Saturday, 27 February 2016

Members Profile - Chris Fletcher

Chris Fletcher
Brewer at 2 Brothers Brewery

Article by Craig Ditcham

What jobs did you have prior to 2 Brothers, and what led to getting the job at 2 Brothers?

Ok so I’ll will come straight out and say it….. I used to hate beer! That’s right, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…… well Tasmania to be precise, I was all about the vino! Working for a winery running their tasting room is where I discovered the joys of drinking for flavor and taste. Upon moving to the ‘Mainland’ I was employed by the Belgian Beer Cafe. It was here that my passion for beer was awakened. I soon learned that everything I knew about wine, its complexity and flavours, could be transferred to beer, more precisely Belgian beer. So that’s it, I became hooked, during the next few years my love affair with beer blossomed into something magnificent until finally it’s Dark Side was revealed with an all too innocent comment whilst enjoying a goblet of Leffe Blonde one night after work with a mate… ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could make something like this?’. A trip to the home-brew shop later and the rest is history. Cheap homemade beer and BBQ catch up soon became a passionate hobby then an obsession until a couple of years living and working abroad finally convinced me to stop serving beer and take the plunge to become a full time professional brewer. Four years and 3 brewing courses later with additional hands on experience in a small brewery, I was finally offered a job at my favourite beer venue, 2 Brothers Brewery.

What are the aims at 2 Brothers?

Brewing at 2 Brothers Brewery is all about quality and consistency of product. I’d say one of the biggest differences between home-brew and professional brewing is the ability to produce a repeatable result batch after batch, meaning every glass or bottle of Kung Foo or Grizz tastes the same each time you try it. I’d recommend to all home brewers if you aren’t already doing it, take notes each time you brew. Good record keeping will lead you down the road of making a consistent and repeatable product. There’s plenty of brewing sheets available online, I use this one at home:

Although we produce the same products over and over at 2 Brothers there’s also a little room for trying something new from time to time. GABS is a great excuse to be creative, hopefully you all got a chance to try ‘HazElla’ our imperial brown with heaps of hazelnuts? There may still be a few bottles in cold storage for those who are keen to get their hands on some! If you are more into your hoppy beers get down to the beerhall and try the new ‘Lazy Boy Easy IPA’ which is another fine example of brewing something different from our usual lineup.

I notice that you homebrew, and enter Bayside Brewers competitions even though you are a professional; how do you find the time and energy to brew at home?

Brewing at home and brewing at work are quite different. Work is quite a strict environment where everything and all new recipes are carefully planned out before the grain hits the mill. Yes, at home I also plan my brew day, and working at 2 Brothers has certainly helped me to make my brewing days more time efficient, however there’s still that element of fun and excitement of not knowing exactly how that final beer will taste until its poured, fresh, into your glass with great anticipation, admired, aroma inhaled, and then carefully sipped and savoured.
I think I will always make time to brew at home; besides, what kind of brewer doesn’t have something on tap at home?!

If you were in a good beer store what 3 beers would you buy?

I really hope you are kidding with this question!?! Honestly can you name a single club member that would walk into a ‘Good Beer Shop’ and only buy 3 beers???? Moving on, I usually look for what’s new and fresh and hopefully locally brewed. Although after last year’s beer adventure to West Coast USA (or ‘Honeymoon’ as my wife keeps correcting me), I now seek out beers from some of the great breweries I visited including Firestone Walker and Stone.

Do you have any philosophies in life that guide you or you live by?

Always try something new. A good beer is one you will have a second pint of. And don’t be a beer snob, you’ll be surprised by what you may find.

Thx Chris!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

An Evening With Sam Calagione

By Craig Ditcham

As a waiter passed me a glass of ‘fresh’ Midas Touch I thought ‘this is beer heaven’.

I was with 140 others in the Local Taphouse and Sam Caligione was about to start 3 hours of verbal banter with us. If you don’t know Sam, he is the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery in Maine, USA and also the figurehead of craft beer in that country. A new magazine titled Pallet was being launched in Australia and they brought Sam and his family over for a holiday, as well as having him speak at the Taphouse in St Kilda & Darlinghurst. While listening to Sam, we got to taste 5 Dogfish Head beers flown over especially for the evening, and the standout for me was the 90 Minute IPA.

Sam spoke casually, his answers to questions were entertaining, and we got to hear some good stories. Like brewing a beer with an NBA player while driving around LA in their limousine. No shit. And the way to find if a prospective employee would really fit in at Dogfish, even if they passed the interviews & formal stuff, was to get 5 beers into them in the evening and ‘see who they really were’. The craft beer scene is currently only about 8% of the USA beer market, and similar to here, the big corporates have seen opportunity to make dollars by buying into craft breweries across US states. Sam gave the microphone to microbrewers in the audience, to let them promote themselves, and encouraged us to keep ‘fighting the good fight’ against mass market beer, to always go for flavour and diversity.


The Best Aerator So Far

By Rick Gilbert

I thought that I would share my latest brewing gadget. I have never been happy with adding oxygen to my wort, and I have tried all options, from:

Shaking - Hard work and creates too much foam
• Splashing - lets in too much surrounding air and bacteria
• Aquarium pump - had plenty of problems with this
• Pure oxygen - had a faulty tap (long story cost me 3 bottles and trips to BOC, Supa Gas etc)
• Paint stirrer - creates too much foam and can scratch the sides of fermenter

Now I have a solution that I like:

A simple Venturi pump added between the boil kettle and the fermenter. It works a treat, is simple to use and does not create too much foam. I used it for the first Time a couple of weeks ago and the fermentation started within 24hrs and hit the target gravity of 1.010.

The only problem encountered is that I turned the tap off at the fermentor and the wort flowed out through the HEPA filter (should have put the cap on first).

Once these filters get wet they are pretty useless. Have also made a filter out of a bottle cap, cotton ball, alcohol swap and all important cap

 The parts used were:

Plus plastic tubing (there were about 6 pieces all up)

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Chillin time