Home Brew Interview: Joe Fellers – Part 3

The second part of this interview with local home brewer Joe Fellers can be discovered here. Therein he talked about local ingredients, legalities and beer trends. Below is the final segment and it gets historical and philosophical.


So let’s get back to home brewing. Why should people get into home brewing?

It’s one of the oldest art forms. And it’s not just home brewing, I think there’s a lost art of making things we consume. There’s too much consuming and not enough making. Prior to getting into home brewing I liked to cook, but it has somehow enhanced my love of cooking and my love of food and the process because I’ve refined my palate. It’s turned me into a real elitist prick – but you know what I tell people? Just because I don’t like ****** things doesn’t make me an elitist. I will admit that I drank four Coors Light last night

– I can cut that part out.

No. No don’t. You know what I wanted to do? I wanted to drive home but I kinda wanted something that tasted like beer.

– Honestly me and a friend did a blind taste test years ago. We sampled Bud, Miller, Coors and threw Corona in there, just for fun.

Did you do Corona in cans or Corona in bottles?

– Bottles

Yeah, see if you did it in cans you can tell … I was just going to bring that up. I recently had three Corona’s from cans and you know what it tastes like? Come to find out, there’s a reason it tastes like this, but it tastes just like, well, a 90% match, with Hofbrau House Original Helles. And that’s because some people from the Hofbrauhaus, in the mid-1800s, settled in central Mexico and that’s where the Mexican light lager comes from. They brought yeast strains with them. I knew that there were Germans in Mexico but I hadn’t had Corona in cans – other than hammered at the lake – in fifteen years. I poured it into a glass and it was a nice straw color and it wasn’t skunky. I had forgotten what unskunked Corona tastes like. But anyway – you were doing a blind taste test.

– Yeah, and that might’ve made a difference

I’m telling you, man, it’s a huge difference. Heineiken’s the same way. Heineken is a very good lager, a fine example of a European light lager. And I don’t think they’re an adjunct beer. I think it’s all grain.

– Well we did that blind test – and I’ve always put Coors down, but honestly that one tasted better than the others.

It was ice cold?

– They were nice and cold, we had other people pouring for us. I was surprised how well Coors tasted compared to the rest.

It’s interesting to do stuff like that. I wish I could do taste testing like that here. But our distributor will not allow,and Tim won’t allow, Budweiser products here and I completely understand. But I would like to do it to prove a point. People have their brand loyalty when it comes to things but they have brand loyalty up here (points to the brain case) and not what they actually taste.

– Tell us the best resources for home brewers.

Your local brewery. Always. Make friends with your local brewer and the day shift bartender throughout the week. They’ll introduce you to people. The second best resource is going to be online home brew forums. Message boards and forums are kind of an antiquated form of communication on the internet but when it comes to home brewing they are a wealth of information. That’s where I’ve learned almost everything. In a lifetime, if you spent even three hours a day, you’ll never get through all the information there.

But number one would be your local brewery. As long as you like their beers. If you think their beers are not that great, then don’t go to them. But chances are, if they’re still in business they know what they’re doing. And talk to the brewers because they’ll be the first ones to tell you, “don’t do that.” Most brewers, most professional brewers started out as home brewers. In fact, the majority of them that I’ve ever met started off brewing beer because they were underage in college. They bought a home-brew kit on line because they didn’t card them online and so they could brew the beer. It gets you drunk. It’s college. Who cares. Some Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice and some grain you bought for $15 online, might as well do it.

– Are there any brewing techniques or processes that you have discovered that can help home brewers make better beer?

Don’t be afraind to fail. Don’t be worried about “oh, man, I hope this doesn’t taste bad.” You’re going to make bad beers. You’re going to have bad ideas. You’re going to forget to do something. You are going to make the mistake of drinking while you’re brewing, which is a bad idea. It’s a terrible idea. It’s how you end up with really terrible IPAs, that’s how you end up with infections, that’s how you end up making mistakes in your quantities. You get yourself a 15% IPA when you wanted a 6% or you end up with a 2% IPA.

It’s hard for me to give advice when it comes to home-brew technique because I kinda started ahead of the curve – because of Tim. Tim has such an engineering mind that he said, “listen, I went through all this, I don’t want you to have to deal with that. So we’re going to start you off at 7 as opposed to going 1-6.” So a lot of my techniques come from that.

Clean. Be clean. If the cleanest area of your house – you could be a slob, your room could be terrible, your dishes are dirty, food caked on stuff in your fridge – if the only area of your house that is clean is where your brewing equipment is and it’s clean, you rinse it off before using it and scrub it clean after youre done using, you keep all that clean. Make sure you put your concentration in that area. If you’re going to home brew you have to keep things clean otherwise you’re going to have garbage. Garbage in, garbage out. That’s the key. Sanitization.

– Any good gadgets that have helped your brew day be better?

If you brew in a garage have a deep sink. If you have a deep sink in your garage put a hose fitting on the faucet and then run a tube off of it. Just like we [B3] have out back. I have one in my house. It’s so handy for everything. For cleaning. I’m not kidding, I walk out in my garage from my kitchen when I have to fill up more than a gallon, when I have to make stock or something like that, I’ll go out there and use it because I can set my pot on the ground and fill up from that hose. That’s my number one favorite gadget.

