20 July 2012 - WE MADE IT! On the 17th
of June, a Sunday, a group of our friends and loyal customers helped us raise
a glass to toast the final day at our original location. Then on the 21st of
June, we opened our doors at 150 Washington Street on the South West corner
of the courthouse square.
Unlike the limited hours and lack of food at our tiny old tasting room, our new brewpub is roomy, open five days a week (Wednesday - Sunday) 11am until 10pm (ish), and has a full kitchen which serves up fresh tasty food for lunch and dinner. Chef Krista and her staff have taken the ball and are running, making exciting and fresh meals, some on our own breads made from spent grains. (Keep tabs on our menu as it will be changing regularly.)
As with anything new, there are always a number of hurdles to overcome. While the room is spacious and has a wonderful view upon the outside, it is constructed of concrete and glass. Both of these materials are very hard and acoustically reflective. Additionally, the shape of the outside walls cause any sound in one side of the room to be reflected around to the other (and back again). We have a number of acoustical control solutions in progress and they should be implemented within the next month's time. Additionally, half of the clear glaze coat which we applied to the bar top never hardened, so we have that portion of the bar closed off and we are working on finding a solution to fix it. Please bear with us...
In order to move the brewhouse to the new location we had to shut down production. Fortunately it only took one week to move the equipment to the new facility and get it brewing again. While a week seems like a short time, with the demand from the new location's beer sales, Mr. Lahti (our brewer) has been working non-stop for over a month to catch us up on production. I thank him heartily for his dedication and hard work, as I do for all of our new staff which are helping to make Figure Eight Brewing a success. Cheers!
4 March 2012 -
Figure Eight Brewing is now two years old. Many thanks to all of the people who continue to support our efforts to produce quality craft brewed beer in Valparaiso. Cheers!
Work on completing our new facility is progressing steadily. The amount accomplished to date is staggering and the number of tasks left to complete are coming into focus. We are at the phase where numerous subcontractors are completing their tasks and as a result the building is taking shape nicely.
The start of subcontractor work began after the framing was complete and our good friend Mark Anderson donated a week of his time to help install the electrical conduit and wiring. We worked long days throughout his visit and made an impressive dent in the project, setting the tone for the work schedule of the remainder of the project.
Once the conduit was completed and before it was covered by insulation and drywall, I crawled around in the ceiling to document all of the runs.
Until we installed endless bats of R30 insulation in the ceiling, the approximately 4500 sq ft of main floor was insulated with only the 1.5 inches of fiber between the steel roof and the rubber above it. The difference in the warmth of the space was immediately apparent and will hopefully be reflected in our NIPSCO bills.
As the insulation went in, the drywall went up. Our friend Darrel Jones (and his sons Danny and Caleb) are our subcontractor for this job. They have been doing a fabulous job hanging and taping the near 300 sheets of rock and will be finished in the next day or two.
During our entire project, we've supported local suppliers (Von Tobel Lumber) and subcontractors. Dwayne at Von Tobel has done a spectacular job of supporting our needs, sometimes bringing over materials himself immediately after a phone call. This kind of service has kept us moving forward throughout the project.
The tile in the public space (bar, kitchen, and restrooms) is being installed by Alex and his team who subcontract for Von Tobel. As with all of our subcontractors they are very nice people and are exceptionally good at their jobs. This shot of the restroom tile shows a little of their talented work.
Rinkenberger and Hunke Construction made short work of installing both the giant walkin cooler floor and brewhouse concrete floor. The 968 sq ft cooler is in our basement and required a concrete pumper truck to move the concrete into the building. The 1960 sq ft brewhouse floor will be visible from the pub and is where the brewing process will be performed. Both floors will provide expansion space for F8 as we grow.
Now that the walkin cooler floor is done, construction of the cooler has begun with the hanging of its giant door. With the near completion of the public space, the brewery infrastructure has become the next focus of our work.
Following Shaun's many long months of hard work fabricating the framework which will eventually sport the Figure Eight Brewing sign on the north side of the building, we had Ryan of Sandberg's Towing transport the frame back from Wanatah (where it was powdercoated at W. Kendall and Sons) and coordinated Wegener Steel's crane to enable us to hang the frame on the building. Many thanks to Shaun's frined Jeff for helping us bolt the frame to the building.
4 December 2011 -
Where has the year gone? Since my last update in September, a lot has happened, including some important events which I did not report in the last update. On August 4th, Lynne, Anne, and I brewed the second batch of Rye Knot. Since our inception, F8 has brewed eighty-eight batches of beer. The original batch of Rye Knot was the fourth batch we brewed and was the most difficult at the time, but was an exceptional beer. The second batch turned out to be exceptional as well and quickly sold out, just as all of our seasonal brews tend to do.
In addition to our lineup of year-round varieties, we have been continuing to produce special and seasonal brews:
From the best of these brews, we occasionally select one to add to our seasonal 22oz bomber lineup. Our latest addition is Lost Saint, which we intend to make available in a limited run twice per year.
As mentioned in my previous log entry, Lahti and I attended this year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, along with 465 other breweries and 49,000 fans. It was a great change of pace from our daily efforts back home. Many thanks to Lynne, Anne, and the rest of the group who kept things running smoothly while we were away. When we weren't working the show floor, we were able to see Further (the current incarnation of the Grateful Dead) play at Red Rocks Amphitheater & climb with my friends Katy and Charles at Clear Creek Canyon near Golden. We also visited a number of breweries in surrounding areas including New Belgium (see Lahti standing under one of their large brew kettles).
Finally, I'm sure that the real news you have all been waiting for is what's happening at our new location downtown (150 Washington Street) within view of the new city park and amphitheater. As with any project this large, there are a number of steps which have to be followed prior to beginning the physical work of transforming an existing building into a brewpub. This first picture of the new building is taken from the corner of Washington and Indiana streets, with Greek's Pizza in the background.
In addition to having an architect create plans, having the state and city review and approve these plans, we also applied for the city's facade grant. We are fortunate to have the city behind us in our effort and the grant was approved. In the next picture, we are at the city meeting for the facade grant (left to right: Jean of Wagner Architecture, Anne, Lynne, Joel, and me).
The building is a tri-level, with the main space even with Indiana street, the brewhouse alongside and below the main space (level with Washington street as it goes down hill south of Indiana street), and the basement, which is below the main space. A freight elevator provides transport between the three levels. With a grand total of about 1800sqft at our present location, comprised of 200sqft for the tasting room, 300sqft of cooler, about 800sqft of brew / equipment / and storage, our new building with a total of around 12,000sqft, made up of 2200sqft of pub seating, 320sqft of kitchen, 3700sqft of brewhouse, 1056sqft of cooler, etc will provide us with plenty of room for breathing and expansion.
