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What you don’t know about brewing beer …

The Idaho Business Review asked brewers in Idaho to provide some facts about the process of brewing beverages that people who imbibe their products are likely not aware of. Following are the responses we got:

One interesting fact that it just now starting to get some attention is that some breweries use a “fining” agent to help clarify their beers that is made with a by-product of fish scales. The fining agent helps the suspended yeast in the beer to drop to the bottom of the tank, where it is left behind when the beer is removed from the tank, so that little or no yeast and little or no fining agent ends up in the beer.
Nonetheless, some vegetarians have taken exception to this hidden source of animal products in something that you would not assume otherwise had anything preventing a vegetarian from drinking it. Many production breweries use other methods to clarify their beers; we use a plate and frame filter for our bottled beers and a process that uses a volcanic rock for filtering our keg beers (the yeast particles are hooked or trapped onto the rough edges of the volcanic rock fragments), so it is not an issue at our brewery or many (others), but it is something that is garnering attention in the food world.
M. Gage Stromberg, III
President
Coeur d’Alene Brewing Company
Coeur d’Alene

A great deal of our history is based around the brewing of beer. The Mayflower stopped at Plymouth Rock because they ran out of beer and needed to brew more before the winter season set in.
Many brewsters (female brewers) were branded as witches and executed during the Middle Ages. This was done for profit by a male-dominated society by purging women home brewers from making beer and commercializing brewing.
Centuries ago, a month’s worth (or a moon’s cycle) of Honey Mead was given to the groom by the bride’s father as a dowry. We still call this post nuptial celebration a “Honeymoon.”
Beer history goes on and on is one of the founding pillars of our modern-day society.
Chuck Nowicki
National Sales & Marketing Director
Grand Teton Brewing Co.
Victor

Most people are unaware that beer is initially cooked. After cooking we have a product called wort (pronounce “wert”) that is cooled, and yeast then turns into beer. This take anywhere from 21 days up to one year for certain beers.
Fred Colby
Vice President/Brewer/Owner
Laughing Dog Brewery
Ponderay

For every 100 gallons of beer that we brew, we have about 200 pounds of soggy, wet spent grain that we generate. We use some of it to make spent grain beer bread. My chef’s latest creation is dog biscuits we are now selling as “Brew Biscuits.” The rest of the spent grain goes to a local farmer to feed to his hogs. He raises eight hogs a year off the spent grain from our small brewery.
Penny Pink
Brewer/GM/Owner
Portneuf Valley Brewing
Pocatello

What’s in a name?

Obviously, the names of beers are very important if you want to attract people’s attention. Many of the names we use are of local or regional landmarks. Other names of beers are subjects which are or would be on the minds of tourists or local patrons who frequent our establishment, i.e., beer names dealing with skiing, fishing, hiking, biking, rafting, etc.
Sean Flynn
Brewmaster/Owner
Sun Valley Brewery

The brewmaster, which is my husband, often names the beers. Spoon Tongue, for instance, was named after the family dog.
Jerie Fishwild
General Manager
Highlands Hollow Brewhouse
Boise

I am usually the one who comes up with names for our beers, but not always. One name which stands out, however, was inspired in a completely different way – by an accident in the brewery. While brewing a special batch of double-hopped Idaho Pale Ale, one of our co-head brewers, Cody Ragan, spilled a cleaning solvent on himself which unfortunately ran down his coveralls and into his rubber boots. The chemicals burned his foot before he could get his boots off and rinse his skin. Thankfully Cody was ultimately all right, but in his honor the other brewers suggested that particular batch be called “Hot Foot Double IPA.”
M. Gage Stromberg, III

A beer needs two of three factors to be successful: great name, great image or an exceptional brew. One of the three is simply not enough. We don’t release any beer that we feel is unworthy. However, if it doesn’t have a great name or image, it doesn’t sell. Even the best beer with a lame name and image will not move.
Chuck Nowicki

Names for our beers are often the result of brainstorming ideas from family, friends, co-workers and sometimes even customers. People often identify with the names of the beers we produce and, more often, with the original graphics we create for our beers. Even though my oldest son – and graphic artist for most of our artwork – named the Belligerent Ass Nut Brown Ale after my husband, many people think it’s named after their husband … wife, friend, etc.
Penny Pink

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