So, here we are. Our first 100 days of existence and we’re chugging right along. We’ve had our ups and downs, and hits and misses, but luckily I’d like to think we’ve had more hits than misses (not withstanding a few Internet beer judges on Untappd.com or BeerAdvocate that clearly know more about beer or our intentions when creating one than we do….yes we read that stuff from time to time and yes, you look like jackwagons).
Scaling up from smaller pilot batches to a 558 gallon brew is a lot easier said than done, especially when dealing with a system you’ve only been brewing on for 100 days regardless of how much time you’ve spent on a larger production system. After finally dialing in our water chemistry we moved on to nailing down our brew house efficiency, which was slightly higher than our estimated (and typical) 75 percent. Because of that many of our beers, Trauger Pils and County Line IPA in particular, were coming out more malt forward than we had planned. With that in mind we have made some adjustments and we’re pretty happy with the way things have been turning out over the last 45 days. Also, we’ve done a bit of retooling with the hops in the IPA, switching up the Zythos and Simcoe so that we’re now using Simcoe at flame out in the kettle, which we feel is a big improvement.
Speaking of hops, we’re finally under contract for 2013, but unfortunately we’ve been locked out of Simcoe and Citra again, meaning we’re going to have to source those on the open market as much as possible for the remainder of 2012 and for all of 2013. Lucky us, right? We were able to secure Centennial and Chinook, which were completely sold out this year well before we even fired up the kettle for the first time.
We’ve also been hard at work getting our proper yeast pitch rates down so that we’re getting fully attenuated beer. Since we don’t have a lab like bigger, fancier, older, more well funded breweries, we’ve been doing our best to calculate proper pitch rates for each beer so that they finish exactly as we intend. Right now we’re really happy that our house Ale yeast strain is chugging along and kicking some ass. Our Czech Pilsner yeast has been solid since day one too, which is somewhat surprising since lager yeast can be a bit more challenging by their very nature. Unfortunately we’ve been dealing with a few issues with our Belgian strain, and the last batch of Tribute Tripel finished a bit higher and sweeter than we would have liked, but we’re pretty optimistic that the latest batch of Tribute in the tank right now should get things back in line. Keeping things in perspective, that’s more hits than misses, so we’re on the right track.
We’d really like to send out a huge thank you to everyone that came by on Leon’s launch day nearly three weeks ago. The response to this beer has been completely overwhelming and we’re pretty stoked on the feedback we’ve been receiving. We’re currently completely sold out at the brewery and we’ll only be brewing another 15 barrel batch that’ll be going directly into bourbon barrels once it’s done primary fermentation. Outside of about 300 hand bottled 22 ounce bombers, you won’t see Leon again until March of 2013.
This past monday we finally launched distribution in New Jersey through our distribution partner, Hunterdon Distributors. Thank you to everyone in New Jersey that has taken a chance on this little brewery from Croydon and picked up a keg so far. We’re only available on draft right now, so check out this page and see where you can find NCBC beer so far in Jersey.
Thank you to Jeff and the great people at The Hulmeville Inn for hosting our first ever tap takeover last thursday. Apparently you guys liked what we have been doing so far and woofed down a record amount of pints for any beer event at the ‘Ville. Thank you so much! Can’t wait to do it again!
We’ll have a more proper beer update shortly, but one thing I can tell you now is that we’ve been very overloaded with seasonals lately, and we’re going to be cutting back on those to keep everything in a nice schedule and right on track. We’ve sort of been playing catch up since we only opened June 1st, and now that we’re finally in a groove things will be a bit more lined up from month to month/season to season.
I’m sure I could go on and on, but we’ll save that for another day. In the meantime read this awesome article about Sam from Dogfish Head taking on Beer Snobs. It’s a good, informative read, and something more people should take to heart.
Until next time…