Home from Home IPA - A collaboration with Siren Craft Brew

I (Adam) grew up in England, just West of London. When I left the UK in 2004, the craft beer revolution that in now gripping the country hadn't even developed its green shoots. The US was way ahead in craft beer at the time.

Fast forward 13 years, and the UK is catching up fast.  Led by a number of great breweries, British beer is now pioneering - and fun to experience when we go home to visit.  One brewery that's been leading the way in the UK has been Siren Craft Brew.  Based in Berkshire, very close to where I grew up, I've always had their beers when back home visiting. And they make excellent beer - and it's not just me saying that, they have been recognized as one of the best breweries in the world by Ratebeer.

The last time we were in the UK, grace and I visited Siren.  We met their founder Darron, and their brewmaster, Kyle and toured their brewery. We found as breweries we had a lot of commonalities in approach, and their beers of course tasted awesome!  Kyle was from the Pacific Northwest, growing up in Kirkland and having previously brewed with Double Mountain.  So it was a strange coincidence - that I used to live near Siren, and Kyle in Washington, yet we both have similar roles at breweries thousands of miles from where we grew up. Small world!

So fast forward to September, and Kyle let us know he was coming into town to select hops in Yakima during the harvest season and luckily we were able to brew a collaboration together while he was in town. 

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We decided to brew a beer using our "northeast" hazy IPA strain. For the malt profile, we played homage to both of our brewing styles - we use a lot of Pilsner malt in our hazy IPAs, and Siren have used British malted oats in a lot of their similar beers so we also used those.  We've never used malted oats (usually flaked oats and wheat is what we use) so it was great for us to try too.  To make the mouthfeel full and juicy, we added lactose. Both Siren and ourselves brew a number of coffee beers, so we wanted to incorporate coffee into the beer.  We brought in really fruity Kenyan bean from our friends at Kuma coffee to play a central role in the beer. We added coffee at the end of the boil, and after dry hop to give it a nice boost.  We want the hops and coffee to be in harmony, so playing with the fruity coffee (which Kuma had grapefruit, pineapple, and cherry as leading descriptors) we leant into this flavor profile with a lot of Galaxy hops, supported with Mosaic and Moteuka.

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Our good friend Justin Leveque did a magnificent job on the label, bringing both of our logos into latte art - a big shout out to him for his work too.

Home from Home IPA will be released on Saturday, October 7.  We will have 16oz four pack cans available in the taproom only, and we plan to get a limited amount of draft around the Pacific Northwest too. 

Cheers, Adam

2017-18 Reuben's Crew mug club accepting new members Sept. 9!

Want to join our Reuben's Crew mug club? Your chance is coming soon! A limited number of spots for the 2017-18 Crew will available beginning Saturday, Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. in the taproom.

We created the Crew as a way to say thank you to our loyal taproom customers. Based on the feedback from this year's members, we added a few new membership perks for the year. The benefits for the year starting Sept. 1 (new or updated benefits in bold) include:

  • Larger pours in exclusive, members-only glassware: 20oz pours for beers up to 7% ABV, and 15oz pours for beers 8% ABV or higher, as well as sour beers and other special releases that are poured in 12oz sizes 
  • Receive 6 tasters for the price of 5. The tray of tasters must be ordered at one time and must be for Crew member's consumption only. 
  • $3 off of every full growler you buy, $1 off of every 32oz growler
  • Special party exclusively for Reuben's Crew members. This event is a thank you to crew members throughout the year and will entail samples of beer, tasty bites, and great company with the other awesome members of the crew and the team at Reuben's! 
  • Receive a 10% discount for every 6-pack or 4-pack of cans or 22oz bottle bought at the brewery (excludes barrel aged or reserve series bottled beers, but includes all special release cans).
  • Receive a 10% discount on all merchandise purchases throughout the year
  • No deposit required when you purchase beer by the keg (party pump deposits still required, maximum one keg outstanding at any one time)
  • Brand new design Crew-exclusive t-shirt 
  • Annual membership card
  • Bottle reservations for ALL barrel aged or reserve series beers. In prior years reservations for only three bottle releases were guaranteed, but now this benefit covers all small batch bottle releases at the taproom. This benefit excludes special release cans.
  • Right of first refusal for next year’s application  

These benefits are for the named person on the crew membership and are not transferable to any other person.

The cost is $109 plus tax for a one-year membership and the benefits will commence immediately upon joining.

Current Crew members should have received a renewal notice via email. To keep your spot, you'll need to renew by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31

New memberships are only available for purchase in the taproom. We can only accept applications physically received and paid for in person beginning Sept. 9. No email applications can be accepted. The sign-up period for memberships will close when all spots are filled.

 

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5th Anniversary Party! August 5, 2017

It's hard to believe that we opened nearly 5 years ago! The time has flown by - it's been an amazing journey! 

We will have two special, one-off beers released on Saturday to celebrate. Dark, Strong and Proper is a Belgian Dark Strong Ale aged in red wine barrels and will be available in 22oz bottles, maximum 2 per person. Anniversary-Style Juice will be in 16 oz four-pack cans.