Spray bottle. It sounds weird. A spray bottle with sanitizer or just alcohol. I have three of them at my house at all times. I spray down everything. I actually will do a fine mist of sanitizer in my fridge like once a week, in my ferment fridge and my serving fridge. Just to keep any sort of bugs at bay. But I’ll also do a fine mist of sanitizer in my bucket. I also use isopropyl alcohol if I’m going to do any kind of hot ferment. Anything above about 62 degrees, for like my ciders, a few hefeweizens and a few other things. I have one stout I ferment at 68 degrees, which is weird. But if I do a hot ferment everything gets sprayed down with alcohol because I want to control every aspect. And that comes from home brewing. I didn’t do that before.

So spray bottles and a hose bib connector for your sink, both are invaluable.

– What is your personal brewing philosophy, if we haven’t covered it yet?

The Sumerians were brewing beer thousands of years ago. You’re going to make beer, and whether you like that beer or not, that doesn’t matter, you’re going to make beer. So always keep it simple, listen to people that know more than you. That’s it. And I follow that all the time. I’ve got one friend of mine who’s .. four batches I think he’s made, maybe five. He just kegged his first batch about three weeks ago. It’s a Belgian blonde with blood orange. It was really good except he bought a kit and it wasn’t … the blood orange syrup that went into it just didn’t last. It lasted about two weeks and now he has a blonde ale. it doesn’t even have Belgian-y characteristics to it. It tripped the trigger. It got you in. Now he’s hooked. He keeps asking ‘what-if’ questions. I tell him it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. He asks, ‘well aren’t you worried about this or that?’ And I’m not. I’ve done 216 batches and had three infections and about 10 that I didn’t like. So, 13 beers in 200 batches, okay. That’s enough failure for me to learn lessons. You’re going to fail, you’re going to screw up. But no matter what you’re still going to make beer, even if you don’t like it. Then learn from those mistakes.

– Tell me some positive things about Kingman, as a home brewer.

That any time from about 6 am to about 10 pm at night, sometimes even later, we’re a tight knit community of home brewers; you always have someone you can get hold of. Tim, even though he seems surly, he’s a real big softie, he’s a big baby, he’s a real nice guy. If you’ve got an emergency and you’re like, ‘man, I’m like 35 minutes into my 90 minute boil and I just realized that I don’t have enough hops’ – call him up and he’ll help work it out. Because chances are he’s had that problem before. Jason Fuller, same thing. Me, I work nights. Three nights a week you can catch me at 2 am. If for some reason you have a brewing emergency at 2 am you can hit me up. And I know about 5 or 6 other brewers locally who are the same way. We’re all willing to help each other out. Brewing is a community. We’re all weird, brewing nerds. We all just love this stuff.

– What is the social need for alcohol?

Oh man, that’s a multi-tiered answer. First and foremost, humans have been consuming some kind of alcoholic – excuse me – some kind of mind altering substance as a form of community for thousands of years. It pre-dates the written word … I would say it’s right around the same time the spoken word came about. Anthropoligists say that humans started settling into communities and stopped being nomads because they needed to make substances that altered their minds. And to do that you can’t just roam around – well, it’s easier to grow your wheat and your barley and your sorghum and whatever it is your growing to make your alcoholic substance. So there’s a sense of community that comes with that.

When this country was being formed it was formed in taverns. Even the teetotalers showed up to the taverns because they knew that’s where the sense of community was centered. Not only that but your small communities, even up until just barely pre-Prohibition in the US, most decisions were made, in small towns, at the local tavern or ale house. Or at the brewery. Sometimes all three of those were the same place. So you had city council meetings, you had planning and zoning commissions, you had all those different things, all those things that were decided as a community, in and around alcohol. That’s number one, a sense of community. And that’s a very ancient thing, a very old part of our brain. It goes back thousands and thousands of years.

The need for alcohol, the social need – most people don’t want to talk about it, but everybody has social hangups. Not everyone is forthright and honest without some sort of chemical alteration. Whether it’s benzodiazepines to calm your social anxiety and makes you more outward and outgoing. Alcohol covers those bases and allows me to be more honest about what I’m talking about now. Literally self-referential.

– What’s an overrated craft beer?

Stone IPA

– What’s an underrated craft beer?

Any good pilsener from a microbrewery. And the reason I say pilsener is because a lot of people don’t realize, unless they are a home brewer, that a pilsener is one of the hardest things to brew. Because there is nowhere to hide. You’ve got an IPA, you can screw up your fermentation, your mash pH and all that – just add more hops, add more hops. Boil longer. Leave it in the keg longer. When you have a pilsener and it takes you five weeks to make it and you have five weeks and one day to put it on tap, there’s nowhere to hide. You have to be perfect. There’s no room to screw it up. That’s why when I go to a brewery that has a pilsener on tap, and they call it a pilsener, that’s the first beer that I order. Just to see if it’s good. If that pilsener’s good, I don’t even have to try the rest of the beers. I know they’re going to knock it out of the park because it’s so tough to make a pilsener. Which is why I’ve never tried to make a pilsener. I did a Munich style helles one time and it was okay but it took way too long. It took me almost five weeks, probably four weeks and about 3 or 4 days. No. Give me a hefeweizen, three days primary fermentation, two days to crash cool it, keg it one day. Five days.

