Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Twisted Pine Brewing - Benefit for Boulder Autism Society

This past Sunday, April 17th, between 12:00 and 6:00 p.m., Twisted Pine Brewing of Boulder, Colorado, hosted an event to benefit the Autism Society of Boulder County (ASBC). Given Twisted Pine's history of constantly giving back to the community, the donation of 1$ per pint of beer sold to the ASBC is just one more reason to hold it in such high esteem. The event itself, appropriately held during the recognized "National Autism Awareness Month," put on a Brewery Olympics ($10 recommended donation) between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. - featuring blind keg tapping, a chug-off, beer trivia, a frozen t-shirt contest, and a "ridiculous relay" - and a Silent Auction containing various beer-related collectibles and gift certificates to nearby areas, among other items. This event was just one of the many fundraisers the brewery plans to host this year, having already raised $3400 for the Kiwanis Club last month (an organization that aims to improve the quality of life among disadvantaged children and youth in a number of ways). It surely assisted the ASBC in furthering its mission to "raise autism awareness in Boulder and Broomfield Counties by supporting all individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), their families, and professionals." I'm particularly glad to report this, as my youngest brother was diagnosed with autism several years ago.

Keep up the great work, Twisted Pine - along with contributing to the eclectic world of craft beer!

Peace and Love!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Natural Gas Produced From Brewing Waste Turned Into Renewable Fuel For Future Batches

Eric Fitch, CE of Purpose Energy, Inc., has created what he calls the Biphase Orbicular Biodigester System, which is capable of supplying breweries with renewable bioenergy. The goal is to either reduce the reliance upon other forms of energy (and thus, the cost), or eliminate them completely. At the same time, waste disposal costs are offset as well. Their motto? "You Produce Organic Waste. We Collect It. We Refine It. You Reuse It." But how does this work, exactly?

Well, the main ingredient breweries are left with after a successful batch has been brewed is, of course, the discarded grain. A simple solution, and one to which many breweries turn, is giving away the spent grain as animal feed to nearby farms (for homebrewers, see the link at the top of the page for cookie and dog treat recipes); breweries such as Harpoon, SweetWater, and Sierra Nevada, for instance, are not alone in this. What the Biodigester Systems does, however, is extracts energy (methane gas) from the spent grains onsite, and then allows the brewery to reuse the gas when brewing subsequent batches. This type of mentality should be reminiscent of breweries like New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO) that also maintain a marginal carbon footprint; New Belgium, aside from being 100% dependent upon wind energy (as mentioned in previous posts), also collects some of the heat escaping part of their brewing process to use as means of keeping their loading dock from icing over during the winter. Cool, I know.

Near the end of 2009, Fitch went into business with Magic Hat Brewing Company (South Burlington, VT) and installed a 42-foot tall Biodigester, capable of producing 200 cubic feet of gas per minute and holding 490,000 gallons of waste material, in their back parking lot. The Biodigester went live this past summer only 100 feet from the brewery. Magic Hat leases that portion of their property to Purpose Energy, Inc. for only 1 dollar per year. In exchange, Magic Hat receives below-market prices for the selling back of the energy produced from the spent grain they pay Purpose Energy, Inc. to convert for them.

This is certainly a novel invention, and a step in the right direction for the future of breweries across the globe (Fitch, of course, is looking to expand). Although one of these lean, mean, methane machines, will run about 4 million dollars, it can help save brewers up to 2 dollars per barrel, according to Fitch. Perhaps, in the near future we'll see more breweries taking Fitch up on his Biodigester and help him in his mission of "Saving The Earth. One Beer At A Time."

Peace and Love!

Barks For Beers

Join The Animal Welfare Alliance of Central Florida at the Orlando Brewing Company to raise money for a low cost spay/neuter clinic! The event will be held at the Orlando Brewing Company (1301 Atlanta Avenue) on February 20th from 3:00 to 7:00pm, and will include a "Me & My Dog Look-a-Like Contest," silent auction, and "Yappy Hour" drink specials (pending the purchase of a wristband). All proceeds from this Beer and BBQ will go towards the opening of the clinic! The AWACF is also accepting volunteers, so if you're interested, contact volunteer@awacf.org.

