May 18th, 2013 by Myles Dannhausen
To many, pouring a glass of beer is far from a science. As long as it gets in the glass, we’re happy.
But for others, like Dan Ritchie of Draught Beer Systems, there’s an art to pouring a great beer. He’ll be telling us all about it at the Door County Beer Festival. Ritchie has been cleaning hundreds of beer lines and installing tap systems throughout Northeastern Wisconsin for more than five years.
Dan Ritchie’s Tips for Pouring A Great Beer
1. Never lean the glass against the faucet.
“Almost everybody does this, even most bartenders,” he says. “It’s terrible. You actually don’t want to pour at an angle at all, because you won’t get head on the beer. That head allows the CO2 to get out of the beer and let the malt flavor come through.”
2. Clean your lines
Whether you have a simple home tap or a full-fledged bar, Ritchie says your lines should be cleaned regularly to keep the flavor clean. Most bars will want to have their lines cleaned every two weeks. If they aren’t, a good taster will know it.
3. Know your chemicals
“I’ll be talking about what chemicals you should use, but more importantly, what you should stay away from that will damage your lines,” he says.
Ritchie will have a booth with beer line cleaning products and information on his services on the grounds. He does sales and service and specializes in glycol beer systems.
May 18th, 2013 by Myles Dannhausen
VIP ticket-holders will experience a rare Wisconsin cheese and beer pairing experience at the 2013 Door County Beer Festival hosted by Door County cheese specialists Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese.
Door County Cheese Specialists Host VIP Event
Door County cheese specialists Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese is hosting this very special event inside the historic Baileys Harbor Town Hall.
Special guest Marieke Penterman of Holland Family Cheese will talk about her award-winning Gouda and her Fenegreek Gouda. Penterman was honored in January with the award for the Grand Champion at the U.S. Champion Cheese Contest.
We’ll also be joined by Chris Roelli of Roelli Cheese, who brings his Red Rock and Dunbarton Blue Cheese, and Sara Hill from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, who will pair those cheeses with beers from Beechwood Brewing Company.
This special event will run for about an hour before VIP guests get a chance to hit the tasting tent to sample more of the 140-plus beers we’ll have on hand for sampling.
More about Marieke Penterman
Rolf and Marieke Penterman are first generation Wisconsin dairy farmers having moved from the Netherlands to Wisconsin in 2002. Because Holland is so small and the population so dense, farmers are limited in how much land they can obtain for dairying.
Having both grown up on small, 60-head dairy farms in the eastern part of Holland, Rolf and Marieke wanted to pursue their passion for dairy farming in an area that would afford them the capabilities of expansion.
Rolf’s brother Sander came to the United States in 1999 to work for a farmer in Baldwin, Wisconsin. During his three years in Baldwin Sander began to look for the best place for him and Rolf to start their own dairy farm. Wisconsin, with its vast dairy base and farm-friendly people seemed ideal and they purchased the property near Thorp. They now own 480 acres, milk 850 head and have approximately 1,300 head of cattle on their farm.
After some time, Rolf and Marieke decided they would like to add more value to their milk and conceived the idea of making some of it into cheese. Marieke began by obtaining her cheesemaker’s license. She then traveled back to Holland where she spent time on a “boerenkaas”, a farmhouse cheese plant. There she learned how to make authentic Dutch Gouda cheese. In November of 2006 Marieke produced her first of many batches of Gouda cheese.
As their farming operation and cheese production grew, so did their family. Twin daughters, Joyce and Luna, now 8 years old and their brother Dean, 5 years old, little sister Fenne 4 and brother Finn 3.
May 13th, 2013 by Myles Dannhausen
The folks from Door Peninsula Hops will be back at this year’s festival to talk about what it takes to create a small-scale hop-growing operation.
That’s everything from setting up a trellis system, planting, harvesting, drying and packaging. They’ll also have products for sale.
Located in Jacksonport, Door Peninsula Hops uses no pesticides or herbicides in their growing process, and all hops are handpicked and dried in small batches. Begun in 2010, owner Jeanne Majeski sells fresh hops right off the vine for wet hop brewing and dried hops for regular brewing.
“We currently have four varieties of hops: Cascade, Chinook, Magnum and Mt. Hood,” Majeski says. Though this year she’ll add Negget, Perle and Wye Viking.
Door Peninsula Hops will soon be found in Door County Hops Bitters, a limited edition product from Bittercube made exclusively with hops from Majeski’s operation.