– Tell me about the beer scene in Kingman. Is it good, bad, otherwise?

It’s so, so much better. More people are getting turned on to home brewing, more people are getting turned on to craft beer. While I’m conflicted about a second brewery in town, I know that the more breweries the better because that means there’s less bad beer out there. Or less boring beer. Because I don’t like boring.


Home Brew Interview: Joe Fellers – Part 2

Here are some additional words from local home brewer, Joe Fellers, from Black Bridge Brewery and the Cartoon Casual podcast.

We left off with his experience with yeast culturing.  You can find the first part of the interview here.  Now, read on for Part 2.


– So, we’ve talked about beer and cider. What other kinds of alcohol interest you?

I do love whiskey’s. I like – I’m really particular when it comes to whiskey’s. I can’t stand most American whiskey’s except for bourbon. Don’t like sour mash in any way, shape or form. I don’t really like white lightning, moonshine. I do love a good, dark rum. And by good I mean Captain Morgan Private Stock and then up. I’m not even that discerning when it comes to dark rum. Bourbons, rums. Lately, in the past year or so I’ve gotten into Scotch and only because I have a friend who has more money than me and is very …

– Your One Percenter pal?

Yeah, my one percenter pal, who is also very generous with his Scotch and knows his Scotch really well.

– Have you had the rums out at Desert Diamond?

I have. I go out there probably once a month and try their stuff. I really, really like Desert Diamond’s stuff. And again, it’s all local. Even their sugarcane comes from southern Arizona so that’s as local as it’s going to get.

I do love wine. Wine is something that is a new thing for me, probably in the past six or seven years. And only last summer did I finally get into white wine. I looked real manly just swirling my white wine around. It doesn’t matter though, I really don’t care because when it’s hot out there, when it’s 110 degrees and you walk into barely swamp-cooled places and it’s still 90 degrees inside, I want a chilled pinot grigio. It just tastes good. And I will not be emasculated for that!

– Hey, some of the best men in history have enjoyed good wines. Okay, so what’s the best beer trend right now?

Best beer trend? Do you want overall trend, or trendy?

– Overall trend

Best overall trend is toward craft beer because we’re still chipping away at the big boys of beer, their market share. The report for 2017 is another three percent we chipped away. Which is almost twenty percent in the past ten years, excuse me, the past twelve years. Still a long way to go.

Then I would say, trendy, the thing that I love is keeping things as local as possible. When it comes to ingredients, when it comes to staff, when it comes to self-distributing. Because as soon as you pay somebody to distribute your beer you add another barrier between the brewer and the consumer. I like self-distribution. There are several states that have now passed laws in the past twelve months or so that allow for self-distribution of microbreweries, whereas before they had to sell their beers to a distributor and the distributor sells it to a seller and then sellers provide it to the person.

– Is the Homebrewer’s Association working on furthering that? I know they are getting into a lot of legal issues.

I know that the Brewer’s Association is really big on pushing that. I wouldn’t say they are lobbyists but they are definitely pushing things in that direction, providing lawyers when needed to kind of help. People hear about things, legal problems when it comes to the craft beer industry or even the craft distilling industry because they have the same difficulty, a lot of the legal difficulties aren’t barriers put in place on purpose, the laws were just written prior to the industry kind of taking over like it has. The best example of that is in Arizona – up until a couple of summers ago you could only have growlers that were glass. They couldn’t be metal. That changed two summers ago. Now, you had breweries who didn’t care about it, they were like ‘we’re going to use metal because it’s more sustainable, it weighs less’ and etc. But technically it was illegal. It had to be a glass container, 32 ounces, 64 ounces, no more than 128 ounces. And that’s what the law stated. But that’s because the law was written when glass was the only thing available, in a large capacity. So a lot of those things have to be changed. And it’s happening.

Dogfish Head – you know how they got their start. Sam Caligione got the money and, come to find out, breweries were illegal in the state. He went to the state congress and changed it. Pretty phenomenal. So a lot of things on the books are getting changed and I like to see that. And it’s opening people’s eyes. But on the whole, I’d say my favorite trend is the local, essentially farm-to-table, but for beer. Getting things as local as possible. If we had the climate here I would love to see a Kingman hops variety used in twenty percent of the beer.

– I have a friend here who has some hops vines. I need to talk to him some more about it because I’d really like to use that in my home brew. So, I think local hops would be something that’s possible.

Absolutely. It is possible – if you plant it properly.  And you have to water the bejesus out of it. And you’re not going to have the production that you would normally have in an area that was cloudier and cooler, we don’t get that. The Pacific Northwest, central Czech Republic and southern Germany, like those areas, they get their first cold snap, which is what triggers your hops oils to produce and then it warms up again – we don’t get that. Sometimes we do, but sometimes it’s 95 degrees in October. But consistently the Pacific Northwest, New Zealand, those latitudes they hit that cold snap in late August, early September. But you can get it around here. I’ve had beer made with hops from around here. You just have to use a lot more. Jeremy Fass, he grew some in his back yard. It didn’t produce a lot and it took two years, or three seasons to get a few ounces off of one vine.

