The 2016 Release Schedule

While we spend a lot of time and energy on creating new beers in the name of R&D and continuous self-improvement, a special few that we hold close to our hearts have made it onto the colorful linear calendar known as the release schedule. Here’s the breakdown:

2016 Product Calendar

Our two flagships, White Sky and General Braddock’s IPA, are produced year-round and are permanently available in our taproom (with limited exception).

Our seasonal beers rotate quarterly, with Mammoth during the Winter (December – March), Loose Seal and Overgrowth during the Spring (March – June), Garden Party and Akamai during the Summer (June – September), and Mexican Coffee available in the Fall (September – December). Much like the flagships, they are available during their respective seasons with as little exception as possible.

The bulk of our production is made up of Special Releases, an ambitious variety of traditional styles, science experiments, and – given the degree to which we’re left to our own devices on this one – a good number of soft, juicy, hop-forward beers. While most of these beers are one-offs that come and go at will, a few standouts necessitate semi-regular production and reappear every now and again, like an old friend you haven’t talked to in far too long stopping by to catch up. I’m looking at you, CPA.

Our House Saison Series, one of our favorite projects, is our line of modern farmhouse ales. Because of both their inherent longevity and their affinity for being paired with food, these dry and complex saisons are one of the few products that are consistently available in 750mL bottles (released intermittently throughout the year).

Every now and again, we get the notion to make something that’s a bit too avant-garde or cost-prohibitive to produce in quantity. These experiments find their way onto the draft list under the banner of the Prototype Series, an ultra-limited, taproom-only line of beers made on our pilot system.

While we can’t make any guarantees that the aforementioned beers will be consistently available throughout for the entirety of their allotted tenure, we’ll do our best to stick to the timeline. Carpe annum, fam.

2015 By The Numbers

2015 By The Numbers

In our first continuous calendar year of being open for business, we’ve accomplished a fair amount for still rocking our metaphorical training wheels. We released a whole slew of new beers spanning a large number of styles, dialing in our niche to two primary fields: farmhouse ales and soft, juicy, low-bitterness pales. We finished our year with a handful of draft accounts and an excellent team, and we found inspiration in other cities and their brewing scenes. We hosted an entire year’s worth of monthly food truck roundups and two seasons of Beer + Yoga, and we got to give a little back to our community.

Thank you to everyone that helped us make this year an unbelievable experience for all of us; our team, our customers, our collaborators, our family, our mentors, and our friends. Cheers to the closing of a great year, and to the beginning of the next chapter. We couldn’t have done it without you.

5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of in 2015

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While 2014’s year-end album list straddled six months of final renovations and six months of finally being open, this year’s rundown represents the soundtrack to our first continuous year of operation. We faced the inevitably increasing chaos of 2015 with a team that was larger, tighter, and more diverse – a team that all added their collective musical tastes into the mix, bumping some killer tunes in both the brewhouse and taproom alike.

With the selection committee expanded from just Matt and myself to feature our brewhouse staff (Zach and Rob) as well, we discovered a running theme about our music consumption in 2015: the secret to making the softest, juiciest, and haziest hoppy beers – the absolute antithesis of West Coast brewing philosophy – is, in fact, a steady diet of West Coast hip hop. But without further ado, here’s the 5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of in 2015.

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1. Jamie xx – In Colour [2015]

Finding its way onto many a year-end top albums list, the massively impressive first solo album from The xx‘s percussionist / producer Jamie xx flows with surprising coherence for being such a varied patchwork of sounds and styles. Rich, densely layered arrangements glide seamlessly into airy open space without ever losing their forward momentum – gritty synth basslines and choppy, glitched-out beats seep into lonesome muted tones, taking countless thoroughly unexpected turns throughout its journey. Even while utilizing such a massive, seemingly disjointed variety of sounds, samples, and instrumental choices from the internet age’s near-infinite catalog, the parts all add up to a singular architecture.

