No Man Ever Steps Foot In The Same River Twice September 17 2014, 0 Comments
I was reading a collection of essays about wine this morning that are collected in the book "The Juice: Vinous Veritas" by wine writer Jay McInerney. He was arguing that drinking the same wine (and I believe we can swap in beer here) twice would be a different experience each time. He uses the famous quote from Greek philosopher Heraclitus, simplified down to "no man ever steps foot in the same river twice", to prove his point. The concept that when recrossing a river, either the river will have changed, or the person stepping in it. This got my brain spinning off in a million directions, but a recent experience came back to me.
Recently I sat down with a bottle of Orval, a Trappist beer brewed by Cistercian monks within the walls of the Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval in the Gaume region of Belgium. Orval was the first beer I ever drank that (intentionally) contained brettanomyces. Brettanomyces has been classified, I would argue wrongly, as a "wild yeast". The beauty of Orval is that it is constantly changing, as the beer is dry hopped and bottled with a dose of Brettanomyces. When young, the brett hardly expresses itself, and you get a beautiful dry hop character. As time goes on that balance shifts as they dry hop goes away and the brettanomyces comes on stronger. This is why most Orval fans have a certain age they prefer the beer as different flavor profiles will exist throughout the aging process.
But Orval is only one example of how tasting experiences change. I have found that going back to a beer, something as straightforward and timeless as Schneider Weiss, a classic German wheat beer, my palate has shifted each time. With seasons, with age, with differences in the age or storage conditions of the beer itself, a beer flavor profile we take for granted can be radically altered. Taste buds are constantly regenerating and changing, new experiences in food and drink can shift our preferences so don't take the beers that aren't the new kids on block for granted. Vinnie Cilurzo, brewer/owner of Russian River, argued that people undergo "Lupulin Threshold Shift", or basically as you drink more bitter beers, your tolerance for bitterness shifts. So while Sierra Nevada Pale Ale may seem incredibly bitter to a Bud Light drinker, to someone who drinks Double IPA's all day, SNPA can seem pretty benign.
This is a long winded way to say, in a rapidly growing industry, where new beers and breweries appear seemingly every day, it is worth going back to those old favorites, or even beers you didn't like the first time, now and again. They may have changed, you may have changed, and your new favorite beer may be an old favorite, or even a beer you didn't appreciate the first time around.
Austin Street Bier 2 Cellar Release July 29 2014, 0 Comments
The day has finally arrived. When we last left our little collaboration with our friends at Austin Street Brewery (you can catch up on the back story in this previous blog post) we were letting the little Brettanomyces Claussenii yeast do their funky little magic in the bottles. Well, the time has come, the Azacca hopped IPA that was bottled with Brettanomyces is ready to greet the world to celebrate two years of us getting to be your local bottleshop.
We are incredibly excited to share this beer with you. The Azacca is giving the beer a great pineapple/fruit juice aroma and flavor, and the brett is just beginning to express itself. This is a beer that will drink great fresh, but will also age and develop in the bottle. We are setting a sale cap at two bottles per person, so you have the opportunity to age a bottle and drink one fresh to compare the difference. We would like to set bottle limits higher, but we are only looking at a release in the 200 bottle mark.
Bottles will go on sale Saturday both at Bier Cellar and at the brewery at 1 Industrial Way. If you haven't gotten out there, do yourself a favor and try some of Jake and Will's delicious beers. Jake is brewing some amazing beers with mixed fermentations that need to be tried. You can even visit Bissell Brothers, Foundation and Allagash as well, all without moving your car.
These will be priced at $14.99 for a 750ml bottle. Members of our email list will get an email on Friday night with the opportunity to hold a couple bottles. If you aren't a member of the email list you can join at biercellar.com at the bottom of the page.
Once again, we want to say thanks to our collaboration partners at Austin Street Brewery, but also to you, our customers and friends who have given us the opportunity to be a part of the wonderful 207 bier scene and the opportunity to do what we love for a living.
Reflections on Two Years July 16 2014, 0 Comments
Now that we have been open for two years, we can't help but reflect on over 700 days of being your local neighborhood bottleshop. We have been thinking back now on how and why we got started and how you, our customers, neighbors and friends, have helped shape what Bier Cellar has become.
