Tag Archives: Six Rivers Brewery

The First Annual HumbrewNation Awards For The Fifth Annual Strangebrew Beerfest

5 Nov

November 3rd was a great day for craft beer in my little world. The day started off with Learn To Homebrew Day by the Humboldt Homebrewers and hosted by Humboldt Beer Works. About 8 people took the leap in to learning how to brew their own beer at home which is probably one of the most rewarding hobbies there is. They also got a demonstration on how to make a yeast starter, which will be a future post here at HumbrewNation.

Partway through the demonstration, I turned my attention to someone who I perceived as needing help, and he turned out to be one of my supplier reps, Peter Hoey of Brewers Supply Group, formerly of Odonata Brewing and Bison Brewing. Peter was pleased to see us hosting a Learn To Homebrew day, which he claimed was not common at a homebrew supply store.

That evening was Strangebrew Beerfest 5. I met back up with Peter and we had a pre-flight beer at The Local. I sipped on a Heretic Gamarye as he gave me a lesson on commercial apple cider that will have me reading labels the next time I choose a cider. (hint: make your own…you will know what’s in it)

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I’m going to announce my awards in a minute, but first, extra stroke for the Strangebrew folks and their mission. There is nothing better than drinking craft beer for a cause. And this cause is for the restoration of the Eureka Theater and the bigger picture is promoting art and its many forms.

The Eureka Concert & Film Center is dedicated to the education of the general public in film, theatre, music and other art forms, rehabilitating and maintaining its historic facilities for instruction and public performances, displays, exhibits and other events.

They actually manage several events throughout the year. Check out their website.

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(announcer voice) And now….the moment you have all been waiting for….awards that mean absolutely nothing…. based on personal perception and slight bias….accolades that participating breweries will be sure not to brag or even know about….I give you the First Annual HumbrewNation Awards For The Fifth Annual Strangebrew Beerfest! (cymbals crash)

Best Sours: Six Rivers for both the peach and apricot

Best Beer With Wormwood: Humboldt Regeneration with their Absinthe Wheat Wine.

Best Jello Shot: Six Rivers for their Chili Ale Jello Shot (there were no other jello shots, so I can honestly say it was the best)

Best Name for a Beer: Mad River for “Some Dickworthy Shit” (would really like to know the back story to that)

Best Beer That Doesn’t Exist: Marshmallow Kiwi Corn Flake Witbier by….. I forget who.

The “Beer I Really Wish I Had Skipped” Award: Mad River “Return of the Mothership” aka “Funkadelica”

The Palate Wrecker Award: Mad River “Return of the Mothership” aka “Funkadelica”

Best Beer That Wasn’t Beer: Six Rivers for “Norby’s Donkey Punch”

Best Brewery I Didn’t Even Try: Redwood Curtain Brewing Company. (Told ya it was biased)

Beer I Would Like To See Year Round: Mad Rivers “Some Dickworthy Shit” (porter aged in Four Roses barrel)

Best Meat Beer: Mad Rivers “Hawaiian Spamalot” (“dry spammed” in the keg)

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Yes, Mad River is represented very well in the FAHAFTFASB and that’s probably due to the fact that they came with the most variety. Their booth alone probably had almost half of the Strangebrew 5 offerings. You can tell Dylan Schatz and his crew are thinking about Strangebrew all year long. Their Strangebrew beer ranged from fairly normal one-offs, to interesting beers from funkytown all the way to beers with ingredients that had absolutely no business being in beer. But that’s the great thing about beer. You can put almost any consumable product in it and at various stages in the brew process. Some are winners and some are stinkers.

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Rumor has it that Oskar Blues was very interested in coming to Strangebrew and there is a wide ranging interest in it from several out-of-the-area breweries. But the floor of the theater with seats installed is a very small area and it was pretty full as it was. I’m not sure how many breweries it will take (and an increase it ticket sales) before the Strangebrew folks give in and manage a bigger venue and festival.

Thanks to Sonny and the rest of the Strangebrew crew for all their hard work.

And congratulations to the award winners. Please don’t add them to your list of awards you actually brag about.

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Hops In Humboldt 2012

6 Sep

Something that I’m starting to enjoy is becoming a volunteer for Hops In Humboldt. Unless I have a ride, I don’t really like going to festivals and having too much beer. I like to enjoy the whole aspect of the festival, which is a celebration of beer. This year was an experience like no other at Hops In Humboldt and it gave me a full immersion into the experience I was looking for. I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I’d like to take time out and thank the entire Hops in Humboldt team for putting this together every year. Having dabbled in a few similar things, I can say that its not easy pulling off something like this. Thank you to Woody, John, Tina, Jere and everyone else that I can’t name right now. They received Fortuna’s “Non-Profit of the Year” award, and they deserve it. This years event was probably one of the best I’ve seen. Years past see some long lines, probably due to small glasses and unexpected high attendance, and booths running out of beer early. There are probably people more in tune to the inner workings of the event than me, but from my perspective, this year was fairly free of problems. Heck, I didn’t even smell pot smoke once.

