Friday, November 13, 2015

A Brief History of Fruit Beer

We hear a lot from behind the bar at the Delafield Brewhaus, but one thing we’re hearing less often is the tendency to assign gender to beer styles. For every man who only drinks the Delafield Amber, there’s another who builds his own Sampler so he can stay current on our latest styles. For every woman who is looking for “something light,” there’s another who can’t wait to sip our big, barrel-aged beers out of an elegant snifter. Another bias that is fading away is the stigma surrounding fruit beer.

Used to be I’d hear a guy’s friends deride him, just a little and all in good fun, for ordering our fruit beer. We always keep one on tap and, like all of John Harrison’s beers, they are spectacular representations of their style. But thanks to craft beer culture, with its love of novelty and community, the bias is swinging in favor of this style. If I had to pin down the turning point, I’d say it was that Superbowl ad from the big factory-style macrobrewery that made fun of craft beer lovers and Pumpkin Peach Ale, in particular. This ad tweaked our value system a little, and reminded us that it is more important to stand by what you love, than to let yourself be mocked into drinking what the guys in the boardroom are pushing.

Today, I’m writing a little love note to fruit beer, in all its historical glory. That’s right: fruit beer is nothing new. In fact, it’s the opposite of something new. The very first fermented brews include fruit. Biomolecular Archaeologist Patrick McGovern has analyzed the residue inside clay jars from China and has determined that 9,000 years ago, they were making booze happen with the hawthorn fruit (which is sort of like a grape). Fast forward in time and space to Egypt, and we find our foremothers (yes, brewing was frequently done by females in ancient communities) using dates and other fruit. Naturally, we presume that the use of fruit was to provide additional fermentable sugars, but the flavors in the mash come through in the brew.

That is one reason why the Delafield Brewhaus is so committed to the quality of ingredients used in our beer. For example, we don’t use artificial colors or flavors in our fruit beer, There’s no “mango flavoring” in our award-winning Mango Sunset Lager. That mango flavor comes from mangoes. The gorgeous red hue of our Raspberry Ale, and its pink-tinged frothy head, are so lovely because of real raspberries. Just like real raspberries, the beer is bursting with fruit taste, unencumbered by the sickly sweetness of factory flavorings.

Some beer lovers choose this beer on its own, others like it blended with our Sommerzeit Hefeweizen. I like mine with a few dashes of Cranberry Bitters. However you take yours, get it while you can, because this beer won’t be around forever. Soon, a new fruit beer will hit the tap lines, and we can all discover a new, delicious beer.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Merry Brewhaus!

We keep it merry at the Brewhaus, all year ‘round. Having said that, the Season of Giving is one of our very favorite times. A season-within-a-season, it warms our heart even when the temperature dips. Like all of you, we sometimes struggle to find the perfect gift, or enough time to get it all done. We are here for to help you handle the holidays, in ways you might not even realize.

First of all, did you know you can do all of your shopping at the Brewhaus. Yes, it’s true. We have gift bundles, craft beer-themed apparel, glassware, and 16-oz. 4-packs of our year-round beers. Your friends probably have enough cookies this time of year, and finding time for baking can be challenging. Try showing up with a growlers of seasonal beer, and watch your host’s face light up.

Did you also know we have free wi-fi? It’s true. You can bring your friends and your tablets (or laptops, or smartphones), sit at our spacious bar and multitask your holiday shopping with a nice cold beer (or wine, or cocktail)  and some delicious appetizers. For you serious multitaskers, we’ve got brand-new, big TVs, so if there’s a game on, you won’t miss it. Skip the mall and the big box stores this year, and let us take care of you while you take care of the details everyone on your list will remember.

Are you hosting a party at home? We have everything you need to bring home the great taste of local craftsmanship. Whether you’re a seasoned entertainer with your own kegerator, or just looking for one party’s worth of beer, all of our beers are good to go in sixth, quarter and half-barrels. Call us a week before your party and we’ll help you make it a success. We’ve got all the gear you need to tap high-quality beer in the comfort of your own home.

What’s that? You don’t want all the people at your job, in your home? We understand. Let us host the party. We are conveniently located in the heart of Lake Country, with ample parking and plenty of room. Our professional staff will take care of your group from set-up to clean-up. All you’ve got to do is tell your people where the party is. Give us a call as soon as you know the particulars (date, headcount, etc.), so we can help you look sharp.

