In August of 2016 we poured the last glass of BCT Brewing Project beer in Riverside California. But don't be sad. All the beers we poured were designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC, who still designs award winning beer for craft breweries internationally, and will be brewing small batch in Orange County California.
BCT Brewing Project was a Beancurdturtle Brewing Venture. From August 1st 2015 to August 1st 2016 we kept three taps flowing at Brew Crew Inc., a Craft Brewing incubator in Riverside California. To learn how to brew for a market. To brew test and pilot batch beers. To learn by working in a small batch brewing environment the idiosyncrasies of keeping taps flowing. We made some great beers and learned some good lessons. Then it was time to move on...
So, one may argue that this is a question that ladies and dudes with doctorates in theology should be debating - I'm just a brewer. But one may - and I daresay, one has - argued all sorts of nonsense. However, Tingle me Pink is not really about "one".
Tingle me Pink is about many. Many people who are effected by breast cancer. Many who have it, or who have recovered from it. Many who are family, friends, and loved ones of those who have beat, are beating, or who have been been beaten by it. Many who simply care for fellow folk who are or have been impacted by it in one way or another.
Why? Because 8% of my profits from sales of Tingle me Pink, for as long as it is brewed and enjoyed, will be donated to organizations advocating awareness and research for the cure of Breast Cancer. That means that even if you don't like it - you should drink it. Seriously - buy crap-tons of it and force me to make a boat-load of contributions to charities for the cause.
Having said that, I'll add that if you are a beer connoisseur with a discerning palate, you will find this beer to be amazing. The balance of hibiscus, rose hips, Szechuan Pepper, a proprietary wild yeast, and acidulated malt, pulls together a beer of crazy cool character that dances and tingles on the tongue like no other beer. No BS, it will get your attention - as it is intended to do,
I'm hoping to collaborate with other breweries, as many that are interested, to brew as much as possible. Because it is not only an amazing good beer, but every pint brewed will benefit a great cause.
Think about it... what's better than making stuff you love, to benefit something good? Does that really make Tingle me Pink equal to Jesus Christ on a Popsicle Stick? Well, not having a doctorate in theology I can't answer that. But I will say that if you need a good reason to enjoy a great beer, for an even greater cause - I just gave you one.
For Wild in the Sacc, which has been in the fermenter for a week - I'm checking gravity (remaining maltose not fermented), taste, and harvesting yeast off the fermenter for the super special beer I'm brewing next week. The gravity is 1.005, so the beer should be super crisp and refreshing. The taste is like grapefruit peel and spicy peppery. The yeast looks healthy and I harvested a nice pitch.
For Robin's Red - the brew day has not been without a couple challenges, but when the wort (unfermented beer) comes out a gorgeous garnet color, who can complain? A sneak taste of the wort delivers the lovely toasty slightly roasty profile that makes the beer so drinkable.
All is well at BCT Brewing Project this fine Saturday.
What's on tap this weekend? Robin's Red is back on tap.
Yes I know I promised to have Robin's Red on all the time. Yes I know it tapped out late last week. Yes I am ever so sorry, so very sorry. But, this is partly your fault. No, no - I'm not blaming you for drinking it. I'm thrilled that you like it so well that I may have to brew it every three weeks.
I just didn't realize you would be so thirsty for a damn good Irish Red Ale. It's like it's the one of the very best Irish Red Ales you've ever had. I brew it, and you drink it all within a few weeks.
So, keep up the good work - and I'll really truly try to keep it on all the time.
I brew an Irish Red Ale because the character of a Red suits the tastes of my son Robin, and I use an enzyme in the process that removes gluten. Robin doesn’t consume things containing gluten. I also brew an Irish Red Ale because, done well, it's a really satisfying pint for Craft Beer newbies and old timers both. For newbies because it’s just a really comfortable imbiber, and for old timers because we know how hard it is to get it right.
Now I’ve had a pretty good idea of what I liked in a Red Ale for a long time. But it was really tuned on May 31st 2014 when I enjoyed a pint of O’Hara’s Irish Red at Vaughan's Eatery in Dublin Ireland with my first dinner of a three-week European holiday.
O’Hara’s Irish Red has everything this style is supposed to bring to the table. A comfy smooth malt backbone well balanced by restrained hop bitterness, and a lovely garnet color offered as a feast for the eyes. When I brew a Red Ale, that’s what I’m aiming for. O’Hara’s hit the target bang on.
So fast forward a couple years and I’m brewing an Irish – Ok, Irish American – Red that my son can drink. Working the recipe, and I remembered that first beer of my holiday. I decide to craft a beer with the character and color of O’Hara’s, but tuned to the tastes and temperatures of Southern California. An Irish Red Ale carrying the comfort and satisfaction of the classic style, with a body that suits enjoying a pint, or two, or three (you can see where I’m going) on a 90F degree Southern California afternoon.
Now we’re on Batch #3 of Robin’s Red, and I brew batch #4 in five days. Time to side by side it with the beer that provided some inspiration, O’Hara’s Irish Red. Not a competition mind you, because if you have two good brewers making the same style of beer, you should be equally satisfied with the results, but in slightly different ways – and that’s what I find in this case.