At 11:30, I got in line with the rest of the volunteers and was quickly flagged down by a fellow homebrewer. Jay was running the judging and someone failed to show up. “You want to to be a beer judge?” he yelled over the sound check music. “What do I have to do?” I inquire. “Taste everything!” he says with a wide grin. To tell you the truth, I was hesitant. I didn’t want to taste everything, I wanted to just hang out and pour, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

After orientation, I was relieved to find out that I would be able to taste ahead of time before the main crowd and would have to be done by 3 PM. I have balked at these types of things in the past because when I hear the term “beer judge”, I instantly polarize myself to the BJCP standard, to which I am not qualified to do. But this was something different entirely, as you will see.

I was assigned to the “Best of Hops” group of judges and the criteria went way beyond just the beer. “Best of Hops” has to take into consideration number of beers offered, quality of beer, decoration of the booth, energy, “hotties” (both male and female), “X-factor” (like cask beers, randalls, etc.) and a couple of other criteria that I’m not going to divulge, because I don’t want to have to fight for the opportunity to be a judge next year!

If you want a good example of how to win this award, just take a look at the booths from Six Rivers Brewery and 21st Amendment, who ultimately split the Hops in Humboldt awards. For all intents and purposes, these booths were mini-parties. For those of you reading this who may be a participating brewery or brewer, the key to this award is to turn your booth into a high energy magnet. Bring lots of beer, your brewers, decorations, extras, schwag and beer karma and you will do well. So with all apologies to Six Rivers and 21st Amendment, the purpose of that statement is to get you more competition for Hops in Humboldt 2013 or more accurately, a much more fun filled festival at every booth!
I started my lap around the festival at the Gordon Biersch booth and was very surprised to be met by Dan Gordon himself.

Now stop for a minute and digest that. The head brewer was at the festival pouring his own beer. (Bonus points on the judging sheet, by the way — having a brewer pour me their own beer makes me giddy as a school girl, I will admit it) This was not an isolated incident. Other breweries like North Coast and 21st Amendment had their brewers there as well. Yeah the locals did too, but the point is these guys, who are surely very busy, took the time to come to Hops in Humboldt from many miles away and represent their brewery. So that should give you an idea on how peers in the brewing world are viewing Hops in Humboldt. Gordon Biersch produces 3.1 million gallons of beer annually and Dan Gordon took the time to attend. Very cool.

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Dan poured me a blonde bock from a barrel (X-factor) and he spotted my Maple Leafs hat and we chatted hockey for a bit. I could have ended my day right there and been pleased as punch, but I had a job to do.
I’m certainly not going to detail every beer and every booth, but I will touch upon some more personal highlights.

One thing I was surprised about was the high number of amber beers being offered. Now I love amber beer, but there isn’t a whole lot you can do with it. There really is no thinking outside of the box when it comes to amber. Nobody has ever said, “That amber is the best beer I’ve ever had.” But I was pleased the festival wasn’t dominated by sours. I was also pleased to see cider well represented. Cider is that kind of bastard child of a beer festival but I think people need to look beyond it as a “girl drink” and appreciate it. A brewer can make a beer consistently batch after batch. Cider is much harder to pull off in that department and is often at the mercy of mother nature and a highly skilled cider maker. My pass through the Ace cider booth was humbling. The sparse booth sported a borrowed purple pop-up from Barefoot Wine and the logo was eventually covered with a hand made sign claiming “NOT WINE”. “We are a company of 12 people,” the rep claimed. “We don’t even have our own pop-up. We had to borrow this one.” But Ace produces a damn fine cider and perry, so give them a try sometime.

My visit to the North Coast Brewing Company booth was another highlight. If I were to judge strictly on the beer, NCBC would have received the highest marks from me. I was treated to Old Stock 2005, and one beer tasted side by side, one aged in bourbon barrels and one in brandy barrels. Brewer Ken and I talked homebrewing for a bit and he says he still brews at home where he is more free to experiment. No doubt, some of those experiments end up in the NCBC brews.

My last leg yielded more surprises. Bacon beer and a watermelon randall was eyebrow raising. My whirlwind experience was punctuated by my visit to the 21st Amendment booth, which was aiming for the full San Francisco experience. I was sat down by brewmaster Shaun O’Sullivan and given a full dose of judge-schmoozing. If you go by line length alone, 21A was the place to be. My deadline was almost up, so I couldn’t stay long.