We never stop being grateful for the community we serve, but at this time of year we are especially reminded to count our blessings. Thank you all for the pleasure of your company throughout the year. We couldn’t achieve our success, without your happiness. Our team of professionals is looking forward to being part of your celebrations, at this special time of year, and all year ‘round. We hope your holiday season is filled with joy and blessings to remember always.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Delafield Brewhaus Bier Garden - a Lovely Place to Watch the Sun Set

The Brewhaus’ Bier Garden is just about the loveliest spot to watch the sun set.
From late spring until fall, folks come from all over to enjoy its hilltop seclusion. As the day winds down, the sky is painted pink and violet, orange and purple. Pine trees shelter our guests from the wind and the hop vines wind their way up toward the sky. Our hops remind us that brewing is intimately tied to nature, and watching them grow reminds us of all the amazing things about them.  Here are a few to consider:

  • Hops only succeed in latitudes between 35-55 degrees south. Delafield is located right in this sweet spot at 43 degrees. Most American hop farms are located in the Pacific Northwest. In part, this is because of good growing conditions, but also because their hop farms survived Prohibition by shipping their crops to Asia.
  • 90% of all climbing vines grow counterclockwise; hops grow clockwise.
  • Hopheads know that the bitterness in hops comes from the resin they secrete, lupulin, which also makes beer foamy and extends its shelf life. (Extra credit: “lupulin” is latin for “little wolf.” The Romans thought that hop plants could strangle trees!)
  • Hop plants are male and female, but females can reproduce without the males. In fact, hop farmers prefer it (brewers don’t want seedy hop cones).
  • In their growing season, hops grow six inches a day.
  • John Harrison, our Brewmaster, grows Cascade hops around our Bier Garden. He uses them in his Hop Harvest IPA, and they helped it  win a Silver medal at the 2014 World Beer Championship.

It won’t be long now until the brisk autumnal breeze closes patio season at the Delafield Brewhaus, but until then please join us there, surrounded by hop, sipping some of the best brews around! We look forward to serving you….

Thursday, September 3, 2015

It seems like Fall came in last week, heralded by tornado sirens and a trip to the basement. I’ve seen a few leaves on the ground, and yesterday I wore a scarf. All these signals lead my imagination to Oktoberfest.

Yes, I know: it’s only August, but it’s barely August, and Oktoberfest doesn’t wait for October, so it’s closer than it sounds. Every year the Delafield Brewhaus throws a huge party to celebrate gemutlichkeit and we welcome our guests for the ceremonial tapping of the keg, traditional German food and live polka music - with dancing - in the hop garden. It’s not unusual to see your neighbors in lederhosen and dirndls, toasting each other’s health and long life with exquisite beer in steins from exotic travels.

If you’ve been to our parties, you know it’s a very fine time. Here are a few things you might not know about Oktoberfest. Read on, and amaze your friends!

The first Oktoberfest was a marriage feast for a Bavarian king and his Saxonian bride, and more than 200 years later, the festival is still held in that very same meadow. Early attractions included horse racing and carnival rides. The original site has been updated, as modern threats warrant security upgrades. These upgrades, however, cannot protect revelers from themselves, and the locals have a name for over-indulgers: bierleichen (“little corpses”).

In 2006, Paris Hilton arrived in a dirndl to promote canned wine, and was promptly shut down and shut out. Locals would not stand for the idea of her profiting off of their cultural identity.

Two years later, a more suitable female was celebrated for breaking with world’s record for most steins successfully carried. Bavarian waitress Anita Schwartz, with five steins in each hand and nine more balanced atop them, delivered them about 120 feet and set them down -- all without spilling a single drop. To put this in perspective, her armload weighed about 90 pounds. Please do not ask your Delafield Brewhaus bar staff to recreate this challenge, or attempt it yourself.

Our Oktoberfest parties are famous in the neighborhood, and we encourage you to join us, up on the hill. Whether you are new to the festivity, or a seasoned veteran, we look forward to sharing this party with you. Ein Prosit!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Secret to a Successful Special Event at the Delafield Brewhaus

Are the walls of your office papered with notes from your clients, thanking you for your excellent work? Trish Knutson’s are. There are hundreds of letters from people who have held their receptions, rehearsals, showers, baptisms, memorials, holiday parties -- if you can think of a reason for people to get together, chances are Trish has thrown that party. Those few hundred letters are just the tip of the iceberg; the rest are in albums, and more recently online.