As Reuben's Brews hits our 5 year mark and going forward, we want to create anniversary beers that help reflect our past, that tie to how we got to where we are - beers that have meaning and context to who we are. Here's the background on these two special beers.

Dark, Strong and Proper
We owe a lot of credit for getting to where we are today to a number of people that helped us on our craft beer journey. We wouldn't be here without the help of a number of amazing people. An important group of people to me are the members of the home-brew club I brewed with for years, the Homebrewers Guild of Seattle Proper (HGSP). While a very small club - with about 8 members maximum - it is a powerhouse group of brewers. Back in the last year I was "officially" a homebrewer, in 2012, HGSP was one of the top 10 homebrew clubs in the country since a number of us had done well in national competitions - pretty amazing for our small size! I learned a lot from the club personally, and working with those great brewers helped me improve immensely in a short period of time. So when the HGSP and I were talking about a collaboration, it seemed the perfect opportunity to wrap it into an anniversary release. 

We decided our collaboration was to be a Belgian Dark Strong, or Quadrupel as it is also called, after our club did a blind tasting of a number of Belgian Dark Strong beers. A number of us called out some of the very best in the list as almost Imperial Altbier-esque. My favorite ones were wonderfully complex beers, with relatively limited Belgian yeast character, but a lot of dark fruit and malt complexity. Not alone in this preference, we decided as a group this would be a fine beer to collaborate on and brew!

The keys to a BDS recipe are twofold - yeast strain, and candi-sugar. The style calls for Pilsner base malt, and dark candi-sugar that adds the strong elements of dark fruit that are central to the style - such as plum, raison, and prune. We decided on a blend of dark candi-sugar to add some extra complexity into the beer. For yeast, we selected a strain that could handle the high ABV of the beer while providing a balanced ester and phenol profile. We propagated up the yeast by using it to brew a smaller beer at first, our Belgian Table Beer that you may have had earlier this year in the taproom.

After fermentation we managed to source some freshly emptied red wine barrels from a Washington winery. We felt the red wine notes would meld wonderfully with the dark fruit of the BDS. We aged the beer in these barrels for a number of months until we felt the balance of the barrel, red wine, and base beer characters were all melded and in harmony. Two of the four barrels that we filled with the beer passed our blending tests, and we back blended with a little of the base beer to get them where we wanted. (The two remaining barrels will be aged on some fruit for a future release, but that's for another day.)

We are proud of the beer we created. and in homage to the HGSP homebrew club that collaborated on the beer, we call it "Dark, Strong and Proper", It is a Belgian Dark Strong / Quadrupel aged in red wine barrels.  It comes in at 10.5% ABV and 25 IBUs. Rich and complex dark fruit notes of plum, raison, and grape meld with the red wine character from barrel aging. Caramel notes come through mid palette with a full creamy mouthfeel, wrapped up by a dry finish.

Anniversary-Style Juice
The advent of 'hazy' or 'Northeast-style' IPAs in 2017 has certainly been a significant development on the Northwest beer scene. We started our rotating hop hazy IPA series back in October 2016, and have been releasing new versions on a monthly basis. It seemed fitting that we should also brew a special batch for our 5th anniversary.

One of the hops I experienced for the first time in 2017 was X331, a hop that now is known as Strata. (Hops usually have a code number before they're deemed successful enough to be named!) I had it first in a single hop beer at Fort George and thought it was remarkable. Almost like tropical fruit punch, it brings well-rounded tropical fruits with a full, juicy character. I liked it so much after I first tried it that I got some to play with!

I really wanted to use X331 for the first time in our Anniversary IPA, especially as we first came across it in the last year. When we use new hops, we trial them by doing very small mock up dry hop tests. A number of the team then try the dry hopped beer, and we blend it with a number of other dry hopped samples to get a view on what we want to dry hop the full batch with. Often, rubbing a hop is very different to how it reacts in the beer itself - which is why we find it essential to do this small experimental testing. For Anniversary-Style Juice we felt that X331 needed a little more "punch" - more aromatics - than it could provide by itself. So our final blend for this beer is mostly X331, with a healthy dose of Mosaic in support. The malt bill is relatively consistent throughout our Crush / Juice series, with a similar malt bill to our recent Latona Crush and International-Style Juice.

We're going to can some cases of Anniversary-Style Juice in 16oz cans available only in the taproom. We're hoping to get some of the beer in draught around the Pacific Northwest, so if you can't make it into the taproom at least you can try it too.

Of course we're going to pull out all of the stops at our 5th Anniversary Party, including live music, delicious food and some friendly competition with our neighbors in the Brewers Triathlon. But we got into this whole crazy brewing world for the beer, and we thought it worth sharing with you how and why these special anniversary beers came to be. 

Thank you to everyone for your support over the past 5 years! We hope to see you Saturday.

Cheers, 

Adam Robbings
Co-Founder and Brewmaster

NEW FACES AND NEW ROLES AT REUBEN'S BREWS

Happy summer! It’s been a busy start to 2017 at Reuben’s Brews! Over the past several months we’ve been working on increasing production, creating exciting new beers and expanding distribution. To make all of this possible, we created a few new roles and welcomed some new team members to the Reuben’s Brews family.

