Southern Brew News August/September 2011 : Page 1
CRAFTING the BAR WRECKING SWAMP HEAD RENOVATION GIVES LIFE. The beautifully restored Wrecking Bar brewpub in Atlanta's Little Five Points. Below-Wrecking Bar's Chris Terenzi and Bob Sandage test the aroma of their upcoming IPA. PHOTOS BY OWEN OGLETREE B By Owen Ogletree Being a passionate homebrew-er for almost 20 years, Bob Sandage always wanted to own a brewpub. When he sold his engineering business a couple of years ago, his beery plan focused on the purchase and renovation of a 110-year-old Atlanta mansion and former archetectural antique center located on Moreland Avenue near the juncture of Little Five Points and Inman Park. Upon seeing the brew-pub’s business plan for the ﬁ rst time, Chris Terenzi, home-brewer, former professional brewer and Sandage’s long-time friend, re-sponded with three words: “I want in.” BREWERY By Jim Ritchart SWAMPED IN BEER. Craig Birkmaier and Luke Kemper mash-in at the Swamp Head Brewery in Gainsville, FL. Below-Swamp Head tap room. PHOTOS BY JIM RITCHART S The process proved complex and chal-lenging. Sandage and his wife Kristine spent months designing and constructing the brew-pub’s bar and dining area in the cellar and renovating the building’s second ﬂ oor event space. In the basement of the old antique warehouse at the rear of the manor, Terenzi See Wrecking Bar p.4 Jackalope ....................... 5 Tasting Notes ................. 6 South's First Brewery .... 7 Style Section ................. 8 Homebrew News ............ 9 Beer Wench's Kitchen ... 10 Dr. Brewski ................... 10 Ommegang Ride ............ 19 GWO Winner ............... 19 INSIDE State by State News Tennessee ........11 Georgia ..........16 Alabama/Mississippi ....18 The Carolinas .......20 Florida ...........22 Louisiana ............23 wamp Head Brewery opened quietly in Gainesville Florida two years ago. Head brewer Craig Birkmaier’s passion for beer started back in 1981, after moving to California and experiencincg the early beginnings of the American craft beer movement. The following year he traveled to Great Britain on business and fell in love with real English ales. Luckily, his job as a technology consultant involved extensive traveling, and he took every opportunity to visit brew pubs and beer shops in various locations and would bring great craft beers home after each trip. In 2005, Craig met Buzz Brown, the head brewer at Spanish Springs Brewing Company, a brew pub in the Villages retire-ment community in Lady Lake, and was invited to brew on their system. In 2006, Craig brewed a batch of Big Nose IPA for the National Homebrew-ers Conference in Orlando C and after garnering rave reviews for Big Nose, he revi decided to start looking dec for an investor/partner to start sta his own brewery. Craig didn’t have to look far to ﬁ nd his business partner. Luke Kemper and Craig ﬁ rst met in high school and became close friends. When Craig began to brew at home Luke and his step-father Dan would stop by occasionally to sample his creations. See Swamp Head p.3
Crafting The Wrecking Bar
Renovation Gives Life. The Beautifully Restored Wrecking Bar Brewpub In Atlanta's Little Five Points. Below- Wrecking Bar's Chris Terenzi And Bob Sandage Test The Aroma Of Their Upcoming Ipa. Photos By Owen Ogletree
Being a passionate homebrewer for almost 20 years, Bob Sandage always wanted to own a brewpub. When he sold his engineering business a couple of years ago, his beery plan focused on the purchase and renovation of a 110-year-old Atlanta mansion and former archetectural antique center located on Moreland Avenue near the juncture of Little Five Points and Inman Park.
Upon seeing the brewpub’s business plan for the fi rst time, Chris Terenzi, homebrewer, former professional brewer and Sandage’s longtime friend, responded with three words: “I want in.”
The process proved complex and challenging. Sandage and his wife Kristine spent months designing and constructing the brewpub’s bar and dining area in the cellar and renovating the building’s second fl oor event space. In the basement of the old antique warehouse at the rear of the manor, Terenzi painstakingly pieced together a seven barrel brew system from the defunct Oggi’s brewpub in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Everything Old is New Again
Artisanship and craftsmanship formed the overriding theme of the project since day one. “Everything here is custom done,” says Terenzi. “We preserved as much as we could of the old building and took great effort to restore it with respect. We are going to keep it real — the building, the food and the beer.”
Atlanta antique dealer Wilma Stone bought the house in 1968 and turned it into the Wrecking Bar antique center. Terenzi explains, “Wilma was able to visit the brewpub a few weeks ago and she got emotional when she saw the renovations that she probably wanted to do back in the day. She was also happy we kept the name ‘Wrecking Bar.’ We figured that no matter what we called the brewpub, people would just say it was the place where the Wrecking Bar used to be. You can’t buy that kind of brand equity!”