Tell me the opposite of that, what’s the stupidest beer trend?

Oh man. Let’s see if I can marginalize and alienate people.

– Don’t worry, you can say anything and in the current culture you’re going to offend someone.

Yeah, this is an offended culture.

Anything that’s so extreme that it is a detriment to whatever it is. So if you have an IPA and you put too much hops in there and all it does is eat the enamel off your teeth, there’s no subtle nuances, there’s no finesse to it, I don’t like that. Same thing goes with sours. Oh, I had a smoked pale ale from a brewery I won’t name and it was kind of like drinking liquid smoke. For hours, hours afterward I would burp and I thought a puff of smoke was going to come out.  I only had one of them.  I bought a six pack (I wish I had that $11 back), but I powered through the one. Half of it was while I was eating food so it was easier to take and once I was done eating my food I drank the rest of it and it was so bad. So if you’re going to have a smoked beer, it should be in addition to the beer itself, it should complement. It’s all about balance. Anything that’s completely out of whack for what the beer should be is just too extreme. Going way to extreme is just annoying.

There’s a couple ways to look at that. There’s a beer that’s on tap, most of the time, at a brewery in Vegas, that’s around twelve to thirteen percent [abv]. It’s not very good. And not to toot our horn, but Wicked Poison is at fourteen percent. It’s good. It pays the rent. It’s a very popular beer. It’s like a blank, clean slate. You can add all sorts of things to it but it’s also good by itself. So if the end result of the extremism is a detriment to the product and it’s just extreme to be extreme, that’s annoying to me.


So we’ll end part 2 here.  The final segment of Joe’s interview will be here soon.

Home Brew Interview: Joe Fellers – Part 1

Kingman has a community of home brewers.  Now is the time to bring them into the light for they are the vanguard of such fabulous beer in this town.  Joe Fellers is one of these home brewers; many of you will also know him from his tapster duties at Black Bridge Brewery on Saturday’s.  You probably also know of the podcast he co-hosts,  Cartoon Casual.  Now you will know more of him.  This interview will be published in multiple parts, so keep reading.


– First, tell us the story of your beginnings, your home-brewing beginnings . How’d you get started?

In the summer of 2009 I was unemployed and had just been dumped by my live-in girlfriend. So she left, I didn’t have a job or any money, but I still liked beer. So my buddy Steve said, ‘hey you should come over to this guy’s house, he makes his own beer in the garage. Come over and have some beers.’ I was sure it was going to be awful, served out of some plastic buckets.

– You had no faith in home brewing.

None. I had none, because I had had one home brew experience about ten years before and it was garbage. I was just going to go ahead and continue to buy my own beer. I mean, I liked okay beer at the time – Fat Tire, Arrogant Bastard, like the junior league craft beer stuff.

So I go over to Tim Schritter’s house and I walk in his garage – and his garage is set up basically like a brewery. Not basically, it was a brewery. He had a nice stainless steel hand-wash sink; he had six refrigerators or something in there, some for service, some for fermenting; got introduced to Tim and I proceeded to get completely wasted out of my gourd because every single beer I tried was really, really good.  And then I told Tim, “hey I wanna learn how to make beer” (spoken in Will Ferrel’s Harry Caray voice, if you know Joe you can hear it now) and he was like, ‘okay, you come back in the morning and I’ll teach you how to make beer.’ Later on, I found out he didn’t expect me to show up; but I got up, grabbed a couple of Egg McMuffins and some energy drinks and showed up at like 7:30 in the morning the next day and, uh, and that’s it. That’s how I began home brewing. He showed me how to brew beer, I looked up the chemistry – the actual chemistry behind it and got really interested in it because I’ve always been interested in science.  Through Tim, and then Jason Fuller, as well, because he’s a science teacher and a home brewer – we all saw eye to eye. It all just clicked in my brain, it totally made sense to me. It’s one of those things where some people look at something and it makes sense – I looked at recipes, at mash temps and things like that and it just kinda made sense.

– What other kind of science do you have in your background?

Just a giant nerd. I always excelled at science. I grew up in Ohio, so you had to take earth science, biology, chemistry then physics in high school and I tested out in the first two so when I was a freshman I was taking junior level classes and I just went from there. I just absolutely love it. So I had no real background in anything scientifically applicable to brewing, but it clicked in my brain – ‘oh, okay so this – we need to have a good mash pH for this and have this and this and amylase reactions …’ For whatever reasons, that all made sense to me.

– So why do you keep home brewing?

I get like a creative energy that I just need to get out.  I love to cook.  I love taking something from raw ingredients and making something different out of it. Brewing allows me to do that. And I’m not working in a commercial setting so I can do whatever the hell I want. I can experiment, and if it’s god-awful, then it’s god-awful. Like, my Bavarian style hefeweizen ferments at above 68 degrees, has banana characteristics to it.  I love chocolate covered bananas so why not add chocolate to a Bavarian style hef? Not a good idea, for the record. It’s not very good! But I figured that out by making it and then forcing myself to drink five gallons of it. Because I’ve never actually done small batch home brewing, like I’ve never done a one gallon batch – it’s been four and half to five gallon batches every time I’ve done an experimental beer.