As part of our facade work, we removed the front (North) overhead door which was originally the customer entrance for car repair back when the building's first occupant was Sears Automotive. We plan to level out the remaining entry ramp and turn the space between our building and Greek's Pizza into an outdoor patio. Next, we replaced the old and decrepit rear overhead door, had the masonry repaired, and repainted the rear of the building in a color which better matches both the brick and our theme colors. Brent Wagner, our architect, created the overall vision for the new exterior look of our building, with an eye toward the industrial style of the time of the building (1960). To this end, his vision was to break up the long horizontal lines of the building by placing large steel structures on the front and side faces of both Indiana and Washington streets. These structures will provide both architectural interest and carry our F8 sign in the center. Shaun has been lending his time toward the creation of these structures. Be sure to watch the progress of this facade work as it will definitely be eye catching.
Inside the building, we have been moving in equipment for the new brewhouse and pub, as well as renovating the brewpub space Front Of House (FOH). A number of walls which had been added over the years as the building was used for different purposes were removed. Additionally, huge amounts of infrastructure were removed from the ceiling.
When the masons were working on the exterior of the building, we discovered that some of the steel columns in the front of the building had rusted over time and Shaun and Berger both helped to restore them before the brickwork was repaired.
I purchased a reachin cooler for use behind the bar without thinking about how we were going to move it into the pub. Fortunately, with the help of Shaun, Berger, Chad, and Joel, we were able to perform magic and squeeze the large box through the little opening.
Along with the work there is occasionally time for a little monkey business as when Joel and I took some time to swing from the purlins...
The framing of the pub is mostly complete and while it is difficult to perceive from these pictures, walking around now allows us to have a better feel of the final layout. While daily progress is being made, there is still a ton of work to be done, both with the pub and the brewery.
Our original location continues to grow more and more new people's loyalty and we thank you for this as without your support, we would not be able to consider a move such as the one we are undertaking.
Finally, I've had this picture of Lahti from when we attended the Great Taste of the Midwest festival in Madison, WI. That he is wearing his Ro Shampo monkey shirt fit perfectly and I need not say any more...
23 September 2011 - the past few months
have been crazy busy! Work at 150 S Washington has been progressing with the
removal (demolition) of all of the material that has been built into the building
over the course of its 50+ years in order to prepare for the brewery makeover.
We are currently waiting for our plans to be approved by the state in order to
obtain a building permit prior to starting construction.
Lahti, with the occasional help of some wonderful interns, has been keeping our brewhouse busy & stocked, brewing both our year round staples and an ever growing set of tasty new seasonals. Our latest offerings bring back Rye Knot and Raven Tor, along with the all new Bivy Surfer Pale and Slip of the Tripel.
Lahti and I are looking forward to a little bit of working "vacation" when we attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver next week - perhaps we'll see you there. We'll be leaving F8 in the capable hands of Lynne, Anne, Melissa, Gabe, and Brandon, so if you cannot make it to Denver, be sure to stop by the tasting room and say hi.
I look forward to getting back in gear with frequent updates to this page...
12 June 2011 - Needless to say we've been busy
with a number of things since my last update, so I'll try to cover the highlights.
First, we've been using our new label printer to create labels for our latest 22oz bottle (bomber) offerings. In order to apply these labels (as well as our older labels) I bought a used Label Systems pressure sensitive labeling machine and restored it to working order. This was non-trivial task as the machine was in sad shape and was setup to label some sort of flat, non-bottle, package. After a lot of cleanup and the fabrication of some custom parts (thanks in part to my Dad and Shaun), the machine now works well and is far superior to the old fully manual one-at-a-time hand labeler.
With the advent of these new labels and the labeler, Solar Collector, our American Pale Wheat is now a year round offering and Jumbo Love, a seasonal Black Barleywine, has already come and gone. Offwidth, our Double Pale Ale will be the next bomber to be released as a year round product.
I spent a few months helping to program the newly released Tron Legacy pinball machine for Stern Pinball. This work is done on a prototype whitewood playfield, where both the mechanical and programming issues are worked out. This photo captures a problem where a launched ball would sometimes become caught between the side of the cabinet and a ramp.
We developed a hydrator to help improve our mash-in process. Previously, we would simply fill our mash tun with hot water and then allow the milled grains to drop onto the top of the water bed, stirring the grains in as they hit. With this device, both the milled grains and hot water flow in and are blended to create a slury of mash, eliminating a great deal of the stirring, the dry clumps, and the dust of the old system. Our stainless steel welder Larry did a great job putting this device together from our plans.
Finally, if you have not yet heard the news, we are in the process of purchasing a building which will be the new location of F8. While our move is a few months away, the new location will place us downtown near the square, the new Central Park amphitheater, etc. We will have enough space to allow everyone to sit, have a pint, a bite, play some pinball, listen to some music, and hopefully still maintain our cozy atmosphere. We will also have enough space for our brewery operations to expand. We are excited to be able to better serve you in this new space and hope that the downtown location helps to build further excitement in our Valparaiso community. This new space will allow us to delve into some new directions and we'll be looking forward to your comments.
19 April 2011 - Needless to say, this first
quarter of the year has been extremely busy and the last month and a half have been
over the top. CRAZY! Back in a former life when I used to program pinball machines
for Williams Electronic Games in Chicago, we had a name for the latter stages of
the project when we were spending 120 hour weeks trying to shovel everything we
could think of into the games to make them go to 11. We called it game hell and
our wives were pinball widows as a result. This last month and a half have approximated
the old times. Even though the hiring of our full time employee in February has given
me back much of the time I used to spend performing brewery maintenance duties,
my time is still consumed. Of course taking on a programming consulting project
for Stern Pinball to help cover our personal bills is a large factor in my time,
but there are still endless details with keeping the brewery bills paid, supplies
ordered and brought in house on time, paperwork filed, new stores added to our list
of outlets, filling our cooler with bombers, etc. All this on top of taking care
of both personal and F8 taxes, and brewery quarterly reports...
I attended the Craft Brewer's Conference for the first time, which was in San Francisco. This is an industry specific event where I was able to both attend some interesting seminars about various aspects of our industry as well as visit the exhibitors on the numerous trade show floors to see a plethora of products, services, and such all related to the brewing industry. Very interesting. I also had the opportunity to meet lots of people and taste lots of brews, including this 11 year old Cantillion sour - yum! Special thanks to the fine people at Graphic22 for helping to provide me with this opportunity.