And if you’re only going to listen to one track: Gosh [4:52]

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2. Coheed and Cambria – The Color Before the Sun [2015]

Coheed and Cambria’s long history of bending genres tends to alienate purists, mixing in too much pop for the post-hardcore crowd and too much metal for the pop crowd. Further raising the accessibility barrier is the fact that all of Coheed’s releases to date have been a series of concept albums, each an entry into a complex sci-fi epic that even some longstanding fans struggle to navigate. The Color Before the Sun is their first departure from this mythology, and while you probably won’t find it on many publications’ year-end album lists, we all fell in love. No longer bound to a fictional backstory, frontman Claudio Sanchez’s compositions become far more human and personal, with topics like relationships, fatherhood, and uncertainty about the future finding themselves at home within the band’s characteristic brand of sweeping, expansive prog-rock ballads.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Atlas [6:03]

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3. Dr. Dre – Compton [2015]

A cinematic, orchestral intro sets the tone with a narrative about the decline of Compton, CA from picturesque middle-class suburb to hellish ghetto, slowly pressing the accelerator to the floor as it transitions to a verse/hook combo delivered by a pair of little-known newcomers. As the beat drops out, a brief pause clears the air, and the booming voice of the undisputed king of West Coast hip hop lays down a succinct overview of what he’s been up to since his last major-album release sixteen years ago: “I JUST BOUGHT. CALI. FORNIA.

Every aspect of Dr. Dre’s impressive career – a transition from rapper to producer to label executive to rap-game Obi-Wan slash billionaire entrepreneur auteur – is somehow incorporated into Compton, his pseudo-soundtrack to the summer’s blockbuster N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. As a man whose resume is just as legendary as his net worth, the 50-year-old industry god has certainly amassed enough thematic material (read: bragging rights) to make his lyrical contributions shine, but Compton‘s defining factor is Dre’s ability to function as director, deftly conducting an ensemble cast of veterans and rookies spanning three decades of history and a wide array of styles. He may not actually physically own the state of California, but he most definitely owns California hip hop.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Genocide (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Marsha Ambrosius & Candice Pillay) [4:27]

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4. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream [2014]

A sharp stylistic departure from the rest of this list, The War On Drugs’ critically-acclaimed third LP is a Sunday morning type of album. Lost In The Dream is an apt title for such a dreamlike album – stoned-out Americana recalling the sounds of Springsteen, Dire Straits, and Infidels / Oh Mercy-era Bob Dylan, all viewed through the lens of an artist emerging from a crushing stretch of depression and loneliness. It’s by no means a sad album, but sadness is most definitely its muse. It’s a simple concept whose masterful execution isn’t immediately apparent, developing into something that’s both warmly familiar yet deeply personal and unique.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Under The Pressure [8:52]

2001

5. Dr. Dre – 2001 [1999]

Although his seminal 1992 debut The Chronic solidified the genre of G-funk and cemented him as a central figure in West Coast hip hop, his follow-up 2001 saw a transition that would, sixteen years later, manifest itself as Compton. This marks the perfect midpoint between Dr. Dre, The Rapper and Dr. Dre, The Director; though the verses he throws down are far more impressive than those of Compton, the man did not become one of the most dominant forces in hip hop by way of clever lyricism, but rather as a musical architect with both a deep rolodex of friends and an uncanny ability to coax out their best qualities. Thematically, it’s par for the gangsta-rap course: violent, lewd, profanity-ridden, and chock full o’ misogyny. But Spin put it best, arguing that “whatever one’s opinion of the sexual politics and gun lust of Dre’s canon, his ongoing commitment to formal excellence and sonic innovation in this art form may one day earn him a place next to George Clinton, if not Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington, or Miles Davis”. A safe bet to make, and a prophesy well-fulfilled.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: The Next Episode [2:42]

Honorable Mentions: Our Individual Picks

ASA’S PICK: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata [2014]

Madlib is a veteran producer known for his masterful use of silky-smooth 60s/70s soul instrumentals. Freddie Gibbs is a gritty lyrical photorealist with a deep cadence and an awe-inspiringly fluid delivery. Both legitimate artists in their own right but absolutely shining when feeding off of one another’s craft, their 2014 collab Piñata creates a whole that’s far more complex and enjoyable than the sum of its parts.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Thuggin’ [4:31]

MATT’S PICK: Lane 8 – Rise [2015]

If the mission statement of Above & Beyond’s progressive trance / deep house record label Anjunadeep is “to release timeless, soulful and melodic electronic music”, the debut album by Lane 8 (DJ Daniel Goldstein) illustrates that mission perfectly. Hazy and atmospheric yet never losing momentum, Rise is a sort of digital anesthetic that seeps into your core, reminding you that the drugs are, in fact, kicking in.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Diamonds [5:19]

