Rousing Yeast in German Wheat Beers

Roggen Weizen

One question I get asked a lot is “what’s the deal with the layer of yeast at the bottom of your wheat beers?”  When I tell people “that’s where the good stuff is” I always get a confused look in return. This got me thinking that with the release of this year’s Roggen Weizen and for the amount of other German Wheat Beers we make here at Steel & Oak it’s probably time to write a blog post on Rousing Yeast in German Wheat Beers.

Believe it or not some beers are meant to be hazy. These include our Seasonal Wheat Beers – Smoked Hefeweizen, Roggen Weizen and Smoked Dunkelweizen, along with our Limited Release Weizenbock. The haziness comes from yeast and proteins within the malt, wheat and rye with which it’s brewed. After a beer sits for a short while the yeast settles out at the bottom of the bottle and we want that yeasty goodness back in suspension as it adds to the flavour and mouthfeel of those wheat favourites.

Lucky for you we have the 2nd Best Hand Model in New West along with the 4th Best iPhone Photographer available at our brewery to create a photo series on how we recommend you rouse the yeast in your Steel & Oak weizen.

We prefer the tilt and twist method at Steel & Oak but you can use any rousing technique you’d like to try. Just don’t over agitate the bottle as you don’t want a “Pop Champagne” type of situation.

Cheers to wheat beers!

– Jorden

Steinbier Collaboration With Freigeist

Steinbier Freigeist x Steel & Oak

A while ago I wrote about our VCBW Collaboration and how I didn’t entirely agree with Stephen Smysnuik of The Growler BC on collabs being a regular brew day.

Stephen should have attended this collab.

We partnered up with Sebastian Sauer of Freigeist Bierkultur out of Germany to make an old world Steinbier. Here’s how it went down (note I’ve taken a lot of liberties with this as my memory isn’t as good as it used to be).

  • April 2nd: I’m in a Ford Winstar van with Ben Coli (Dageraad), Mike Coghill (Yellow Dog) and Adam Henderson (Copper & Theory) driving from Calgary to Edmonton. I say “Hey Adam, I’d like to do a collab with one of the breweries you import.” Adam says, “You should do one with Freigeist. They’re German, you pretend to be German when it suits you, I think it’d be awesome.” A high-five is given waking Mike up who had been sleeping on Ben’s shoulder. He’s a cuddler.
  • April 4th: I tell the guys we’re doing a collab with Freigeist. Our brewer Eric jumps for joy, our Operations Manager Brian scowls at me as once again I’ve agreed to a collab with no tank space to do it in.
  • May 1st: “Let’s do a Steinbier” says Eric. I say, “A what now?” Eric explains to me that a Steinbier is made by heating up rocks super hot and running wort over it creating an intense boil and a lot of steam.  “It sounds super dangerous, let’s do it!”
  • May 2nd: We run the idea by Sebastian from Freigeist. Sebastian suggests we do a Gose instead as it would be less dangerous. About 5 minutes later ever brewery in BC comes out with a Gose so we decide to live dangerously. *Disclaimer: I love Gose and I’ve enjoyed a lot of great ones brewed in BC this summer, that sentence was used purely for entertainment purposes.
  • May 25th: We decide that the easiest way to get the Steinbier effect is heat up granite rocks in old kegs that we’ve cut holes into. We can then move the kegs into a vessel and pump the wort into that vessel and then back out again. Simple!
  • July 24th (9:00am): Brew Day. I go grab some coffee and meet up with the guys at the brewery. We begin heating the rocks in the kegs over a propane burner. Eric has a neat temperature gun. I hope it’s not expensive.
  • July 24th (11:00am): Sebastian brought some crazy beers and it would be impolite to not start drinking them.
  • July 24th (11:01am): Eric reminds us that we should probably do the forklift driving and all the hot rocks stuff before drinking. That’s why he’s also the Safety Manager.
  • July 24th (12:13pm): Eric lifts the hot rock kegs up with our forklift and Sebastian guides them into Pacific Breeze’s tank with an oven mitt. That’s right, an oven mitt. We all sigh with relief as the rocks are in the vessel and no one has died yet.
  • July 24th (12:30pm): Eric yells at Chardonnay to start the pump and we all lean over the tank watching the wort run and caramelize over the hot rocks. Steam builds, Sebastian says “who’s stupid idea was this?” we all laugh, drink more beer, and let Chardonnay deal with the rest of the work.

We’re super excited about this collab and hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it! Thanks to Sebastian at Freigeist for coming by to brew with us. If you’re ever making a trip to Germany definitely pop into Freigeist Bierkultur.

The Steel & Oak x Freigeist Steinbier collab will be released on September 8th in our Tasting Room and shipping out to select liquor stores shortly thereafter.