Other recent events, the 3rd Annual Charity Tasting for the Portage Township Education Foundation, Blue Chip Brewfest, the tasting at Nick's Liquors in Merrillville, and Brew Bracket competition were all fun, interesting, and well attended. These events are great exposure for us, help the event operators, and are generally good. The rest of this year looks like it will be filled with many more exciting events, we are looking forward to them all, and hopefully seeing some of you along the way.
One of the projects I've been working on pretty much since we opened is to have the ability to print our own labels so that we can run small batches of 22oz bombers for our seasonal brews. To this end I ordered a specialized label printer which lets us do this. The printer shipped from the east coast via UPS freight and was supposed to be delivered on Monday 4/11, but never arrived. On Wednesday, when the printer was still missing, I talked to the UPS people to see if they knew where it might be and they said it was lost. We had planned on being able to distribute our new Solar Collector American Pale Wheat last week, with labels printed on this machine, but that did not happen. Fortunately, UPS did manage to track down where the shipment had gone and to bring it back from LA where it was apparently on vacation, delivering it a week late.
Last Friday, we noticed that out Indiana Small Brewer's permit had expired and so I proactively worked on renewing it only to discover that we would be in violation if we opened for the weekend. My apologies to those of you who discovered the situtation the hard way when you arrived to find us closed. We found ourselves sitting around wondering what to do with ourselves because we were not at F8 selling beer to all of the wonderful people who have found us over the course of our first year. We have now taken care of renewing our permit and will be opening an extra day this week (Wednesday) to help recoupe our losses. Please come by and make sure that Lynne and Annabelle are not bored :)
9 March 2011 - Our 1st anniversary celebration
was a success! Special thanks go to all of the people who have supported us and to
our friends and family who have helped us out during this first year. We are very
The girls, ready and waiting for the day to start...
|Jef Sarver playing from the balcony overlooking our tasting room.|
|Rita Sarver brought in some tasty #8 cookies - thanks Rita!|
|Our "staff" for the event (left to right): Lynne, Anne, Melissa, Shaun, Greg, Wendy, Tom, Mike|
|The "pin" (half firkin) of Scapegoat ESB.|
|The people hanging out behind the scenes.|
|Jef Sarver performing.|
|An arial view of our tasting room filled with wonderful people.|
|Another view of the behind the scenes happenings.|
|The bottle of Sam Adams UTOPIAS which we were given a year ago at our opening and which we shared a year later with our friends after the day was complete.|
|The bottle of 1999 Dom Perignon we received from Premier Stainless for purchasing some of our brewery equipment a year ago and which we shared a year later with our friends after the day was complete.|
2 March 2011 - First off, we will be celebrating
our 1st year anniversary this coming Saturday, March 5th, from 11am 'till 8pm (at least),
with live music performed by Jef Sarver
beginning at noon and continuing throughout the day. Also, we will be providing sandwiches
in the early afternoon and Greek's pizza in the late afternoon and evening. Finally, we
will be tapping a firkin of our Scapegoat ESB at 3pm. For those who have been here before,
you know that space is tight. We will be moving out the chairs and rearranging to maximize
room for people, but we won't be doing flights - only pints, snifters and carryout...
Our new guy Mike Lahti is on his forth week at F8 now and has been doing a tremendous job. If you've been in recently you may have met him already, and if you haven't, then be sure to say hi when you see him. The Scapegoat ESB is his first creation to debut, and while it will only be available in firkin form initially, you will likely see it on tap the weekend following our anniversary celebration.
We attended Lafayette Brewing Company's Winter Warmer event in February, which was great fun. There was a fine showing of Indiana brewers and the event sold out in a couple of hours. Mike and I represented F8 and took turns pouring so that we each had a chance to visit and sample the beer from the other brewers. Mike scored a great Johnny Cash T-Shirt by trading one of our Ro Shampo Ts for the shirt a guy was wearing.
With the free time which Mike has allotted me, I was finally able to realize the first stage of a less manual brewhouse. We now have the brewhouse pump and heat exchanger hard plumbed with valves to allow for all of the various flow patterns necessary, and the unit is fixed in place. This greatly simplifies brew day both from the aspect of not having to continually change hose connections as well as post brew cleanup. The next stage of this work is to hard plumb this unit to the grant vessel and kettle.
Finally, last but certainly not least, Lynne and I are very proud of our son Joel for having taken a gold medal at the state ISSMA on his alto saxophone recital. Way to go Joel! We would also like to thank his accompanist, Carol Hazen, for her excellent playing and upbeat attitude. Finally, Joel's amazing teacher, Dell Knickerbocker, has provided wonderful tutelage and guidance throughout Joel's training - many thanks to both Carol and Dell!
11 February 2011 - Negligent in my duties or
just plain busy, finally, a new news update :)
All of our brewing activities this past month have produced two new styles, Jumbo Love - Black Barleywine Ale and Solar Collector - American Pale Wheat Ale. Both are on tap and in growlers, yum! Next up will be our yet to be named Belgian Tripel...
Winterfest 2011 was a success and was the first outing of our new employee Mike Lahti. If you attended Winterfest, you probably met Mike (in the Ro Shampo shirt) and his friend Bailey at our booth (thanks to both for helping us). If you didn't meet Mike at Winterfest, you will be sure to see him at F8 or one of our upcoming events as today marks the end of his first week working with us.
20 January 2011 - Kyle has made some life
changes and has decided to move in a new direction and to a new home in Michigan.
A number of friends showed up at F8 tonight to say goodbye and to share some
amazing and rare brews with him.
We want to wish Kyle all the best in his future endeavors and to let him know that he is always welcome here at F8...
We'll miss you Kyle!
11 January 2011 - Over the holidays, a number of
our good climbing friends came to visit us. The first group, Carmen, Sandy, and Don, joined
us for an evening while our tasting room was open and we had a nice time talking and tasting
beer. Sandy, who is a professional photographer took a number of excellent photos, including
the one of Lynne and me on our new People
page. Thanks Sandy!
We've been brewing like mad and until this last week had all four fermenters full with Ro Shampo #8, Black Corridor #2, Jumbo Love, and Snake Pro #4, our 30th batch of beer to date. This picture of the mash tun during brew day for Black Corridor shows the beginning of Vorloph and the black wort as it begins to recirculate over the grains.
Katy and Bob, more good climbing friends came to help during brew day for our 8th batch of Ro Shampo. They worked hard through the afternoon, and then as Lynne and I were finishing up at F8, both from brewing and then running the tasting room, they cooked us a fine dinner. What great friends we have!