– I just saw an article about blending. Have you ever done that with your beers, your home brews? Like if something went wrong, or just purposely blending them together?

No. I never have. Whenever I’ve had anything go wrong, it was so tragically wrong I didn’t even want to dump it down my drain. I wanted to dump it down someone else’s drain.

– Were you able to do that?

Yes, and I will not disclose where it was dumped. I’ve only ever had three tragic failures – only three I can remember were actual real bad failures. And they weren’t even failures of my own – it was the airlock getting clogged and blew the top off and infected the beer. That happened to me twice and another time was just pure dumb.

– Tell us your current favorite beer or beer style.

What’s Red Bridge? Irish red? Current favorite because it’s in my hand.

But honestly I have to say, I have to supplant that with Hops & Dreams, the New England IPA. It’s just so … I went through what a lot of people went through that were into craft beer or have been into craft beer, say, the past four or five years – the hop fatigue, so to speak.  Because IPA’s became so prevalent but also turned into a pecker measuring contest. “Let’s hop it up as much possible!” But that’s akin to the guys at the chili cook off who say “you can’t have more than a couple of spoonfuls of my chili, it’s so hot.” Well, I’m hungry. I want to taste, I want something with good flavor, I don’t want it to be just too hot. The same thing goes for IPAs, it just got to be a little too much. And now sours are starting to become like that. So for a while I just went away from IPAs, heavily hopped IPAs.  But the more I try this “New England Style,” the hazy, citrusy IPA, well I’m falling in love with them all over again. I just had to take a break and then go back to them. So lately my favorite has been the New England Style IPAs.

– So, now that your boss has left, what’s your current favorite brewery?

To be perfectly honest with you it’s almost always Black Bridge and it has nothing to do with brand loyalty, which I do have, obviously.  Brand loyalty because I work here; I’ve seen it grow from Tim making beer in five gallon buckets and serving it in his garage and getting me drunk to what you see now.  But, Tim and I, while we’re friends, I don’t get a lot of communication from him that tells me what’s coming up. He’ll tell me, ‘hey guess what I’m going to brew tomorrow’ but that’s about the extent of it. It’s not like I know what’s going on in his head.  So I’m still surprised by the beers that I’m pouring. But if had to pick a “second favorite” even though my boss is still gone, it would probably have to be Wanderlust, out of Flagstaff.

– All right, I’m on board with that. I love that place.

I do, too. And I love the idea of … I’m a big fan of the farm-to-table movement when it comes to food and I love the idea of making beer as local as possible. Because while it is cool to import things, just weird, exotic things to put into your beers, I like the extreme opposite of that which is grain that is grown down the street and yeast harvested literally out of thin air, which is what they did for several of their beers at Wanderlust. They don’t buy commercial yeast. Their 928 Local, whatever the hell it is, I don’t even know – I think it could kinda be considered a farmhouse ale – 928 Local is yeast that was propagated from sugar water being left out, just like you would a sourdough starter. And it’s delicious. So yeah I’d say that Wanderlust is my favorite, that I don’t work at.

– Have you ever been able to do that ‘bootleg biology?’ Culturing your own yeast like that?

I have. I’ve done it on several different levels. The house strain … oh, I forgot, who makes Fat Tire? New Belgium. New Belgium’s house strain that they use for the majority of their beers is incredibly hardy and it’s related to Scottish 1728 that we use here and they actually use it in their lagers as well. It’s technically an ale yeast.  But I propagated that, or harvested that, from several bottles of Fat Tire. Left a little in the bottom of the bottle, swirled it around, add it to the thing and put it in the fridge and six or seven bottles later start adding some sugar syrup to it and then you propagate.  Then made a batch of beer and saved it. I actually have a few vials in my refrigerator. But as far as spontaneous fermentation, I’ve never done that locally, but I plan on doing it this summer. I have a friend whose mom has several apple trees. I want to make a cider the traditional way. I found somebody in town who has a cider press and I want to try to make 15-20 gallons of cider and ferment the must from yeast I harvested out of the air.



Hooked, aren’t you?  Well, I’m going to stop there for now.  Watch for the next post wherein we’ll uncover Joe’s other favorite alcohol’s, his view on beer trends and legal diatribes.

Gender Roles and Brewing

One of the first axioms learned in home brewing is Charlie Papazian’s Proverb:  “Relax.  Don’t worry.  Have a home brew.”  Two weeks ago I heard that refrain on the Brewing Patio at Black Bridge.  A Belgian Blonde was being brewed by two women, Rachel & Sharon.  They were both questioning temperature as the beer was being transferred to the fermentation vessels.  They were told to ‘not worry so much.’  Their response was, ‘we’re women.  We worry.’

The declaration made me wonder: do women, in fact, worry more than men?  What is the objective of their worry compared to men?  Are they concerned about their reputations?  Or are they concerned about the well being of those they serve? Or is it pointless to even make that a thing because, we are all, you know, people?  After all, let’s not forget it was a man who penned the above warning regarding worry.  Many men have read that warning and have had to remind themselves of it during a stressful brewday.

