Where to Find KBS in Monroe

The Founders Kentucky Breakfast release date is upon us! Tomorrow (March 16) KBS hits the stores but since it is a limited release that is in high demand not every store will have it. That is why I am saving my fellow Monroe County citizens some time and effort by letting you know which stores will have it. PLEASE! do not use this information to buy KBS with the intent of selling it on ebay. Let us beer geeks have our beer.

Here are the three stores that will be selling KBS…

Flick’s Package Liquor in Lambertville

Jake’s in Monroe

Broadway in Monroe

Founders is placing an 1/2 case per person limit on KBS but some places may limit you to less than that. I’ll see you tomorrow in the beer aisle.

Learn to Make Beer Event in Monroe

The Muskrat Mashers are having a “Learn to Make Beer” open to the public event this Thursday, February 9, from 6pm to 9pm at Harbor Inn & Ale. The event hopes to encourage new people to brew by having educational displays, a Q & A session with experienced homebrewers plus one lucky person will be walking away with a brand new starter kit from Adventures in Homebrewing!

Click here for the facebook page. Here is more information about this event from the Muskrat Mashers website.

If you’ve ever kicked around trying to make your own beer, we invite you to stop out to our February gathering. Our plan is to have some equipment set up, some fliers to hand out, and members of the club will be on hand to answer any questions you might have about getting started brewing. Also if you haven’t checked out Harbor Inn and Ale, they have a fantastic lineup of Michigan made beers!

The Muskrat Mashers is an informal homebrew club that meets once a month to discuss one thing: How to make beer. The group isn’t made up of a bunch of chemists or master brewers, we’re just regular people, that get together to enjoy quality beer and talk about how we made it. The club has a mix of people from newbies to seasoned brewers. We love helping new people get started with brewing, because somewhere along the way, someone experienced helped us get started.

Learn to make Beer!Thursday, February 9th 6-9pm @ Harbor Inn & Ale – Monroe, MI (click for map)

Public Welcome! Ever wonder how beer was made? Ever consider making it yourself? Stop out for an evening dedicated to how to brew your own beer. Members of the local homebrew club Muskrat Mashers will be on hand to discuss the basics of making your own beer from buying equipment and choosing a recipe to bottling or kegging the final product.

  • • Equipment and ingredient displays/discussions/handouts
  • • Discussions on how easy it is to make your own beer
  •  • Already brewing? Meet other local homebrewers!

I Break for Jake’s

Most everyone with a passion has the ability to spot things associated with that passion while ignoring all else around it. An example of this is when I drive down the street close to zoning out and all of a sudden I say’ “Look! a kegerator!”  This happened the other day while driving on North Dixie just south of I-75 when I saw a sign that read CRAFT BEER above new store in Monroe. The sign had other things written on it too but I didn’t get any further than CRAFT BEER. I then thought,  “yeah right! I’ll see about that! This is Monroe, they probably just sell Summer Shandy! I’ll go in just so I have something to complain about for the next week.” So I entered the store named Jake’s Liquor and I was happy to see that this is a real craft beer store.

Not only do they have a good selection of craft beers, they have a great selection of Michigan beers with almost every distibuted brewery represented. Plus they sell a variety of singles for mixed 6 packs. Still not convinced this is a good beer store? Well this Friday July 8 they are getting the only case of Founder’s Blushing Monk that will be sold in Monroe County. It should be there sometime during the afternoon.  Blushing Monk is essentially an “Imperial Rübæus.” This ale contains four times the amount of raspberries as Rübæus and is fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. Even if you aren’t interested in fruit beers you still need to get to this store.

Jake’s Liquor is located at 1094 North Dixie in Monroe, Michigan. Like them on facebook and let Jake know that you like what he is doing.

 

Learn To Make Beer

Our homebrew club, Muskrat Mashers, is holding a membership drive/homebrewing demo this Thursday, February 10. Sarah wrote a press release that does a great job of describing the event so I will let her take it from here. 