Last but certainly not least, we are greatly anticipating February 7th when Mike Lahti joins us at F8 (although if you visit us at Winterfest 2011 in Indianapolis, you will see him there). Mike has over 10 years of experience in the brewery industry, recently hailing from Upland in Bloomington. He will be helping in all aspects of our day to day operations, bringing his infinite wisdom to our humble space.
26 December 2010 - This busy season at both F8
and at home has kept me away from the blog for too long, but here are some recent updates.
With the advent of 22oz bombers, we are in more and more locations, including Wise Guys Liquors in Merrilville. I particularly like how the Ro Shampo label pops out from the other bombers in the cooler.
On this past Thursday, we brewed a new batch of our Imperial Chocolate Stout - Black Corridor. We missed having Annabelle to help us brew as she had left town with her family for the holidays, but our good friend Cameron drove down from Evanston to help (read his full report here). As with other days at our tasting room during this holiday season, we were quite busy and the additional work of brewing before and during the tasting room hours makes for a fairly long day. Fortunately, with Cameron's help brewing & cleaning and Kyle working the tasting room, we made it through. On these long days, we often don't eat dinner until late and as we were all together, we decided to dine at Octave Grill in Chesterton. We arrived just at 10p, which was technically their closing time, and as we completely understand that they had had a long day already and wanted to close up, we very much appreciate being served at this late hour. As usual, their burgers and beer are all top notch and this impromptu F8 end of year holiday party was wonderful.
After returning home for the evening, we realized just how hard we had worked Cameron...
This first year at F8 has been a whirlwind and if it had not been for our many friends, neighbors, most excellent help, and our wonderful customers (many of whom we have come to know as friends) throughout these past months, we would never have made it so far. A heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone for your help & support and here's to looking forward to the coming New Year!
|10 December 2010 - After a short time off from brewing every week in order to get our bottling line up and running, these last two weeks we've been making up time and have three batches of beer in the fermenters. Two are simply to restock on our everyday lineup, Offwidth and Ro Shampo, but the third (brewed yesterday) is our 2011 Winterfest Replicale - an imperial double stout. We are brewing this for the Brewers of Indiana Guild - 2011 Winterfest to be held in Indianapolis on the 29th of January. We wanted to attend this event in 2010, but we were still busy putting F8 together and did not brew our first batches of beer until last February, which was too late for the event. It seems hard to believe that we only opened in March of this year.|
25 November 2010 - After our first trial
bottling run with the newly refurbished bottling machine did not go as well as
hoped, this week, we successfully ran 30 cases of 22oz Ro Shampo "bombers" in
under an hour, and what an hour it was... After having prepared for this moment
for several months, Lynne, Anne, and I were all smiles as we focused our attention,
loaded, unloaded, and kept tabs on the machine for a 45 minute workout :)
Pat's Liquors in Porter has been our launching point outside of our own tasting room for all of our packaged product since we opened in March. They have loyally carried our growlers and we knew they would be excited to be the first to carry our bombers too, so we delivered the first case yesterday, just in time for the busy Thanksgiving weekend.
20 November 2010 - My dad has been a great
help in our quest of getting our bottling line up and running as he has been
machining replacement parts in his home shop. Years ago, back in my youth and
childhood, he taught me to run a lathe, and my tutelage continued recently with
learning to run his Bridgeport vertical milling machine. I cherish these moments
with him and his infinite wisdom. Thanks dad for your continued patience...
In order to make room in our cooler for the soon to be bottled beer, we organized our growlers onto wire racks. We did a test run on the bottling machine this week to learn how to operate it and are planning on having 22oz bottles of Ro Shampo available by next weekend. Labels for First Ascent and Where Lizards Dare are at the printers and the Snake Pro label is working its way through the government approval process, so these four brews will be our first offerings in bombers.
12 November 2010 - Our friends Roger and Bob both
stopped in at F8 last night and we had a great time chatting and tasting a variety of brews...
Our online store is finally beginning to take shape, starting with our F8 signature pint glass and new growler koozie. Simply click on the Order button on the left to get started. We will be adding more items (T-Shirts, sweatshirts, etc.) as we find time. Of course these items are always available in person at our tasting room.
2 November 2010 - Joel had both Friday and Monday off
for his fall school break and so we went climbing in The Red with a group of our friends. The
weather was gorgeous and it was a very relaxing time, sleeping in each morning before climbing.
Our destinations in PMRP (The Gallery and Chica Bonita walls) plus Land Before Time Wall (the
most recent wall to open in Muir Valley), put us on mostly new routes, all of which were very
fun! Our stay at True North Inn was perfect as well, with plenty of hostpitality and a warm
atmosphere to pass the evening hours with our friends.
Many thanks to Kyle for single handedly running the F8 tasting room over the busy weekend...
28 October 2010 - This past weekend was the 26th annual
Pinball Expo in Chicago, which meant that I had a chance to visit with most of my pinball friends,
play some pinball, and take some time off away from the brewery. Lynne was great and promoted
this idea, including spending Saturday with Joel and two of his friends at Expo. My friend Martin
and his wife Anja flew in from Germany to attend the Pinball Expo and to see Greg, an ex-coworker
from my pinball days and also the guy who does most of my art for F8. Greg, his wife Andi and daughter
Lindsey brought Martin and Anja down to F8 on Sunday afternoon and we all had a great time visiting
and tasting beer (thanks Greg). Lynne and I are looking forward to a trip to Germany at some point
to see Munich together and to visit our friends Martin and Anja.
With my dad's excellent help in machining parts for the bottling machine, I have reassembled the Meheen and performed some initial testing with positive results. If things continue to go well, I hope to have bottles filled in the next couple of weeks. Ro Shampo will be the first beer available in bombers (22oz) and the flexibility which these bottles offer will allow us to expand our distribution to a number of new locations.
With colder weather nearly here, we are taking one last break to go climbing this weekend in Kentucky before the snow flies. Kyle will be watching F8 for us while we are in The Red, so please stop by and give him someone to talk beer with :)
22 October 2010 - Last weekend was a spectacular
success as Kyle holds the new record for Sunday growler sales at 73 stomping Lynne's previous
Sunday count of 54! A big thanks to everyone who came and supported us over the weekend.
Our latest draft account, Bartlett's Gourmet Grill in Beverely Shores is up and pouring with Ro Shampo and Crash Test Blonde. If you are near the lake, be sure to stop in for some of their tasty eats to go along with one of our brews.
