Beer + Cheese = Love

Julie Levy

I have to say that my love of beer originally sprang from my true, deep, passionate, and obsessive love of food.  In fact it was the sublime pairing of a 1998 J.W. Lees Harvest Ale with the nutty sweetness of a sticky toffee pudding, a traditional English dessert, that changed my life forever.  It was then that I began to appreciate the subtleties in aroma and flavor in beer, something I have always loved about the culinary arts.

For me, cheese and beer go hand in hand.  Both are centuries-old artisanal crafts that  require patience, skill, and love to cultivate.  Dependent on natural resources, both beer and cheese are subject to unique seasonal variations.   Like moths to a flame, cheese and beer connoisseurs alike are drawn to these variations and find it only natural to unite the two.

Lucky for us here in the Teton Valley we have a few great artisan creameries to choose from.  For our most recent tasting we asked Kris Malling of Teton Valley Creamery, located in Driggs, Idaho, for a few samples of cheese to try with our beers.  He introduced us to their Haystack Havarti, Yellowstone (a Fontina inspired cheese) and Sapphire Blue.

We successfully coupled the nutty Yellowstone with our Sweetgrass APA.  They each brought out the sweetness in the other.  The Havarti style Haystack, a milder and creamier version of the Yellowstone, was more difficult to pair.  The Bitch Creek pulled through in the end complimenting the tanginess of the cheese with its piney finish.

Our favorite pairing, however, was the Sapphire Blue with the Black Cauldron Imperial Stout.  The malty richness of the beer complimented the bold blue flavors of the cheese.  Thus creating a beautiful synergy between the two that kept you wanting more.  This was the ideal situation, in my opinion, when it comes to pairing beer with food.

Here are some great beer and cheese pairing tips.

  • Match Textures.  Soft and chalky cheeses, like feta and a mild goat, pair well with the mouth feel of wheat beers.
  • Big Beers go with Big Cheeses.  Like a stout and a blue!  Or a sweet hoppy beer with a pungent washed rind cheese like Kings Peak from Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery out of Eden, Utah and the sweet and smooth Alt-itude from Wildlife Brewing (Victor, Idaho).
  • Pair Regionally.  Have you ever tasted Chimay beer with Chimay cheese?  Neither have I, but it has got to be delicious.  Same goes for English Cheddars and English Ales.

Oh, how rewarding it is to pair a local craft product with another.  Just one more reason we love living, brewing and eating in the Teton Valley.  Watch this space for more beer tastings, pairings and recipes.

Cheers!

Grand Teton Brewing Company
beermail@grandtetonbrewing.com
888-899-1656
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Victor, ID 83455

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How to Speak Beer Geek or A Brief Tour Through the Mind of a Brewer

Chaz Hansen

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to write an article for our monthly newsletter entitled “How to Speak Beer Geek.” I decided that I would be able to produce something, since beer lingo is what I normally speak.  But where to begin?  As I was stacking bags of malt, a few ideas began to germinate, much like the grains of barley in a malting plant, whose acrospires are allowed to reach three-fourths the length of the kernel before the grain is dried.  A few ideas were crystallizing in my brain, like sugars on caramel malt crystallizing during roasting in the maltster’s kiln.  As I was mashing in that day (the process of mixing crushed malt with hot water), my thoughts were being simplified and broken down, much like the starches of malted barley breaking into simpler sugars through enzymatic reduction in the mash.

Concepts began bubbling over in my head in much the same way wort (the liquid extracted from the mash) would boil over in an overheated kettle, and I became a bit overwhelmed as my thoughts spun like the cyclone of the whirlpool tank, where hops settle and wort is clarified.  But my thoughts were not clear, rather they were a churning mass of fermenting potential.  Finally, like yeast settling to the bottom of a tank, a process known as flocculation, in which cells first aggregate and then sediment, my mind settled on a singular idea:  I don’t know how to speak “beer geek” at all!

Cheers!

