Video courtesy of Mongomery Martin Contractors
Well folks, we did it. Last Friday, in the blistering Memphis heat we broke ground on WISEACRE 2. We achieved a benchmark that has been the better part of 2 years in the making. We did it in front of a small group of business partners, city officials, employees, and family members. One small step for man, one giant leap….nevermind. Don't worry, we still made it weird. If you feel left out just wait for the grand opening. Less pageantry, more party.
Davin and Kellan had no idea where this journey was going to lead them at the beginning--worst case scenario would be their friends and family would still drink their beer, maybe. We’ve enjoyed success at our Broad Avenue location, so much so that our 10-year plan was blown out of the water in 3. To say that this is more than anyone could have imagined is an understatement. It’s one thing to draw up plans and figures on paper. It’s another thing entirely to see these dreams come to life.
Craft beer has flourished around the idea that bigger is not always better. As we grow we strive to maintain this bizarre gumbo of thoughts and feelings we call “culture”. A question that continues to come up at our all-staff meetings is “are we still having fun?” It may seem silly but it’s incredibly important to who we are as a company to keep asking ourselves that. Many of our employees work long hours in uncomfortable conditions. Often it seems like there are never enough hours in the day to get it all done. We make sacrifices because when you’re doing it right, work doesn’t really feel like work.
It may come off as trite to thank everyone (especially you reading this now) but we really mean it. To every bar, restaurant, liquor store, concert hall, grocery store, and countless other establishments that have given us a chance. To our distributors, for all the backbreaking work they have done in the name of WISEACRE. To the city of Memphis, for her unwavering support and without which we would never have been able to get off the ground. To the significant others of our employees who have been patient through early mornings, late nights, and everything in between. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you.
Some frequently asked questions:
-Are you keeping Broad Ave?
Yep! While WISEACRE 2 (located on the corner of BB King and Butler) will be our full-time production brewery, we will still keep our original location to continue making specialty beers. More info to come.
-When are you expecting to have the new location open?
Great question! With all the moving parts and pieces involved it’s safe to say by the fall of 2020, and if it’s sooner than that even better.
-Are you going to start selling in ______ (insert city/state/country)??
As we open a brewery that makes more beer there’s a good chance we’ll be selling it in more markets. Follow us on social media for announcements.
-When are y’all gonna make my favorite beer again?
We love you, talk to you soon!
The Cori Cycle — the process of sugar metabolism — is named after husband-and-wife team Gerty Theresa Cori and Carl Ferdinand Cori (1896-1984), the couple responsible for helping us understand how cells use food and convert it to energy through a cyclical process in the muscles. Their landmark carbohydrate research not only led to the development of treatments for diabetes, it also made them winners of the 1947 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, and Gerty the first American woman Nobel laureate in science.
Born in Prague, Gerty Radnitz was one of few women to enter the Medical School of the German University of Prague. She met husband Carl in her first year and after graduation, the couple married. While Carl was afforded the opportunity to work at the University of Vienna’s medical clinic and Pharmacological Institute, Gerty could only work as assistant at the Karolinen Children’s hospital because of her gender.
In 1936, they discovered glucose-1-phosphate, a derivative of glucose, the form in which sugar, or glucose, is stored in muscles. Known as the Cori ester, it is an important part of the glucose conversion process. They also identified phosphorylase, the enzyme that breaks down glycogen in the Cori ester. Based on their findings, the Coris were able to show how muscle glycogen (the form in which sugar is stored in muscles) is broken down to lactic acid; transported to the liver, where it gets converted to glucose; then cycled back to the muscle to serve as an energy source.
In 1947 Gerty Cori became the third woman—and the first American woman—to win a Nobel Prize in science.
Coincidentally, Davin and Kellan's grandmother was one of the few female students at Washington University during this time from 1936 to 1940 and was the first in her family to attend and graduate from a university.
Exercise your Cori esters by sipping on our newest India Pale Ale: Gerty. Brewed with Simcoe, Amarillo, Ahtanum, Chinook, and Centennial hops; almost as complex as glucose-1-phosphate.