Our friends Mary and Dean made a trip out to visit us from Denver this past weekend. On the docket was a pub crawl which began at F8, stopping at Three Floyd's Pub for lunch, and finishing at Shoreline Brewery before watching the tail end of the sunset from the Michigan City lighthouse pier. We originally intended to also stop at Crown Brewing, but the timing did not work out. The day was a success and we all had a grand time after which we picked up Joel and had a wonderful dinner at Pikk's, with some more beer :) Lynne and I are looking forward to being able to visit Dean and Mary in Denver next summer.
Progress on the restoration of our Meheen bottling machine is finally moving forward with my dad's engineering and machining skills shining brightly. We both had a particularly fun day recently when we worked together on making the new filling head for the machine and I'm looking forward to more days like that in the future. At this rate, we should be bottling soon...woot!
Finally, our latest brew, Black Corridor (Imperial Chocolate Stout) is now on draft in our tasting room. It is our first beer carbonated with a nitrogen / CO2 blend and poured with a special stout tap. This tasty number is a blend of four grains and East Kent Goldings hops which yields notes of dark ripe fruits and deep meaty roastiness with a rich full body, slick / oily mouthfeel, and a lingering chocolate ganache finish (8.5 % ABV). We will make it available in growlers next week.
11 October 2010 - The first annual Valpo Brewfest
was held on the 2nd and although the weather was cold with intermittent rain, people from
16 states turned out and had a good time. We brought six of our brews including the first
appearance of our Bourbon aged Rye Knot. All of our beer was consumed during the short time
of the festival and we are proud to say that we were awarded the newly created Hoosier Brew
Award for our Snake Pro Double IPA. Thanks to all of you who attended the festival and voted
for us - cheers!
The weather turned warmer this past week and we opened our big back door to break out the keg washer and clean our stockpile of returned kegs. The brewery girls were a great help in their matching Omega Pacific tops.
Our Bourbon barrel aged Rye Knot has been a big hit in our tasting room. This brew is increadibly well balanced and smooth. With only 48 gallons available in this limited release, it won't last long.
This weekend topped our previous record for Sunday growler sales with 58 growlers out the door - thanks to everyone who stopped in!
The Imperial Chocolate Stout is nearly done fermenting and of the samples we've had, it is tasting very good. We are planning on putting this brew on with a nitrogen/CO2 blend, hopefully having it available this coming weekend.
30 September 2010 - We transferred the Rye Knot
(Baltic Rye) that has been aging with vanilla beans for five months in a Buffalo Trace
Bourbon barrel into kegs this week for carbonation and in preparation for a blowout at
the Valpo Brew fest where we will have six of our beers on tap (Ro Shampo, Snake Pro,
Harvest Ale #1, Twist of F8, Crash Test Blonde, and Bourbon aged Rye Knot).
We brewed an Imperial Chocolate Stout today and all went well. The mash was pitch black with a creamy foam on top. The transfer to the brew kettle via the grant vessel produced a stiff foam cone which refused to drop or deform. Hopefully this is an indication of how the final head will turn out. As the sweet wort entered the brew kettle, the color was an amazing black. And after we added the chocolate, Lynne enjoyed "cleaning" up the spatula :) I'm very excited about how this brew is going to turn out...
|22 September 2010 - We were recently featured in the Brewer's Association "A Toast To..." article. Check it out at their website here.|
20 September 2010 - Valpo's Popcorn Festival
was new for us and as we provided beer for the Wednesday evening dinner tent, the
festival beer tent, Pikk's alley after party, and Cornucopia's PopCornucopia Palooza,
we've been a little busy. The weather did not cooperate very well this year and so
the turnout was not as good as it might have been, but we still had some good exposure
and hopefully some new people have learned about us. Thanks again to Pikk's and Cornucopoia
for supporting us.
Because we weren't quite busy enough...in the middle of keeping up with Popcorn festival orders, we threw in a brew day to make sure we continue to have enough Ro Shampo Imperial Red Ale on hand. This was our 5th batch to date.
Also since our last posting, we brewed another batch of Offwidth Double Pale Ale as it has a steady following and our stock was running low. Annabelle was my brewery girl during this session and was a great help. I also was able to try out my new grant vessel on this batch and it was a marked improvement over the old design.
Our newest brew, Harvest Ale #1 (an ESB), made with freshly harvested wet hops, went on tap last Thursday (9/16) and has been very popular in our tasting room. It was also a hit at the Back Road Octoberfest this past Saturday. Due to the limited supply of hops, we only brewed a half batch of this tasty fall beer and supplies won't last long.
Our latest batch of Snake Pro DIPA is now on tap in our tasting room and this time our venomous brew bites at over 9 % ABV.
Finally, we are proud to report that our Ro Shampo Imperial Red Ale will be featured along with 19 other fabulous craft brews at the newly established Beer Geeks Pub, located at 3030 45th street in Highland, Indiana. They are opening to the public this Sunday (9/26).
7 September 2010 - Last Thursday evening,
Joel and I attended a free concert at Valparaiso University by the Faculty Jazz Trio,
with special guest saxophonist Frank Catalano. The concert was excellent and was an
inspiration to our son Joel, who is a budding saxophone player.
On Saturday, we brewed our first Harvest Ale utilizing only wet Cascade hops, organically grown and freshly harvested the day of brewing from a newly established local hop farm. This being the hop farm's first year too, of the five varieties of hops they are growing, the Cascade did well enough to produce 21 pounds of nicely sized cones. We coordinated our brew day schedule for an afternoon delivery and produced a half batch (3.5 BBLs) with 290 lbs of pale, Vienna, and amber malts, the 21 lbs of wet Cascade, and Wyeast 1272. We are dubbing this our "Harvest Ale #1" and will beserving it both at our tasting room and upcoming events (while supplies last).
Our good friend Bob drove down from Evanston to help and to take pictures during the Harvest Ale brew day. I captured this view Bob photographing me in our production area, filled with a number of other friends (including my aunt and her daughter Chris and husband Doug), creating quite the party like atmoshpere.
We took the spent grains from brewing the Harvest Ale to our farmer friend and had a chance to see how much the baby chickens have grown since our last visit.
On our day off from the crazy busy Labor Day weekend at F8, Joel and his friend Matt accompanied me and my parents on our annual visit to the Hesston Steam Museum where I have been going fairly regularly for about the last 43 years. My dad has been collecting and restoring old gasoline engines throughout that time and it is an interest which we share and enjoy together. You can find my previous report of last year's show in News prior to 28 January 2010 under the 8 September 2009 heading.
Finally, our good friend Cameron and three of his friends (Matt, Matt's brother Caleb, and Kristin), all drove down together from Evanston/Chicago to visit F8 and dine with us last evening. We had a good time and it was a nice way to unwind after the busy weekend.