Before you continue reading, I feel I must warn you – there are no answers to the above questions.  At least, not from me.  Go forth, then, and have a full discussion of gender roles.

Traditionally women have been entrusted with domestic management.  They have always been concerned about how and known the way to take care of their family.  An important part of family life is centered around food and drink.  Beer – or wine, or mead, or alcohol of choice – has always been a part of human life; from ancient times women were usually bread makers and beer brewers. It was a home activity. Once it became a profession or an industry men arrogated it.  More women are becoming involved in the commercial brewing industry now.  Women may especially worry about their performance in this industry and others because they are working in what has now become a man’s environment and they feel they must prove themselves.  Whose fault is that?

The point?  Humans have brewed.  Humans are brewing.  Maybe we should just leave it at that.  Gender politics should not be a thing.  Therefore, I have mixed feelings on whether I should write this up the way I am. But here I am doing it.  Fine.  I’ll throw this in – one difference I noted in the Belgian brewday was the number of selfies happening.  I have no idea how that fits into the gender role discussion.

As noted above the beer being brewed was Belgian Blonde with additions of prickly pear.  That’s right, No Pricks Allowed has returned.  While the female brewers of the beer were different than last year there have been no other stylistic to the beer.  From what I recall, it was a beautiful beverage – outstanding clarity and bright purple color.  It had a light body and drank quickly and easily.  It’s Belgian-ness was not overpowering, nor was the prickly pear.

Here we are in the post-modern information age and still arguing over race and gender.  I’m simply going to argue that No Pricks Allowed was a good beer last time around.   And If I recall correctly, last year’s iteration of this beer encouraged Janelle to begin her own home brewing adventures.

Politics, gender or otherwise, may be a verboten subject at the brewery (yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s not true) but beer and brewing is always on the table so check for this Belgian Blonde in the coming week.  Raise a glass to the people in your life.

The B3 Brunch Redux

Black Bridge is hosting breakfast again. This time the brunch is catered by Sirens Cafe, a restaurant next door to our venerable nanobrewery. The menu is quite different from the previous offerings, but Carmella usually does good work so I was optimistic.   

We started with drinks: a beermosa made with Lil Orange Van, Oktoberfest and 66 Porter, and a Dr Pepper.  So, everybody – Lil Orange Van Beermosas. Fantastic!  You’re welcome, Kingman, for having that drink introduced to you.  Seriously, you want it. (Insert Jedi mind trick hand wave). 

Then we ordered breakfast; a ham & Swiss quiche; candied bacon avocado toast; chicken & waffles with bourbon syrup. Now, I’ll be totally honest here. Sometimes, I feel that Sirens does some, well, eclectic food. And I was a smidge concerned when I saw the menu for today.  However, I am now totally a believer. The food was great. I had the chicken and waffles. Both were light and ambrosial. Really, that lightness was key. It was not a greasy slab of chicken and overly breads waffle. They were balanced and slight on the palate and the syrup was not overpowered with bourbon. The hint was there and that was sufficient. 

So, I won’t say it was superior to Tim’s fare last year -his candied bacon and pozole was just superb – but the food today was sapid, toothsome, yummy. I was very happy.  

Granted, I’m no foodie but this was a lot of fun and a good addition to the program for livening up the downtown area.  Cheers to Tim and Carmella!  I will look for the next opportunity to attend the Hipster Breakfast. Even if I’m beyond the “hipster” years. Whatever. 

Of Soundscapes and Drinking With Your Ears

Music is a large portion of everyone’s life. Consider how it affects another big part of your life – your food & drink

A few weeks ago, Science Friday had a segment that featured Charles Spence, author of the book Gastrophysics:  The New Science of Eating.   Spence is investigating how sounds enhance your victuals.  He conducted an experiment some years ago at a seafood restaurant.  Some diners listened to the sound of cutlery and others listened to the sounds of sea.  Those who listened to the sea rated the sea as better tasting or enjoyable.

The experiment (referenced in the Journal of Sensory Studies in 2010) shows how sound might be used to emphasize or draw people’s attention to certain flavors of the dish.  …  In light of findings like these … it would be smart for cooks, restaurants, and others involved in food marketing to understand how music might influence the taste of their food.

The Edinburgh Beer Factory evidently gave consideration to this research.  According to a story in The Guardian in 2016,

“Kirsty Dunsmore, co-founder, says: “We’re trying to get people to rethink lager [the Factory’s main product]; see it as more stylish. We’ve found its visual representation and musical context can help reframe that and make the customer enjoy it more.”  … She adds that the Edinburgh Beer Factory targets consumers who are most likely to buy into its brand. “We target them in three ways: through our social media activity [by selecting favourite bands when posting a tailored Facebook ad, for instance], partnerships and sponsorship and content.” David Bowie, Joy Division and New Order are often mentioned in the business’s social media posts, for example. “

Thus, soundscapes are employed not just on premises to encourage and enhance drinking but in the marketing side of the establishment.  The research paper Noise and its impact on the perception of food and drink noted that

 … it soon becomes clear that much of our enjoyment of food and drink actually resides in the anticipation of consumption and the subsequent memories we have, at least when it comes to those food experiences that are worth remembering.  (Italics added)