 The Muskrat Mashers will host an informational session on home brewing on Thursday, Feb. 10 from 6-9 p.m. at Harbor Inn and Ale in Monroe, Michigan.
Have you ever wondered how beer was made?  Have you ever considered making it yourself? Would you like to meet and share ideas and experiences with other home brewers?  If you answered yes to these questions, then stop out for an evening dedicated to home brewing.  Members of the Muskrat Mashers homebrew club in Monroe will be on hand to discuss the basics of home brewing from buying equipment and choosing a recipe to bottling or kegging the final product. This gathering will feature equipment and ingredient displays as well as discussions and handouts on how to begin home brewing. It will also be an excellent opportunity to meet and network with other local home brewers.
“The Muskrat Mashers is an informal homebrew club that meets monthly,” says Muskrat Mashers founder and President Rob Gorczyca. “The group isn’t made up of a bunch of chemists or master brewers. We’re just regular people who get together to enjoy brewing and drinking craft beer. The club has a mix of people from beginners to seasoned brewers. We love helping new people get started with brewing because somewhere along the way someone helped us get started.”
This event is free and open to the public. Harbor Inn and Ale is located at 13993 Laplaisance Road in Monroe, Michigan. For more information about the Muskrat Mashers go to http://muskratmashers.com/

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=189632501064365

Featured Homebrewer: Fred Rouse

 When we started this blog we talked about highlighting local homebrewers in the hope of encouraging people to get into the hobby.  Four years later,  I realize we haven’t done one since we started the Muskrat Mashers, which is shameful. We now know more homebrewers than ever before. So, I am bringing the feature back in a plan to highlight some of our Mashers.

Fred's Brew House

Sarah and I have met some great people through the Muskrat Mashers, many of whom have become friends. It has also been a true learning experience for me.  It has pushed me to try to be a better brewer in two ways. One is by being encouraged by fellow brewers and the other is by increasing my enthusiasm by learning new tricks. This post features homebrewer Fred Rouse. I have learned so much from him already.  He loves brewing right down to the minutiae, perfecting even the smallest detail that will affect the flavor of his beer and is always looking to make his beer better. Fred is the rare person who knows a lot but is not a know-it-all. I try to prepare my brain to be absorbent when he is around.

I went on long enough it is time to let Fred speak…
 
How long have you been brewing? 16 yrs.

How much has homebrewing changed in the last 16 years? Everything you needed to homebrew was available. You just had to search a little bit to find it.  Now we have quite a few places within a short drive to get anything and the info you can get from local homebrew stores is excellent now. The shop owners and employees are more knowledgeable today.  I would say the biggest change I’ve noticed is the equipment that’s available. Just about anything a pro brewery uses we can get but on a smaller scale.  But one thing that has stayed the same. Most of the homebrewers I meet build their own systems as much as they can and buy just what they have to.  I think we like to be engineers as much as brewers.

Why did you start brewing? I’ve always had an interest in doing everything from scratch, from raising a garden and putting food up, raising chickens for eggs and meat and anything that took me back to the old way of doing things. I definitely didn’t start brewing because I liked craft beer, I was a die hard Stroh’s fan!  The first time I walked into the local homebrew store, I told them I wanted to make beer and that I needed some barley and hops.  They told me I wasn’t ready to make beer this way and needed to start with an extract kit.  I left the store without anything, but I still wanted to make beer.  Well, at Christmas my wife got me an extract kit and a book, “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.”  I made the beer and read the book.  The beer was the best beer I had ever tasted at that time. I was hooked.  It wasn’t long after I started brewing that I was at Frankenmuth and a tornado had come through and destroyed the brewery.  They were selling 1/2 barrel kegs for 5 bucks.  I loaded my Ford Aspire with as many as I could fit. I had the material for my all grain brewery!   Over time I upgraded to a 20 gallon system, temp. controlled conical, completely updated 100 yr. old grainery building with restaurant sinks, shelves, prep tables and all the toys.  My wife had no idea what she was starting. Good thing she likes beer.
 
