Month: August 2018

Dave Hellwege of Off Square Brewing

Amber Waves is getting to know the brewers who will be in attendance in a series called Who’s the Brew. Today we got to sit down with Dave Hellwege, Brewer and co-owner at Off Square Brewing in Crown Point, IN. Dave has won several local awards and likes to think and brew outside the box. His passion for exploration and imagination come through every beer on tap at Off Square, and we are excited to have them at Amber Waves.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

The reason I got into this and the reason we built off square brewing is I homebrewed for 20 some years and always talked about opening my own place. I got to the point where my wife said to me “get off the schneid and either do it or don’t do it.” So, along with my business partner who is Phil Logan, we set up a 1-barrel system in his garage where we formulated most of the recipes for Off Square. We expanded to a 20 barrel and now running a full restaurant.

It started with a passion for craft beer, and I wanted to scale up and make a living at it somehow. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past year.

Why did you choose Crown Point?

We looked at all the communities in Northwest Indiana, and we looked at a lot of existing buildings. We would have had to re-engineer everything. Crown Point seemed like a perfect fit because where we were located on the 109th corridor, we were on the first non-industrial businesses. We are on a section of 109th Avenue close to the Sportsplex. Crown Point is adding a lot of retail and redoing a lot of this area next year, so we got in at the right time. We built the building from scratch and engineered it the way we wanted. I think we offer what Crown Point is looking to provide as far as new business development.

Tell us a little bit about your beers. What might you bring out to Amber Waves?

Long Day is kind of our flagship IPA. It was an original recipe that Phil and I developed in his garage. It’s also our best seller. It’s a classic IPA with Citra and Amarillo hops, 6.3%, a delicate balance between malt and hop character.

We might also bring out our Angry Betty Stout or a rendition of it. We have Bold Betty which is a coffee stout and our Bitching Betty which is the double version. Angry Betty is our corporate name, so that’s another one we developed.

Long Day and Angry Betty our flagships we keep on tap year-round. We also have a lot of, so I’m sure we’ll also bring something out of the ordinary when we come to Amber Waves in September.

Check out their current beer list here.

It looks like you’ve been doing some expanding.

Yeah, we’ve just installed a canning line and a couple new fermenters. We’ve been distributing through mobile canning where they can on demand, but we’re hoping to up production and get more in the retail market so it will help with the distribution in the long run.

If you come here and try something then come back the next week, you’re usually going to find a new beer. We’re really focusing on our pilot system to do several different kinds of beer because that’s where my passion has always been. I don’t like to go into a brewery two weeks in a row and see the same beers over and over. My mantra has always been let’s try new things and always have new things. I think anyone that has been to Off Square knows we do all different styles.

We’re lucky with our location just off I-65 we get travelers and new people in all the time as well as our regulars. It’s nice to see. We try to cater to everyone. Anyone who says they don’t like craft beer just hasn’t had the right craft beer.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this Dave, looking forward to seeing you out there!

For more information on Dave Hellwege and Off Square Brewing click here.

To purchase tickets to Amber Waves BrewFest, Click Here.

Brew Master Steve Kamp at Evil Horse Brewing Company

Amber Waves is getting to know the brewers who will be in attendance in a series called Who’s the Brew. This week we sat down with Steve Kamp of Evil Horse Brewing Co. Steve started brewing career at home after reading an article in the Chicago Tribune about unique Christmas gifts. Steve has been a member of the American Homebrewers Association since 1984. Since then, he’s brewed hundreds of different recipes and styles and has won numerous awards in brewing competitions.

Tell us a little about Evil Horse Brewing Co.

There was a group of people I go to church with that owned a bowling alley in Crete IL, and they were looking for something to do with the building. I had already been making beer for a long time. So, we got together and came up with a plan to transform the building from a bowling alley into Evil Horse Brewing Co.

We have a really nice tap room. We are a production brewery so we have a pretty big 15-barrel brew house. …Oh, you can make quite a bit of beer.

Did you repurpose anything from the old building?

Actually, the bar and a couple longer tables are made from the bowling lanes, the high tops are the same tables that were there to start with. We took the old two-sided, neon sign with the martini glass and made it single-sided, re-did the neon and hung it in the tap room. It’s pretty cool. We still have to figure out what to do with pins & shoes.

How long have you been there?

I’ve been there since the very beginning. I started in November of 2015 and we opened April 29, 2016. We’ve been open now two years and three months selling beer.

That all started with a conversation at church?

I don’t know if it actually happened at church, but it was friends of mine I knew from church and we got together and conversation came up about the possibility of opening a brewery.
My original idea was to build it on my farm and do a farmhouse brewery. But the building was already there, and a lot of our investors liked that location and that’s how it happened.

How long had you been brewing?

I had been brewing at home since 1983. So, I’ve been a home brewer for quite some time. I’ve been a beer judge since 1986. I’ve brewed at several commercial breweries. I did a batch at Flossmoor Station in 2010 that was in the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am. I won a Lagunitas Competition in Chicago a few years later. They flew me and a few others out to California and over a crazy 3-day period we brewed a 260-barrel batch of a black IPA which turned out really, quite good.