What you should take away from this is a good idea at what it takes to win those awards at Hops in Humboldt. If you are just filling tasting glasses, don’t expect to win the awards. If you are filling glasses with variety, gusto, energy and beer culture, you will do well. I challenge future attending breweries to give Six Rivers and 21st Amendment a run for their money at Hops In Humboldt 2013!

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Saison Du Humboldt Release

16 May

May 14th was a highly anticipated day for me and 4:00 couldn’t come soon enough. It was the earliest date and time to get a taste of Saison Du Humboldt and the only place to get it was Humboldt Brews.

I staked my real estate claim at the bar just before 4PM and asked for a pint of Saison Du Humboldt. I was expecting to be told no because it wasn’t time yet. But the bartender happily obliged and the gentleman next to me, who I quickly named “Stranger #1” in my head, followed suit. Both were delivered at the same time and Stranger #1 asked, “Are you waiting until four?” I replied, “Hell no!” then we clinked glasses and drank.

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The keg had just arrived and didn’t have time to settle.  So the pour was from a pitcher because it was too foamy.  It was cloudy, and Saisons should be cloudy, but this was really cloudy, again due to the recent transport.  The aroma I got was estery orange, some clove and a little banana.  That’s all typical and it was what I was hoping for.  There was a lot to think about in the taste.  It was bright and lemony and a spice I couldn’t quite put my finger on but I learned later what that was.

Saison, or farmhouse ale, has its origins in French Belgium and is meant to be brewed in such a way that it could last the warm summer months.  This is all before common refrigeration and there was nothing special about it that “made it last” through the summer months –there were no more preservative ingredients than any other beer– but the typical ingredients found in a Saison gave some abilities in covering up some of the funk and twang that can come with an old beer that has been stored too warm for too long.  (funny, we aim for that now with many styles!)  Common Saison can have spices, acid malt, be phenolic and estery and are hopped a little bit more than usual in a Belgian beer.  And all that varied based on the farmhouse.  Each could bring not only their own recipe, but their own regional funk and method.  So if all that geek speak goes over your head, just remember in the end its meant to be a refreshing quaff on a hot day and that’s all you need to know!

Curious about the ABV, I asked the bartender if she could tell me anything about it.  (this episode, and others like it are a continuing inquiry of mine and will be a later blog post)  She couldn’t, but I don’t blame her for not being informed because it probably wasn’t shared.  Her answer to my question was to pull off a piece of paper from the wall and hand it to me.  “This is a write up”, she said and I was looking at my blog post that originally announced Saison Du Humboldt.  And in all fairness, that was just a press release so I cheated on that one.

Your intrepid reporter did his homework however, and tracked down these stats:

  • O.G. 1.070
  • F.G. 1.012
  • ABV 7.68%
  • IBU 32.5
  • SRM 4

In geek speak translation, the first two numbers you have to know to get the third, which tells us the alcohol content for the beer. The IBU is about what you would find in a pale ale and the last is a measurement on the color, which is very light.  Your lesson is now over, go drink it.

Continuing with an experiment I’ve been doing lately, I struck up a conversation with a total stranger.  I’ve been getting amazing results and this was no different.  Stranger #1 turned out to be Dan, who was the original artist for the Humboldt Brewery logo and artwork.  “You see that?”, he asked, pointing at the artwork on the wall, “The hummingbirds shadow on the rock is in the shape of an eagle.”  There was my first payoff in my conversation with Dan.  That was new to me.

Eel River Brewing’s head brewer, Matt Vivatson arrived and began chatting with who I think was his girlfriend (Stranger #2) and after a while, I rudely butted in to ask him some questions about the beer.  Matt happily obliged to answer some questions.

I began by asking him, “How did you decide on a saison?”

“That was between ‘Los (Carlos Sanchez) and Dylan (Schatz) and Meredith (Ripley), and I think it might have been Meredith who threw out the idea of a saison.  I wasn’t here personally for the meeting that they chose it on.”

“You were there for the brewing, right?”

“Yes.”

“How was it with five of you, it was more like nine really….”

“We took two shifts….the morning shift was myself and the Six Rivers guys and Dylan and the night shift, Lost Coast and Redwood Curtain.”

“So there wasn’t a problem with too many cooks in the kitchen, no disagreements on recipe?”

“No it was fun.  We talked that stuff through at the beginning.  Everybody that was there we’ve known each other for years.  It was more just like hanging out doing the brew.”

“So would you do it again?”

“Collaboration?  Totally, it was fun.”

“Annual for Craft Beer Week?”

“Possibly.  That’s up to everybody.  It was an enjoyable experience.”

The next day I caught up with Dylan Schatz, head brewer at Mad River Brewing Company.   He took a few minutes out of his brew day to sit down and talk with me.

