Brew Blog

How to Prepare for Your First Brew Fest | Amber Waves Brewfest

Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned professional, we could all use a little help preparing for your first or the next brew fest of the summer.  We’re here to help.  We are about to give you some great tips on how to prepare for your first brew fest.

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Step #1:  Bring a Bag

Trust me, this one has got to be at the top of your list.  Typically, when you go to a brew fest you are going to get so much kick ass swag that you’ll want something to carry it in.  Besides, you need your hands free to sample all of the beer!  We suggest a drawstring bag or something lightweight.

Step #2:  Wear Comfortable Shoes.

Yeah, we get it hot stuff, you want to look cute. But, if you don’t want your little piggies aching by the end of the day, you will want to wear some comfortable shoes.  We’re not saying you have to strap on some Velcro trainers with arch support (although not a bad idea) but you may want to skip the high heels for this type of event.

Step #3: Pace Yourself

Look, we know that once you arrive you feel like a kid in a candy store.  There are so many breweries and so many varieties that your heart starts racing and you start salivating like no other.  However, pace yourself.   This isn’t a race; this is a chance to familiarize yourself with new beer and varieties to widen your horizon.  Besides, you don’t want to be the first one carried out.

Step #4: Deodorant

I can’t stress this enough.  Brew fests happen right in the dead of summer and you will be sweating in places you didn’t realize you could sweat.  Protect your dignity and your neighbors and wear deodorant.  We are all going to be crowded around one another and you want to feel fresh and smell fresh.  Use deodorant!

Step #5: Enjoy Your First Brew Fest

This step is the easiest.  Just enjoy yourself.  Meet new people, talk with brewers, dance to the music and toast to a great summer. 

We hope that these tips help you prepare for your first brew fest.  Don’t forget to grab your tickets to Amber Waves Brew Fest that is scheduled for August 17, 2019!

To purchase tickets click here.

Top 4 American Ales for Independence Day

With Independence Day around the corner, it’s time to salute some of the best American Ales to drink for the holiday.  Maybe these are regulars in your fridge, or maybe it’s time to step outside your comfort zone and toast to these interpretations on classic American beer styles.

American Ale can be traced back to English roots, although Americans put a different spin on these earthy ales.  The American-inspired beer has more of a fruity, pine-like taste to the beer and also embodies a medium maltiness, making it the perfect foodie beer.  It pairs well with most foods because of its diverse flavor and simple ingredients.

Now, that you’ve learned a little more about these American ales, let’s get into our choices for the top American ales for Independence Day, shall we?

1: Agrestic American Wild Red Ale – Firestone Walker Brewing Company

This particular American Ale was the foundation to the Firestone Walker Brewing Company when it first opened its doors in 1996.  This beer was matured in French and American oak making it trés delicious and carrying a wonderful aroma!

ABV: 6.6%

 

2: 3 Floyd’s Pear Bear American Wild Ale

Are you into the sours?  3 Floyd’s Pear Bear is brewed with pears and leaves your nose and tongue doing tangling happy dance.  Your nose will think you’re drinking gummy candies, but your tongue will recognize the tart flavor right away – think juicy pears!  If you’re into sours, better pucker up!

ABV: 7.5%

 

3: New Oberpfalz Brewing American Porter

If you’re looking for something a little dark, try this American Ale that leaves remnants of chocolate and coffee.  The smooth semi-sweet taste is that off dark malts and smokey flavor. The robust flavor of this beer does not disappoint.  This American Porter is currently draft only.

ABV: 5.7%

 

4: St. John Malt Brothers Brewing AP4K American Pale Ale

Rounding out our top 4 picks for Independence Day is the AP4K American Pale Four Thousand.  This beer is fairly new to the world of ale but has received some great reviews from new customers.  It’s pleasant aroma and sweet taste is pleasing beer geeks for sure!  This beer is jam packed with Cascade hops, but it doesn’t overpower the sweet malt taste!  The availability on this beer is limited but worth a try!

ABV: 5.9%

 

Celebrate Independence Day by toasting to American Ale and don’t forget to purchase your tickets to the 2019 Amber Waves Brewfest to sample and speak with these breweries in person!