30 August 2010 - Summer is waning and
our friends at a newly established local hops farm will be harvesting their
first batch of Cascade hops this coming Saturday and we are planning on brewing
a delicious harvest ale with them as they are delivered. Brewing harvest ales
is a long standing tradition in brewing as the use of these wet hops yields
a fresh flavor which is not achieved by any other means. As the new farm's
yield will be small, and as we only wish to utilize the fresh hops in the boil
for this brew, we are going to brew a half batch to maximize the hop utilization
I attended the Iggy Pop concert at the Riv in Chicago on Sunday with my friends Mike, Shaun, and Gary and at 63, Iggy is still rocking! While we were waiting in line, Iggy's limo pulled up and we watched him get out and go into the Riv. We were close enough that Mike got to fist bump Iggy and I took a short video on my iPhone. Here it is on youtube.
25 August 2010 - Both the Belgian style
tripel and the more recent new batch of Snake Pro continue to ferment. In the 1st
image, the Snake Pro is burbling away.
When I hauled the spent grains from our latest batch of Snake Pro to the farm to feed the chickens, I got to see the new batch of chicks (2nd image) which will replace the ones killed recently by a raccoon.
We have developed a routine each week which involves filling many growlers with our various varieties of beer in preparation for the coming weekend's sales, both in house and at our retail locations. In the 3rd image, the various groups of filled bottles await rinsing and labeling.
This past weekend, Lynne, Joel, and I took one last climbing trip to The Red with a group of friends before Joel returns to school today. As I'm sure some of you discovered, Kyle was left to mind F8 in our absence :)
Red River Gorge, Kentucky (click on image for trip report)
19 August 2010 - We brewed another batch
of Snake Pro Double IPA yesterday. We have been falling into a routine of brewing
on Thursdays, but as we are heading to The Red this weekend for one last trip
before Joel has to go back to school, I moved brew day up by one. Brandon came
to help again after putting in an early morning shift at Target. I want to be 25
again so that I can do that without thinking about it. Thanks Brandon.
Thanks also to Annabelle for bringing us sandwiches for lunch :)
I ordered some more Omega Pacific figure 8 decenders to be used to make our tap handles and the guy there was all excited about our using their product in a beer related way. Washington is one of the craft brew centers of our nation.
Kyle will be running the tasting room while we are out for the weekend, so be sure to come by and keep him busy...
13 August 2010 - It is my dad's 82nd birthday
today and we're going to celebrate this weekend with a small family cookout. He's
a great guy and has always been a wonderful inspiration to me. Happy birthday dad!
Jim Schembre at World Class Beverages in Indianapolis invited us down to see their facility, meet the great group of people who work there, and take a tour of some of the breweries in the Indy area this week. The facility is very impressive, being run by Monarch Beverage Company, and makes me wonder how our small operation could possibly be of interest, but World Class focuses on the craft industry and so if we achieve our goals, one day we hope to be a player in this ever growing market. As part of our visit, we visited the Sun King downtown brewery and the Barley Island's pub in Broad Ripple before having a wonderful dinner at the home of Anita Johnson, owner of Great Fermentations. Anita and her husband Jim are wonderful people and quite knowledgeable about beer, wine, and food. Thank you very much for allowing us into your home and sharing your table with us... Cheers!
My renovation of our recently acquired vintage Meheen bottling machine is going well, with a full disassembly revealing numerous components in need of refurbishment and or replacement. I'm hoping to have it back together in the next couple of weeks, at which point we will focus on bottling a batch of monkeys (Ro Shampo).
Last Thursday, I asked Brandon (who was the brewery assistant and jack of all trades at Brickworks) to help me brew our latest batch of beer, a Belgian style Tripel. He's definitely got the "mojo" and I hope that we are able to bring him in to help more often as we grow our production and get into bottling.
4 August 2010 - Lynne sent Joel and
me away last weekend to climb at The Red with some friends while she minded
the brewery. We stocked up with growlers beforehand and she held out over
a busy weekend. Thanks all to those who visited us!
This week we will be transferring the latest batches of Where Lizards Dare and Ro Shampo to the conditioning tanks and brewing a new yet to be named beer, a Belgian style Tripel.
We will be having a tasting at Pat's Liquors in Porter on August 13th, 5-7p. Stop by to meet me, taste some of our brews, and check out Pat's great selection of craft beer!
Red River Gorge, Kentucky (click on image for trip report)
29 July 2010 - We now have 10 tap handles
in our tasting room with eight brews on tap. We brought out the reserve of Rye
Knot, our Baltic Rye, and Snake Pro, our new Double IPA, is also on. This
of course presents a dilema for our sampler of six as customers now have to
choose six from the eight available. Maybe we can come up with some kind of
incremental solution to this problem. That is if having too many different
beers on tap is a problem :)
The two tanks which used to consume a large portions of our brewing floor are now up on the new stand and welded into place. We used the hot liquor tank for the first time in this position today while brewing our 4th batch of Ro Shampo. The height of the tank makes the system work much easier as we can gravity feed the hot water back out of the tank instead of having to run a 2nd pump. The now vacant floor space has been taken up by our recent aquisition of a Meheen bottling machine.
I know that I keep saying this, but Lynne and I are simply getting the brew day down. Brewing our 4th batch of Ro Shampo today was the fastest and smoothest yet at just over 9 hours start to finish - very exciting!
19 July 2010 - It has been a busy past
two weeks! Our long time friends King and Stacy were in town the weekend
before last and it gave us an opportunity to get together to make some music.
Their son Jeremey was on the kit (not in this photo), King was on bass, my
brother Jon played keys and Joel was on sax.
On the Sunday of the 11th, we attended Shoreline Brewery's Red, White, and Brews festival in Michigan City, which is a day long event each year, featuring live bands, a number of breweries, and the city's fireworks after dark. It went off without a hitch unil a storm came through just around dark. Fortunately we ran out of beer and packed up before the storm.
Finally, this past weekend was also a busy one for us. It began on Thursday evening at our tasting room where we had a full house and continued through Sunday. Lynne ran the store while I took our brews down to Broad Ripple in Indianapolis on Saturday, which was attended by most of the micro breweries in Indiana as well as a number from other states. Attendance was somewhere around 5000 people and I poured samples of our beer continuously for 5 hours, totalling something on the order of 1500 samples. The weather was sunny, but brutally hot and humid - typical weather for July in Indiana. While it did not rain during the event, some weather passed through the area on the return trip and there was a beautiful double rainbow eminating from the city behind...
10 July 2010 - Shaun finished welding the
new tank platform this week and I finished extending the mezzanine floor over to
the new platform to make more storage space for grains. I'm very excited about
the brewery floor space which this new addition will free up. As anyone who has
visited the brewery knows, we are working in a very tight area.