Grand Teton Brewing Company
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Victor, ID 83455

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Our Quality System

Quality Control Manager

For years Grand Teton Brewing Company’s “quality control program” was pretty much like every small brewery’s: write good recipes, follow standard procedures, and hope for the best. Occasionally someone would complain about a particular beer, so we’d have to recall it—a costly process that meant searching for bottles on store shelves, buying them back from retailers or distributors and destroying them.

A particularly costly episode two years ago caused us to rethink our quality program. Now, instead of shipping beer and crossing our fingers, we’ve turned the process around. We test every one of our beers at every step in the process. We test wort on its way to the fermenters.  We test beer in fermenters before we harvest yeast from that tank and before we move the beer to the packaging tank. We test the beer in the packaging tank and in the bottle. A bad result from any test means we cannot move the beer on to the next step in the process. We hold the packaged beer at the brewery until all the tests are passed. In this way we avoid shipping beer with problems and avoid costly product recalls.

We have developed a “tag” system for tanks as a visual representation of where the beer is from a quality perspective.  We have three different colored tags: red, yellow and green.   A red tag means “stop, do not transfer, package, or harvest from this tank, there may be a quality issue. “ Yellow tags mean “quality results are pending, these beers are also not to be transferred, harvested or packaged until cleared.”  Green tags mean “all microbiology tests have cleared, and the beer is good to go onto the next tank or to be packaged.”  All fermenters should have a tag on them at all times unless empty.  This tag system is a great tool. It makes things very easy for the brewers and cellar men to see what is going on with each beer.

We check every batch of beer several times along the way.  When the wort is transferred from the brew house into the fermenter, we take a sterile sample and place it in an incubator.  This is analyzed within 2-5 days.  We also place a yellow tag on the destination fermenter.  Once all the beer is in the tank, we obtain a sterile sample from the fermenter.  We plate this sample on three different media that select for different “bugs.” We are looking for aerobic bacteria, wild yeast and anaerobic bacteria.

In beer there are no pathogens that will make humans sick, but these bugs can affect the flavor of beer.  We wait 3-7 days for results on the plates.  At this point we can apply a green tag if all tests passed or a red tag if there is an issue.  Once green tagged, we can move the beer to a packaging tank or we can harvest the yeast to start another batch of beer.  We also smell and taste the beer along the way since our noses and taste buds are great tools for detecting problems.  Each time the beer is transferred we taste before we move it.  Before we bottle or fill kegs, the packager has to sign off that a sterile sample was taken, a taste sample was taken and the carbonation level is correct.

We use a similar system in the warehouse.  We don’t use actual tags on the pallets of beer in the warehouse, but we have a white board which we update daily.  There are three sections on the board: “hold,” “micro clear but still conditioning,” and “ready to ship.”  We put all packaged beer into the hold category first.  We treat bottled beer and kegs the same way: we collect a sterile sample from the tank before packaging and we plate it within a couple of days.  We also plate bottles, but not kegs because of the difficulty of obtaining a sterile sample from a keg.  Unlike bottles, kegs are almost always stored cold, and the chances of problems developing after filling are greatly diminished.

We plate both the tank and bottles so we can see where the problem started if one should come up.  The beer stays in the hold category until all the microbiology tests have cleared.  The next category is for the bottled beer that gets “primed” or bottle conditioned.  This process takes at least a week so we can sometimes clear the microbiology before the beer is done conditioning.  Having this category on the white board helps remind the warehouse staff that even though the beer has been cleared through the lab, it is not ready to leave the building yet.  Finally, the last category is ready to ship.  Packaged beer that has passed all the tests and finished conditioning is entered into this section and shipped as needed.

So, what do we do if we find a problem?  If we do encounter beer that doesn’t meet our expectations, we immediately place a red tag on the tank or highlight the beer on the board in the hold category.  We repeat all tests to make sure there wasn’t a sampling or testing error, we taste the beer, and then make a judgment call based on the new findings.  We always want to double or triple check test results to make sure they are repeatable.  The idea behind this system is that we stop the problem before it spreads or we stop any out of spec beer from getting into our customers’ hands.  This is our quality assurance to you.

