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Meet Josie Holden, Nedloh Brewing Co.

Nedloh_Header

Since March is women’s history month, I thought I would highlight one of the many women helping to grow the craft beer industry here in New York, Josie Holden, of Nedloh Brewing Company. The 3,500 square-foot brewing facility—opening this Summer in East Bloomfield—will feature a tasting room, retail space and a museum dedicated to the history and process of local 19th century hops production.

How did you get into craft beer or brewing? Everyone seems to have an “Intro to craft beer story”… What’s yours?

I grew up in a family owned winery and I’ve been around wine all my life. Beer was very new to me. Getting into home brewing with my husband really piqued my interest and made me want to learn more about craft beer. It was a big transformation for me switching from wine to beer, since I had to learn about the different styles and tastes of beer and what would work for me. I’ve become very open minded in trying everything. Learning about craft beer has been a great experience for me. I’m looking forward to learning more by taking classes, home brewing, and traveling to different breweries all over. I’m especially excited to start my learning experience with opening a brewery.

What were you doing before opening the brewery?

josie and mash

Josie stirs the mash on a test batch. (Photo Credit: Tom Navarre)

Before thinking about opening a brewery I was helping out with the winery. I helped out with the retail and serving the wine. This is what I will be overseeing at the brewery.

How do you think people perceive women in the beer industry today?

If a woman wants to start her own brewery or become a brew master, it can be a shock to people because they are coming into a male dominant industry. I know this from experience with opening my brewery. It was intimidating at first for me because I didn’t know much about beer coming from the wine industry. However, I encourage myself to learn something new and to try new things – this was one of those moments. Opening a brewery and being a woman was a big step for me. I’ve had good support and I’m happy to be part of this industry. One of my goals at the brewery is to try to make a beer for women who drink wine to like.

Do you think the craft beer “bubble” is coming? Why or why not?

I read recently that the craft beer production was up 9.6 percent in 2013, while overall beer fell 1.4 percent. This is good news for the industry and craft beer enthusiasts too. We’re seeing that growth right here in the Finger Lakes, with craft breweries popping up all over the region. I’m happy to be one of them too. I always encourage people, especially women, to drink craft beer because it’s like finding a good bottle of wine that you know has taken a lot to make. It’s the same thing with craft beer. The brew masters and owners of craft beer are looking all over the country to find the best ingredients for their beer. For example, Dogfish Head Brewery is always looking for that unique ingredient to wow people. This is what makes the craft beer industry so unique.

What words of advice can you share with home brewers who are looking to start their own brewery?

  • Make sure you have a good business plan and good marketing plan.
  • Start off small to help get your feet on the ground and only have two or three beers on tap to start with.
  • Invest in a brew sculpture to help figure out recipes. They are pricey but they are a smaller scale of a microbrewery system. We have one and we love it! So fun to learn on.
  • Try all grain brewing instead of extract.
  • Find a good location for your brewery. Very key to opening a business.
  • Sign up for a membership to the Brewers Association.
  • Check in your area for beer classes.
  • Check in your area for local farmers who grow hops or barley.
  • Go on a beer tour and meet new owners or brew masters. Ask for some advice!

What are three beers you’re really digging right now?

The best answer I always say to people is, “The one in my hand.” It’s hard to answer what your favorite beers are because there’s so many that I’ve enjoyed. My favorite styles of are stouts and porter. While I thought they were too bitter for my taste buds, I’ve recently gotten into IPA’s and really enjoy them now.

Find out more about Nedloh Brewing Co. on their website, and by following them on social media using the links below.

https://www.facebook.com/NedlohBrewing

https://twitter.com/NedlohBrewing/

http://instagram.com/NedlohBrewing/

Finally, Something to go with Fruit Cake: Kacey’s Kristmas Ale

Rohrbachs Kaceys Kristmas AleA stop at Rohrbach’s Railroad Street Brewery is just one of many during our busy Saturday morning at the Rochester Public Market. Market goers filter in and out to fill up their growlers, try a sample, and tour the brewery. My husband and I lean against the bar and sip from our tasting glasses; Kacey’s Kristmas Ale, Rohrbach’s winter seasonal, a brown ale flavored with cherries. A strong cherry aroma hits you first, a departure from the spicy flavors so often found in winter seasonals. Lively carbonation creates an effervescent mouth feel that reminds me of cherry soda. “Mmm, this is different than I expected, but I like it!” I say to my husband, “What would you pair it with?” After a brief pause, he replies, “Fruit cake.” And I hate to admit it, but he’s right! Toasty malt flavors mix with tart cherry to create the perfect companion for the notorious holiday loaf… and at 4.5% ABV, you don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself at the family Christmas party!