BREWHOUSE PICK: Dirt Nasty & Smoov-E – Breakfast In Bed [2015]

Breakfast In Bed is the critically acclaimed (false) return of the great white dirty hype (true), a truly cracker-ass collaboration (true) between thoughtful contemporary renaissance man (false) Simon Rex (a.k.a. Dirt Nasty) and electro-funk god (false) Eli Meltzer (a.k.a. Smoov-E). Much like Piñata, this album’s strengths lie in the marriage of smooth, old-school beats and well-crafted lyrics (true), but with only the most serious and politically correct subject matter (false). The ultimate brewer’s soundtrack of 2015 (true).

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Poolside [3:19]

Holiday Housekeeping

House Saison Christmas Trio

So that you may better prepare yourself for future taproom visits during these most festive of weeks, here’s the lowdown on our special holiday hours.

  • Wednesday 12/23: NORMAL HOURS (5pm – 11pm)
  • Thursday 12/24 (Christmas Eve): SPECIAL HOURS (12pm – 8pm)
  • Friday 12/25 (Christmas Day): CLOSED
  • Saturday 12/26: NORMAL HOURS (12pm – 12am)
  • Sunday 12/27: NORMAL HOURS (12pm – 11pm)
  • Wednesday 12/30: NORMAL HOURS (5pm – 11pm)
  • Thursday 12/31 (New Year’s Eve): SPECIAL HOURS (12pm – 6pm)
  • Friday 1/1 (New Year’s Day): CLOSED
  • Saturday 1/2: JANUARY FOOD TRUCK ROUNDUP (Open 12pm – 12am, Roundup 5pm – 10pm)

Given that the holiday season is at hand, there are a few different ways you can spread the Brew Gentlemen love to your friends and family this year:

  • Win friends and influence people by showing up to the party with a bottle of one of our House Saisons (Citra Saison, Homegrown Saison, and Mosaic Saison) or Skeuomorph (an Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden Strong Ale).
  • Pair a growler (2L or 750mL) with a taproom gift card for a stress-free gift that keeps on giving.
  • For collectors of brewery ephemera or people who simply enjoy drinking things out of other things, pick up some BG glassware.
  • Snag a Wordmark t-shirt or Mexican Coffee t-shirt to bestow upon your loved ones the ability to simultaneously be both excessively comfortable and really, really, really ridiculously good looking.

Happy everything, family.

Mammoth: Redux

mammoth banner

December is upon us, and as our final batch of Mexican Coffee dwindles gradually towards its three-season hiatus, it’s time once again for us to issue our quarterly dispatch on the topic of seasonal releases.

In an effort to continue traversing our collective learning curve at a cheek-flapping velocity, we’ve been releasing a steady flow of new beers; in order to keep that train rolling, we once again decided to release only one winter seasonal this year. This winter, that beer is Mammoth. And this time around, Mammoth will return as a Winter Double IPA.

We decided to rebrand Mammoth as a Double IPA to function as a counterpart to Akamai, our Summer Double IPA, primarily based upon our realization that the mental imagery of a gigantic octopus battling a wooly mammoth is supremely cool. Fantastical imaginary nature fights aside, here’s the lowdown on our newest seasonal: made with a hefty portion of Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe, and Chinook hops, Mammoth is as juicy as its aquatic cousin, but a bit heartier and more balanced to better suit the colder months.

It’s hazy and low in bitterness, with earthy flavors of berry and pine taking center stage alongside bright citrus and tropical fruit. Like a viciously dry-hopped Kool-Aid Man bursting through the literary drywall into the serene and snowy woodlands of a Robert Frost poem, Mammoth is that sun-drenched dropkick you need when the world becomes a monochrome palette of white on gray.

Mammoth arrives in the taproom this Wednesday evening, and will be available on draft though February.

Ode to Haze

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The U.S. brewing scene has long been defined by its love affair with hops. Far and beyond, American pale ales and India pale ales tend to be high in clarity; the BJCP Style Guide stipulates that the appearance of an American IPA “should be clear”, noting that “unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy”. Like many modern American breweries, hop-forward beers make up a large part of The Brew Gentlemen Beer Co. repertoire. And if you’ve tried any of our hop-forward beers recently enough to recall its appearance, you’d probably note that the description “a bit hazy” is, more often than not, a vast understatement.