As with many historical styles, there are many varying versions on exactly hose the imperial stout style came into being. Basics: stouts stemmed from porters. A stronger version of the porter, a "stout" porter was made and the porter part eventyally dropped. Stout became its own style that branched off into other categories as well. The Imperial Stout was a stronger version of the stout, supposedly made specifically to last the journey to Russia. Though there may have been other reasons as well, it did gain the name "imperial" due to its popularity with the imperial court of Russia. This was the first time "imperial" was attributed to a beer. It is now used in conjunction with many other styles, indication it is a stronger version of that style (usually 8% abv and above).
Barrels have been around for a crazy long time & have been used in the storage and transportation of all sorts of cool stuff, from denarii (Roman coins) and crackers early on to olive oil, vinegar and wine in the middle ages. The design of the barrel, with its bulbous midsection, made it easy to pivot and roll heavy loads from place to place. Of course, beer made its way into a barrel too...
However, flavors from the wood were not desirde at first. To prevent this, the wood was soaked in boiling water, hydrochloric acid or lined with pitch or tar. Now, we have stainless steel kegs for general storage, so if wood barrels are used, imparted flavors from the wood is usually desired. Most often, brewers take previously used barrels from the world of wine and spirites. Wood flavors are softened and you get the bonus flavors of the pervious inhabitant. We typically let our already fermented beer rest in barrels for close to a year. These barrels sit in the ambient temperature of our brewery. The brewery is not temperature controlled, so heat and humidity change with the seasons. This lack of control would usually cause great concern; however, temperature swings are a friend to barrel aging. With those changes, the beer inside the barrel works its way in and out of the walls, soaking up all the delicious flavors of the wine or spirit and flavor compounds from the wood itself. These flavors can include cherry, vanilla, coconut, and more depending on the type of wood used in its cooperage. Since the base beer has already gone through fermentation, it contains thebulk of its booze before entering the barrel. However, it can pick up a percent or two after soaking up the spirit from the walls. You can barrel age any style in any type of barrel. We've barrel aged an Imperial IPA in gin barrels, a Belgian single in Tequila barrels, a Belgian stout in cognac barrels...whatever flavor combination is desired. Howzabout a barleywine aged in Malort barrels? That'd be something.
We make this imperial stout every year in late December & early January. After fermentation, the beer goes into used Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels to sit in ambient temperature for the rest of the year. With temperature changes, the beer will expand and contract in and out of the walls, picking up delicious flavors from the bourbon soaked wood, as well as flavors of toasted coconut, cinnamon and vanilla (imitation vanilla comes from wood as opposed to the actual vanilla beans). We do intensify these flavors by adding vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks to the barrels towards the end of the process. In late December, we take the beer out of the barrels, carbonate it, and put it into bottles and a few kegs. While consistency is usually desired in most of our beers, this is one where the difference year to year are part of what makes it so cool. The base beer is always the same; however, with variances in temperature and other factors throughout each year, the flavors brought out from the abrrel will also vary. For example the 2015 version had quite a bit of cherry flavor, while the 2016 had very little cherry but was more intense in coconut. This year, 2018, coconut aroma is robust. Flavors like silky dark chocolate and cherry are present. Roasty, warm cinnamon undertones round it all out. It is quite the cozy experience...like your mouth is relaxing by a fireplace in a log cabin.
Aging Astronaut Status in the Bottle
Once in the bottle, one could age it (if it is possible to have it in your possession and not drink it). Some flavors will fade (like cinnamon) while others will intensify (like sherry), so the desired length of aging time really depends on what you want out of it. It will smooth out a bit after a month as the heat from the booze fades. So, if you wanted to get some drink now and some for later (or even some to drink much much later), well, that'd be cool...
Perfect for a long day of drinking, Comfort Hunter is a light bodied beer with a dry, roasty, espresso-like finish. We carbonated this usually nitrogenated style for an extremely bright and refreshing experience most don't expect from a Dry Irish Stout. Stouts stemmed from the porter family of England in the 1800s, with brewers creating stronger and roastier versions first called stout porters and eventually just stout. Though many porters and stouts are still pretty close in color and flavor, we can look to the addition of unmalted roasted barley in stouts as one of the main differences in their recipes.