The Top 5 Must-Have Beers for a Memorial Day Weekend

Picture this.  You arrive at a cookout or family gathering ready to kick back and enjoy a beautiful day with great company.  You’re ready to relax, eat some good food and remember our fallen heroes. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others and a day to relax and enjoy these freedoms. However, you find out that the cooler is empty.  Suddenly panic sets in, this isn’t what you were picturing for your 3-day weekend.

Memorial Day is just around the corner and you’re probably already making plans for the 3-day weekend.  Whether those plans include a cookout with family or a lake day with friends, I’m sure that beer might be at the top of your shopping list.  Instead of sticking with your regular go-to beers, we’ve got some great options ready to please your palate and your guests.  These are the top 5 must-have beers for Memorial Day weekend.

1: 3 Floyd’s Gumballhead American Wheat

We start our Memorial Day list with an American wheat ale.  This local Indiana legend pours bright gold with nice white head and good retention. Grapefruit aroma rolls off the foam from the hand-picked Amarillo hops. Crisp and clean, this beer pushes the bitterness line without going too far.

ABV: 5.6% IBU: 35

 

2: 18th Street Best Patio Pilsner

Pick up this patio must-have (I mean it says it right in the name of the lager) and enjoy this light and crisp beer. This beer has a great clean taste for those with a mild palate and a pleasant aroma. If we want to get romantic with our description, it has a light golden straw color. Heavy carbonation gives an ample white head that melts into a nice lace. True to the style which is perfect for the start of summer.

ABV: 4.9%

 

3: Revolution Freedom of Speach Session Sour

Staying true to honoring Memorial Day, this crushable session sour has a fierce legal talon adorning the can. Brace yourself for this sweet beer that brings fruitiness to the top of our beer list. Though this beer is sweet, it does end with a tart finish and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy (outside) just like a fuzzy peach…. see what I did there?  This is the beer that will take you to the summer nights you’ll never forget… or will forget. Freedom is yours.

ABV: 4.5% IBU: 7

 

4: Bell’s Official Hazy IPA

We had to hop on the haze craze somewhere on the list. And this beauty pours an opaque lemon yellow bursting with American hop aroma. The can looks like it belongs at a baseball game. The smell takes you on a tropical oasis. Very nicely balanced bitterness against the malt. Highly accessible, easy drinker.

ABV: 6.4% IBU: 55

 

5: Fenwick Farms Brewing Company’s Bravo4 APA

This flagship recipe from local boys Fenwick Farms Brewing Company was brewed in tribute to co-owner Kenny VanHouten who served about a decade and two over-seas tours in the United States Army. If it’s pouring in the brewpub, he has it in hand. This American Pale Ale pours a sunburnt gold with a one finger white foam head. Hops come from neighboring hop farm Cone Keepers. Fresh flake form uses Cascade and Chinook throughout the boil and dry hopped for 7 days with Comet. Great fresh hop brew.

ABV: 5.7% IBU: 42

 

We hope you enjoyed this kick ass list of top 5 must-have beers for Memorial Day weekend to kick off your summer.

Join us and all of the breweries on this list on August 17 for Amber Waves Brewfest – where our ABV is 100% and the bitterness stays in the beer, not in the atmosphere.

You can purchase tickets to Amber Waves Brewfest right here.

Jim Estry – President and co-founder of Saint John Malt Brothers

Amber Waves is getting to know the brewers who will be in attendance in a series called Who’s the Brew. As we get ready for the second annual Amber Waves Brewfest, Jim Estry of Saint John Malt Brothers (center in photo) was nice enough to let us steal some time. Their motto is “Great Beer, Great Food & Great Service” and we have yet to meet someone who says otherwise!

Picture from Left to Right – Dave Witt (Co-Founder), Jim Estry (President and co-founder), Dan Cox – (Co-Founder and VP)

Thanks for taking the time to do this Jim. Tell us a little bit about the St. John Malt Brothers & how long SJMB has been a part of the Northwest Indiana craft beer scene.

SJMB has been in business a little over 4 years now and began with 3 neighbors sitting around a fire pit drinking craft beer and thinking, “We should get involved with this business”

How many taps in your tasting room? Any guest taps or are they all yours?

