Monday, August 5, 2013

The House That Page Built

Brian or “BR” as the facebook crowd knows him, being the wonderful guy that he is took advantage of the fact that he lives out in Madison to get some exclusive Great Taste info!  With cutting great posts like this, I will start demanding more from him!  Check it out below!

I dropped in on Page from House of Brews last week to get the down low on his plans for The Great Taste of the Midwest.  One of my favorite things about Page (other than he is WAY too nice to a humble beer geek like me) is the great company he keeps over there at House of Brews.  I was able to speak with two brewers (other than Page) from two other up and coming brewing companies here in Madison.

 As some of you may be aware, Mobcraft has started making waves here in Madison, around Wisconsin and at a number of beer festivals this summer.  At this point they are doing all their brewing out of House of Brews.  Henry, Giotto and Andrew are working very hard to become the first brewery (in my knowledge) to “Crowd Source” their recipes to determine which will be made.  You should definitely check them out on Facebook.  You can submit your own recipe, suggest ingredients or just build the buzz for one of the recipes they created and have stored on their website.  Once it’s determined which recipes are most popular, you go to their website and vote on which one you want them to make.  Here’s where things get really crazy… your vote counts as an order (4 pack of 22oz bombers… yes bombers!).  If the recipe you selected does not win the vote you don’t have to buy, but you also have the option of purchasing the winning recipe whether or not your choice wins (that’s what I did for the first round of voting and I’m pretty excited get my hands on the upcoming release of Most Mobbed Double IPA, which wasn’t my pick.  I voted for the Chipotle Porter, but I’m not complaining either…).  Once all the licensing is worked out they will begin shipping your order directly to your door, but I will continue to pick up my 4 packs over at House of Brews (that will also be an option until they get their own building).  Pretty cool, huh?

So Most Mobbed is fermenting away over there and will be ready for release at the end of August… but you don’t have to wait until then to sip some Mobcraft suds!  If you are going to be in Madison for ‘Great Taste-Eve’ you can meet me at Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace where they will be  tapping and extra special firkin of their first flagship beer, Participation Pale Ale.  It’s a nice pale ale all by itself, but the firkin has been spiked with Wild Sumac.  Andrew even showed me where they harvested the Sumac back behind the brewery.  If you’re not familiar with Sumac, the ‘flower’ looks like a bunch of berries.  However, I was surprised by the stringy texture when he dropped a bunch in my hand.  He told me to crush it between my fingers, like you are trying to get the aroma out of a fresh hop cone.  I followed instructions and was surprised to get a ‘pink lemonade’ scent and fuzzy, stringy texture as it left dark pink stains on my fingers.  I ended up tossing the crushed Sumac in my mouth and was delighted by the taste… pretty weird texture though.  How will the texture affect the finished beer you ask?  Well it won’t, because they steeped about 2lbs of it in water and made tea to add to the firkin.  Andrew said they strained it a bunch of times to make sure no solids found their way into the finished product.  All in all they added about 1 gallon of the ‘tea’ to 11 gallons of Participation to fill the firkin.  They still weren’t entirely certain what time the firkin will be tapped on Friday but keep an eye on our Facebook page for final details.  I’d love to enjoy a pint of this experimental beer with you. And the guys from Mobcraft are always up for some good beer conversation… so meet us at Tex Tubb’s this Friday night!

… Ok back to the guy that actually owns the brewery…

This Friday Page is opening House of Brews early @ Noon to accommodate all the out of town beer geeks.  He will be running tours starting at 3:30, so stop in have a pint and ask him about the history behind his equipment.  Many good stories that I certainly cannot do justice here, you’ll have to hear it from him.  Page told me he may have a lead on a secret ‘late-night’ party Friday night but wouldn’t give me any more details at the time.  Check back because I will be bothering him until he gives in and divulges the details… that’s a promise!

For those of you outside the Madison circle, Page has been around the block a couple of times at the Great Taste.  The past two years I have actually purchased my tickets from him because he helps out with ticket sales at Star Liquor (my local bottle stop).  He has poured his beer for a number of years, but even before he opened his brewery he was attending on ‘our’ side of the tap lines.  He looks forward to this event each year because “It all comes full circle”.  If you have the pleasure of meeting him there, ask him your best beer questions and tell him I sent you!

This year Page will be pouring A-Frame Amber, Bungalow Rye ESB (his own play on the traditional ESB style), Prairie Rye (a crisp, Kolsh style ale) and my favorite of his flagships, Standing Stone Scotch Ale.  He also has a few surprises up his sleeves.  At 1:30 he will be pouring a limited amount of his new Dark Strong Ale, at 2 he will be sampling his scotch ale that has been aged in a bourbon barrel, at 2:30 its Rickhouse Stout (also bourbon barrel aged) and at 3 it’s a blend of his scotch ale and stout that has been aging in a rye barrel.  If you ask me the highlight of the day will be the barrel age scotch ale.  So I will be stopping by his table at about 1:45 to make sure I get some.

The surprises don’t stop there… Keith Symonds (brewer at the ‘to open’ Next Door Brewing Company) let me know that he will be sharing some space with Page at the fest (I did my homework and confirmed this with Page too).  Keith is no stranger to the Madison beer scene and Page told me that Keith was a huge help when he was first opening House of Brews a few years back.  I plan to dive deeper in to Keith’s story in a future post… his brewpub is opening up down the street from my house at the end of the month and I plan on getting very comfortable at his bar.  But on to his beer… this will be the first chance to try 3 of Next Door Brewing Company’s flagship brews.  At 3pm he will be tapping 3 1/6 barrels (one of each of the following).  “Wilbur!, yes with an exclamation point, is our yellow beer”  It’s a cream ale brewed with corn and oats.  I was able to try a bit and this will make for a nice refreshing sample if the weather’s as warm as it was last year.  Lots of flavor, good mouth feel but on the lower end of the ABV scale.  The other beer Keith let me sample was called Sevex.  Just like ‘seven’ but switch the ‘n’ with an ‘x’.  This is a ‘stock ale’.  He told me the idea came from hanging around breweries out east.  He told me that each brewery had a ‘stock ale’ which was the brew master’s creation, really made to the taste of the brew master (and normally higher on the ABV scale).  These ‘stock ales’ were normally not available to the brewery loyal, just the brewers and were therefore marked with ‘X’s.  The more ‘X’s the higher ABV… thus Sevex.  I’ll let you guess what the ABV for Keith’s ‘stock ale’ is.  And rounding out the trio for Next Door Brewing Company will be their WPA which is made of all Wisconsin ingredients.

That’s all for now, but keep checking back for more on the Great Taste leading up to the actual event on Saturday; and check back tomorrow for a review of Peak Organic Brewing’s Oak Aged Mocha Stout!

Happy Drinking!


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