Tell us about the brewpub?

We’ve repurposed the building, the tap room is really comfortable, it’s a great place to come talk with friends. We have bands on the weekends. We don’t sell food, but you can bring your own. There is a restaurant upstairs you can order from.

It’s kind of the bar for people who don’t go to bars. In a way, it’s family oriented. We get a lot of parties that might be outside the norm. We actually have had baby showers, there’s been a wedding there. We do event rentals and it’s a very comfortable place to be.

What is your favorite beer to Enjoy? …Brew?  What’s the most popular?

Our most popular beer is called Downtown Hottie. It’s an American Wheat. It’s not necessarily my favorite style of beer. I’ve always been a big fan of German Style Doppelbocks and Pilsners. I love American Pale Ales. I don’t know that I actually have a favorite style. Right now, we have a very authentic German style Pilsner on tap which is probably my favorite to drink right now.

Everybody has to have a niche and I’d say our brewery brews traditional beer styles. We have a Hefeweizen (Leaping Bull), a Saison (Carnaval De Binche), a Doppelbock in the Spring (Gezelligator), a Pilsner for the Summer (Seggebruch). We have an Octoberfest fermenting right now that will be ready in September. So, we take traditional beer styles and try to do them really well.

A lot of breweries will have a wide array of hoppy beers and that’s not our thing. We have our IPA and American Pale Ale and a Double IPA, but those are the only hop forward beers we have. We have 11 other beers that are more malt driven. We’ve got a Scottish ale called Nightmare which is really quite good. It uses all Scottish malt and English hops.

That’s exciting to hear. It seems people new to craft beer have starting assimilating all craft beers to IPAs or something completely dominated by the hop character.

Yeah, it’s interesting. Now everyone keeps asking me “when are you coming out with a pumpkin beer?” We don’t brew a pumpkin beer. But we are brewing an Octoberfest. Because we are located here in Crete, we are happy brewing traditional style beers. I’m not making beer with gummy bears or popsicles, or something you might find somewhere else. We have a diverse crowd that likes the traditional beer styles. That’s our niche.

You have 14 of your beers on tap, beer cocktails, and additional bombers?

We have two beers available in six packs, the Trot Hopple and the Downtown Hottie. Sgt. Reckless is available in cans. Leaping Bull, our Hefeweizen comes in a traditional half-liter bottle. The name of our Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout is Eyjafjallajökull and people can’t pronounce it, but you know what, that’s what makes it fun!

How did that come about?

The story goes, I was at Three Floyds Dark Lord Day a few years back. And I was thinking to myself “$15 for a bottle of beer?!, I’m going to make it myself.” So, I went home a brewed a Russian Imperial Stout. I made 10 gallons in two 5-gallon fermenters. I got up the next morning and the lids of the fermenters had blown off and there was black goop splattered all over the walls. The foam was pouring down the sides like lava. It just so happened to be when the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland had erupted. There was no air travel in Northern Europe for a week because there was so much volcanic ash in the air. I thought, what a perfect name for this beer. We started brewing it at the brewery and its aged in KOVAL Whiskey barrels which is a Distillery on the north side of Chicago. They are a little smaller than traditional whiskey barrels and they’re great to age beer in. It has a lot of chocolate notes, some hints of vanilla from the oak, and some of the whiskey flavor. We don’t rinse the barrels. We get them raw from the distillery and we fill them with beer.

So, one of the best barrels aged Russian Imperial Stouts I have ever had started in a bucket?

Yes it did.

Are there any others that the recipe starts in a bucket and moves its way up?

Actually, a lot of the beers we have at the brewery, I formulated at the brewery.

We do another beer which is our black IPA, it’s dry hopped with a Japanese hop called Sorachi Ace. It’s a really unique hop that isn’t piney, it more herbal like dill and lemon. And that was the beer I got to brew at Lagunitas. So that’s another one that started at home in a bucket and we ramped it up.

Have you done any collaborations?

Yes, we’ve done a collaboration with a brewery in New Lenox called Arrowhead Ales. We did a raspberry Berliner Weisse that’s been very popular and its back on tap now. The original collaboration sold out in three weeks. So, we immediately did another batch. It’s not sour, sour. It is tart and the raspberry flavor really rounds it out. It’s a really nice beer.

If you could do a dream collaboration what would that look like?

Ya know… I know a lot of the guys that started the craft beer movement. It would be fun to do something with Revolution Brewing or something Iike that. I have a lot of friends locally that would be a lot of fun to do a collaboration with just because I got started in brewing with some of the people who are professional brewers locally right by us. In fact, when we first opened the guys from Brickstone came out and helped us brew our first batch.

You are going to be at Amber Waves which is a new festival helping introduce the craft beer industry to Jasper County. Do you know what you’ll be sampling?

It depends just before event day. We’ll probably take some of our staple beers and then have something extra. Maybe we’ll get the Imperial Stout out there.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this Steve, looking forward to seeing you out there!

For more information on Steve Kamp and Evil Horse Brewing company click here.

To purchase tickets to Amber Waves BrewFest, Click Here.

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