to Professional Brewer & How to become a Brewer

It happens a lot. I’m in the tasting room taking a moment to speak with FRB Customers, or at a Beer Festival after pouring a beer for a fest-goer. The most frequent questions that I get from people after they understand that I was a Homebrewer for 8 years, before I became Head Brewer at Front Royal Brewing Co., are “How difficult was it to go from homebrewing to brewing on a professional level?” and “What can I do to become a Brewer?”. 

I always start to answer this inquiry with a smile, knowing that this means, whether they know it or not, that they are genuinely interested in knowing just what the quality of the beer that is currently in their glass. As well as the story is with who made and crafted that beer, and how it all got in their glass. It’s one, if not the most, endearing quality about Craft Beer that helps create a love for Craft Beer & Brewing. If the brewery is doing it right, you pretty much have access to all the storylines that surround the shear struggles and character of each Craft Brewery-and that includes the story that surrounds the Head Brewer.

 

Less sexy than what most think

With the second part to the question, a lot of these people asking this question are asking because they also may have some interest in someday being a brewer themselves. Brewing beer has become romanticized as some glamorous job that in most people’s minds, they just stand around all day and drink beer. It’s not anything like that. Most of the tasting and analyzing of beer comes off the clock. If it was easy, then everyone would do it is what I normally retort with. The hard work every single day, no matter if it is a brew day or cleaning kegs, cannot be skipped or skimped on unless you want to produce beer that is low quality and not consistent.

No one is going to be able to teach you your own work ethic. It’s a learned trait that becomes either a part of your character or it isn’t.  Brewing is a passion career. No amount of schooling is going to instill that passion within you. Real life experience is golden; get your hands dirty, get yourself into homebrewing, and dedicate your free time to learning the craft and see if there is truly a passion inside you for it. Have form successes’ and most importantly have some failures and learn how to correct them.

You need to see if the fire for it gets lit for you and go from there. That is the best thing that you can do for yourself. The day to day work is completely different than what the majority of people perceive it as. It’s a lot less sexy than what most think it is. Then? Then you can look into some of the various brewing classes and certifications that are out there. Without a passion for it, your heart isn’t going to be in it. That is going to show in your beer and the way you run a Brewhouse. See where your own path leads.

Many ways to get there

The other thing that I try to relay to them is that there is no one way to answer the Homebrewer to Pro Brewer question to anyone without first relaying aside from having the passion and drive, there is not just one way, but there are many different ways to get there.

 

My Path

For me, my path to a Head Brewer. I started with being a Homebrewer and dedicating myself to the hobby, spending countless hours brewing in my driveway, fermenting & bottling in my basement, and making every beer style that I could to educate myself.

  • Countless books, podcasts, blogs, brewing conferences.
  • Founding a Local Homebrew Club (Shenandoah Valley Homebrewers Guild) and helping to build a group of like-minded peers to be able to share successes and failures with. http://shenbrew.org/
  • I engrossed myself heavily in running a couple of local Homebrew Competitions
  • Join the American Homebrewers Association https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/
  • Getting my BJCP (Beer Judging Certification Program) Certification, educating myself on off flavors and taking them seriously, what causes them and how to prevent them & learning and using the language to describe them. https://www.bjcp.org/index.php
  • Training my tasting pallet and really focusing on being able to pick out and describe exactly what it is that I’m tasting.
  • Getting my Cicerone Beer Server Certification and Training others to do the same. https://www.cicerone.org/

All that was before I ever thought that brewing at a Professional Level as a Head Brewer was even a possibility. I think as I look back on it all, I would say that I would not be anywhere near as good of a brewer as I am without these key foundation steps in my background. It was an important part of my path and story. Yet this doesn’t even touch the challenges that led me down the path to researching and educating that I took to get myself as ready as I possibly could be.

 

Scale-Up

Understanding and getting your head wrapped around the scale-up of recipes from ten-gallon batches to ten-barrel (310 gallons) batches is not as simple as it sounds. Nothing is a simply one-for-one scale up. I had the amazing opportunity to be able to draw on knowledge and feedback from a lot of fantastic brewers (professional and not). This allowed me to not only ask the silly little questions that I didn’t understand. They let me come into their brewhouse and brew with them. That experience of seeing how they did things in their own way in their own brewhouses was a truly priceless step to my own learning, understanding, and confidence to get to this point.

I use BeerSmith Brewing Software and always have. I knew enough about it to help me dig into the conversion aspects. There are a ton of different settings that you can set up to get it to work with the scaling correctly. brewhouse size, tank dimensions, batch profiles, hop utilization %’s-all of which you must be certain to research and understand where they needed to be and thus set up for proper scaling of recipes.