You brewed professionally. What is your experience? I was an assistant brewer at Grizzly Peak for just over a year and a brewer at Blue Tractor for about 3 months.
 
How did brewing professionally change your homebrewing? It opened my eyes to open fermentation and repitching yeast.  After seeing beers fermenting like this I bought a food grade 32 gallon Rubbermaid container with a loose fitting lid and ferment beers in this as long as the temp. in the shed doesn’t climb above 60 degrees.  I always repitch yeast from batch to batch as long as the previous batch tastes good.

Favorite batch?  I have 2 favorites.  There used to be a homebrew competition at Rochester Mills Brewing Co. that was pretty big and my pale ale took best of show and ended  up winning the ultimate award, a two tap fridge with 5 gallons of Final Absolution from Dragonmead.  This was the last year they did the competition. I guess this makes me the reigning champion.  The other favorite batch was my first brew at Grizzly Peak.  I started with a smack pack of yeast from wyeast and brewed 20 gallons, I harvested the yeast and pitched it into a 7 bbl. batch of pils and then into my 7bbl. batch of maibock.  This yeast has fermented 31 – 7bbl. batches!

Suggestions to others considering brewing? Do it!  The best hobby ever!  If we could have taken this as a science class in high school we would have all excelled!  The best advice I could give is to pay attention to cleanliness (lots of PBW and Starsan). Join a homebrew club and enjoy the ride. Even the mistakes usually turn out good.

We went out to Fred’s place to sample some of Fred’s beers and to get some pictures of his brewing house. All were excellent, of course, but my personal favorite was his pilsner. It is such a rare treat to be able to drink a flawless classic pilsner that when I get one I really enjoy it. It is a difficult beer to brew but  he hits it out of the park.

Hombrewing is as complicated as you want it to be. You can make good drinkable beers with a small investment in equipment or you can do what Fred has done and make great beers. Homebrewing is a rewarding hobby so in Fred’s words, Do it!

Hopslam Arrives

<div class=\"postavatar\">Hopslam Arrives</div>

Bell’s Hopslam makes it’s return this week and it’s just in time because this January could really use a hop infusion. And for the first time ever Hopslam will be available in mini kegs. Beware: That much Hopslam needs to be shared since it is 10 % ABV.

Hopslam is ranked as the #3 American Double / Imperial IPA by Beer Advocate and #4 byRatebeer. It is hoppy and big tasting without being heavy. The citrus hops and the warming alcohol tricks you into thinking you are vacationing in the tropics. Not thirsty yet? Here is Bell’s description of Hopslam from their website…

Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.

Some places had their release parties last night  but for the most part it won’t be available in Monroe till Friday. But I did put in a phone call and found out that it will go on tap tonight (January 10, 2011) at  Harbor Inn and Ale. Needless to say that we are eating there tonight.

Below is some good reads that will tie you over until you can get a glass of it…
 http://www.mlive.com/kalamabrew/index.ssf/2011/01/michigan_hopheads_beware_dont.html

http://www.annarborbeer.com/2011/01/hopslam-in-house.html

http://alesharpton.blogspot.com/

Erie Bread Company and Spent Grain Bread

<div class=\"postavatar\">Erie Bread Company and Spent Grain Bread</div>

Erie Bread Company in Monroe, MI will be selling bread baked using spent grain this Tuesday, December 28,  from the local homebrew club, Muskrat Mashers. The grain came from Craig Laginess, an avid beer lover and our club treasurer. He brewed a wheat and rye so the bread will include four pounds of each grain.

It is fantastic to have a local bakery that is so willing to work with a local group like us. The fact that they are so good at what they do is an added plus. Thank you for choosing Monroe to be your home.

I can’t wait to try the bread and Craig’s beer. You can drop off a bottle when it’s done.

Erie Bread Company and Spent Grains from Local Homebrew Club

<div class=\"postavatar\">Erie Bread Company and Spent Grains from Local Homebrew Club</div>

A new bakery opened up in town and I have gained about ten pounds since the first bread came out of the oven. Not sure if it is causation or just correlation but I am sure that they make some great bread. I love the sourdough olive bread and the pepperoni rolls make a great lunch. Erie Bread Company is the artisan bakery I hoped we would always have in my hometown. And of course the olive bread, did I mention that they have olive bread?