On Thursday evening, we worked together with Pikk's Tavern to put on a beer dinner at Pikk's. They cooked up a family style four course meal for about 40 people, which featured four of our beers. The event was outside in the cool alleyway beside the restaurant and went very well. Many thanks to Paul, Sam, and the staff at Pikk's for making the dinner a success!
Finally, it was while Lynne and I were filling growlers last night and I was in the walk-in that Lynne answered the phone and called me out in an urgent voice for me to talk to Nancy Coster, wife of Tom Coster, owner of our neighbor brewery Brickworks in Hobart. I felt like Obi Wan Kenobi when he had to sit down because a distant planet had been destroyed, producing a large disturbance in The Force, as Nancy proceeded to tell me that Brickworks was closing...
I'm still wandering around in a daze from the news and can only hope that our friends, Tom (and family) and Brandon survive the ordeal as best as possible.
6 July 2010 - This entry covers the long
dearth of minimal content in my reporting.
First, I want to thank my good friend and ex-pinball patriot Mark who took the time to create this beautiful 1st dollar plaque. As you can see in this photo, the serial number on this dollar, which may well technically be our first dollar earned, begins with F8 - very cool! Thanks for everything Mark...
We are working on getting our bottling line up and running, and while our current machine is functional, I fear that we will spent a great deal of our lives operating it. For this reason, I've been researching other machines and so went to visit Saugatuck Brewing Company in order to watch their Meheen bottling machine in action. The people at Saugatuck were wonderful, and while we have yet to decide our course of actions, we now have a much better idea of possible directions for a newer bottling machine.
Still drooling over the vast warehouse space which the Saugatuck people have to work in, we are slowly morphing our setup to better utilize our current facility. This weekend, Shaun and I began construction of a structure to both raise our hot liquor tanks up and off of the main brew floor and to also provide a small amount of additional grain storage area. I am continually amazed by the seemingly unlimited generousity of our friends who are always willing to come and help us out at Figure Eight. Thanks Shaun!
In addition to his welding skills, Shaun also became a made man this weekend as he scored something like 450 million on The Addams Family pinball machine at F8, which made him a "Family Member". Nice score Shaun, I will need to renew my pinball skills so that I can give you some competition :)
Saturday evening, two of our Evanston climbing friends, Bob and Sarah, drove down to visit us at F8. We had a nice evening together, eating dinner at Valpo Velvet (yum!) and then doing a bit of bouldering in our basement climbing cave. Thanks for making the long trek to Valpo - it is always fun to have our climbing friends visit us...
My brother Jim and his girl friend Cheryl came out to visit over the holiday and we decided to take full advantage of the situation :) They are home brewers and were interested in experiencing the brewing process at F8, so we brewed our 12th batch of beer yesterday, a new IPA tentatively call Snake Pro - it is Where Lizards Dare's big ugly brother. I had filled the kettle the night before and ran the kettle's burner for a while to help reduce the time it would take on brew day to bring the kettle to a boil. Annabelle and Lynne prepared the grain bill Monday morning, and we were mashing grains by 10am. My whole family shared in the fun over the course of the day and we were done by 5:15p, which is the shortest brew day to date. As the government mandates that no one under 21 is allowed in the production area, Joel observed from the new storage space outside and above the production walls. Thanks to everyone for pitching in, getting the full value "experience" of a micro brewery...
Join us at any or all of the three events remaining in July (follow the links on our home page events list for details):
30 June 2010 - Believe it or not, July
is essentially here and the year is half over.
The new Indiana alcohol laws go into effect in July and this means that if you are planning on having a beer in our tasting room, then you had either better wear your old man mask or appear to be at least 50 years of age, otherwise you will be carded. For carryout sales, the new law requires everyone to be carded.
In fact, you should bring your ID regardless of how old you are as we will be carding absolutely everyone. Just tape that ID to your forehead and we'll be all set.
The good news is that F8, being a microbrewery, will now be allowed to sell our beer for carryout on Sundays. For this reason, we will again be open on Sundays starting this weekend. Our normal Sunday hours will be 1p to 5p, but because this Sunday is a holiday, we are limiting our hours to 11a-2p. Hopefully this will allow all those who aren't able to make it to see us during our regular Thr/Fri/Sat hours, or aren't able to pick up our wares from Trail, Triangle, or Pat's to fulfill their last minute 4th of July needs...
We hope that everyone has a fun and safe Independence Day - cheers!
23 June 2010 - Sorry about the lack of
recent updates, but we've simply been busy. The latest batch of Offwidth is
still fermenting and will hopefully be ready in the next week or so. Until
that time, we will not be filling any more growlers with it and if we (and the
liquor stores) run out, there may be a short period of unavailability.
We did manage to take a short vacation this past few days to climb with some of our friends in Kentucky's Red River Gorge. You can read some of the trip details here.
Many thanks to Kyle for minding F8 while we were gone and for taking action to make sure NIPSCO was prompt in restoring our power after the storm on Friday knocked it out...
8 June 2010 - Sorry about the lack of
updates for the past few days - we've been pretty busy with brewing, bottling,
and festivals. The batches of Ro Shampo and Camp 4 are both conditioning and
will be ready soon, so we will again have growlers of Ro Shampo.
All of our spent grains and hops are eagerly consumed by our friend's chickens. So far, we haven't detected any malt or hop flavors in the eggs ;-)
Shaun, Kyle, and I drove down to Bloomington on Saturday in the F8 van for Upland's RadFest. We had a great time along with the other participating breweries and we got to taste a spectacular variety of wonderful brews. We brought Where Lizards Dare, Twist of F8, and Ro Shampo and all three were well received. Thanks much to Mike, Caleb, Roger, Bre, and all the fine folk at Upland for putting on this event.
We've been working hard on getting the bottling line up and running and hope to have bombers of Ro Shampo and Where Lizards Dare at both our current stores and a number of new locations this month - we'll keep you posted...
23 May 2010 - We brewed our 2nd batch of
Camp 4 yesterday and with the brewery girls Lynne & Annabelle helping out it went
very smoothly indeed - THANK YOU! I think that we actually have a rhythm to it now.
Hopefully everyone who visited us yesterday enjoyed the new brews, the wonderful brewing smells, and the added activity.
Both the new IPA (Where Lizards Dare) and the new Watermelon Wheat Ale (Twist Of F8) are on tap and available in growlers for your enjoyment. Come on down tonight and celebrate the end of the week with us...
Tomorrow (Saturday) we wash rinse and repeat when we brew our third batch of Ro Shampo and celebrate the brewing of our 10th batch of beer!!!
