Friday, July 31, 2009

Jamie Martin - Stupid Stuff Every Brewer Should Know

Let's say you really like beer. I know. A stretch, right? But, let's say you like beer enough that you've decided to make a career out of brewing the stuff. Your first job is an unpaid internship polishing tanks and scrubbing tanks at a tourist-town brewpub. You labor away at this for 3 years; after a little while you get to help sanitize a mashtun and eventually, maybe, the brewmaster lets you dump some grain in, maybe add dry hops. Heck, the brewmaster even lets you devise some recipes and lets you help brew them. Then, one day, the brewmaster quits, leaving you, just 3 years removed from scrubbing floors, to run the brewery.

It might be really useful to reference Stupid Stuff All Brewers Should Know But Often Don't, written by Brewmaster Jamie Martin. You might learn such useful advice as:

- "Cleaners are great for removing tough organic soil from the surface of stainless steel, but the additional acid cycle is required to remove inorganic material that could be hiding in the pores of your stainless steel that standard cleaners are too large to penetrate."

- "Happy healthy yeast already has all the nutrients it needs, so on a brew day instead of using a commercial yeast nutrient you can pull some yeast (I use 100ml/BBL), and add it to the boil. The cell walls will break down and the nutrients will be added to your wort."

- "When barrel aging beer, changing temperature will help create depth of flavor. Warm temperatures will let the beer into the wood and colder temperatures squeeze beer back out. If you don't have the space to store a bunch of barrels you can put the barrel into the beer, wood spirals work great for this."

And much more...

These are great tips, so I caught up with Jamie and asked her a few questions to introduce herself to those of you who may not be familiar with her or Moosejaw Pizza and Dells Brewing Company:

1. Who are you, where do you work, and how long have you been there? How did you get into brewing?

Jamie Martin: My name is Jamie Martin and I happen to be the only female Brewmaster in Wisconsin; I work at Dells Brewing Company (AKA Moosjaw Pizza and Dells Brewing Company). I have worked here since 2002 and took over as Brewmaster in 2005.

2. How did you get involved with Moosejaw and how long has Moosejaw been around? When someone thinks "Moosejaw" what are you hoping they are thinking about? What kinds of cool things have you been doing up there this summer?

JM: Moosejaw opened in April 2002,I started at Moosejaw as an unpaid intern in September 2002 and worked for free for five months scrubbing floors and polishing tanks. I operate a brewery in the biggest tourist town in Wisconsin. There is a different customer base and therefor a different brewing style. I think of this brewery as a gateway to craft beer; I mainly brew to style and only about 2% of the people that walk through the door actually know what craft beer is. It is my job to slowly and gently introduce them to small batch hand crafted beer (without scaring them) so next time they run across it they will be more inclined to have another. Now, I am gearing up for the Great Taste of the Midwest, then right after that I need to ship out my Great American BeerFest entries. Beer-wise just getting my fall beers ready Oaktoberfest and Milk Stout are already in tanks and Pumpkin Spice Ale will be made soon along with Wet Hop IPA. [ed note: "Oaktoberfest"!? You are speaking my language! Yum.]

3. You wrote "Stupid Stuff All Brewers Should Know But Often Don't". What was the impetus for writing the article and who do you see as the target audience for this article?

JM: To be honest I was very unprepared to run a brewery when I took over; I find most brewpubers are unprepared because you get your job when you're like 25/26 years old and really know nothing. I was lucky all the guys in Wisconsin were really kind and took me in and helped me with everything imaginable. Now I’m the one getting calls from the new brewers and they are the same questions I had. So I figured there was a gap in education something was missing between home brewing/assistant brewing and being a Brewmaster. It’s all the small stuff no one talks about because it now seems obvious to most of us but its not to new brewers. I would really like to turn this into a book some day. This would be a good read for any home brewer (I gave this speech to the Madison Home brewers Club) and anyone who wants to go pro.

4. I love this piece of advice: "When building your brewery plan ahead - Don't just build the brewery so it is comfortable for you to work in, make sure anybody can, big or small; if you are 6'2" don't make the connections for the CIP so high that someone who's 5' 2" can't reach them. You don't want to be the only one who can physically work in your brewery or make it so uncomfortable that no one else will want to work there." Just looking at your picture there, I'm going to guess that you're, what?, about 5'2"?

JM: Yeah I’m very short.

Does that advice come from any particular experience?

JM: Well not my experience; my good friend Laura from Stone added that tip. She’s short too.

5. When are we going to see more female brewers, darn it?!

Well that’s why my friend Teri Fahrendorf started the Pink Boot Society to promote women in brewing. There are a few of use out there; Christina is at Ale House, Jean is at New Glarus and Ann at Viking.

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