Flavor, it seems, is something of an illusion; a multi-sensory experience that resides in far more places than just the taste buds.  In fact, the paper noted above sates

“It has been estimated, at least by some researchers (e.g. see [53, 54]), that as much as 80% or 90% of what people commonly refer to as the taste of food and drink really originates from the olfactory signals picked up by the nose “

Following that there is anticipation of the food or drink (like when you know someone at home is making some chocolate chip cookies and it’s all you can think about all day); then there’s seeing the thing, tasting the thing, the ambiance of the venue (voices, known and unknown; clink or clunk of glasses and plates on table or bar; music.)  All these contribute to flavor.  Therefore, taste will be different each time and for each person since all of us have our own personal and disparate perceptions.  When you visit your local brewery and drink a Locomotive Stout or Legend of Tom it’s possible to be in a crabby mood; the beer may not seem as good as yesterday’s when, in fact, physically, there is no variation.  Mood impacts flavor.  Mood can be altered by the things noted above.

Spence’s research also points out that high music brings out sweet tastes and low music emphasizes sour tastes.  He mentions in his paper

the hedonic valence of sucrose (but not of sodium chloride) solutions were elevated (meaning that people reported liking the solutions more) when listening to either loud noise or music.

Friday visitors to Black Bridge Brewery are apt to hear Def Leppard Radio playing via Pandora.  The music, whether it be Def Leppard (isn’t that 80s stuff high pitched?) or other selections (for, indeed, one person’s musical proclivity is another’s hullabaloo) drives the ambiance and maybe, just maybe, that adds to pleasure of the whole experience.  Music enhances flavor.  Interestingly, too, the sweetness of the food or drink was rated better with loud background noise or music playing than when the participants had the same food or drink in silence.

These studies were also carried out with lab rats, of course.  They revealed another effect of loud noise.  The lab rats ate and drank more as the background noises increased.  Couple that with

recent findings from a 4-year study from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden [which] found that for every 10-dB increase in the road traffic noise levels, there was a 3-cm increase in waist size. More dramatically still, those exposed to loud airplane noise had a waist line that was, on average, 6 cm larger.

Loud noises (hi, Brick) will make patrons drink faster.  If restaurants, or bars, want more sales maybe they are cranking up the noise, too.  More consumption also adds to the increasing waist lines noted above.  But that is a level of loudness that prevents talking.   Generally, this will not be the case at your local.  There, talking is totally possible and music can be the backdrop of connection and an enhancement of flavor.

—- Sources for your perusal —–

The Existential Brewery – Brewing Philosophy and Brewing Business: Part Three of an Interview With Black Bridge Brewery’s Owner

This is the final segment of the actual interview with Tim.  The conversation continued after the official questions stopped and some of that conversation may be posted here as an appendix to this interview for it contained some interesting insights and stories.  But for now, peruse this and ask yourself how you can support your local brewery.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing.

If you need to catch up:

Interview, part 1

Interview, part 2


Let’s talk about your brewing philosophy. What is it you want to accomplish with your beers?

Uh, money.

No, every business is money driven. What do I want to accomplish? I want people who come in and travel and they go to breweries – and we do get a lot – it’s nice to hear, like, when they buy a flight and they tell me that every single beer is great. That’s what I want to accomplish, you know, that people that are seasoned beer drinkers, that understand craft beer and that have a developed palate and they can separate out different flavors and tastes and they can pick up flaws, when they tell me that all six that they had are great, you know, that’s what it’s about for me.

My regulars are great, I like my regulars. Like you have your one or two that you always drink. The travelers coming through, they try everything, they’ll get two flights. When I can hear from them that everything was great, that’s pretty awesome.  There’s always a [contemptible person] who gives me a half a star on Untappd on one of my highest rated beers and I just know he’s being a [jerk] or he doesn’t know [Stone] from [Corona].

Other than money, what is it you hope to accomplish with your brewery?

I wanted to bring something to Kingman with the brewery. I wanted to improve the daily life of the community. I wanted to bring something unique. I love this town, it’s my home town, so that’s what it came down to. And I needed a job.

So, when you’re making – lets say you want to make a new beer, what goes into formulating your recipes?

Years of understanding percentages. When I talk about beers to home brewers and they tell me, ‘eight pounds of this and two pounds’ – I’m like, no, no – percentages. What percentage of your base malt or what percentage of this. So when you understand what percentages are and how they apply to all the different beers it makes it really easy to design new beers.

Like, for a typical dry stout it’s a 70-20-10, which, all added together it equals 100 percent. Seventy percent two row, twenty percent flaked barley and ten percent roast [barley]. That’s a perfect stout recipe. Thirty IBUs of one bittering hops at sixty minutes, you’ve got a phenomenal beer that’s a ten out of ten. And that’s just one example. Pale ale same way, IPA, you know, depending if you’re doing English, East Coast, Denver style or West Coast. Understanding percentages of different styles of beers, and then tweak those up or down on each one a little bit and then make it your own and make it unique. Designing a recipe is [ridiculously] simple once you have an understanding of percentages.

So where did you get all this experience and understanding? What are you drawing on?

