AMA Jesse Friedman @ Almanac Beer Co.

Discussion in 'TalkBeer AMA' started by Hot Dog Sandwich, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. Hot Dog Sandwich

    Hot Dog Sandwich

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
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    Yes
    Anyone have a contact?

    Questions for AMA

    Dig your beers, and what you guys have been recently releasing, especially dat Citrus!

    Any future plans for a tasting room? Tell us more about your barrel aging process? Process for selecting farmers/growers to partner up with?
     
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  2. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Location:
    San Francisco, California
    Hi Ryan!

    Happy to answer some questions:

    Dig your beers, and what you guys have been recently releasing, especially dat Citrus!

    Thanks! I'm pretty happy with how it came out too.

    Any future plans for a tasting room?

    We really hope so! Currently we are still pretty small, and have limited resources - so we've had to pick and choose what to focus on. This past year we've put everything we had into growing our barrel program. Currently I'd put the tasting room at the top of our list for next steps for the brewery, but nothing is in the works now. But if anyone knows of any amazing spaces in SF for lease, please send them my way ;)

    Tell us more about your barrel aging process?

    We do a mixed primary fermentation with our house bug collection. After about a week we move it into barrels, and add fruit the the barrels. Starting after about 6 months we'll start tasting individual barrels and building out blends to package. Often times we are moving around our releases based on what we're tasting. Some beers take longer to evolve, some faster - it's just a matter of tasting to build blends we really love.

    Process for selecting farmers/growers to partner up with?

    Start with farms I'm already buying from at the Ferry Building usually, and then pick up a conversation. Nearly every farmer we've talked to has been super stoked to work with us. Most of their fruit disappears into restaurants they'll never eat at. So we make a point to give farmer's cases of beer they helped us to create - it's one of my favorite parts of working with them. We also work to find a price that is genuinely sustainable for the farms too. The life of a farmer is incredibly difficult - especially this year with the ongoing drought - so we think of it as economic sustainability to help ensure the farm is there next year.

    The more beer we make, the more farmers we meet. Family famers turn out to be a pretty small and close knit community who all know and help each other, since it's them versus the big guys. (Sound familiar?) Then it really just boils down to logistics - can they deliver in big amounts, can they help break down the fruit if it needs processing, etc.

    - Jesse

    PS - Shout out to Cellarmaker's Connor for pointing me over here to answer questions. If you're local, go drink all of his Bangarang IPA before it's gone. Shit is delicious.
     
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  3. drgarage

    drgarage

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2013
    Location:
    Fran Sanfrisfro!
    Hi Jesse, great to see you over here -- and for the shoutout to Bangarang, the best IPA I've had this year. I'm a big fan of what you and Damian have built.

    What do you think barrels contribute to sours in particular that they wouldn't if just fermented with the same bugs and fruit in a different environment (stainless, for the sake of the argument)?
     
  4. Hot Dog Sandwich

    Hot Dog Sandwich

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    Awesome beerandnosh , thank you taking time to answer questions and for the beers!
     
  5. Os

    Os

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    NJ
    beerandnosh thanks for doing this, Jesse.

    and thanks to Connor for encouraging you to do this...

    Have you and CellarmakerTim done a collaboration yet? Any plans to?
     
  6. ABSTRACTlegend

    ABSTRACTlegend

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    NOR★CAL
    beerandnosh

    are you guys set on having your future tasting room located in San Francisco, Have you thought about having in any other cities in the bay area?
     
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  7. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

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    Wood offers a lot more than just oaky flavors (through we like those too). It create a good environment for the bugs - slowly allowing a small amount of oxygen in, which is necessary for flavor development. It's one of those perfect systems that the Belgian's have been doing for years and years, and I don't see any reason to mess with it. Stainless is easier to clean, which is something.
     
  8. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

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    Location:
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    We have not yet but the topic has certainly come up over a few beers.
     
  9. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    I think the heart and soul of Almanac is in San Francisco - Damian and I both live here, and think the taproom should live here too. We're very committed to the San Francisco Community, and think a taproom would reflect that. (Yes, production takes place in San Jose which makes the 280 my second home.) Maybe we'll look to the peninsula and east bay for secondary tap room locations, but that's pretty far down the line.
     