“So how did this all come about?  You and ‘Los did the thing about four or five months ago with the wee heavy and I know that was the impedes of that….”

“That kind of started it.  We did that and it went over well and we were at GABF last fall and we all sat around talking about that and figured we should try and get everybody to do a collaboration.”

“And everybody was really cool with that?”

“Yeah, I mean, we kind of forgot about it for a while (laughs), and actually Meredith was the one who got us all together finally.  It was a couple months ago when we actually sat down.”

“So when did you do the brew?”

“It was about a month ago.  It was four weeks in the tank.”

“How did you guys decide on a saison?”

“When we first got together we just started figuring out what we wanted to do and Redwood Curtain already had that thought in their mind, so did Six Rivers and I said ‘Sure, lets go for it’….that one was easy for us.”

“So can you share the recipe at all?”

“Yeah, it was….pilsner, the rest made up with two row… rye….wheat, Styrian Goldings….. US Goldings….. and Sterling…..   We also threw some spices at it…grains of paradise and curacao orange.”

I asked Dylan if he minded if the recipe went public.  He declined, citing that he was really just one of the collaborators so it wasn’t up to him.  I honored his request and intentionally left out some key information in repeating the recipe here.

“So would you do it again?”

“I would, yeah.”

“Annual Craft Beer Week brew?”

“We were talking about it last night maybe more specifically for Humboldt Beer Week.  It seemed more appropriate.”

So the history making collaborative brew has hit the rough and tumble streets of Humboldt County.  Every participating brewery is serving it, as well as The Local Beer Bar and Blondies Food and Drink.  (as reported by the press release) It has also been learned since then its at Big Petes Pizzeria and they now have $2 pint nights on Wednesday.  Get it while it lasts and start dreaming of the next collaborative brew of the Six Mad Lost Red Eels.

Six Mad Lost Red Eels Saison Du Humboldt

27 Apr

All Five Humboldt County Breweries Come Together for First-time Beer Collaboration

HUMBOLDT, CA–For the first time, all five Humboldt County breweries recently came together to create a collaborative beer: Saison Du Humboldt. The beer was crafted by brewers from: Eel River Brewing Company, Lost Coast Brewery, Mad River Brewing Company, Redwood Curtain Brewing Company, and Six Rivers Brewery. It will be unveiled at HumBrews in Arcata on Monday, May 14, to celebrate the kick-off of American Craft Beer Week.

The idea for the collaboration was born when Meredith Ripley, co-owner of Six Rivers Brewery, was with Mad River Brewing Company’s Brewmaster, Dylan Schatz, and Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Tera Spohr, at the Great American Beer Festival shortly after the two breweries released Wee Heavy Ale collaboratively, in honor of Mad River Brewing Company’s anniversary.

“We were talking about how fun it would be to get all the breweries together and brew a great beer in honor of American Craft Beer Week, which runs May 14-20. I put the idea out to the rest of the beer gang in Humboldt and everyone quickly agreed,” said Ripley.

Next, all the brewers met to discuss the style of beer to make and formulate a recipe. They decided on Saison Du Humboldt, based on the Saison style of a sometimes slightly sour, refreshing, and somewhat strong summer ale (5 to 8 percent ABV).

“As far as we know, this is the first time such a brew has been collaborated on by five separate breweries. The brew day was quite an event and meeting of the minds among five brewers, each doing their part. I hope it brings the same joy and merriment to all as it did for all of us,” said Carlos Sanchez, brewmaster of Six Rivers Brewery.

The brewing group has fondly dubbed themselves the Six Mad Lost Red Eels to incorporate the name of each brewery and hopes to make the collaboration an annual event.

“I personally would look forward to making a Humboldt Collaboration brew an annual event for American Craft Beer Week, with each edition being a different style every year. This project was great fun and very inspirational to all who participated. We have an amazingly brilliant collection of brewing minds in our area, and it has been a true pleasure to work together with everyone involved,” said Schatz.

Saison Du Humboldt, a one-time edition, limited production run, will be on draught at Humbrews starting Monday, May 14, for the kickoff of American Craft Beer Week which started in 2006 as a national celebration of America’s small and independent craft brewers and their impact on American culture. Saison Du Humboldt will also be available while it lasts at each participating brewery, Blondie’s Food and Drink in Arcata and The Local in Eureka.

PHOTO: The Six Mad Lost Red Eels (L to R): Drake Mollberg (Redwood Curtain), Matt Walsh (Lost Coast), Mike Lisignoli (Six Rivers), Carlos Sanchez (Six Rivers), Dylan Schatz (Mad River), Matt Vivaston (Eel River), Jon Hill (Six Rivers), Briar Bush (Lost Coast).

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