I grew up in Buxton, about half an hour outside of Portland. Portland was always the big city to me, and when I moved here to go to USM in 2000, I knew I wouldn't leave. The vibrancy and culture of this city, while somehow still feeling like a small town, are the perfect combination to me. I have worked in Portland for over 14 years now, but before we opened Bier Cellar one thing missing for me was a bottleshop that loved beer as much as I did.
I have been a homebrewer for about 5 years now, and through that scene I got to meet many of the people who make up the Portland and Maine beer scene, and I was hooked. Both Katie and I completed the Uprising at Novare Res (greatest beer bar on Planet Earth), drinking 230 beers on their list as a palate education. I worked on and got certified by the Beer Judge Certification Program and then got certified as a beer server in the Cicerone program. The people, the beer, the passion, I knew that I wanted to be part of this world. I also knew I wanted to build a business here, to be part of this neighborhood and give back to the city that I called home. So we opened Bier Cellar in 2012, as a way to give back to the beer scene we love so much.
There is not much better than turning a new customer on to a new favorite beer, it is one of the best feelings on Earth. Seeing a new customer become a regular, and interacting with our customers on a daily basis is what keeps this job so fun, interesting and rewarding. We love the trust a customer puts in to us when they ask for a recommendation for a beer, wine or cider. We take that seriously and take great pride when that recommendation nails it.
We have never been bent on world domination. We just want to be your local bottleshop. We work hard to help every customer find something they will love, to make their day just a little bit better. We love to tell the brewer's stories, and be the craft brewer's advocate to get people to drink beer made with purpose.
We didn't get in to this business to be rich, we knew better than that. We didn't get in to this business as a retirement plan. We figured we would figure that stuff out later, we just knew we wanted to talk about beer all day, to help our friends/brewers get their beers in to the hands of our friends and neighbors. We aren't in this industry because we thought it was just a good business move, we are in this industry because I realized I had to be, it was an itch that needed to be scratched.
So we are two years in, and we plan on many more years of being your locally owned bier store. We love this city, our neighbors and our beer scene. Thanks for your support.
Bier 2 Cellar Collaboration May 31 2014, 0 CommentsI first met Jake Austin, brewer and co-owner of Austin Street Brewery, at Novare Res a few years ago when my wife interrupted the anniversary celebration of Jake and his wife Catherine. I was embarrassed, but it forced two anti social homebrewers to start a conversation. Luckily they didn’t hold it against us, and since that date we have been friends discussing homebrewing and beer on a nearly daily basis. Over the years of tasting each other’s batches of homebrew, I have watched Jake far eclipse my homebrew abilities and just brew better and better beers. I think we both realized a while ago that beer would become our livelihood, I went the bottleshop route and now Jake has gone the brewery route with the opening of Austin Street Brewery. Jake was instrumental in opening Bier Cellar and I can safely say we wouldn’t have opened our doors if it wasn’t for Jake’s help. Amazing to think of all the conversations we had being beer geeks on the outside looking in we are both now part of this world that we love so much.
So naturally when we went looking for a partner to help us brew a beer to celebrate our second anniversary I humbly begged Jake to brew one with me. I am happy to announce Austin Street Brewery and Bier Cellar are collaborating on Bier 2 Cellar, an IPA that will be bottle conditioned with brettanomyces, a yeast near and dear to both Jake and my own drinking heart. Our goal is to create a beer that is delicious fresh, but if aged will express more dry, funky brettanomyces character.
So beer geeks, you want the beer geeky details? The grist will be made up of Pilsen malt and White Wheat malt to give a bit more mouthfeel. It will be hopped with a bit of Nugget hops for bittering, but the star of the hop show will be the boatload of Azacca hops giving aromas and flavors of pineapple, orange, grapefruit and tropical fruit. When Jake asked what hops I wanted to use I didn’t hesitate, Azacca is the dominant hop in both Victory Hop Ranch and Oxbow Grizacca, both beers I absolutely love. The beer will be fermented with American Ale yeast but then bottle conditioned with Brettanomyces Claussenii, my favorite of the brett strains. Yup, I have a favorite brett strain, don’t all 7th level beer nerds? Brett C. is known for its pineapple, fruity notes, which should compliment the Azacca hops beautifully. We are shooting for around a 6.5% abv.
We are hoping for this to be ready for around our anniversary on June 2. Bottles will be available through our bottle shop and at Austin Street’s tasting room. I personally cannot wait to pop a bottle to celebrate two years of getting to work my dream job, bringing good beers to my favorite people, our customers.
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