  10. Os

    Os

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    NJ
    perhaps being on the opposite coast I've missed it but have you or are you planning on releasing any 750ml bottles?
     
  11. jmgrub

    jmgrub

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    Requisite: your favorite beer you have done so far?
     
  12. ABSTRACTlegend

    ABSTRACTlegend

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    Besides the maybe collabo with cellermaker, Do you guys have any other collaborations you would like to do? if so which breweries?
     
  13. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

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    Jan 8, 2014
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    We started out doing some 750s, but moved into 375s for all of our barrel aged beers. We like it because it helps keep the overall shelf price down, and opens up good options for restaurants where 750s of beer are a tougher sell. We're trying to stay away from packaging any given beer in multiple formats - small brewery, limited resources, etc.
     
  14. falc0n2600

    falc0n2600

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    A couple of their beers (Golden Gate Gose, IPA) have come out in 22 oz bombers.
     
  15. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

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    My answer is usual answer is whatever our newest one is. If pushed, I'd have to go with Dogpatch Sour. I always describe my role is to stay out of the way and let the yeast make the beer - my job is to just not fuck it up. I did a really good job of not fucking it up on that one.
     
  16. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

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    Jan 8, 2014
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    San Francisco, California
    I have a huge brewer-man-crush on Collin at Henhouse. I can't get enough of his poultry themed beers. The problem with sour and barrel aged collaborations (which is what I really want to do) is that they take a looong time and extensive planning.
     
  17. jmgrub

    jmgrub

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    Without sounding (trying to sound) like a dick, perception of your beers in the community has drastically improved since the first year or so, when it was just the 4-pack offerings and the seasonal 750s. Did you have any sense about critical reception in the beginning? If so, how did you react? Cheers to your continued success and the regular availability of quality CA wilds!
     
  18. jmgrub

    jmgrub

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    degardebrewing ?
     
  19. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

    Joined:
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    Location:
    San Francisco, California
    What a fucking dick.

    Well not really.

    First I should say that I pretty much agree. We have gotten better at making beer. I've become a better brewmaster, my recipes have improved, and my processes are more detailed and specific than they were when we started. Neither Damian or I had any professional brewing experience when we started Almanac, and it takes a lot of false steps to figure out what works. Our failures (and successes) are very public, and we pick up the pieces and lessons and move forward. We also saw the reception our first barrel aged beers had, and doubled down on barrels and bugs.

    We've discontinued the four-packs completely now and all of our fresh beers - Gose, IPA and a new about to be released Dy Hopped Saison come in 22oz bottles and draft that hit a better price point than the four packs ever could. I'm of course aware of the "non-sours from Almanac suck" perception of our earlier attempts (I have internet at the brewery), but first impressions are tough to shake. I'm incredibly proud think our fresh beer lineup right now and would encourage you (and anyone else reading this) to give them another shot.

    My last note to critical feedback would to just be mindful that there are people on the other side. Of course not everyone is going to like everything. We're constantly trying new things here, creating brew processes and experimenting to create new flavors. If everything we make is a slam dunk with everyone, we're not trying hard enough. We're making a LOT of different beers - didn't like this one? No problem, try this! Here's another! For every person that HATES any single beer we've made, there is someone else who declares it the best thing they've ever tasted (looking at you Sourdough Wild Ale and Bourbon Sour Porter)

    Once of my favorite things about craft beer is that it isn't a zero sum game: for us to succeed doesn't mean another brewery has to fail - in fact, we're probably both doing great. The same goes for the beer - the inclination to compare and rate beers and order them doesn't do anyone a service. We're specifically NOT trying to match any other breweries beers (Hi Vinnie!) and would only ask that our beers are judged on their own merits, as opposed to simply ranked against others. The craft community is so incredibly welcoming - I think it's possible to review with that same feeling of community throughout.
     
  20. beerandnosh

    beerandnosh

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    I haven't met those guys, and only tried a few things when I've been in the PNW. But everything I've had has been great.
     
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