Currently 20 taps, all ours.

Any particular beer your currently very happy with? Any favoritism towards a specific batch?

Tripel Dog Dare (Belgian Tripel), 400ft east IPA, Game Over Man, Kolsch. Our Oktoberfest is by far the best Oktoberfest brewed in the region.

For more information and a complete list of SJMB’s beer click here.

I have memories of when Kennywood was run out of a basement before the shop on the Crown Point square.  Then it moved again to St. John. How was St. John Malt Brothers connected to Kennywood Brew Supply?

Shortly before we opened our Brewery, Bob Heinlein came to me and offered to sell Kennywood to us as he was relocating, it was a nice little business for us, but it took up way too much of our time and pulled us away from perfecting our craft as a brewery. Subsequently, we made the decision to liquidate our inventory and focus on the brewery.

Do you have any advice for home brewers?

Spend all the time you would have used in brewing to visit the local breweries in this area. Northwest Indiana is producing some outstanding brews and is rapidly becoming a destination area for craft brew enthusiast.

You now offer a full menu in the eatery, what seems to be the local favorite? Any signature dishes?

Instead of a breadbasket we provide hushpuppies that are rapidly becoming iconic to the area. We also offer several eclectic dishes that can be found nowhere else, including our “Pint of Bacon”, Savory chicken and waffles, Smoked prime rib cheesesteak sandwiches, fried catfish, as well as several others.

Have you brewed any collaborations? Is there a specific craft brewer you’d jump at the chance to collaborate with?

We have collabed with Crown Brewing and would like to team up with several others but just don’t have the time.

What does the future hold for St. John Malt Brothers?

We are currently moving our brewery to a new much larger location, so we can ad more fermentation capacity. Our restaurant will also be moving to a different location here in SJ in the new development. We have applied for a second brewers permit so we can set up a pilot system in the new restaurant.

We’re looking forward to the new space & definitely looking forward to having you out at Amber Waves this August.

For more information on St. John Malt Brothers.

For tickets to Amber Waves

Sam Yacko of Fenwick Farms Brewing Company

Amber Waves is getting to know the brewers who will be in attendance in a series called Who’s the Brew. As we get ready for the second annual Amber Waves Brewfest we look back when we sat down with Sam Yacko of Fenwick Farms Brewing Company. This year FFBC is a major sponsor and Sam talks about the brewery, the beers and the role it plays in the community.

How long has Fenwick Farms Brewing Company been in business now?

Since mid-august of 2017. We haven’t even been open a full year, but I think we’ve represented the community of Rensselaer well. And we’ve done a good job of servicing the town of Rensselaer by giving them a locally made craft beer option. Currently the only locally made craft beer option.

Why did you feel Rensselaer needed this kind of option?

Ah, I wish Kenny was here to answer that one. I drive down more than 45 min everyday. Whereas Kenny and Ron, the other two co-owners, live right here in Rensselaer and can speak into that a little more thorough. They introduced me to this town and I fell in love with it. It’s this great small town right in the middle of Chicago and Indianapolis. With our location right off I-65 we get a lot of travelers stopping in. Adventurers looking for new craft breweries. And so far we’ve been pretty well received with what we have to offer.

You mentioned you wished that Kenny and Ron were here. Were you all here from the very beginning? Or did Kenny and Ron say, “hey, I know who needs to brew for us…”

We were all involved from the very beginning. Kenny and I met years ago when we worked at the same company in Crown Point. We talked about opening up a brewery together. He moved on to another opportunity and later so did I. We met back up when this building we are standing in became available. There was this perfect storm of events and Ron was on board at this time as well. And here we are now. Still growing, still expanding and trying to do our best every single day.

Were you brewing somewhere before Fenwick Farms Brewing Co.?

Not at the scale I am now. I originally started like everyone else on a piddly, little home brew kit that was nightmarishly messy. I learned a lot from Kenny at this scale and I love the result we are getting. Beats staying in the basement.

You don’t miss basement bucket brewing?

I couldn’t afford a decent home brew setup myself. No question. It’s much better having professional regulators, gauges and testing equipment. It’s a lot easier to hone in your recipes than guessing what went right or more importantly what went wrong. I’m proud of what we are doing. We definitely started this the right way.