I first saw the Wall of Thanks when I came to the Brewhaus a little over two years ago. I am very interested in uncovering the elements of service excellence, and wanted to know more about how the Banquet Department gets such a strong, consistently-positive response. Think about the last time you were so moved by a service experience that you sat down to write the provider a letter about it. It must’ve been pretty great to make you take the time. The Delafield Brewhaus is proud of the work they do, so I asked Trish to share the secrets of her success.

Turns out, there weren’t any secrets. The Brewhaus just got extremely lucky to have found a hardworking group that is interested in the work they do, and a leader whose genuine empathy gives her a unique insight into her clients’ events. Trish gets drawn into the emotional landscape of her clients, and from this unique perspective, can see things through their eyes. “I enjoy meeting each (wedding) couple and getting to know their personalities, getting caught up in the awe of love and planning their ‘perfect’ day,” she said, “It is always exciting, a new beginning, fresh, full of promise.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the very moving events, held to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on. “Tearful laughter while talking about the person-of-honor’s life… reminds me of all the good people have to offer while they are here with us,” Trish said, “[t]he family members walking me through all the experiences… admirable actions and family traditions [makes me] appreciate my own family members, friends, associates and coworkers for all they are.”

She loves her work, but without her team, Trish would never be able to do it all. I’ve also had a behind-the-scenes look at her crew in action. Whether they are setting up for an event, serving it or taking down the room to get it ready for the next party, I can tell you first-hand that her team is professional, tight-knit and focused. Trish puts it best, “[o]ften resetting the banquet room at 2a.m. after serving 200 guests, this incredible group of people will work long hours with a smile of their faces… never a complaint, often a laugh.” She gets this impressive result from hiring hard workers who recognize that their work is the invisible structure that supports all the moving parts of a successful event. Perhaps most importantly, Trish knows her team is special, “I am extremely fortunate to work with this crew.”

An intelligent and empathetic leader, a professional and dedicated event staff, a convenient and lovely venue… what more could you want for your gathering? Trish has the answers here, too: “...our reputation, craft beer, fair pricing and excellent food!”

If you’re planning an event in the future, you can take a virtual tour here and then schedule a tour of the Delafield Brewhaus. With the reputation the Banquet Department has built, dates get filled in early, so call Trish soon and know your group will be in good hands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Art and Science of Brewing Beer

Standing on the shoulders of giants is an expression from the 12th century, credited to Bernard of Chartres. It means that we can see farther than our predecessors not because our vision is better, but because we are lifted up by their experiences and wisdom. This is an excellent description of the art and science of brewing beer.

Brewing predates writing (and Instagram), so we’ll never know who invented or discovered this technology, or exactly when it happened. However, there are clues. These clues are being followed by “The Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines and Extreme Beverages,” Patrick McGovern. His actual title is Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages and Health at the University of Pennsylvania (file that under: Cool Jobs You Wish You Had). His investigations include examining the sticky residue inside old clay jars to figure out who was drinking what, when.

Based on this type of evidence, we can say for sure that the earliest known alcoholic beverage was grain-based and dates back about 9,000 years. About 5,000 years ago, folks in the Middle East started using barley and we got a little closer to what we think of when we say, “beer.” We know that the practice of making and drinking beer was well-established by this time because this is about the same time that writing was invented. The first things they wrote down fall into two categories: Stuff We Have Counted and Stories We Keep Telling. Included in these stories was the Goddess of Grain and Drunkenness, Ashnan. According to her story, one day she got too drunk to go to work, so humans were created to serve the gods.

In these ancient times, beer could be much safer to drink than water, as its alcohol killed numerous microbes. Brewers were using other plants to flavor and bitter their beer, like dandelion, burdock root and marigold. The last piece of the puzzle fell into place when early brewers began using hops to bitter their beer, and the rest is literally history..

During all this time, people only drank what we would today consider “craft beer.” Beer was made in small batches, by independent owners. If you don’t remember a single other thing from this post, know this: beer-making is, at its heart, an agrarian pursuit. Anyone who has ever been involved with fresh produce knows that this year’s raspberry is not identical to last year’s raspberry; conditions like sunshine and soil affect the fruit. Modern beer lovers learned the hard way that large corporate factories are not set up to respond to the subtle differences between one crop and the next. It takes a human being with brains and heart to get the best result from barley, hops, yeast and water -- and a whole lot of giants.