I brewed a lot of bad beers as a home brewer. You have to fail to succeed. That and I had a mentor, Jason Fuller. He had been brewing for fifteen years before I met him. So, he’s brewed a lot of bad beers in his day and so he took his knowledge on how to make a good beer and he helped me to understand. He didn’t just give me recipes and say, “oh just do this and you’ll be fine.” He taught me percentages, how to understand this style means that percentage of, you know, medium crystal, but no higher than eight percent, no less than six.  In that range. Or whatever beer it was, percentages, and how to formulate recipes. It’s simple after that.

You going to go into any kind of brewing program?

I don’t do well in school.

So, you wanted to bring this to Kingman because Kingman needed something like this. And I agree with you. Something where people can relax –

Something homegrown.

Yeah, exactly, somewhere they can hang out. So what do you need from the community to make this place successful?

I need them to come in the door … and enjoy, you know, the artwork, the free wi-if to do their homework, the sports games that we have. There’s a lot of music that we try to bring down. Things like that. And it seems like, at times, they don’t, they just don’t care. And it’s disheartening. There’s days we have more tourist that come through than locals. And no bar can survive on that. Locals pay the bills and that’s the way the models have always worked. There’s no getting around that.

What do you think it’ll take to get that done?

A good friend of mine owns a jewelry store and when the economy went down his business suffered because he’d been accustomed to selling just the best of the best. He quickly realized to maintain business and pay his own bills and his employees and be relevant in the marketplace he would have to have a portion of his business selling less than ideal stuff – silver, sterling silver, lower quality gold, turquoise, things like that. So he ended up doing one case selling lower quality stuff and it started selling and his revenues went up. So now he has four cases in his whole jewelry store, that sells what he calls [crap].

We were having dinner at Mattina’s about a year ago and he said, “What I realized, Tim, is: if [crap] sells, sell [crap].” I’m not saying that I want to sell [crap] but as that translates into my business- like what you’re drinking, Go to Helles. It’s a yellow fizzy beer, it’s really good. We put it on tap and we’ve been flying through this, more than Evil Red, more than our other beers. So maybe I need to switch some of my focus onto … [crap]. Which is a yellow fizzy. And I think, you know our local demographic – we’re not Portland, we’re not San Diego, we’re not Fort Collins. They’re not open to drinking large amounts of craft beer, but if I had more Go to Helles on tap maybe they would come in more and more just to drink that.

So let me ask you about that. So you talk yellow fizzy beer and just – anyone who likes craft beer just doesn’t like it, they have almost this instant hatred for it. Is it really a bad beer, or is it the corporate ethics behind the beer?

Which beer?

Budweiser, Coors, any of these big industrial-

There’s nothing wrong with that. They don’t taste bad. They don’t taste good. They just don’t taste. But the corporate – you know, I hate when people say “oh, corporations.” I’m an S-corp, the same classification. So corporations aren’t a bad thing.

No. There’s a different mindset when you get into large industrial corporations. And that was my thought – I spent so long just dismissing the beers out of hand because, well, they’ve got adjuncts in them –

They do.

I know, so I just dismissed them because of that. If you just drink the beer by itself it’s not necessarily … bad.

When I go to sporty’s I drink Coors Banquet, and I love it.

It seems to be the ethics behind Big Beer that turn people off to that.

Yeah, Big Beer and InBev specifically, the way they’re doing their buyouts, they’re very strategic the way they drive down the costs. The cost for a retailer of a half barrel of IPA – like Goose Island IPA you can get from the local Budweiser rep for $85 and you can get a half barrel of my IPA for $205. Well, of course you’re going to buy the Goose Island IPA because dollar for dollar it’s a lot less money and you’re going to sell it for the same $5 a pint. Why would I spend $205 when I can spend $85? That’s how they’re hurting guys like me. But, luckily I’ve developed a personal relationship with my accounts to where they’re okay spending that and giving me a tab because they believe in the product and it does sell faster than any of their [beers].

Yeah, and I guess that’s where I was going. You were talking about making more Go to Helles because it’s a “crappy” beer. It it’s not really a bad beer, just like theirs aren’t bad, it’s just the intention behind the beer, I think.

It’s the American mindset of what beer is. I can down it. I can consume it. “Oh I drank a thirty pack today. I can drink a lot of beer, I’m tough.” It’s that kind of beer even though it is almost six percent.

Yeah, I guess I’m just trying to say it’s not necessarily a “crappy beer.” If it sells and you’re making it with the right intention –

It’s not a crappy beer. Go to Helles is very good. I really like it.

So if that’s where you need to go to keep everything successful …

If it’s selling. The second it’s not selling, it’s gone. That’s not true for all the beers. Like Locomotive, I’m brewing on Thursday and that will have been two months since I brewed it.

Yeah you really should not ever get rid of Locomotive. I might not ever come down here again.

It’s a fantastic beer. Stouts just – with every brewery they’re the slowest selling beer. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a phenomenal beer. Stouts just sell slowly. That’s all it is. I’ll never take it off tap. It’s a great beer.

So what’s the future for B3? What do you wanna do? Anything we haven t talked about yet?

That is yet to be seen. There’s one of two ways it’s going to go in the next few months. One’s good and one’s not so good.