Respect Thy Neighbor
Being located smack in the middle of an Atlanta residential hub offers advantages and disadvantages for the Wrecking Bar. Sandage had to concede that the brewpub would close at 11 PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends.
“More than any other brewpub in town, we are truly a part of a neighborhood,” says Sandage, who lives only four blocks away. “It took lots of meetings and public relations to get the community on board. Taking a keg of homebrew to neighborhood gatherings was a great help.”
“Our biggest opposition came from the homeless guy who was living here when we took over,” Terenzi says. “Luckily, there was actually very little damage or vandalism done to the inside of the building.”
Red tape from the city and state created the most difficult challenges for Sandage, as many officials seemed confused on the interpretation of regulations involving brewpubs. “The city and state workers did not understand the details of the process and didn’t seem to communicate with each other,” says Sandage. “They’d often sign off on things and then change their mind and want more legal reviews. We stayed motivated and optimistic because we just couldn’t wait to get the place going and see it finished.”
For the Love of Beer
The Wrecking Bar opened its doors to a capacity crowd on June 19 in conjunction with a Father’s Day co-promotion with the nearby Porter Beer Bar. Sandage and Terenzi had no issues with sharing their opening thunder with another craft beer establishment. “The craft beer community is great,” notes Terenzi. “We are all in the business because of a love of great beer, and local brewers like Jordan Fleetwood, Crawford Moran and John Roberts have been really helpful to us.”
Less rebellious and more respectful of traditional beer styles in this phase of his career, Terenzi opened the brewpub with quite a few sessionable beers in the lineup. Golden Nelson is a 4.5% ABV, straw-colored ale utilizing the winey Nelson Sauvin hop. Containing 100% British malts, hops and yeast, Old Lantern Jaw Mild ranks as a 3.7% ABV light brown, extremely quaffable ale with slightly dry, hoppy tones. 6.8% ABV Red Monkey Amber IPA, inspired by Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, boasts a malty base and hearty doses of US Goldings, Centennial, Cascade and Columbus hops. Belgina Wit is a classic Belgian white ale with coriander toasted in the brewpub’s kitchen. Jemmy Stout comes in as a 7% ABV American stout with an extra two pounds of hops thrown in by Terenzi on a whim.
Look for future Wrecking Bar brews to include a West Coast IPA, double IPA, Belgian dubbel, a Brettanomyces ale, imperial stout, California common, chocolate beer and a Belgian version of an IPA with Trappist ale yeast. Terenzi’s goal is 8-12 house beers on tap on a regular basis, along with a couple of frequent handpumped casks.
Upscale Craft Bar Food
Chef Steve Mayer has crafted a menu of upscale craft bar food, including the Wrecking Bar burger, wild mushroom flatbread, flank steak salad, North Carolina pulled pork sandwich, braised beef short ribs and Copper River salmon.
“Several dishes use beer as an ingredient, and we all taste the food every day and continue to tweak it,” Sandage says. Our fantastic servers really know the food and beer menu well, and each had to pass our written beer quiz to be hired.”
The artisanal, craft-oriented focus of the Wrecking Bar has definitely resulted in a winning hand for the bold gamble of Sandage and Terenzi.
“Bob bought the building not knowing if a brewpub could even be approved for the location,” says Terenzi.
“If it didn’t happen, we figured we’d at least have the best house in the neighborhood,” says Sandage.
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Crafting+The+Wrecking+Bar/797991/77106/article.html.
Brewery Swamped In Beer. Craig Birkmaier And Luke Kemper Mash-In At The Swamp Head Brewery In Gainsville, Fl. Below- Swamp Head Tap Room.
Swamp Head Brewery opened quietly in Gainesville Florida two years ago.
Head brewer Craig Birkmaier’s passion for beer started back in 1981, after moving to California and experiencincg the early beginnings of the American craft beer movement. The following year he traveled to Great Britain on business and fell in love with real English ales. Luckily, his job as a technology consultant involved extensive traveling, and he took every opportunity to visit brew pubs and beer shops in various locations and would bring great craft beers home after each trip.
In 2005, Craig met Buzz Brown, the head brewer at Spanish Springs Brewing Company, a brew pub in the Villages retirement community in Lady Lake, and was invited to brew on their system. In 2006, Craig brewed a batch of Big Nose IPA for the National Homebrewers Conference in Orlando and after garnering rave reviews for Big Nose, he decided to start looking for an investor/partner to start his own brewery.
Craig didn’t have to look far to fi nd his business partner. Luke Kemper and Craig fi rst met in high school and became close friends. When Craig began to brew at home Luke and his step-father Dan would stop by occasionally to sample his creations.
Their discussions soon turned to the idea of starting a brewery. In 2008 they started to develop the business plan for Swamp Head.