Visit Rohrbach Brewing at the Public Market every Saturday from 9am-3pm for tastings, growler fills, and tours on the hour!

*This review was featured in the Winter Edition of Rochester A-List’s Best Dish List. Check out Rochester A-List for things to do in Rochester, NY, including insider information, exclusive perks, invitations and VIP options for restaurants, fashion, beauty, events and entertainment!

Meeting Jim Koch

sam adams jim kock craft beer girl

I’m at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boston this weekend. Last night, we visited the Boston Beer Company, brewer of Samuel Adams, in Jamaica Plains. After an introduction by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association, and a Keynote Speech by Jim Koch, we had the opportunity to visit the barrel room and drink Sam Adams Utopias with the man, himself.

You can file that under memorable moments in the life of the Craft Beer Girl…

John Urlaub, Rohrbach Brewing Company

john urlaub rohrbach brewingMeet John Urlaub, owner of Rohrbach Brewing Company. I recently caught up with John at Rohrbach’s Production Brewery & Tasting Room to learn more about one of the city’s first craft breweries. A Rochester native and graduate of St. Bonaventure University, he worked for Kodak before starting the brewery. His Kodak career included several relocations, including LA – where he tried his first craft beer, Anchor Steam; New York City – where he discovered Manhattan Brewing Company and fell in love with the brewpub concept; and eventually to Rohrbach, Germany – after which, he named the brewery.

Rohrbach Brewing Company, established in 1991, officially opened their doors in 1992 at the German House in Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood. John laughs as he tells me that the toughest part of starting the brewery was getting his brewers license. But he didn’t have trouble getting approval… it was actually finding the application. “There were so few breweries in NY at that time, no one at the State Liquor Authority could find an application!”

Read More About John Urlaub and Rohrbach Brewing Company…

Beer is Culture Art & Design Exhibition 2013

sixpoint beer is culture

All month long, Sixpoint Brewery is accepting submissions for their annual “Beer is Culture” design competition. The brewery is inviting consumers to submit an original design or illustration that successfully taps into the theme, “Beer is Culture”. (taps into the theme, ha!) So what does that mean? Here’s a little explanation from the Sixpoint website:

We believe Beer is Culture. Is this a bold statement? Perhaps, but let us illustrate a historical connection. Before human civilizations… before cities… we were merely cave people and hunter-gatherers. No one was certain of where the next meal was; life was hard.

Then, roughly 10,000 years ago an amazing innovation occurred: agriculture. The earliest civilizations cultivated cereal grains and made crude fermented beverages. A constant food supply was cleverly maintained. Occupations became specialized, and culture sprang forth like a fountainhead. This was the dawn of civilization — the proliferation of architecture, artisans, culinary arts, theater, and a million extensions of creativity. This was the dawn of culture!

If you’d like to participate, you can submit a design on their website using the OFFICIAL 2013 BEER IS CULTURE EXPO ENTRY FORM. All submissions are posted on the Sixpoint Facebook page for voting and the work(s) with the most “likes” will be awarded a series of glamorous prizes. The top six finalists will receive a special care package from the brewery, including customized apparel and treats from Sixpoint and other local artisans. The six finalists will also receive an annual membership to a local art museum of their choice. The top three finalists will receive coasters featuring their artwork. (These coasters will also be distributed to bars where Sixpoint is sold!) Finally, the top winning artwork will become the profile picture for Sixpoint’s Facebook page for an entire year, and the artist will receive a featured interview on the Sixpoint website.

If you’re not interested in submitting work of your own, please head over to the gallery and vote for your favorite artwork. Below is the design that I submitted… I would be honored if you’d click-through and give it some love!

A More Civilized Beer Drinker

Brooklyn Beer School

brooklyn brewery

One of the perks of being “The Craft Beer Girl” is making friends in the beer industry. One of the perks of making friends in the beer industry is having the opportunity to attend special craft beer events. Brooklyn Beer School is one such event. Periodically, Brooklyn Brewery invites industry members (distributor reps, bar owners, etc.) to come down to Brooklyn and learn more about the history and culture of the brewery and a little about beer in general.