-Jorden

 

A Note on the City of New West

New West / NWHeritage.org

I’m a pusher of New Westminster. I think it’s the best city in the entire world and I love it with all of my heart. I was born here, I grew up here, we opened our brewery here, and my wife (also from New West) and I will be raising our son here.

However, when you own a business (especially a small one) cities can sometimes be difficult to deal with. Items pop up, whether it be road construction, increases in taxes, bylaws, etc., that make it harder on a business. I’ll be honest, I believe that most of these are necessary evils in order for any city to run and for New West to continue to become the city that we all want it to be. It doesn’t make it any less of a pain in the ass though.

Now one of my favourite things about our city is the communication that can be had by picking up the phone and instantly getting someone on the other line that can help you directly. I don’t think there are a lot of breweries in Vancouver that have this luxury. Maybe Brassneck, cause… well… they’re Brassneck.

Back to my story. Last night I received a phone call from our Tasting Room staff saying that our lounge was unusually quiet for a Thursday night. I drove down to the brewery to find that construction crews had blocked off access to Steel & Oak entirely. You could not get in. This construction (according to one of their staff) was going to continue until Sunday.  I freaked. “You aren’t going to be able to access or business on our 3 busiest days of the week!?”

So like any small business owner would do I wrote an email to the City, at 9pm. By 10pm I had 3 responses about looking at ways to fix this issue.  By 9am this morning (12 hours later) members of city staff had shown up at the brewery to rework the construction plan to suit our business needs as well as Pacific Breeze Winery behind us, who are hosting a wedding on Saturday if anyone is looking for endless wine and some Steel & Oak beer. Kidding, don’t crash it please 🙂

In 12 hours the City of New West had a solution for us.

Now I understand that these solutions are not always doable. I also understand that there are other businesses who are hurting in New West because of Front St. construction and the current traffic issues in our city. And those are real issues that the City should be working on to improve. But I also find that in our local papers and on social media city politicians and city staff are often painted in a negative light even though quite often they are doing things that I believe better our city.

So I thought I’d share a positive story for your Friday, on how cities and businesses can work together to make sure people are able to enjoy their well deserved beer after a hard work week.

– Jorden

Camaraderie and Kindness in Beer

Brew Bros

Anytime I do an interview the same question always gets asked. “You guys all seem like friends in the beer industry, even though you are technically in competing businesses. What’s that all about?”

As I’m writing this it’s been just 20 hours since I received the news that our Head Brewer Eric was hit by a semi truck while cycling in Portland with his girlfriend.  Eric is okay (as is his girlfriend Andrea). I always hate writing a lead in sentence like that knowing that people’s hearts might sink a touch before realizing that the worst case scenario didn’t happen, but I really didn’t know how else to put it. Apologies.

Eric was airlifted to a hospital in Portland (I’m not sure which one) but never lost consciousness. From chatting with Andrea (I haven’t spoked to Eric yet) he has “messy breaks in his leg” and will need multiple surgeries as well as skin grafts.  But he’s okay. He’s alive. Which is something you don’t get to say a lot when you hear “semi truck” and “bicycle” in the same sentence.

Luckily we have 2 incredibly well trained and talented brewers that will pick up the slack. For those of you not in the biz a Head Brewer’s job is less hands on and more management; ingredient ordering, scheduling, budgeting and other long term items rather than the day to day process of making the beer. On the outside you won’t notice a difference, Steel & Oak’s beers won’t change while Eric recovers. My admin workload is now a lot heavier but hey that’s what owning a small business is all about.

But back to the original point of this post. Since Eric’s accident I’ve received numerous emails from craft breweries around the lower mainland asking how they can help. “Can we send you a brewer to take some of the workload off?” “Do you want me to swing by on the weekend and clean your kegs so your brewers don’t have to work 6 days a week?” “How can we support you?” I bet there isn’t one craft brewery in BC that wouldn’t offer up help of some sort when another brewery is in need.

And that’s what I love the most about this industry. We are all running small businesses where little things have a larger impact on us than at Molson or Labatts. There is a camaraderie around that. We want to see our friends succeed. We hurt when they hurt, we feel joy when they do. That’s what it’s like when you are part of something bigger than a bunch of small businesses working independently. That’s what it’s like when you are part of a family.  And that’s one thing the macro breweries will never have on us. They spend time trying to figure out how to beat each other while we spend time helping and encouraging each other so that we can grow our industry collectively.

I want to thank all the breweries that have already offered us their support. I’m so happy to be in an industry with such fantastic and kind people who would work an 80 hour week (at another business!) if it meant helping a friend in need, and I’m thankful that our Head Brewer will eventually get to create beer again.

Hug a brewer today.

-Jorden

#SOPROUD

SOPROUD

One of the weeks we look forward to each year is the New West Pride Festival. From August 6th – 13th there are a tonne of events going on around the Royal City and this year we are lucky to have teamed up with our friends at The Terminal to bring you #SOPROUD.