Peace and Love!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Orlando Brewing: Pint For A Pint Blood Drive

What are all you Central Floridians doing this March 6th between 10:00am and 3:00pm? Well, change your plans! Central Florida's premier organic brewery, Orlando Brewing Company, is offering a free coupon for a pint of their USDA certified beer (no insecticides, bioengineering, genetically modified organisms, sewage sludge, or irradiation) in exchange for donating a pint of your favorite red blood cells. In addition to this, donors will be entered into a drawing to name a promotional beer that Orlando Brewing will be producing for a limited time (the "Name the Beer" contest). The coupon is redeemable only at the brewery's taproom (1301 Atlanta Avenue). Head down to the cul-de-sac just west of 512 East Washington Street at Lake Eola on Sunday, March 6th, and support two great organizations over a refreshing glass of nature's finest! Don't forget to make an appointment!

Peace and Love!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jefferson-Inspired Monticello Ale

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation is currently collaborating with Starr Hill Brewery to produce Monticello Reserve Ale, "the official beer of Monticello." The recipe is inspired by what was historically brewed and consumed at Monticello, back when Jefferson himself was stirring the kettle. For the Jeffersons, beer was a crucial part of the family meal, and brewing was an important activity on their plantation. About every two weeks, roughly 15 casks of this low alcohol "table liquor" was being brewed, with his wife Martha overseeing the production. Large scale brewing at Monticello didn't commence until Captain Joseph Miller (a British brewer) was detained during the War of 1812. Miller helped facilitate the production of a beer with a much better shelf-life, focusing on the quality and overall quantity of the beer currently being brewed (eventually about 100 gallons every fall and spring). The recipe was far from uniform, being mostly based on which grains were currently available at the time of brewing (usually some type of combination of either barley, wheat, or corn), with about three-quarters of a pound of hops per bushel of malt.

This lightly hopped, wheat and corn-based brew will be available from Starr Hill Brewery in 750ml bottles beginning February 21st (President's Day), as well as on tap at local restaurants. Additionally, there will be a tasting open to the public (and free!) when the first keg is tapped in the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop between noon and 3:00pm. Talk about tapping into some interesting - and tasty - history!

Peace and Love!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Upcoming Changes...

As all my readers out there know, this blog and the corresponding Twitter and Tumblr pages have chronicled both my own homebrewing and recent movements regarding sustainability and brewing. That isn't changing, per se, but what is changing is the manner in which this information is conveyed. From now on, the blog will be dedicated to sustainability in the world of brewing and the Tumblr page (I know, this hasn't seen much action lately) will be dedicated to my own homebrewing adventures. The Twitter page will continue to provide quick, brief updates pertaining to both (as well as the witty remarks you all have come to love and hold dear). I'm also on the fence right now with whether or not I should purchase a custom domain name for the blog (www.wuweibrewing.com, for example), so this might be something else you all will see in the near future. The idea would be to make the URL much more simple, but the default one provided by Blogger really isn't all that long or complex, so we'll see (of course, it's also dirt cheap these days to buy a domain).

Another change, which many of you probably never really noticed anyway, is that I've now permitted the blog to be found through web searches. I've had this disabled in the past for a few reasons: the personal nature of this site (in that it's mostly been about what I'm doing...for friends of mine to read and follow), the fact that I really didn't want it to be all that public (as in, known outside my circle of friends), and that I worried about the use (theft) of my logo (which I now know really can't happen). Since the content of the blog is going to deal with matters beyond my own brewing (which it has already been increasingly doing), and very important ones for that matter, I think extending the reach of the site is a logical step.

But, just to mention a few things real quick before this change is officially implemented, I brewed a heather braggot this past Monday. It was a small, 3-gallon batch (just like the witbier braggot I brewed a few months ago). I crossed a traditional wildflower honey mead with heather ale (this was made with heather tips and was completely unhopped, thus making it, by today's standards, somewhat of a gruit beer). That previous parenthetical note (the "somewhat"), by the way, is in regard to the fact that traditional (medieval) gruit beer was typically made with the combination of these three herbs: marsh rosemary, sweet gale, and yarrow. However, today, any beer made without hops, but with the addition of other herbs/bittering agents, tends to get labeled as gruit. I envision myself making more small batches with ingredients other than hops in the near future as well. Growing my own hops isn't really feasible at this point, but if I can grow my own brewing herbs to use in these batches...well, that would just be wonderful, now wouldn't it? Especially if they turn out well!

