Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why the Nautilus shell?

It has been a few years since we began this homebrewing blog. I thought now would be an appropriate time to look back at one of our original posts that still encapsulates our passion for and connection to brewing. Let's take a look down memory lane...

Tuesday, August 19 2014 ~

Inspiration is a strange thing. We commonly find ourselves settling into habits and rituals that make the more difficult things in life like time management, expenses, and responsibilities just a little easier. That’s just good planning. However, once in a while something strikes us in such a way that we question everything we do, think, and say. Something that reaches us on a deep level and forces us to examine exactly why it is we act the way we do. 

So how was I inspired by a creature straight out of ancient history? Commonly referred to as a “living fossil,” the Nautilus has changed very little over the last several million years. Its simple life under the ocean is nothing particularly amazing; it’s not the most deadly predator under the sea, it’s not the most pleasing creature to the human eye, it’s not even at the top of the food chain in its ecosystem. However, its shell is a work of art that nature crafted hundreds of millions of years ago that has persevered and allowed this interesting organism to thrive through countless generations.

The shell of the nautilus is arranged in a type of mathematical spiral. Without getting too nerdy, I’ll explain what this means to the organism that lives within this geometric enclosure. As a hatchling, a nautilus occupies three to four small chambers arranged in a tightly wound spiral of a sort of mother-of-pearl material. As the nautilus grows, it creates new, larger chambers in a prescribed pattern around its older chambers, sealing off the previous one except for a small duct. In this fashion, the nautilus continues its growth around its center creating proportionally similar but larger enclosures until the end of its life.

It is this constant prescribed growth in a clear and direct pattern that caught my eye and that continues to inspire my own personal growth. Even as a young creature, it knows that it must create a new space that it will grow into and subsequently, eventually outgrow. The constant drive of time is ever present in the mind of the nautilus, and it embraces this drive as it embraces its own former chambers. Constantly improving by creating new pieces of itself, yet tied to its origin by building upon itself, it never loses its tie to the beginning of its life. It even uses the small duct left connecting each previous chamber to control its buoyancy, allowing it to navigate its environment by using its abandoned past as a tool.

In many ways, the nature of this ancient creature defines the way we brew beer. Though we are constantly moving into newer and bigger environments, we realize the need to end the previous chapters while never forgetting the structure and utility of these past experiences. We as brewers constantly use what we learn and where we came from to guide us on a known path outward from our origin to the end of our journeys. Though we hopefully have many years and many new experiences ahead of us, the nature of our progress should always be defined by what we have learned and assimilated throughout our experiences.

It’s no coincidence that this shape has inspired us. After all, spirals are all around us (no pun intended). Though circles and spheres may be the most perfect omni-directional object, spirals are nature’s reaction to this omnipresence, in response to gradients of influence. Just look at the shape of galaxies, whirlpools and maelstroms, even weather phenomena like tornadoes and hurricanes.

So when people ask me why I chose the nautilus shell to be the symbol of New Main Brewing, that is the long answer. The short answer is I’m a huge nerd, and geometry is kind of my thing. However, nothing in life is worth doing unless you are passionate about it, and I believe that this symbol perfectly describes the nature of this brewing endeavor. Though we must constantly grow into the new, we must also build upon our main core of traditions.

We want to thank Melissa Brimer once again for helping us with our logo design. 
We get by with a little help from our friends!

Make sure to get your very own New Main Brewing Company 
"Coming Soon" shirt!

Thanks again for reading. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The rumors are true!

After months and months of research, after countless brewdays and hours spent talking with friends, after days, weeks, months of "what if," we have finally decided...

New Main Brewing is going pro.

Amanda and I are pleased to announce that we are planning to open New Main Brewing Company in the Mid-Cities region of DFW. We have not arrived at this decision lightly, and we are not messing around. We have been working with some local brewers for background information, local business owners for legal info, and our network of friends in the brewing industry and community for general planning advice. We are committed to opening and running an exceptional brewing business that produces great beer and provides our community with an outstanding place to share a pint with each other.

While we were investigating if this was going to work or not, a lot of things fell into place to convince us that the time is now. We were very fortunate to stumble upon Empire Commercial Real Estate while scoping out potential locations. They are just as excited as we are at the prospect of our community having its own brewery and taproom, and they are helping us find our brewery's location. We can't wait to start planning our site and building!