No system is perfect, and we know that quality issues sometimes surface after our beer has left the brewery. Should you come across one of our beers that doesn’t meet your expectations, please let us know by emailing beermail@grandtetonbrewing.com. If you can include the bottling date, the purchase date, and the location of the purchase, that will help us track down the source of the problem.  We will be grateful to you for becoming a member of our quality team.

 

Cheers!

Grand Teton Brewing Company
beermail@grandtetonbrewing.com
888-899-1656
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Come visit us at the brewery!
430 Old Jackson Hwy
Victor, ID 83455

http://www.grandtetonbrewing.com
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Another GABF Review

Collaborative
(view slideshow below) 

This year, nine GTBC employees traveled to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival.  The whirlwind weekend was filled with brewery tours, sensory trainings, good people and, of course, great beer! This year’s festivities included 516 breweries, over 3,400 beers and 49,000 beer enthusiasts.  Here’s a peek inside our experience at this years Great American Beer Festival.

Day 1

Wednesday

After an arduous nine- hour car ride we arrived in Denver, a little tired, but in one piece. We settled into our hotel and grabbed a shuttle down to Denver’s oldest brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Co.  Wynkoop held a private party for all of the participating breweries. The place was huge and each room offered a different food and beer pairing option. All of the food was delicious! We enjoyed sour beers, Saisons, sessionables and barrel-aged beers! The dessert bar was paired with numerous different dessert beers, including a very memorable marshmallow stout, delicious! This was also a great chance for us to mingle with other brewery employees from across the nation.

Besides a small mix up with our shuttle driver the evening went off without a hitch.  We headed back to our hotels to get some shut-eye.

Day 2

Thursday

Most of us had a hard time pulling ourselves out of bed this morning, but the events for the day had us excited! We grabbed a quick breakfast together and headed up to Ft. Collins for the full tour of Odell Brewing Company with head brewer, Joe.  Odell was an impressive brewery to visit because they had just been through a major facility expansion. Their level of quality, cleanliness and efficiency was inspiring. We were also able to split up and speak with our Odell employee counterparts! It was a great experience to have the chance to talk with someone who essentially has the same responsibilities!

We raced back to Denver to catch the first session of the festival. We had the opportunity to sample a few beers. The crowd was impressively large! Overall a very successful day!

Day 3

Friday

Today we had the chance to split up and attend training sessions that focused on each of our own interests. Two of our brewers, Kevin and Jim, as well as our quality control assistant, Dawn, attended a Brewer’s Guild Meeting. This meeting was extremely exciting because Idaho does not currently have a Brewer’s Guild. Our crew attended to pick the brains of the Guild members so we can work on establishing our own.

AnnaLisa and Curtis, our packaging team leaders, as well as our third brewer Chaz and our cellar assistant Nick, had the opportunity to attend a Siebel Sensory Analysis course. This course teaches you how to detect off flavors in beer, an invaluable skill to possess in the beer industry.  I highly recommend this to any beer enthusiast!

Our yeast suppliers, The Brewing Science Institute, threw an awesome private party at the Sand Lot at Coors Field.  After this, we dashed back to evening sessions at the GABF. It was great to see the Siebel Sensory course really sink in for those who attended. They were really critiquing the beer they sampled!

Day 4

Saturday

Breckinridge Brewery really outdid themselves with their Brewer’s Breakfast! They served a fantastic home cooked buffet style breakfast complete with any beer on tap or a Bloody Mary made with local spirits!

Bellies full, we headed back to the convention center for the Saturday afternoon session and awards ceremony. This is the best session for the brewery folks because it’s an industry-only session.  We had the opportunity to get to know some of the other breweries that were there. We watched the whole awards ceremony, getting butterflies every time a one of our categories came up. Although we didn’t win any medals this year, it was still great to see our friends and other talented breweries collect their awards.

Filled with memories of great beer and good people, we all piled back into our cars and made the long drive back to Idaho. While this year’s Great American Beer Festival was something to remember, all were happy to be home in Teton Valley, the best place on Earth to craft beer!

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Cheers!