 

Water Chemistry

By far, the topic I spent the most time researching and getting an education on, was water. Getting my head wrapped around water chemistry was a huge thing for me. I had not really ever concerned myself with it before. (My water as a Homebrewer came from a private community watershed, and a well water system that is great to brew with, with nothing much added.) I learned how to read a water report. Identifying what each number means, what water salts are used for and how they affect your water chemistry. 

Understanding what our water chemistry on Main Street, Front Royal. Then understanding any changes to it are critical to the quality of our FRB Beer. Not to mention understanding the water profile for each beer I wanted. Each beer style that I brew has its own water profile based on a few key characteristics I’m looking for in the finished beer. Balanced mouthfeel, dry aftertaste, smoothness of the bitterness, and/or alcohol, etc.

 

Learning Your Equipment

You still have to know your equipment, understand how it operates, and how you want it to operate. There are many unknowns to it all until you start to gain the valuable experience needed to understand it all. Getting in there and using the equipment, running test after test and seeing just how things react during certain times. Writing up your Standard Operating Processes (SOP’s) for you and your equipment that you expect everyone who sets foot in your Brewhouse to follow. It’s a matter of quality and consistency. It all just takes time to manage the pressure and stress to utilize that time appropriately.

Each Brewer and therefore their Brewhouse has their own character that they put into their beer. It’s a unique and good thing that should help exemplify the passion that the Brewer and their Brewhouse Team have for the Beer that is going into your glass.

 

The very first pints sold at FRB!

 

Reward

One of the most rewarding things that I have experienced is seeing your beer pouring out of taps into a customer’s glass. The enjoyment on their face as they drink and enjoy it over great conversation makes it all worth it. 

  See you all in the Tasting Room!

  Cheers,

  Tim Arndt Head Brewer Front Royal Brewing Co.  

Want to Start a Craft Brewery: Five Lessons Learned

October 23rd, 2018 Posted by 0 thoughts on “Want to Start a Craft Brewery: Five Lessons Learned”

So You Want to Start A Brewery: Five Lessons Learned

You probably like beer – a lot. Perhaps you’ve made beer, maybe very good beer. You’ve been to dozens of awesome breweries. You love the brewery experience, the camaraderie, the cool vibe, the excitement. Perhaps you’ve come into a little money or free time. All of this has made you start thinking: Should I start a brewery??

The partners here at Front Royal Brewing Company were right there with you a few short years ago. In the ensuing years, we’ve run many gauntlets and are now the proud owners of a ten-barrel system churning out artisan beers, a full-service restaurant, and an awesome music venue on historic Main Street in Front Royal, Virginia. We would be presumptuous to say we’ve arrived, but we can say we’ve scaled a significant mountain. As a result, we have a few lessons we’d like to pass along.

Over the past five years, 4,256 craft breweries have opened in this country, which is one every 2.3 days. That may suggest opening a brewery is an easy thing to do. It’s anything but – over that same period of time 483 of those craft breweries went out of business. We encourage you to open your brewery – and to do it with vigor and with love. But at the end of the day, remember you’re opening a business first and a brewery second. You have to make the business end work, or the brewery part will remain the pipedream it has always been.

 

Lesson 1: Know Your Business

As the brewery space has become more crowded, the old model of a couple of beer dudes making beer in a garage, with food trucks outside, has changed considerably. Breweries today are as likely to be entertainment venues or foodie havens as old-style breweries. Your first and most important question is who are you? At Front Royal Brewing Co., we’re fortunate to be the only brewery in town. Our award-winning beer is amazing and beloved by our customers. But we’re also in a small town and it’s not a town full of bearded hipsters. We decided very quickly that, to be successful in this market, we needed a broader business model than simply wonderful craft beer. We brought in an acclaimed executive chef to run our restaurant. 

We started booking music three days a week, not just local bands but nationally-known artists traveling the road from Nashville. We ran lunch specials and Monday night trivia. You need to figure out very clearly what you’re betting on with your business and then go all in on that bet.

 

Lesson 2: Form the Right Team

We have a diverse ownership team, which had the advantage of lots of business experiences and points of view. Our owners include a fabulous brewer, a restaurateur, former executives, management consultants, a professional marketer, an engineer, a farmer, angel investors, and others with leadership experience in Fortune 50 companies. But our diversity also created the significant challenge of defining a cohesive vision and plan. We sometimes spoke in many voices and struggled to move decisively in one direction. In the end, the size and diversity of our team helped us think outside the box and to look more objectively at the business we were in and wanted to be in. Whatever you do, make sure your leadership team has the skills and experiences needed to achieve the vision you’ve set out. But just as importantly, you need to come together around one common vision. Working at odds with one another will quickly sap your already limited resources.