We were also lucky to have such a great network of friends both through the blog and through other homebrewing competitions. We will be bringing on our friend and award-winning homebrewer Kyle Nelson of Steel Rain Beer as our Head Brewer as well as his wife Erin to help us on the financial and marketing side of the business. Take a moment to go read through Steel Rain Beer's blog to learn about these amazing people. We are excited to bring them along with us on this crazy journey, and we can't wait for all of you to meet them!

We call ourselves New Main Brewing for a few reasons. First, it is a callback to a family story of mine wherein a couple of brothers (my grandfather and great uncle) spent some quality time planting trees on New Main Drive at Texas A&M College. Those trees shaded my sister, my brothers, and me on our way to our classes serving as a reminder of the value of hard work and the importance of focus. Secondly, we wanted to describe the type of craft beer experience we wanted to share with all of you.

Our beer will follow a simple layout of 6 "Main" beers with a few specific "New" treatments for each style. Over the next few months we will have several tasting parties to get your feedback on each beer and its variants, so you will have the opportunity to have a hand in determining our tap lineup! We are planning on some favorite styles like Stout and Porter, but we will also offer some exciting Belgian styles like Saison and Witbier.

We will also feature a VIP club for the taproom. For a monthly membership fee, you will have first access to new beer releases, discounts on pint and growler purchases, swag, and exclusive raffle drawings. We will also hold a VIP-only party before our grand opening to thank all of you with your very own celebration. More on that later.

We are still at the very beginning of this journey, and we thank all of you for your continued support of our homebrew team as well as our blog. Thus far, interacting with you all has been a tremendously helpful and rewarding part of our homebrewing hobby, and I can't overstate how grateful we are for that. We can't wait to meet even more of you at our several upcoming tasting parties and fundraising events over the next few months.

Now here's the part where y'all come in.

Starting a brewery is going to take a lot of time, a lot of effort, and A LOT of capital. We are going to have several opportunities for y'all to help us make this dream a reality. First, we are accepting donations through our new company Facebook page for a variety of levels. Your generous donation will go directly into funding our brewery, but there are several perks of donating at this stage available as well. For example, a donation of $5-$25 will earn you a New Main Brewing Company sticker and a thank you card. A $100 donation will  not only earn you a snazzy sticker, but you'll also be immortalized by a plaque on our wall of supporters, which will be prominently displayed in the brewery taproom. A $150 donation will secure your very own personalized bar stool in the taproom, as well as the aforementioned sticker. Seriously, we like the stickers.

We also have opportunities for y'all to spend some quality time with us at the brewery. A donation of $500 will earn you a party at the brewery for you and up to 100 of your friends. If you have a larger group of friends, coworkers, or colleagues, a donation of $1,000 will secure a party for up to 200 at the brewery. Think rehearsal dinners, retirement gifts, company party, or just pool some funds together with your friends! For those of you more interested in the brewing process, a donation of $2,500 will give you the chance to brew a recipe with New Main Brewing Company as a brewer-for-the-day on our commercial system and a party to share your beer with all your friends and family. 

If none of that is really your style, we'll have several opportunities for you to come volunteer at the brewery as well, once it's built of course. We will have several beers that will require ingredient preparation, and we'd be happy to exchange your help for some beer. We'll also have volunteer opportunities for kegging, cleaning, special event staff, and taproom activities. Make sure to keep an eye on our social media for these opportunities as they will be first come, first serve.

We will kick it all off with a t-shirt sale through featuring our logo on the front and "Coming Soon, Thanks to Me!" on the back so you can brag to your friends about the brewery you're helping to build. In the mean time, make sure to like and follow us on all of our social media so you can keep up with our ongoing process. We plan to share all the ups, downs, and sidewayses we encounter, and we welcome your feedback every step of the way. This is our dream, but we want this to be our community's brewery. 

We believe beer is about people, and we're excited to share this experience with all of you. Please follow us on our journey!

Facebook - New Main Brewing Co.
Twitter - @TheNewMainBrew
Instagram - newmainbrewing
Snapchat - TheNewMainBrew

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Martin House Riverside Shootout 2016

It's homebrew competition season!