Grand Teton Brewing Company
beermail@grandtetonbrewing.com
888-899-1656
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Come visit us at the brewery!
430 Old Jackson Hwy
Victor, ID 83455

http://www.grandtetonbrewing.com
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Bon Voyage, “John Beer”

Rob Mullin

The first of this month marked the last day for our Western States Sales Manager John Lundholm with Grand Teton Brewing Company. After decades of work in every segment of the beer industry, from retailer to brewery, from Florida to California, and with three years representing us, John is “retiring” to spend time with his new family.

A confirmed bachelor, last year John nevertheless succumbed to the charms of a lovely woman with a five-year-old son. They were soon married and are expecting a baby in January. For some reason John decided that the 70 hour work weeks and non-stop travel of a beer salesman did not suit his new position as husband and father. All of us at Grand Teton Brewing Company wish Neusa, Brian, John and “Baby” Lundholm the best of luck and Bon Voyage on their wonderful new journey together.

From left; Matt Berg (West Coast Sales Rep), Chris Furbacher (Midwest Sales Rep), John Lundholm, Martin Franciscovich (Area Sales Rep) and Chuck Nowicki (Sales and Marketing Director)

Though John’s rather large shoes will be difficult to fill, we are happy to say that his position with Grand Teton Brewing Company has been filled by Matt Berg, long-time representative for Sierra Nevada Brewing in Northern California. Matt brings years of craft beer experience, a positive attitude and strong work ethic. Watch this space in the coming months for more on Matt and the rest of our great new team members.

 

 

 

Grand Teton Brewing Company
beermail@grandtetonbrewing.com
888-899-1656
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Come visit us at the brewery!
430 Old Jackson Hwy
Victor, ID 83455

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It Just Doesn’t Get Any Fresher Than This: Our First-Ever Fresh Hop Beer

Rob Mullin
(view slideshow below) 

I wrote last month about the Grand Teton Brewing Company’s brewers’ visit to the hop farms of Parma, Idaho. As I mentioned then, one of the benefits of our new relationship with the growers has come to fruition. We’re very proud to announce the availability, in very limited quantity, of our first-ever fresh hop beer.

Three weeks ago, as the harvest was winding down, grower Nate Jackson loaded his pickup with fresh Idaho Zeus hop cones and drove through the cool of the night and the Craters of the Moon lava fields to meet Head Brewer Kevin Bolen when he opened the brewery at six a.m. to start brewing our Idaho Pale Ale.

The cones were only hours old, bright green and bursting with zesty, piney/citrus aroma. Fresh hop cones are extremely fragile, and must either be dried or used within hours of picking. That’s why fresh hop beers are special. Only breweries close to hop fields (or willing to pay for very expensive overnight transportation) can use fresh hops, and only during the hop harvest, usually late August to Early September. These beers are true harbingers of autumn, and remind us all of the close ties between brewers and growers.

Kevin brewed this version of Idaho Pale Ale with the same malt as the original, but substituted over 200 pounds of fresh Zeus cones in the kettle. There were so many cones that they took up half the volume of the kettle, greatly reducing our yield. Instead of the usual 50 or so kegs from a single batch, we’ll anticipate 30 half barrels (or their equivalent in sixth barrels) this time.

Idaho Pale Ale is a bold, flavorful American IPA, brewed to showcase the beauty of Idaho water, malt and hops, and to prove that Idaho brewers can stand toe-to-toe with the boldest California brewers. We’ve calculated this fresh hop version to have over 200 International Bitterness Units (IBUs), making it one of the hoppiest beers brewed anywhere. In addition to the bittering and flavor hops added to the kettle, more fresh cones were introduced in two additions after fermentation. This “dry-hopping” accentuates the aroma of the hops.

This very special brew will be on tap at the brewery and at the best craft beer bars throughout Grand Teton Brewing Company’s territory, but only for an extremely limited time. It is sure to please “hopheads” everywhere, and will be followed by different “single-hop” versions throughout the year. Stay tuned for future announcements.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cheers!

Grand Teton Brewing Company
beermail@grandtetonbrewing.com
888-899-1656
Sign Up for our Monthly Newsletter! 

Come visit us at the brewery!
430 Old Jackson Hwy
Victor, ID 83455

http://www.grandtetonbrewing.com
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