Peace and Love!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kate Day 2011

This year's annual release of Kate the Great by Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire will see a partnership between the brewery and the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire (NH) and the Center for Wildlife (ME). Kate the Great is Portsmouth's famous 9.5% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, hailed by BeerAdvocate as the best beer in the U.S., and the second best beer in the world. This particular beer has been brewed on an annual basis since 2005 and has stirred up quite the following. With only 10 barrels being brewed (roughly 900 22oz. bottles), Portsmouth has been met with long lines and very disappointed customers in the past. This year, however, they're trying something different. Scratch-off tickets will be sold at a whopping $2 per ticket. Only 10,000 tickets will be sold (only 10,000...yeah), but only 900 of these tickets will be "winners." The holder of a winning ticket is qualified to purchase a bottle of the 2011 Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout, at $15 per bottle, on "Kate Day" (March 7, 2011). The catch, though, is that ALL proceeds from the sale of tickets will go towards both of the aforementioned non-profit organizations ($10,000 each, assuming all tickets will be sold).

Both of these non-profit organizations are certainly commendable. The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire's mission is: "to conserve the significant land and natural resources of southeastern New Hampshire, including water, working farms and forests, wildlife habitat, natural areas, and community landscapes." They've been around for the past 30 years and have succeeded in conserving over 6,000 acres of land. This is done through various deed restrictions and conservation easements, among other things, in an effort to ensure fresh, local farmstand fruits and vegetables, protect water quality, and allow for the continued thriving of wildlife and local woodlands. Good stuff, naturally. The Center for Wildlife is equally worthy of praise, with various educational programs being offered regarding wildlife ecology, human impacts on wildlife and critical ecosystems, and stewardship. Having been around since the mid-80s, the Center is dedicated to the rehabilitation of wild animals. The Center reports that over 1,600 animals are brought to them each year, ranging from suffering illness, injury, and/or infection. The goal? To get these little darlings back into the wild by providing them with complete diagnostic treatment and recovery activities.

Moreover, Portsmouth itself has also tapped into the sustainable efforts of its partners and other breweries throughout the country. Specifically, the brewery makes a conscious effort to eliminate its use of plastics by switching to compostable takeout containers (potato-based biodegradable boxes), straws, and utensils. The brewery also utilizes local food ingredients in its restaurant, produced by local farmers, which of course contributes to the growth of the local economy. More recently, however, they have teamed up with EcoMovement Consulting and Hauling in an effort to sort out recyclable and compostable waste from overall waste produced. The compostable waste is then utilized as fertilizer by the same local farmers from whom they are getting their ingredients, and their spent grains are used as animal feed, which many breweries are beginning to do as well. A little bit certainly does go a long way!

March is just around the corner, so for those of you in the vicinity of New Hampshire, get on over to the brewery and pick up your tickets (only 10 per person per day) and support a handful of wonderful organizations in the process! And for the record, I would love to find a bottle of Kate on my doorstep this March ;-)

Peace and Love!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Oskar Blues Brewery Raises Over $20,000 For OUR Center

Oskar Blues Brewery, one of the leading members in the craft beer "canning revolution," succeeded in raising over $20,000 at the end of this past year for the OUR Center in Longmont, Colorado (with the owner himself contributing a solid $5,000). But, you're probably asking yourself, "What exactly is the OUR Center?" Right. So was I. The OUR Center (Outreach United Resource Center) is a non-profit organization that assists those in their immediate area in becoming more self-sufficient. According to the organization's mission statement, they "help people in the St. Vrain region move toward self-sufficiency by unifying community resources." They do this by providing those in need with food, clothing, utility and rental assistance, shelter, prescriptions, transportation, employment, and child care, among other things. Moreover, the organization's core values include: providing a welcoming environment to all and treating each other with dignity and respect; promoting responsibility, accountability, confidentiality, and trust in all relationships; developing innovative, efficient solutions through the responsible stewardship of our community resources; and dedicating ourselves to every partner's long-term success through ethical and professional practices.

Eloquently titled "Party with Purpose," guests were free to attend this event (hosted by Oskar Blues, at the brewery), with donations being accepted at the door, where they enjoyed live music and food donated by local venders and Oskar Blues. In addition to this, however, Oskar Blues has also collected over 800 cans of food at various locations to donate to the OUR Center.

Now, if this isn't a prime example of how a socially conscious business successfully operates, then I don't know what is. We all should be raising our glasses to Oskar Blues for their constant dedication and commitment to community and sustainability.

Peace and Love!