Is the beer you’re most proud of, the most popular or best seller?

It’s kind of hard to tell. The Iroquois River Cream Ale gets a lot of attention partially because the Iroquois River runs right through town so the locals love it. It’s an easy drinking traditional light brew that a lot of people gravitate to. My favorite is our Fly Free Wheat Ale. Unfiltered and light on the tongue, served traditionally with a slice of orange. I would stand behind our Hop Yard IPA any day. It’s not an overly hopped IPA. It’s on the mild side. We use locally grown hops from Cone Keepers Hop Yard. We use freshly crushed cones and never pellets. It has made all the difference.

Why did you decide to brew a milder IPA?

Neither Kenny or myself prefer a punch in the face hoppy beer. In our first conversation with Cone Keepers and what they were offering combined with what it is we wanted to brew, I feel like we did them justice. I feel like we developed a well balanced IPA that showcases the floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney American-variety hop character.

Have you considered barrel aging?

Absolutely. That has been part of the conversation since day one. We all love barrel aged beers. And with this location we have this tremendous basement that would be perfect space for housing barrels. However, keeping up with demand has been a little taxing. So for right now we’d like to continue to do the special edition limited offerings that benefit the community before we get into barrel aging.

Update: Fenwick Farms Brewing Company has a Knob Creek maximum char white oak bourbon barrel to age their Snow Angel Holiday Ale for a winter release.

How many flagship beers do you currently have?

We have 6. Fly Free Wheat, Spéirbhean Irish Red, Willow Switch Porter brewed with local Willow Switch coffee, Hop Yard IPA, Iroquois River Cream Ale, and Fort & Outpost Lager. Read more about them here.

Update: They’ve since added a 7th, Bravo 4 APA. An American Pale Ale brewed as a tribute to co-owner Kenny VanHouten. A must try when it’s on tap.

What is the defining differences between your cream ale and your lager?

The yeast that’s used imparts very different flavor profiles. On top of that, our cream ale is brewed with vanilla and ginger just to spice it up a little bit. Our Fort & Outpost Lager is a traditional recipe. I consider that our gateway beer. Being that we are the first craft brewery in town, a lot of our guests are new to these varieties. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “…I don’t really like those bitter tasting things.” So I direct them to our lager for a familiar taste.

Is there something you’re excited to try in the future?

Yeah. I’d love to make a sour. I was hesitant at first. I wasn’t sure how well received it would be. We’ve had a couple on our guest taps and so far they’ve been pretty popular. So that’s encouraging.

One of my favorite beers of all time is Dead Guy from Rogue Ale in Oregon. a German Maibock made with their proprietary yeast. To me that is a perfect beer. I’d love to have an opportunity to do a collaboration with them. I wouldn’t even have to have any input, I would just love to hear what they had to say. I’d love to see what a collaboration at that scale would bring to the community.

How important is community to this brewery?

That has always been the first thought in our minds. We brewed our Snow Angel Winter Ale as a limited release. We discounted it heavily and gave the profits to our local rotary club. If I remember correctly it was just over $1,700 which helped 50 plus families in need within the town of Rensselaer and Jasper County enjoy a holiday meal. We plan on doing that again and taking what we learned last year to make this year even more of a success.

Fenwick Farms Brewing Co. is going to be at Amber Waves. Is this your first brew fest?

We’ve been to a handful but not one at this scale. This will be the largest and most local we’ve attended. We’ve talked with the Jasper County Fairgrounds and they’re excited for it. It’s the first time they’ve hosted anything like this. We’re both hoping it brings a lot of people to Jasper County who have never been here before and it will help put our name on the map.

Update: Second time. Still excited. If not more so.

What’s next for Fenwick Farms Brewing Co.?

We’ve just expanded our building and put in a kitchen, so look for our food menu online soon. We are partnering with local food providers to round out the menu. We get our cheese from Fair Oaks Farms and our meat from Culp Farms.  We’ve got a great staff to help out with that and a handful of people have put in a lot of work to make this happen. So we are really excited about that and excited about the future for this small town.

Update: They’ve hired a chef and you can see the menu here. They’ve added cocktails as well. 