March 17th, 2013 by Myles Dannhausen
Beer lovers rejoice – tickets for the 2013 Door County Beer Festival are now available!
After drawing 1,100 people to the grounds of the Baileys Harbor Town Hall in 2012, the event returns June 15, 2013, offering tastings of more than 140 of the world’s best craft beers, locally sourced food and incredible live music.
“You’re going to have to try really hard not to have a good time at this festival,” said festival producer John McMahon.
This isn’t just any festival, however, it’s a celebration of the beer-brewing craft and the region’s culinary artisans, including seminars from Wisconsin cheese-mongers, Alterra Coffee Roasters, Tapuat Kombucha and more.
The live music slate includes Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, a Michigan bluegrass quartet that stretches the boundaries of the genre. They’ll be joined by Door County favorites Highland Road.
New this year is the hard to find, rare and cellar beer swap, which takes place off the grounds of the festival and will give attendees the chance to trade these beers with fellow aficionados. Meanwhile, home brewers can measure their talent in the second annual Door County Homebrewing Championships.
Oh, and if you want to burn a few calories before your tasting, you’re covered there too. The Ride for Nature, a bicycle ride featuring routes of 15 to 100 miles, starts and finishes on the grounds of the festival.
February 3rd, 2013 by Myles Dannhausen
If you’re like us, you love trying new beers, especially those you can’t find every day. We want the Door County Beer Festival to be your chance to try as many new craft beer flavors as possible, and we just didn’t think that more than 140 beers would be enough.
So we’re adding a Rare and Cellar Beer Swap to this year’s event. The swap will take place outside the beer festival grounds and will offer you a chance to try some truly amazing beers not available at your local store or in Wisconsin. Check back here for details as we organize the swap. Complete details will be added to the site June 1, 2013.
January 6th, 2013 by Myles Dannhausen
The first Door County Beer Festival is in the books! Over 1,100 people turned out to sample fantastic beer and food, soak in the music, and learn more about brewing, local agriculture, and Wisconsin cheese from our great vendors and presenters.
Organizers John McMahon and Dave Eliot did a fantastic job putting this event together, and a bevy of tireless volunteers helped us pull it off, but it’s the quality of the people and conversation that made it such a wonderful day at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall Park. As I wandered the grounds I learned a ton about beer from the servers and other beer lovers at an event unlike any Door County has seen before.
Here were some of the highlights of my day wandering the grounds:
• Capital Brewery‘s bourbon barrel aged Imperial Dopplebock. At least I think that’s what it was. If you missed a chance to sample from this pony keg you missed one of the most buzz-worthy beers of the festival. Egg Harbor jewelry maker Angela Lensch described it best when she said it was “like an old fashioned in a beer.”
• Kyle Cherek and the folks from Wisconsin Foodie embracing the event and Door County. Cherek was on board and believed in this event from the very start. The Wisconsin Foodie crew spent three days on the peninsula taking in sights, restaurants, and talking to the people that make this such a great destination. We can’t wait to see the footage they came away with!
• The Creme Brulee Stout from Southern Tier had people talking in the tent. Sweet, but not as sweet as you might expect, the New York Brewery made an impact on a partisan Wisconsin crowd. The 2x Stout was tasty as well.
• Rush River. The Uber Alt German ale brought tasters back time and time again. “This is great!” I said to Robbie Stair as he continued to field endless requests. “Well, we didn’t come all the way up here to bring you crap beer,” he deadpanned in response. He wasn’t laughing. Gotta respect that.
• Alterra‘s free pour-over coffee. Great tasting and strong like bull, this hit the spot for me in mid-morning when four hours of Ride for Nature set-up and beer festival running had me dragging.
• Catching up with Carol Skare and her daughters Courtney and Karin from The Cookery.
For over 30 years The Cookery has been supporting local producers, but Carol said it was only after a fire shut the restaurant down for a year in 2007 that they had the time to re-evaluate their supply chain. Today their deliveries come much less often from a semi, and more often from the trucks and cars of local growers and farmers. While it’s still difficult to source as much as they would like on the peninsula, Carol says the local production scene it has come a long way in just the last five years.
• Chatting with home brewers, brewery reps, and folks like Brad from Stillmank Beer Company, just getting his product launched. The crowd at the festival was passionate about their beer, eager to learn, and more eager to share.