The #SOPROUD Patio Party will feature 2 new S&O beer creations available just for New West Pride.

// Bold – A blonde ale infused with coffee for a bold roasted flavour in a light bodied ale.

// Fruity – A dark chocolatey lager with blackberries picked from New West’s own urban blackberry bushes and a hint of lemon zest.

There will also be games, prizes and music spinning, all on The Terminal’s awesome patio.

#SOPROUD is this Sunday August 7th from 1PM – 7PM at The Terminal – 115 12th St. New Westminster.

Hope to see you there!

Jorden

On Setting Up Fermentation Tanks

There were a lot of things we didn’t know when we first started to build Steel & Oak. One of those things was how to erect tanks and put them where you want them. However, we learned fast and don’t want to brag but feel like we’re almost experts at it now.

Today we added a new fermentation tank to the farm. Her name is Blanche, she is the largest of our fleet and can hold 100HL, or 21,141 cans of Royal City Ale depending on how you look at it.

We thought it’d be fun to show a few steps in the process which always ends up being a sketchy yet rewarding experience.

Stay tuned on our Instagram account (Username: steelandoak) for future photos of Blanche in her unwrapped glory.

We also try to do a pretty good job of showing you the action as it happens on our Snapchat account (Username: steelandoak).

Cheers,

Jorden

On Turning 2

Combined

This month Steel & Oak turns 2!  For a company as young as ours we’ve been lucky enough to have enjoyed many fantastic moments and have been able to cram what feels like 10 years worth of learning into 24 months.

As a 2 year old in a relatively young industry I feel like we now get included in the “veteran” category of local breweries. So with that being said I figured it only makes sense to spit some wisdom at you.

Here are 10 Things We’ve Learned Since Opening a Craft Brewery.

  1. Beer really does cause you to gain weight. However, I always figure for each pound gained we’ve made 10,000 people smile while enjoying one of our beers. So I’m more than happy to buy bigger pants for the greater good of humanity.
  2. The majority of people can’t pronounce Roggen Weizen. Thus, causing them to order it in lower numbers no matter how good you think the beer is.
  3. Making beer is boring to watch, but incredibly fun to drink.
  4. You will never be able to brew enough Red Pilsner.
  5. Beer under 25 PSI of pressure is strong enough to knock you backwards. It is also extremely hard to get under control once it’s begun spraying everywhere.
  6. If you own a brewery, The Drake in Victoria will allow you to dance on their bar.
  7. Everyone loves a Smoked Honey Doppelbock.
  8. You don’t need to make an IPA to thrive in the BC Beer Industry. However, you will be reminded every day by everyone that you should brew one anyways 🙂
  9. A great way to run out of beer fast is to start canning it.
  10. You legally can’t sell stuff that says “Brewing Co.” to kids. However, Steel & Oak Lemonade Co. tees are now available in the Tasting Room.

I can’t tell you how incredible this industry has been to us and how grateful we are to get to brew beer for a living. Making a product that is subjective is always difficult and challenging and I want to raise a glass to all of the other breweries in our community that are making high quality beer and always innovating.

Cheers to 2 wonderful years!

Jorden

This is what Beer Collaborations actually look like.

Tu-Meke

This post is long overdue and I’m pretty confident that Tu Meke is actually sold out everywhere (with the exception of the few kegs we saved for Vancouver Craft Beer Week) so I won’t write about how happy we were with how the beer turned out and how you should rush out there to try it.  However, I wanted to write a quick post in response to Stephen Smysnuik’s Westender article titled “This Is What Beer Collaborations Actually Look Like”.

Let me preface this by stating that I like Stephen and what he wrote was on point in regards to the actual brewing process (a lot more boring than you think) and how a collab brew day normally shakes down (also a lot more boring than you think). I’m really here to touch on one part of a sentence in Stephen’s article, “the real action – the collaboration part – happened weeks before,” and to let you know how this whole Tu Meke business started with our friends at Strange Fellows and VCBW. Here we go!