The first use of it is often attributed to Arthur Guinness. In Ireland, Arthur (we are great friends--he calls me at home) started adding highly kilned unmalted barley to his stout porters as a way of avoiding the taxes placed on malted barley. Technologies in malt kilning had recently advanced and became far more precise. For consistency, brewers switched to using large amounts of the lightly kilned and highly fermentable pale malt to provide the sugar necessary for fermentation and smaller amounts of the more highly kilned dark malted barley to tweak color, flavor and body. By replacing some of the latter with unmalted (which meant untaxed) roasted barley to contribute to the darker color and roasty flavors, it saved Arthur a bit of money in taxes. Others followed suit and the Dry Irish Stout developed, along with many others in the stout family (oatmeal, milk, imperial, etc).
Beer often replaced meals for Irish laborers, and stout was a favorite for its low alcohol content necessary to get through the work day...or through a long day of sitting in the pub if they were out of work or retired like Crebs and Andy.
Dry Irish Stouts are light bodied dark ales with a slight acidity that makes it very drinkable. Many mistakenly think it is a very heavy and caloric style since commercial versions often have a very rich and creamy mouthfeel. Dry Irish Stouts are actually very low in calories compared to many beers, since they typically have a lower alcohol content. Less alcohol usually means less carbs and calories in comparison to a higher alcohol content beer. You make beer by converting starches into sugar then converting that sugar into alcohol. A lower alcohol content beer means less starch and sugar went into the making of it.
The creamy rich effect that makes most Dry Irish Stouts so filling and seem heavy is created by nitrogenation--the use of mostly nitrogen gas to form the bubbles as opposed to the usual all CO2 used for almost every other style.
However, we like the punch of flavor, bite and drinkability imparted by CO2, so we carbonate all our beers and steer clear of nitrogenation, even for our Dry Irish Stouts. This makes for an extremely bright and refreshing experience most don't expect from the darker beer.
In short, wet hopping refers to the state of the hops being used (still fresh and full of moisture) and dry hopping refers to the point in the process the hops are added (late in the process, in the fermenter when he beer is cold). Dry hopping has nothing to do with the state of the hop itself. In fact all hops used for beer are dried for a very good reason, but let's start at the beginning:
Hops are a seasoning for beer, adding unique flavors and aromas based on the variety of hop used. However, like the herbs you use to season food in the kitchen, hops can be used dried and stored over long periods of time or used just after being freshly picked, at harvest time. However, hops are only harvested once a year: late summer/early fall in the northern hemisphere and in the spring in the southern hemisphere. Since we need to make beer all year long (not just in the fall or spring), most hops are dried immediately after being picked, packaged and stored for later use. Most hops that go in beer are used in this state.
However, we do have the unique opportunity to use freshly picked hops once or twice a year, twice if you can get your hands on some of that southern hemisphere harvest and get it overnighted from afar-far. We make our wet hopped beer just once a year in the fall, getting the hops shipped in from Michigan and using them within 24 hours of when they were picked. It is necessary to use them quickly, because hops in this state (still full of moisture) will degrade and their aromatic qualities will go from awesomely delicious to terribly stinky fast. However it is well worth the effort. Like using fresh vs. dried parsley, the underlying flavors will be similar to the hop variety's dried counterpart but with an added freshness that is hard to describe beyond, "it tastes...green(?)".
Since we use wet hopping to describe the use of freshly picked hops, still full of moisture, you'd think dry hopping would refer to using dried hops. However, almost all hops used in brewing have been dried, and we add these dried hops multiple times throughout the brew process: on the hot side, while the wort is boiling, later in the boil, in the whirlpool as the wort starts to cool and after the wort is cooled and sent to the fermenter, where the yeast turns wort into beer. It is only at this final stage, in the fermenter while the beer is cold, do we refer to adding hops as "dry-hopping". It is strictly refering to the point in the process we add the hops, not the state of the hops themselves. Why do we call this process dry hopping? That's another story and, frankly, I don't know that one.
Join us for a tour of our brewery that includes WISEACRE history, beer history, the science behind the ingredients and processes involved in making great beer.