For more information on Fenwick Farms Brewing Co.

For tickets to Amber Waves

Blake Murray of Burn ‘Em Brewing

Today we got to sit down with taproom manager Blake Murray of Burn’ Em Brewing. Blake is one of the original 7 friends who started this journey together. Burn ‘Em Brewing strives to bring their creativity in the way they brew to produce the finest and most unique brews in the region. Blake shares how this all started with a group of friends and some of the new faces they’ve met along the way.

Tell us a little about Burn’ Em.

We are a microbrewery in Michigan City which is in Northwest Indiana right on the Indiana/Michigan border. We started brewing about 4 years ago and opened a taproom a year later. It’s been open for about 3 ½ years now. We started as 7 friends from Highschool all brewing together in my house. Opened our LLC in 2013 and opened our doors in 2014 and it has been a wild ride. It started out just us, and now we are up to about 12 employees total.

You guys are surrounded in some pretty incredible illustrations. Your cans are like graphic novels. How did that all come about?

Oh yeah, definitely. So the first time we wanted to package we reached out to multiple artists. We had a guy that said “My friend Max who’s up in Chicago who draws comics and all sorts of stuff… He’d be perfect for you guys.” He sent us his portfolio. We checked out a few other artists, but once we saw Max Clarke’s work, we really liked his style. We sent him a couple beer names, he sent us some illustrations, and ever since it has been exclusively him.

Max is originally from Ohio. When we connected, he was in Chicago, but now he’s out in Brooklyn. He is an artist and musician. His band the Cut Worms tour all over the place. He’s done a handful of posters for us and probably over 30 cans. We give him a beer name and style, and for the most part, it’s all him after that.

One of my favorites is the “I’ll Be The Same” which is our Sour that we do several variations on. Currently, we are pouring a watermelon variant. We can the standard and dry-hopped version. They’re the same label but different color. Max took a “Where’s Waldo” approach on that label. It’s all the characters from all our other labels we’ve ever done. We don’t put the logo on the front of the can. It’s on the back with the description. But we kept the front open for the illustrations. The first two might have had it on there, but after that, it’s just been the name of the beer and the characters telling the story.

How many cans deep are you now?

We are getting close to 30 but its somewhere in the late 20s. I’ll have to start counting.

Tell us about the Tap Room?

We are open 7 days a week. Our hours are Mon.-Thurs. 2p-10p – 11a-10p F-S and 11a-8p on Sunday. 10 taps, indoor seating year round and two patios in the summer. We do winterize one of the patios, and it says warm even on the coldest of days. We can fit 4-5 tables out there plus 20-30 people. We are looking into adding a fire pit to the other so we can keep it open as well. We’ll see what happens. We have a small food program. We roast soft pretzels out of our spent grain that we serve with pimento beer cheese. And rotational flatbread pizza with seasonal toppings all on pizza dough made by Arturo’s Baked Goods.

We have live entertainment. Every Tuesday Robert Rolfe Feddersen is there doing vinyl night. Between May and October, we’ll also do a two-hour acoustic set. We booked 22 local musicians this summer, and we’ll be doing the same thing next summer. We occasionally do other nights of music spattered here and there. Robert is kind of our unofficial sponsor. He came in our place before we had a taproom and wanted to play. So as soon as we could, we set that up, and he’s been doing it ever since. He committed to our vinyl night and didn’t do that for anyone else. Now, my twin brother, myself, one other owner, a guitarist and Feddersen started playing together in a 5 piece band called Beer Hippies. We recorded a couple songs on 2” analog tape in Chicago with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Cheap Trick) as Feddersen always does. We book a show a month. My brother and I stopped playing when we got busy with the brewery, but he (RRF) got us back into it. We’re general rock n’ roll that’s a little folky, little bluesy. Depending on who wrote the song. My brother tends to write bluesy, and Feddersen adds the folk influence. We’re up to about 12 original songs.

The events set in stone at Burn’ Em are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we do four big seasonal parties. In the middle of January, we do our Long Johns On release. We do barrel aged versions of it. It’s an outdoor winter fest, so we bring out the higher alcohol beers that keep you warm. We do a 420 event on April 20 or whatever Saturday it falls closest to. We serve 20 or so beers and have about 5 bands. 420 is more music-centric whereas the others are celebrating beer releases. Our anniversary party is in mid-June.