We decided to run our newly assembled brew stand through a brew day Saturday before competition Sunday so that we wouldn't have a mess on our hands in front of the DFW homebrewing community. We brewed a slightly varied version of our Pale Ale that we originally fleshed out last summer for our friend's bachelor party (still haven't settled on a name for it!). I mainly wanted to make sure our new pump and hoses operated correctly, but the addition of a separate vessel for mashing was also on trial that day. 

So we went ahead and set up our folding blue awning in the driveway to invite any neighbors passing by to come try some beer and talk about brewing. Unbeknownst to our own damn selves, everyone thought we were participating in the neighborhood garage sale event that was happening on nearly every street in our neighborhood. People kept slowing down and stopping to come check out what we had, and here we thought, "Wow, look at all these people that want to see what we're brewing!"

While we weren't really prepared for an all out garage sale, we did have a few things we wanted to get rid of, so we slapped a few hasty signs on some bulky items we no longer had space for. We did still get a few people to come over and ask about brewing, so I still consider it a success: we managed to have a successful brew day. All systems go for Sunday! We celebrated like any good southerner should, with a massive crawfish boil at our friend Jeff's house. (Happy birthday Jeff!)

Sunday came soon enough, and we packed our car and Jeff's truck with all of our equipment needed to brew on site at Martin House. We arrived, got set up, and began mashing in with mercifully pre-heated strike water provided by the brewery. This cut a good hour or so off brew day and made cleanup a snap. The brewery also provided a good amount of the ingredients needed for brew day, including 2-row malt, several varieties of hops, and a nice fresh pitch of yeast to take home with us. The idea there is that whichever beer wins the competition should be as close as possible to the beer that will be brewed in the Pro-Am session at Martin House.

We had a relatively uneventful and efficient mash thanks to our new system, and began transferring wort over to the boil kettle to heat up to 212F. Now here is where we got a little wonky (technical term). We planned to use  Chinook hops (13% A.A.) provided by Martin House for First Wort Hopping to allow a smoother bitterness to come through in the tropical stout we were brewing. We collected our first running of wort in the brew kettle and threw our hops in at about 175F. The problem was that the wind blowing across the parking lot was playing hell with our burner flame. 

We didn't reach a boil until just over an hour later, which is an abysmally long time to have to wait for the familiar churn of 212F. Because our hops spent such a long time in the hot wort, we probably got 10-20 more IBUs than we intended, which was not ideal for the sweet stout base we needed. I adjusted the hopping schedule by pushing all of the aroma/flavor hops into the whirlpool phase, which occurs after the boil is complete.

With our nice fresh pitch of Martin House's house ale yeast, we brought our wort home to ferment. Apparently, the yeastie boys fought for their right to party, and we had ourselves a good ol' fashioned airlock blowout the next day. This is by far the most vigorous fermentation I've ever seen. The beer was LITERALLY churning with activity, pushing more and more krausen out through the clogged airlock every second. We evaded disaster by transferring some of the over-active beer into the smaller carboy (which had plenty of room) and replaced the airlock with a blowoff hose. Problem solved.

Fast forwarding to today, we've finished 2.5 weeks of primary fermentation and have split the batch into a 4-5 gallon batch for cold conditioning prior to pineappling, and the remainder is sitting in our wonderfully flavored and conditioned whiskey barrel. Once those condition for a few weeks, we'll bottle them and let them sit for a few months for competition and/or consumption in the cold weather months.

Our pre-competition pale ale turned out well, if not slightly more bitter than we'd like. We decided to dry hop this batch with Simcoe and Centennial for a nice floral and spicy aroma. We have a few ideas to up the mouthfeel and balance out the bitterness with a little more malt presence to make this one a staple beer once again. No diacetyl this time though, so I'll take it!

This weekend we'll be submitting 24 bottles of our rosemary, sage, and basil wit to Backcountry Brewing's Homebrewer Competition. We bottled a couple extras to make sure what we were submitting was the best possible version of our beer, and it definitely stands up to the fresh-out-the-keg offering! Hopefully we'll hear back on that one soon, and we just might have another Pro-Am on our hands!

As always, thanks for reading. If you or someone you know is getting into homebrewing, make sure to share us on Facebook and Instagram. Cheers!