In terms of brewing philosophy, we’ve definitely never gone out of our way to strictly adhere to style guidelines. Aside from clarity, a high level of bitterness is also a defining characteristic of hop-forward American beer styles – to the contrary, we’re all about hop-forward beers with low bitterness. Really hazy ones, at that.

The concept of making juicy, flavorful, highly aromatic pale beers with a distinctly cloudy appearance is certainly not of our own invention. This different approach to pale beers has become the hallmark of several modern American breweries. Larger, more established breweries are beginning to venture into this territory as well, with products such as Samuel Adams’ Rebel Raw and Stone’s upcoming Enjoy By Unfiltered

But the link between high hop content / low bitterness beers and haziness is more than just an artistic decision. To best utilize the properties that contribute to flavor and aroma, hops must be added towards the end of the brewing process (and also afterwards, in some cases, in the form of dry-hopping). This means that without the use of either a filtration process or clarifying agents, many of the oils, polyphenols, and other compounds that contribute to cloudiness – as well as flavor – are retained in the final product.

It’s worth noting, however, that hop haze should not be confused with murkiness caused by suspended solids. This type of haze should be uniform and homogeneous, not a muddy soup of excess yeast, chunky particulate matter, or sediment.

The topic of haze can at times be a point of contention within the beer community. Google searches related to hop haze largely turn up results about how to best go about reducing it. Its critics condemn its aesthetic qualities and often dismiss it as the product of laziness or corner-cutting. We like to think that it’s the product of squeezing out every last drop of dankness, showcasing the aromas and flavors that are often overpowered by aggressive bitterness.

Bitterness and clarity have come to define the American IPA and pale ale categories, but softer, hazy pales have gained enough traction to establish themselves as more than just a fleeting trend. And especially when served fresh, they glow with a radiance you’ll never get from something that’s crystal clear. We’re on board.

Exit Through The Gift Shop

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When I visit other breweries, the beer is maybe fourth or fifth on the list of things I’m paying the most attention to. Don’t get me wrong, our shared love of beer was what got us thinking about starting a brewery back when we were in college. But our shared love of the experience of beer, in which the liquid in the glass is merely one part of a greater whole, was what drove us to actually get this thing off the ground. So while I’ll always be eager for that first sip of beer at a brewery I’ve never been to before, my head is most likely off in the clouds, more focused on the details of the overall atmosphere and design.

The gift shop is a staple of nearly every brewery, their styles as varied as the identities of the breweries themselves – from garage-based nanobreweries with a modest stack of stickers and t-shirts, to regional powerhouses with sprawling, Disneyland-esque gift shops hawking nearly any physical object capable of being emblazoned with a logo. Given that a gift shop can be anywhere between an elegant nudge and a visually invasive commercial mess, we knew that a good deal of forethought would be required before attacking merchandise sales in our own taproom.

Now, after operating for eighteen months without any sort of obvious shop, we’ve finally created a solution that we feel best represents our brand and complements our taproom atmosphere. A selection of Brew Gentlemen merchandise can now be found on display in our front atrium. Orders may be placed at the bar.

Our selection will be increasing as we move forward, but here is the lineup of items that are currently available:

Beer + Code: 4 Projects from Our First Brewery Hackathon

When your team consists largely of nerds with a penchant for biting off more than they can chew in the D.I.Y. department, outlandish project ideas get tossed around pretty much constantly. The “what if” quotient around here is pretty high, and tends to lead us down rabbit hole after rabbit hole – “what if our menu board were digital?” turns into “what if our digital menu board could be configured remotely?”, which turns into what if our digital menu board could be automatically updated in real time in both our taproom and on our website?”, which then snowballs into a sprawling patchwork quilt of semi-related functionalities.  Knowing how much we geek out about these types of things, but also understanding that we have a tendency to get a bit overambitious, we decided to organize a 24-hour hackathon: gather a team, brainstorm a few tech projects, and bang them out within a set budget and timeline.

So with the help of our own tech team and a few software developer friends, we set off on Saturday afternoon to build four projects. Here’s what we decided to work on, and how each project turned out.