Located at 79 North 11th Street in Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Brewery has been at the center of a cultural and gastronomical renaissance, taking place in Brooklyn over the last 20 years. We arrived on a Thursday afternoon, greeted by Steve Hindy, president and co-founder. The tasting room is simple, a large warehouse with concrete floors. We grabbed a beer and sat at picnic tables while Steve told us the story of how he, a foreign correspondent, and his neighbor Tom Potter, a banker at the time, came to start the brewery 25 years ago. To hear stories of Steve’s time in Beirut, and of his other experiences as a journalist, I am inspired. Enchanted by his sense of adventure and nostalgia, like falling in love.

Read More About Brooklyn Beer School…

Visiting Saranac Brewery

Last week I traveled out to Utica, NY to visit the Matt Brewing Company, home to Saranac beer. As the second oldest family-owned brewery in the country, and the oldest in New York State, the Matt Brewery is rich with history. As soon as you enter the tour center at 830 Varick Street, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a museum. Originally the bottling works of the brewery, the tour center was designed and decorated back in the 60’s, by Walter Pfeiffer – a leading Victorian architect at the time. The room, featuring high-ceilings and Italian tile floors, is filled with Victorian-era antiques… Certainly not the type of decor that I’m used to seeing at a brewery!

The tour begins with a history lesson as our guide points out a display case full of old bottles and cans representing the numerous products and brands produced at the brewery over the years. From the first 1888 Lager made by The West End Brewing Company, founded by F.X. Matt the same year, to the current line-up including Saranac Beer & Soft Drinks, Utica Club, and a number of other specialty products for smaller breweries. Recently ranked the 12th largest* brewery in the United States, and 6th* out of the top 50 US Craft Breweries, the Matt Brewing Company has a lot to be proud of.

saranac brewery tour

More About Visiting Saranac Brewery…

Custom BrewCrafters Haunted Brewery

Still looking for something to do for Halloween? This Saturday, October 27, from 5pm-9pm the brewery at Custom BrewCrafters will be “bewitched” with all sorts of mischief and mayhem! Take the Haunted Brewery Tour to catch a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes when the night crew is on duty. What really goes into the craft beer you know and love?

More About Custom BrewCrafters Haunted Brewery Tours…

2012 Flour City Brewer’s Fest

What: 2012 Flour City Brewers Fest – Beer Festival & Tasting Event

When: September, 21, 2012 6-9pm (VIP ticket holders enjoy early admission at 5pm)

Where: Frontier Field, 1 Morrie Silver Way, Rochester, NY, 14608 (map)

Buy Tickets at: http://fcbrewfest.com/tickets.php

FCbrewerfest logoA long-standing part of the Rochester, NY beer community, Rohrbach Brewing Company has been hosting the annual Flour City Brewers Fest since 1995. I spoke with brewery owner, John Urlaub, about the growth of the festival and in the local craft beer community. With more than 20 years in business, Rohrbach Brewing is an O.G.* in the Rochester beer scene. “The craft beer community has exploded in Rochester,” said Urlaub, “we’ve seen more growth in the past 2 years, than we did in the 18 years before that… The local community here really embraces and supports craft beer, and they love to talk about it!  It’s really cool.”

The first brewers fest was held at Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua, NY and hosted only a dozen or so breweries.  Since then, the festivities have been moved to Frontier Field in downtown Rochester, and the list of participating breweries has more than tripled in size. Urlaub adds, “Today, people are coming to the Brewers Fest hoping to find their new favorite… Back then, we were just trying to get people to try a flavorful beer!”

More About The 2012 Flour City Brewer’s Fest…

Saranac Hop Harvest 2012

saranac-hop-harvest

The sun feels hot on my back as the sticky bines cling to my fingers. It’s calm and meditative work, picking hops by hand, no doubt very much the way it was done years ago, when these heirloom varieties were first harvested.  Fresh resinous smells waft up towards my face, as I watch the hop cones drop into the basket in front of me, one by one. I look around at smiling faces, long tables lined with volunteers, all happy to be a part of the harvest.

harvesting hopswrobel farms - bridgewater, nybushel of hops

More About The Saranac Hop Harvest…