This Saturday, November 27, is Muskrat Mashers day at Erie Bread Company. All card carrying members of the local homebrew club will get 10% off on bread. The bigger news is that they will be selling fresh baked bread using Muskrat Masher’s spent grain from Friday’s brewing sessions.  You do not have to be a member to purchase the bread.

My Black Friday plan is to brew an American wheat and as soon as it hits the boil, bag  up my spent grains and drive it to the bakery. Any Muskies, I am pushing for that as our club’s nickname, that are brewing today can do the same.

Saturday’s plan is to go and buy the spent grain bread. It should go great with chili and aid in the masking of the bitter taste of another Michigan loss to Ohio State. It won’t be the good bitter taste measured in IBUs. It will be the bad bitter taste from the bile trying to escape through your gullet.

Original Gravity Beer with Local Hops

<div class=\"postavatar\">Original Gravity Beer with Local Hops</div>
Here are the details from Brad of Original Gravity about a special beer release tonight at the OG.
OG’s Fresh Hop Ale Ale will be released September 23 at 6:00pm.
Brew Crew Members get $3.00 pints of the new brew all night long!
Fresh Hop beers are brewed with fresh rather than dried hops, as is the case the rest of the year.  Once per year, during the hop harvest brewers are able to take advantage of this opportunity are brew with the hops at the peak of their freshness.  OG’s version of this beer is brewed with Cascade hops that were grown locally in Monroe.  Refreshing Pale Ale that is light gold in color with assertive bitterness and an inviting hop aroma and flavor.

Can Monroe Support a Microbrewery?

The topic of Monroe needing a microbrewery pops up from time to time on Monroe based chat rooms. One poster will make the argument that this town needs one and inevitably someone else will reply that Monroe won’t or can’t support one. I’m sure you all know what side of the argument I fall on so this post will be about why I think we can.

First, I want to address why people feel Monroe can’t support one. Mostly they argue that the citizens of Monroe like their “macro-beer” and they won’t drink craft beer. This assumes that we are a bunch of rubes that likes what we likes and screw new fangled things.  I know what I am about to write is  anecdotal evidence but I do know that there are a lot of people who I talk to that  do enjoy the macro’s non lagers. When I hear this I always suggest a Michigan beer that is similar but better  It seems some of them are willing to try new beers.

Maybe people who say that Monroe wouldn’t support a craft brewery really feel, in general,  that the people of Monroe don’t support their own. I disagree. We do have a lot of chain restaurants in town that do a lot of business. But we also have plenty of locally owned places that do just as well. Plus we lead the state in “Out of a job yet?” bumper stickers.I do believe Monroe is a a town with civic pride and once there is a local brewery that we can see as part of their community we will embrace it.

Maybe we don’t like beer? Monroe has one distributor in town that according to manta.com has an annual revenue of 20 to 50 million dollars.  Let’s assume the low number is correct then consider that is only one distributor  so the overall revenue could more than likely be closer to 30 million. That number is just a guess but it is still a lot of money and it is hard to not conclude that Monroe loves beer.

Other facts that make me believe that we will support one is we have a beer community now. Not only do we have our own homebrew club, Muskrat Mashers but we also have our own brewing supply store, River Raisin Brewing Company. More proof that we love beer.

Another argument is we already have a Monroe County brewery, Original Gravity. Yes that is true but it is still an half hour away and there is no reason we can’t support them both in this county. During the late 19th century a much smaller city of Monroe  had two breweries that sold a combined 11,000 barrels a year. Yet they still had a third small brewery that did struggle but still was around for ten plus years. That was a long time ago and they drank more per capita but our population is greater. The real difference between then and now is that there economy was more local. 19th century beer drinkers bought local beer out of necessity, we have options. I will promise whoever opens a Monroe brewery that I will opt for your beer if you promise to make a good quality craft beer.