Category: Brewery Tours

Hops, Stoopid

Hops come to brewers either as thumb-sized bundles of leaves called cones or flowers (the botanical term is strobilus, and they’re closer to pine cones than actual flowers), or ground up and packed into tiny, rabbit-food-like pellets. The cone-vs.-pellet debate is long and popular.

Lagunitas uses pellets. They have to, because whole cones won’t fit into the air cannon head brewer Jeremy Marshall uses to fire hops at 70 psi into the fermenters. That’s called dry hopping, and Lagunitas dry-hops a lot of their beers. We saw these boxes of hops last time we were up at the brewery. “Sum” is for Summit, a really bitter, grapefruity hop. Fill in the blank for the other one.

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Bottling Line

Does the Cicerone program certify brewery tour connoisseurship? We’ve been on our share of walks through fermenters and bottling lines and can report with authority that the Anchor Brewery tour is by far the most entertaining. Ask for Bob, and try not to roll your eyes right out of your head.

Back in Brown

They say Texan homebrewers invented brown ale. (At least, the modern version.) Knowing their reputation, we don’t doubt it. It’s the hardest style to make, in our opinion — not too sweet, not too dry, not too roasted… It needs an experienced hand.

Makes sense too that the folks at Anchor perfected it.

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Big Beers, Small Barrels

Texan homebrewers don’t mess around. While we were there we heard about a homebrew made with bacon-infused Scotch, and tried a smoky barleywine that tasted like meat and leather and was so delicious we licked off our fingers when we accidentally spilled a drop. Fort Worth’s Cap and Hare homebrewing club is hosting the biggest homebrew competition in the country this month — Bluebonnet Brew-Off — and we’d be going, and entering, (and probably losing), if we didn’t have to run the Craft Brewers Conference gauntlet that same week.

Even Rahr shares the homebrew spirit. They host Cap and Hare meetings sometimes, and a homebrew contest called Iron Mash. We saw some little, 2- or 3-gallon barrels in their barrel room — just like the ones we have from Tuthilltown. One of Rahr’s brewers, Jason Lyon, told us the little barrels are good for experimenting because they have a better ratio of volume to surface area (less beer touching more wood), so they age beer faster than regular, 53-gallon barrels. Not everything’s bigger in Texas.

Rahr and Sons: The Really, Truly, Honestly Official Beer of Texas

North Texas was bleak from 40,000 feet up — dirt and space and trickling, blood-red rivers — but on the ground, the beer landscape seemed bleaker.

“We have Bud Lite, Coors Lite, Miller Lite, Corona Lite…”

Then we heard about local favorites Rahr and Sons Brewing, but we also heard about their roof. Last year, a freak storm dumped 12 inches of snow on the brewery, collapsed its roof, and shut them down for seven months. This is rough country for craft beer.
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