 

Lesson 3: Data, Data, Data

In any business, but especially the brewing business, it’s easy to fall back on hunches, established industry trends or best practices, emotions, and urban myths. We fell into that trap more than once and quickly realized that real, meaningful data was critical. Should we distribute our beer? Our hunch was yes but once we built the financial model and looked at the data, the answer was: not for a while. Why was our business slowing down? One hunch was the weather, another was the month of the year, but once we looked at the data, the best answer was a gradual leveling off of our business following the initial surge and the answer wasn’t to wait for sunnier days but to focus hard on expanding our brand presence to a much greater population.

Data is like shining a bright light. It clarifies. Issues and questions that previously were shrouded in darkness suddenly start to make sense and solutions emerge. Also, running a multi-million-dollar business of any kind involves management of huge amounts of administrative data. We experienced far more issues and frustrations with our POS data and our accounting data than we did with our glycol brewing system. Two months after opening, it still wasn’t clear to us if we were making money or losing it at a rapid rate. We’re still struggling to manage all our business numbers well. Lesson three is use data to guide what you do, but also manage your data efficiently. Your data investments are just as important as your investments in brewing equipment.

 

Lesson 4: Deal with Mistakes

You will make a gazillion mistakes. How many times did we wish our building was two feet wider, that we had merely two more tanks, that we had more parking, that we had more storage space, that we had trench drains in the brewery. The list goes on and on. The point isn’t so much to avoid mistakes, which of course you should do, but, rather, to face up to them squarely when they happen, deal with them, and bite the necessary bullets to correct them. We opened with quite a bit of fanfare back in the spring only to realize the list of things that we had failed to do was so long it would take us another two months to get our operation anywhere close to where it needed to be. Expecting mistakes also brings another very important corollary: make sure you have the financial resources necessary to make a much bigger investment than you initially planned. If one or two mistakes will kill you financially, you have no business opening a brewery. You will need the resources to correct dozens of mistakes.

 

Lesson 5: Make Great Beer

Your business is and always will be about making great beer. You can get your customers to come back for many reasons but if they’re not coming back for the beer, you will eventually fail. We didn’t build the fanciest, most modern brewing facility possible, but we did bring in an amazing brewer. As a result, we have some of the best beers in the world, as our customers will attest. The critical skills for a brewer are temperamental: obsessive attention to detail, a passion for excellence, and an appreciation for the art and history of brewing. Throwing a cake into the fermentation tank sounds cool but monitoring the temperature obsessively and managing yeast strains as if they were life-saving organisms is much more important.

 

A Checklist

Perhaps these general lessons learned helped, but we also thought you might want some more detailed and concrete suggestions. So we put our heads together and came up with an additional list below.

 

 

 

 

Get your accounting system in place as soon as you have a penny in the bank and start building accurate books from the start. We waited months and had a huge mess to clean up.  We now use Quickbooks, by the way, including their payroll services.

 

You can build your facility small and expand it over time as you grow, or you can build your facility big and grow your business over time to fill it out. Both approaches bring big problems that can break you.  Instead, you want to be Goldilocks and build your facility just the right size for you.  That’s another reason it’s so important to know from day one what business you’re really in.

 

You want to be an entertainment venue? You will need to pay thousands of dollars in licensing fees to at least three different licensing agencies. That cost goes up the more nights you have music and if you want cover charges.

 

You will be invisible for months if not years on Google, Facebook, and other listing sites unless you go all in to drive traffic to your website and build a following. You can jump start that process by investing time and energy into SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  Here’s a hint:  we’re writing this blog for a reason.

 

Careful what you buy. As you’re getting started, you will be inundated by sales people looking to sell you services, tools and products.  You need some, many you don’t.  The ones you need come in many different flavors from many different vendors.  You absolutely MUST do your due diligence and research before you buy.  Services especially come with contracts that can be very difficult to get out of.  Take it from us.

 

Believe in your customers.  Of course, they’re always right but too often that is and sounds like lip service.  You need to sacrifice everything for them.  Throw the beer out if it’s not good enough for them.  Comp the food.  Avoid those problems in the first place by building a team that worships your customers.  You want 5s on all your ratings.  Expect your customers to bring back ten times as many through their referrals and goodwill.

 

Good luck with your new brewery. We hope our experiences prove helpful. When you’re in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, please stop by and visit us. If you like beer, you won’t be disappointed. And if you like great food and great music as well, you’ll think you’ve found a new home. The mountains are beautiful here this time of year.

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