  • Jan 28th, 11:30am: I sit down with Chris & Leah from VCBW where they ask me if S&O would like to host the Annual VCBW Collab Brew and the brew day. I remind them how small we are, they say “that’s what we are going for this year”, I gladly accept!
  • Jan 28th, 11:35am: I sheepishly let our Operations Manager and man bun enthusiast Brian know that we need to cancel a Smoked Hefe brew in order to fit in this VCBW beer. His blood pressure rises and another year is probably shed from his life.
  • Jan 28th, 11:40am: I talk with my business partner Jamie and our Front End Manager Daniel on who we should pick as our co-collaborator. Dan loves his Strange Fellows sweater so we decide to give them a call. Kidding, we love their beer so we decided to give them a call.  Dan does love his SF sweater though…
  • Jan 29th, 9:00am: Iain & Aaron from Strange Fellows gladly accept our invitation to collaborate and an initial meeting is set up.
  • Jan 29th, 9:01am: I tell our brewer Eric to figure out what style he’d like to do.
  • Jan 29th, 9:02am: He says Saison, with Elderberries.
  • Feb 12th, 5:00pm: Eric, Iain and I sit down and talk Saisons at Strange Fellows. Iain is wearing sunglasses because of an eye issue. I have my son Jude and my wife Alissa with me because we’re headed up to Whistler after. Eric has his backpack and a bag of dried Elderberries. Typical sit-down.
  • Feb 12th, 5:30pm: It’s decided that Elderberries aren’t the way to go, we toy with the idea of pomegranate juice but worry about stability.
  • Feb 12th, 5:35pm: Iain mentions that way back in the day a home-brew buddy found these weird Tasmanian Pepperberries and it tasted really interesting. We decide that we want to try it. Eric says let’s use New Zealand hops. Everyone high-fives with the exception of my son Jude who’s only 6 months and can’t put it together yet.
  • Feb 15th, 12:01pm: Eric can’t find Tasmanian Pepperberries anywhere outside of Tasmania.
  • Feb 15th, 4:55pm: Eric finally locates a small bag of Pepperberries in Seattle. Big enough for a small batch pilot brew to test them out.
  • Feb 19th, 8:05am: The pilot brew begins. Everything goes well. We all try a Pepperberry and realize they are sweet up front but taste incredibly spicy on the finish. Our assistant brewer Chardonnay keeps scratching at his tongue. We all poke fun at him and he goes home early.
  • Feb 20th, 10:37am: Eric finally finds a supplier that can get us the amount of Pepperberries needed for the big Collab Day. They are from Tasmania. This beer is by no means “local”.
  • Feb 22nd-Mar 28th: A lot of logistical planning starts over the actual Collab Day. Who’s catering, who’s coming, who’s working, who’s bringing beer, how are we going to fit everyone… While this is happening we are also planning the name, label design, release dates, sales strategy, etc.
  • March 29th, 8:00am: VCBW COLLAB BREW DAY! This could be a post all on its own but basically read Stephen’s article, then add in awesome BBQ from Re Up, lots of beers from your favourite local breweries and about 80 brewers descending on New West to drink, eat and chat.
  • March 29th, 11:00am: Iain and the Strange Fellows gang roll in apologizing for being late.
  • March 29th, 11:30am: The pilot batch of Tu Meke we did a month earlier is put on tap and is enjoyed by all. Eric and Iain sigh with relief as with Collab Brews you often don’t have a lot of time to do smaller batches in order to dial in the recipe. Iain and Eric pose for a photo which is promptly put on our Instagram account.
  • March 29th, 4:30pm: The brew is almost complete and everyone is sitting outside enjoying the sun. Adam Crandall from Moody Ales hasn’t shown up which is weird because that guy loves free beer and BBQ.
  • March 29th, 7:00pm: About 20 people are left as it’s a Tuesday. The folks that are still here either don’t have kids, have Wednesday off, or have forgotten that it’s a Tuesday.
  • March 29th, 11:34pm: Ben Coli from Dageraad is trying to figure out if he can safely ride his bike home to Vancouver. He heads to the Skytrain instead.
  • March 29th, 11:58pm: I crawl into bed happy with how the day turned out. Jude wakes up, I remember that it’s Tuesday.

And a month and a half later here we are! The excitement of VCBW upon us, we have a great cause to support in Music Heals, and of course a beer that we are proud of.

So yes, although boring on the outside, collab brews are a fantastic way to work with people you like and admire, all while throwing a massive party for 80 of your brewery friends.

Cheers to a collaborative industry!
Jorden

#RoyalCityLove Contest

IMG_3198

To celebrate the can release of the first beer we handcrafted in New Westminster we want you to share your love of the city we call home.

Hashtag your favourite photo of New West on Instagram or Twitter with “#RoyalCityLove + @steelandoak” and you will automatically be entered to win a $50 gift card to our brewery.

We know you love New West as much as we do and we want to share that with the world.

#RoyalCityLove

*contest ends March 20th.

The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer

It’s back for Christmas! The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer for the craft beer lover on your list. Or you could always just treat yo self.

Details:

  • 1 x $50 Gift Card
  • 1 x S&O Toque
  • 2 x 20oz Pilsner Glasses
  • 2 x S&O Flagship Beers
  • 1 x Handy S&O Carrying Case

$92 value for $75 available now in our Tasting Room until December 24th!

We also have Gift Cards, Hoodies, Tees, Hats, Glassware, and pretty much anything else a beer lover could want!