There’s an extraordinary similarity to these beers. The O’hara’s has all the comfort and satisfaction I recall. Robin’s Red has very similar characters, great balance and lovely color, and yet a lighter body suited to our warmer climate – plus the bonus of gluten removal (lab tested less than 10ppm).
Robin’s Red is a lovely, enjoyable, and quite quaffable beer. Thanks to the want of brewing a beer my son can drink, a little inspiration from Carlow Brewing, and some tips on getting the color right from my friend Chris at Nocturna Brewing Company in Ensenada Mexico (they also make a terrific Red Ale).
Batch #4 will be the way it will be done from now on. An Irish American Red Ale, with American base grains and yeast, specialty grains from the Isles west of Europe, and a bit of brewing wizardry to remove the gluten.
You may ask, “Why do you watch your ratings on Untappd.com?”. Well I have a good answer. Untappd is where the market meets the mug. Folks from Craft Beer neophytes to nationally ranked BJCP judges weigh in with a zero to five rating on your beer, and the web site ranks you in relation to the rest of the beer universe.
So, how are we, BCT Brewing Project, doing? Well, I watch the brewery’s overall rating in relation to other highly regarded breweries in the local-ish market (OC and Riverside counties in So Cal), and the overall rating for the “most popular” beer we brew. Now we don’t yet have enough ratings to land in the global ranking for an individual beer or a brewery, but beer and brewery overall ratings are still calculated.
As a brewery, for the popular Orange County and Riverside County California breweries that are our market peers, we’re just about in the top of the mix of the best ranked. Not bad considering Orange County CA has some of the highest globally ranked breweries.
Our “most popular” beer (seems to be a mixed measure of the number of check-ins and rating) right now is Robin’s Red, a Red Ale (surprised me too). If Robin’s Red had enough check-ins at the current rating to get global ranking, it would be among the top ten rated Red Ales on the planet on Untappd. Now you may ask me, “Why is that cool Mr. Turtle?” – and of course I would have an answer.
You’d think a Red Ale is easy to brew, but no…
Achieving a comforting balance between malt characters and hop bittering is tricky.
Balancing malt and hop characters, and achieving a deep garnet color at the same time is even more challenging.
Then add the fact that Robin’s red is crafted to reduce gluten and lab tested to be less than 10ppm gluten.
Robin’s Red basically bleeds the BCT charter “Nothing Fancy, Something Special”. This of course makes me happy as I crafted this beer mostly to please the tastes and preferences (he’s gluten sensitive) of my son Robin.
So some day, Robin’s Red might get enough ratings to be in the global rankings – that would be nice. But even without that, I’m making a Red Ale that my son Robin enjoys and can drink without the typical next day challenges a gluten sensitive person might experience after a few pints of beer.
Top 10 on the planet would be nice. Top 1 for my son – even better.
Well, maybe if we kissed first, or at least a bedtime story? Ok then, a bedtime story – and it starts like this… Once upon a time there lived a little patch of wild yeast (and of course bacteria), on a Tangerine, on a tree, in a brewer’s back yard. That brewer was me.
I saw the patch of wild yeast and I was intrigued. Should I harvest it, propagate it, and test it in a beer? My answer? “Hell no!” Nearly everyone I know who tried something similar ended up with a crazy funky nasty beer. And I didn’t have time for that kind of stuff.
Yet a couple days later I found myself at The BrewHouse in San Juan Capistrano, and Ron had given me a taste of a Wild Pale Ale from The Wild Beer Company in Somerset England. It was a very nice simple ale, a little earthy and funky, slightly tart with a nice dry finish. Nothing fancy really, but quite special. …and I thought of the patch of wild yeast.
It just happens that it had rained like the dickins that day, so the patch of wild yeast had a good cleansing. If there ever was an opportune time to harvest wild yeast – this was it. So I went home, cooked up a bit of a malt sugar starter solution, sanitized a knife and a stainless steel worktop, clipped the tangerine, sliced the skin with the wild yeast off, and dropped it in a sanitized container with the starter.
There was a brief period of fermentation, then the starter settled. So I stepped up to 1-liter on a stir plate. That cleared and I moved the settled yeast to a 2.5-liter starter. That should give me enough mixed culture organisms to brew a 5-gallon batch of beer and keep some aside for lab analysis if the beer turned out well.
The first 5-gallon batch I called “Ordinary Wild” (a pilot batch under the Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC umbrella) because the base beer is about as simple as you can get. One type of malted barley base malt, one hop for a balance of bittering, and the wild yeast mixed culture. Lucky for me, Ordinary Wild turned out to be a truly wonderful beer. So what to do next? Well, time to brew a 1-barrel batch with the wild yeast mixed culture for BCT Brewing Project, and take the mixed culture sample down to White Labs in San Diego for analysis and banking,
The 1-barrel batch I called “Cali Native”. It was my typical grains for a hoppy Pale Ale, slightly aggressive hop bittering, a nice bit of Sorachi Ace hops for dry hopping, and the mixed culture with Wild yeast. Cali Native was frankly a fantastic beer, evidenced by the fact that it sold faster than any beer yet at BCT Brewing Project.