 

BREWERY

In April, James McDermet joined us as our new head brewer! He comes to us from down the street at Fremont Brewing. His experience at a fast-growing brewery will be incredibly valuable for us as we continue to grow with a focus on brewing the highest-quality beers.

James leads the production and is responsible for the quality of all our beers at both brewhouses. With him in place, Adam and Mike made a few changes to their own roles:

  • Adam’s main focus is developing new beers and planning the brewery's future. Innovating new beer styles keeps us fresh and relevant as a brewery. Adam is now able to do what he does best and what got us started in the beer industry – create exciting new brews. He’ll also be able to get out and about to spend more time with our customers and distributors.
  • Mike has officially taken on the role of production manager. He manages the brew and shipment schedules and inventories. He also brews once or twice a week and serves in the taproom once a week since he still loves brewing and chatting with regulars in the taproom.

Khris Lloyd recently joined us as a new full-time cellar person. He has worked and volunteered at a couple of local breweries and really has passion for beer and a thirst to learn!

 

TAPROOM

Michael Hilborn joined us in March as our new taproom manager! He returned to the Pacific Northwest after several years at Fall Brewing in San Diego. His experience running other busy taprooms will help us focus on taking excellent care of our customers while offering fun events for the wider community.   

With Michael H. taking over the running of the taproom, Thor Stoddard, our previous taproom manager, has taken on a new role. He’s now focused on helping Adam manage all of our new beers – particularly the development of the sour and brett program. Thor will have a hand in the brewing process, experimenting with infusions and our cask program. He’ll also hold a tight grip on the key to our separate sour-dedicated facility. 

If you’ve been in the taproom lately, you’ve probably noticed a few new faces. We’re excited to welcome Dave Patania, Jess Keller, Matt Ellis and Ashley Hermosillo to the team!

Dave is a long-time Reuben’s Brews regular turned professional beertender! He brings a lot of enthusiasm – for bike riding, video making and beer loving – to the taproom. We love having him on this side of the bar now!

Jess has a lot of experience in the service industry, most recently at the Burgundian. She is an expert and an avid beer lover, creating beer-focused blogs and podcasts. We’re thrilled to have her help build a community for beer lovers in the taproom.

Matt E. came to us with many years of service experience in multiple states. He’s been focused on the beer industry in recent years, most recently at Flatstick Pub and at Uber Tavern. It’s great to have him on the team!

Ashley showed up as a customer on our opening day and she hasn’t left us since then! There’s no doubting the dedication of this woman who has volunteered for us at beer festivals, made sales calls and stepped up to help in various ways over the years. Ashley has expanded her part-time role in the taproom to a full-time position, and we’re incredibly happy to have her officially on our team.

That’s a lot of change in the taproom team! While the majority of people who left the taproom over the years have moved into other positions in our brewery, some have left in search of new adventures. Preston Rock has moved fully into a packaging and cellar role, Matt Chan has moved into an assistant brewer role, and Thor Stoddard has started a new role developing new and sour beers (mentioned above), all at Reuben’s Brews. Thank you to Jane Solvie and Ally Hatley for taking great care of the taproom and those in it, and we wish you all the best in your new positions elsewhere!

 

Although she’s always had a hand in things behind the scenes, Grace Kim Robbings (aka Reuben’s Mama), officially joined the team this month! She left her teaching position at Bellevue College to focus more on the business side of the brewery. She’ll be managing the taproom and administrative teams, running communications, and building a sustainability program at the brewery. She will continue her work on tax compliance and running our charitable programs, in particular the Thank You Thursday program.

 

We’ll be writing profiles of all of our new team members in the coming weeks so you can learn more about the team and their work. Thank you again for all of your support and we hope to see you soon!

 

 

 

T-SHIRT DESIGN WINNER ANNOUNCED!

Earlier this year, we asked you to send us your designs for our first-ever t-shirt design contest and you didn’t disappoint. We were really impressed with everyone’s talent and creativity! The Reuben’s team reviewed and voted on the entries and we’re pleased to announce our winner – Danny Haymond, Jr. of Tacoma!

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Danny’s a graphic designer by trade and a big Star Wars fan. Since we’re releasing the t-shirt today, May 4, incorporating some element of “the Force” only seemed appropriate.

“I know I wanted to do an epic scene that fans would instantly recognize,” says Danny. “I put together a few scenes from my favorite Star Wars movies and did some thumbnail drawings. I've always thought the ‘r’ logo looked like a rope or something, so the tow cable was almost too obvious once I had that idea in my head. I've seen a few other artists online go with the idea of using the tow cable to spell something out so I adapted it for a beer setting. I took all the mechanical greebles from the AT-AT and converted them to being beer specific.”

We printed Danny’s design on charcoal grey t-shirts, which are available exclusively in the taproom while supplies last. We are donating $2 to the charity of Danny's choice, which is the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.

Congratulations to Danny and a huge thank you to everyone who entered!