Project #1: Build digital display boards to replace the picture frames in our bathrooms.

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Using a pair of Raspberry Pi micro-computers and wall-mounted monitors, we created digital displays that can be remotely updated via our web dashboard – thus eliminating the bitch of a job that was the regular printing, framing, and hanging of new flyers. Saves time, saves paper, looks a tad nicer than something that got spat out of an inkjet printer. We’re happy.

Project #2: Incorporate remote controlled, color-customizable lighting into our taproom decor.

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Using a few HUE lights and a bit of homemade software, we built taproom lighting controls into our web dashboard. For now, the functionality is pretty basic – we can change the colors of the pendant lamps above the bar to any color we want via the internet. But we now have a system that can be built upon and added to in the future, which is the whole point of these types of things.

Project #3: Create pretty much anything that utilizes a Kinect 3D camera.

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This was the most open-ended project of the bunch, and was therefore the most ambitious. Not only did we have to learn the software and hardware-specific intricacies of the Kinect itself, we then had to figure out a way to use it. Much like the lighting project, this one was much more about laying the groundwork for future development than finishing it to completion. So we built a basic platform, added it to the web dashboard, and now have a constant stream of 3D camera data to play around with in the future.

Project #4: Design something useful using taproom sales data from our P.O.S. system.

After fumbling around for a couple of frustrating hours with our cash register’s backend software and getting absolutely nowhere, we decided to chalk this one up as a wash. We’re just happy we realized that as soon as we did.

All things considered, the first annual Beer + Code hackathon was an overwhelming success – we pulled an all-nighter building some cool stuff, and we had a good bit of fun doing it. But most importantly, we now have the ability to continue working. What’s far more compelling to us than progress we’ve made on these projects is the amount of uses we can invent for them moving forward.

And down the rabbit hole we tumble once again.

Building A Better Brew Gentlemen

You may have noticed over the past few months that we’ve been flying somewhat under the radar. Aside from normal taproom operation and a few events here and there, we haven’t taken on a lot of big, visible projects recently. Well, family, that’s because behind the scenes, we’ve been buckling down and laying the groundwork for some pretty awesome things.

While Zach and the brew team continue creating new recipes and tweaking existing ones, we’re working on an expansion plan to increase the capacity of our current brewhouse. Because of the demand of the taproom, we’ve had to miss out on a lot of big opportunities (like the ability to host huge, signature events like Garden Party and Halloween, among others), and we’ve had to stop wholesaling to bars and restaurants nearly entirely. Increasing capacity will give us the bandwidth to take on bigger, better projects, resume distribution to accounts across the city, and give our beer a lot more reach.

With the ability to make more beer comes the responsibility of growing the rest of the business to facilitate it, and we’ve gotten the ball rolling on two major projects that will become invaluable assets as we move forward: the continued development of our in-house product management software, and the creation of a company style guide.

The additions our tech team is making to our custom software platform will allow us to automate a large number of tasks, including database management, marketing, and sales processes. It already manages our digital menu list in real time, both on our menu screens in the taproom and on our website. Now it’s time to turn this thing into a multi-functional workhorse.

Since we do all of our design and branding ourselves, the guidelines we’ve built for these things have remained only in our heads. The creation of a style guide will help us consolidate and standardize everything from visual appearance to company values, providing a clear explanation for how everything we put out into the world should look, sound and feel.

As the brewery grows, the value of these projects will grow alongside it. Of course, as any brewery owner can tell you, expansion is a lengthy and convoluted process – but we’re currently standing at the threshold of the next chapter of The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company story, eager to see where it leads us.

Photo Recap: Harvest Dinner @ Eleven

For as young as we ourselves are and as young as the company is, we constantly find ourselves humbled by the caliber of people in this city that we’ve been able to call collaborators and friends. This past Sunday’s Harvest Dinner at Eleven was a big reminder of that fact – an all-star lineup of local chefs (Derek Stevens of Eleven, Justin Severino of Cure / Morcilla, Keith Fuller of Root 174 / Pork & Beans, and Trevett Hooper of Legume / Butterjoint) all coming together to provide an incredible culinary experience featuring our beer. The opportunity to create experiences like this, especially with the help of such a talented team, is why we do what we do. Can’t wait for next time, family.