Meanwhile White Labs has isolated the predominant organisms in the mixed culture and had them genetically sequenced. They (and I as well) are surprised to find that there are (but for insignificant numbers) predominantly two organisms. A very large percentage being a wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain, and the second being a strain of Lactobacillus casei. As far as yeast for brewing goes, I hit the jackpot – a wild Sacc strain from my own back yard. I have my very own native house yeast that the lab tech at White Labs named “Beancurdturtle Sacc”.
But will Beancurdturtle Sacc (without the Lactobacillus casei) have all of the great characters that made Cali Native such a fantastic beer? Only way to know is to make a beer designed to be all about Dat Yeast. Similar to Ordinary Wild – one malt and one hop – and ferment it with the Wild Sacc isolate to see what we get. This beer is done fermenting, and tastes off the fermenter are very promising – meaning very delicious. It will go in kegs this week, and be on draft this coming Saturday February 27th.
I’m very excited about Wild in the Sacc. It totally embodies the BCT/Beancurdturtle brewing philosophy – nothing fancy, something special. Beancurdturtle Sacc expresses lots of citrus characters, peachy chardonnay aromas, an earthy “farmhouse” character, and drops for a beer of amazing clarity even unfiltered. I do hope you’ll enjoy this beer very much as this is the simplest representation I will brew using Beancurdturtle Sacc.
As you might expect, I’m already formulating more exciting ways to use Beancurdturtle Sacc in future beers.
What's on deck? Two really, really good Belgian styled beers.
Ok, I know - people want the hoppy pale beers, the big stouts, and the super sours. And you're maybe wondering, "why classically styled Belgian beers?"
Because the beer world needs nuance. Because a beer doesn't need to be more bitter than a bad breakup, blacker than moonless midnight, or sour enough to etch tooth enamel to be good.
So when Cali Native taps out, we'll put on Bon Souvenir - a classic Saison that's about crispness, astringency, peppery spice and herbal noble hop goodness.
And when Captain Jack Turtle taps out, we'll put on The Dub - a Belgian Dubbel touched by dried black figs and candied ginger.
Your task is to slow down, enjoy the aromas, savor the flavors - metaphorically, stop and smell the roses.
Bon Souvenir and The Dub are both wonderful beers, enjoy them.
Do you have a Tio Xevie? I have a Tio Xevie - that's "Uncle Xavier" in Spanish. When I was a little five year old half Mexican dude visiting family in East LA we went to Tio Xevie's house. We sat in his kitchen, at an ice-cube patterned Formica topped table, on a black and white checkerboard linoleum tile floor. Tio Xevie turned on the gas at an old range, struck a wooden match and lit the burner, then tossed a few tortillas right on the grate. They would warm and get a few roasty black freckles - then he would reach in the fire with his bare hand, pick them up (I was 5, it was amazing) and flip them.
You got a paper napkin in front of you - and a stick of butter with half the wrapping ripped off was in the center of the table. Tio Xevie would toss a steaming tortilla on the napkin. You hold the stick of butter by the wrapped end and blot the naked end on the tortilla. Then you roll the tortilla and eat it - butter dripping down your hands, some on and some off the napkin. If you were lucky, and it was chilly, you might get some champurrado. Champurrado is Mexican hot chocolate. It's got bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, milk, and a bit of corn flour to thicken it. Delicious rich stuff.
So what's my Tio Xevie, tortillas, and champurrado got to do with a Russian Imperial Stout? Well I was preparing Captain Jack Turtle - a Russian Imperial Stout with cocoa, vanilla bean, and cinnamon - for transfer to kegs last night. I took the usual in-process taste test and was reminded of champurrado, then the memory of Tio Xevie's kitchen came to me.
Do you have a Tio Xevie? Everyone should have a Tio Xevie. But just in case you don't - I've got a Russian Imperial Stout for you that is nearly as rich as my memory of Tio Xevie.
We'll be tapping Captain Jack Turtle this Saturday December 12th at the brewery tasting room. Just in time for the winter holidays. You can have a glass at the brewery, or take a growler home for your holiday feast - and when you do enjoy it, raise your glass and say "Un brindis por Tio Xevie."
Did I say I'm not a big fan of most pumpkin Holiday beer? I mean, it's Ok if you like them - everyone has their thing. But I've only found a few that I like. But then what do you do if you're not a fan of pumpkin beer, but you want a good holiday beverage?
Well, there's a few holiday seasonals that I do like, and there's a few all year beers that fit the theme as well. The Dub for example is not brewed as a holiday beer, but it fits the need. It's a rich, American tilted version of the Belgian Dubbel style with aromas and flavors like brown bread, caramel, a bit of cocoa, molasses, dried dark fruit, and subtle spiciness. It's a comfortable quaff any time, and it'll do for damn sure during the holidays.
I kegged a batch up last night. It will be on draft on Friday to kick off the Halloween weekend. And I couldn't resist packaging up a 2.5 gallon keg to take home. I like it. You're going to like it. Come on down on Friday and for the next several weeks to get you some.