Although Luke has never brewed on his own, he did help out on a few batches on Craig’s home brew system. He is learning the process at Swamp Head, as any good owner/manager should; however, they are a small start-up operation so Luke’s focus is on managing the business, while Craig focuses on brewery operations.
When questioned about his favorite beer style, Craig responded, “This is the question we get the most, and a good way to help educate craft beer neophytes. The wonderful thing about beer is that there are so many different styles to enjoy, and innovative craft brewers keep developing new styles, using a wide range of ingredients. Sometime you may want a light refreshing brew; sometimes you may want to sit and sip a big Russian Imperial Stout or Barleywine. Asking someone what their favorite beer style is, is like asking what their favorite food is. The real joy comes through experiencing the full range of beer styles and enjoying them paired with dishes that help the flavors play off of one another.” Craig and his wife both enjoy cooking with beer and hosting beer and food pairings.
The current line up at Swamp Head includes their year round brews; Big Nose IPA, brewed with American barley malts and hopped with Centennial, Amarillo and Columbus hops. Craig calls it ‘a mystical elixir for hop lovers.’ Wild Night, a honey cream ale brewed with American barley malts and corn, infused with Florida Tupelo Honey and hopped with New Zealand organic Hallertau hops. Cotton Mouth, their Belgian style wheat ale is brewed with Belgian pilsner malt, wheat and oats and hopped with New Zealand organic Hallertauer and Saaz hops and with additionas of freshly-ground coriander and Curacao. Stump Knocker, a pale ale is brewed with American barley malts and hopped with Centennial and Amarillo hops. Midnight Oil, an Oatmeal Coffee Stout is brewed with European barley malts and wheat and hopped with Fuggle and East Kent Goldings hops and infused with dark roast organic fair trade coffee.
As for new beers coming out? A visit to the tasting room during this Fall will reward the visitor with Saison du Swamp, the Swamp Head version of a Belgian saison. They will also be brewing Floridian Blonde Ale this summer; spiced with Kaffir Lime leaves grown in Craig’s backyard. He is also working on numerous versions of a Russian Imperial stout.
The Brew System
Currently Swamp Head is still working on their original 10 barrel brew system and they have 80 barrel capacity in their fermentation tanks; but Craig is hopeful that expansion of the brew house capacity to 20-30 barrels is in the near future. In 2010, their first full year of production, they sold just over 700 barrels and expect to finish out 2011 with between 2000 to 2400 barrels sold. Naturally, a rapid growth curve is wanted, but not if it means compromising quality. Currently the goal is to double output each year until production is 10,000 to 15,000 barrels annually and then slowly expand distribution as they settle into a more sustainable growth rate. Once Swamp Head is able to produce enough beer to meet the demand for draft product they plan to start packaging for retail by installing a canning line for the five year-round products and offer limited release beers in bombers and 750s. They are also planning to build a conditioning room for wood aged beers and to age some of their bigger beers that are best after 90 days or more.
Swamp Head opened their tasting room in April and immediately became a huge success. On any given afternoon, the place fills rapidly and at times overflows out the doors. They are excited about the buzz that is growing around the brand, and the number of out of state visitors who are finding their way to the brewery. They recently had a couple from Portland, Oregon come it to buy a few growlers to share with family in Chicago, before they return to Oregon. Craig states, “We fully embrace the threetier distribution system in Florida, as it would be difficult to have the geographic coverage we have today without good distribution. But the ability to sell product directly from the brewery — especially growlers — that allow customers to take some beer home, helps generate additional revenues that we are plowing back into personnel, cooperage and new equipment.”
Craig feels that the Florida beer market is past the embryonic stage but still needs some more education and growth. Changes to beer laws in Georgia and other southern states has helped, as many of the craft breweries did not want to send trucks to Florida unless they could also drop product in other southern states along the way... The availability of craft beers brewed in Florida is now helping to drive the continued expansion of the craft beer industry in Florida… A few years ago the Florida Brewer’s Guild was dominated by brew pubs, but now the number of micro and nano breweries is starting to grow rapidly. If we can modernize the beer laws in Florida, the potential exists to create thousands of new jobs in Florida and put Florida on the map as a beer tourism destination, much as we have seen in Asheville, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington State.”
Swamp Head welcomes this growth and feels that the number of new breweries in the planning stages in Florida alone is amazing. “Being in the S.E. corner of the U.S. presents many challenges for distribution. But being a major tourism state provides some significant benefits. The potential size of the craft beer market in Florida is driven both by the sheer size of our markets, and the large number of tourists who visit each year. If we do a good job promoting our products to visitors, this will help grow the markets for our products when they return home.”
Gainesville residents and students at The University of Florida are lucky that Craig had his dream. And people in the surrounding communities are finding that Swamp Head beers are a good alternative to the normal everyday beers that they usually find on tap at their local bar or restaurant.
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Swamp+Head/797994/77106/article.html.