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

We are very varietal. We’re up to about 300-400 recipes now. The 10 beers on tap change regularly. I do really like our most popular beers. Well, actually I’m not a fan of one of our biggest selling summer beers we release from April to October is Coconoats. But that’s just a coconut thing. It’s an American Pale Wheat Ale. Thick and creamy mouthfeel, but lively and refreshing. The coconut becomes more present as it warms. People come in all winter asking for it, but it’s only available in the summer.

The Fourteen Buck Chuck is one of my favorite. It’s our biggest selling beer by far. All Citra hopped American Pale Ale. A lot of Citra in the end boil and dry hopping. It’s very hop forward. Thinker body. A little bit of a haze going on. The illustration on the can is a $14 bill. We can’t keep that one around enough. We always wanted to brew different beers, but we find ourselves brewing that one all the time now.

I really like our sours. Although the interest in sours is growing, the popularity isn’t there yet. My favorite beer we ever brewed was this Beet and Rosemary sour that we only did one keg of and it’s probably not even something we can recreate. It was a wild fermented sour. It was fantastic. It was two different barrels of a wild saison. Once they were at their prime, we blended them together. We added 25 pounds of roasted beets that we roasted in our facility and added some fresh rosemary from our garden. The whole keg was gone within 24 hours. (laughs) We probably can’t make it again, unfortunately.

That’s a bit of a Tenacious D “Greatest Song in the World” Story. The “greatest sour in the world” but you can never taste it. Only the tributes.

(Shared laughter) Yeah, this watermelon “I’ll Be The Same” is one of my favorite sours we have done as well. It turned out really good. We use the same “I’ll Be The Same” base and add different ingredients before fermenting. We recently did a tangerine version that turned out really well. A cherry, a raspberry, etc.… Whatever we can find really.

You have 10 of your beers on tap, 7 growlers, and additional bottles & cans.

We release a new beer every Friday. Depending on the crowd, sometimes we tap two new beers.
Yesterday we tapped three new beers to celebrate the hop harvest. Three wet-hopped varieties and a garden topped flatbread pizza. All to celebrate the harvest.

When did the current recipes come about?

There are quite a few that came from when we brewed at my house. We had about six or seven carboys going that would ferment in my closet. Hop Parade is one of them.

Your clothes had a good yeast smell to them?

Oh yeah, especially when we had one blow up. Over fermented and just covered some shit.

Are there any others that the recipes that started in the closet and moved its way up?

Actually a good handful. We’re so varietal. So the ones that you see in cans our kind of flagships. The Hop Parade, the Cream Corn, those are both long-standing recipes.

Funny story of how Cream Corn came to be… One of our old roommate’s aunts would just stuff our freezer full of these bags of this home-made cream corn. So my brother wrote a cream ale recipe. We didn’t add lactose like some cream ales, we just utilized the lactose from the dairy in the actual cream corn.

Now we use that as our gateway beer. For those who aren’t familiar with craft beer styles and come in asking “what is the closest thing to a standard domestic lager?” we point them in the direction of the Cream Corn. It’s an easy drinking, nice smooth beer, so it tends to win them over.

Have you done any collaborations?

We’ve done close to 100 now. We have one on tap now with Alter Brewing up in Downers Grove IL. It’s a New England style IPA. One of our parties we did 9 collabs specifically for the event. Had them all on tap at the same time. We’ve done collabs with Hailstorm Brewing, Workhorse, 350, Mikerphone, Shoreline, Bare Hands Fountain Square, Flat 12 to name a few. We are talking with Blue Nose now about doing a collab. We get around. We do a lot of collabs in Chicago and Michigan because we can’t sell there without a distributor. So that’s a way we can introduce ourselves into areas we wouldn’t otherwise be.

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

We’ll figure it out early this week. Matt or Danny on our team will be down there, and they’re probably setting something aside for it as we speak.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this, looking forward to sampling Burn’em out there!

For more information on Burn’em Brewing click here.

Last chance to your  purchase tickets to Amber Waves Brewfest!

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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