There was a lot more to love, and we certainly have a lot that we can improve on, but we couldn’t be happier with the crowd that made year one so great. Please chime in on our Facebook page or email info@doorcountybeer with your own thoughts on the festival. We’d love to hear from you!
See you next year!
December 7th, 2012 by Myles Dannhausen
The heartland of American beer once sourced its most important ingredients close to home. In the 1860s Wisconsin’s Sauk County produced 20 percent of America’s hops. By the turn of the century hops production in dairy land was all but gone.
At Gorst Valley Hops, James Altwies and his team of plant physiologists, environmental scientists, engineers, and horticulturalists are working to bring hops growing back to Wisconsin – one small farm at a time. They’ll be at the Door County Beer Festival in Baileys Harbor June 16 to talk about how they’re using science and a focus on small farms to bring hops home.
“I want to keep it here,” Altwies says, to make it a more authentic product, but also to reinvigorate small farms. The 450 microbreweries thriving in the craft beer renaissance use 5 to 6 million pounds of hops each year, but they’re importing them almost exclusively form Washington State.
Wisconsin was home to hops at a time when agricultural science was in its infancy. Hops are an extremely aggressive plant that can grow 12 – 16 inches per day and can completely dilute the soil if not well-managed, Altwies says.
“These are absolutely voracious plants,” Altwies says. “They require a lot of nutrients and get stressed and diseased easily. In the 1860s we burned out the soil and growing environment quickly, and they haven’t been grown here in significant numbers since.”
The folks at Gorst Valley Hops didn’t set out to become hops experts. They started with the idea of creating a new production and value-sharing paradigm in agriculture, and they wanted to do it in Wisconsin, to revitalize small farms and take agriculture back to sustainable roots. They researched every crop with a value of more than $10,000 an acre.
“We determined that hops is a bit of a sexy product that people will take pride in ownership all the way through the cycle of the product,” Altwies says.
Farmers are drawn to the idea of creating a great crop for a specific product, and in Wisconsin, there are few products that garner pride like a great beer.
“We don’t have to create a market for beer production,” he says, “so we decided to focus on beer ingredients. It’s a easier to get people interested in and passionate about growing beer ingredients than wheat or corn.”
Altwies, a horticulturalist who has studied high value crop production for 15 years, will preach at length about the fallacy of the industrial, one-method-fits-all practice of farming if given the chance.
“You don’t get something for nothing,” he says of the high production that mega-farms are able to gain using genetically modified seeds, powerful fertilizers, and pesticides. “That yield is going to require more input – light, airflow, nutrients. We as a people have to get away from that way of thinking. We need to be thinking more about the cyclical nature and the micro-environment on a farm. Too many people are saying ‘if I don’t have what I want, I’m either going to genetically modify it or put so much more energy to get what I can get out of these plants.’ People aren’t thinking about whether we should.”
He’s now trying to use science to make agriculture work on a small scale, focusing not on copying the growing practices of the Northwest or Europe, but on tailoring production techniques to each individual farm.
“We know enough to know that taking European styles and copying it here is not a good idea,” Altwies says. “They have a different climate, different soils, different test loads. We’re looking at it from the energetic, scientific sort of way. Take a group of farmers and ask them why they do something a certain way, and 9 times out of 10 they say, well that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
Gorst Valley is finding new solutions, looking at each individual grower and designing a trellis and production system to minimize disease and creating varieties specific to each farm’s micro-climate.
By going small and focusing on niche products with high value, Altwies believes we can not just help small farms survive, but make them attractive, lucrative enterprises.
“People say we have got to get closer to our food. Well, that sounds great at the cocktail party, but it’s hard to do,” he says. “We’ve created a Value-sharing program that makes it worth the effort of the farmers. Most farms get 5 – 15 percent of the value of the crop they grow. Well, at Gorst Valley we provide the science, but our farmers on average get 70 percent of the value of the sale.”
It’s accepted wisdom that in our society the consumer has to drive change in the marketplace. Altwies says it’s a nice thought, but convenience is always going to come first. He says change won’t happen in consumer choice until there’s a serious problem with the production system. His team is trying to lead with science, not consumer choice.
“We can be ahead of the game here,” he says. “Let me show you, Mr. farmer, that you can do better by staying small if you focus our energies in the appropriate area. Your 40 or 80-acre farm has much more value if you stay small. I’ll do the science so you can focus on growing. At the end, since you took all the risk, you’re going to get the majority of the benefit.
“To keep the value and the quality in the product we need to keep it local.”