23 May 2010 - All I can say is WOW and thank you
for the great turnout at the Illiana Mayfest! It was a wonderful time and everyone seemed to
like both our beer and our new Ro Shampo monkey T-shirt. We poured our new IPA - Where
Lizards Dare, Camp 4 (our Nut Brown Ale), and of course Ro Shampo and people stood in long
lines to have a taste. What a fabulous thing... We were even referenced in a Post Tribune
article covering the event.
Where Lizards Dare is our first true west coast style IPA and the first beer which we have filtered, giving it a crystal clear golden color. Having a wonderful balance of malts topped with an overabundance of hops and weighing in at only 4 % ABV, it is a great session beer for this newly arrived warm weather - yum!
Twist of F8, our watermelon wheat ale will be out soon as well and will provide another session brew for warm weather days and evenings for those not looking for the over the top hop experience.
20 May 2010 - After a long effort of restoring
the old IDD Mini King keg washer/filler from its diapidated state, I was able to try
it out for the first time yesterday afternoon. It worked flawlessly and just let me
say that the approximately 3 minutes per keg is far superior to opening each keg and
hand washing them.
Many thanks to the great people at Graphic22 for finishing up the signage for our van in time for Illinana Mayfest this weekend. If you see our van while you are out driving, be sure to honk. They are also working on completing the Ro Shampo monkey t-shirts in time for this weekend's festivities - woot!
If you enjoy our Rye Knot, then you will be sad to know that it is nearly gone and will likely run out by the end of this weekend. We will be bottling about two cases in bombers so that we have something to compare with the bourbon barrel vanilla aged Rye Knot later this fall, but once this batch is gone, it will be a while before it is again available.
Be sure to celebrate Craft Beer Week by stopping in either tonight or during our NEW evening hours on Friday from 5-8p, have a pint, take home a growler, and pick up your tickets to Illiana Mayfest so that you can join us with all of the other local craft breweries this Saturday!
18 May 2010 - Because you all have asked,
we are adding Friday evenings (5 to 8p) to our hours. Come on down and help us
make room for our new IPA "Where Lizards Dare" by having a pint of Rye Knot this
Friday evening before we are out.
Illiana Mayfest is this weekend at the Lake County fair grounds in Crown Point. Sample craft brews from the local micros including FFF and Goose for four hours. You can still purchase tickets from us for $5 less than you will pay at the gate.
13 May 2010 - Yesterday was our smoothest
brew day so far. With both Lynne and Kyle helping all day, brewing and cleanup
were fast and efficient. This is our first wheat ale and wheat is notorious for
getting stuck in the mash as it turns to an oatmeal like consistency and holds
the water rather than letting it drain, but with the addition of rice hulls, there
were no problems.
Weighing in at a light 4 % ABV, we are calling this wheat ale "Twist Of F8", a name which Shaun suggested a while back. It will be a great hot summer day session brew with just a hint of watermelon to help refresh and cool you as you sit back and enjoy life...
We had an unexpected visit from Sam Strupeck of Shoreline Brewing in Michigan City as we were waiting for the water to boil. I am always thrilled when other brewers drop in as I always enjoy talking shop. Be sure to stop by Shoreline to check out Sam's tasty lineup of brews!
9 May 2010 - It's mother's day and we
are closed. This is good because I began brewing at 6a yesterday, finishing
up at closing time. While there, my mom and dad stopped by to drop off a clock
which he gave me for the bewery. It is a beautiful example, made by the Self
Winding Clock Company. I mounted it high on the rear wall of the production
area so that it can be seen both by me while I'm brewing and by customers
through the dutch door. Thank you dad - happy mother's day mom...
The latest brew, a single IPA named Where Lizards Dare is now happily bubbling away as the yeast consumes the sugars and converts them to CO2 and alcohol. I believe that I've now produced a brew worthy of being called an IPA and one which will get the attention of hopheads. Where Lizards Dare is a trad climb in Red River Gorge rated 9+ and given five stars, meaning it is a classic. The route runs up an orange colored dihedral finger crack and was first climbed in 1977 when a '9' was very difficult and the '+' rating meant that it was probably a '10'. Like this route, the brew has a slight orange color and the hops are over the top. We'll see if it earns the classic rating in a few weeks when it is ready.
Our neighbor Melissa called Lynne earlier in the week, offering to come help on brew day. Arriving around 3p, she was a washing machine for the duration and ended the day with a well earned glass of Camp 4. Thank you very much!
7 May 2010 - Since my last update,
I've been working on getting our 22oz "bomber" bottling line going. This
entails the rebuilding of our well used single head Applied Bottling filler /
crowner machine, our very old Labelette bottle labelling machine, and an
industrial paper shear (for cutting labels). To aid me in this endeavor,
I've been having my dad machine various worn out parts for these old machines.
This on top of my day job, regular growler filling and restocking at Pat's
Liquors, Trail Inn Liquors, and now Triangle Liquors has kept us quite busy.
Kyle and I made a recon trip to Revolution Brewing, noted brewmaster Jim Cibak's (of Goose Island and Three Floyds fame) latest venture. We enjoyed a flight of their current seven brews along with a spectacular pulled pork burger, all of which were over the top, just as we expected for something from Jim.
Be sure to stop by Triangle Liquors tonight from 5 to 7p for a tasting of our brews.
Also, Industrial Revolution Eatery & Grill opened yesterday and has our Camp 4 on tap.
28 April 2010 - While not forsaking our tried and
true web page, you can now follow us on
facebook, giving us the ability to read your comments,
likes, dislikes, etc, and providing an interactive forum to supplement this blog.
We transferred 50 gallons of Rye Knot into the Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel and included a few vanilla beans to balance the smoked oak and whiskey and to make it more interesting. We're excited to see how this turns out come next fall.
Finally, when our tiny tasting room is full and there's no place to set a glass (or flight) of brew, there's now a counter along the hallway which should make life easier. Thanks to the wonderful suggestion of one of our patrons, there are even a set of hooks mounted underneath it on which to hang your jacket or purse.
26 April 2010 - Hopefully everyone who attended Dark Lord
day at Three Floyds
survived. Always a huge happening, many of our friends attended and returned with rave reviews.
Now that this major event is over, craft brew aficionados will be thinking about
Illiana Mayfest, hosted by Crown Brewing. We will be joining
about 15 other local breweries for this extravaganza and tickets are limited, so be sure to
pick up yours soon...
Pikk's Tavern has run through their first two kegs of First Ascent and moved on to Ro Shampo. We stopped in for dinner there last Saturday evening with my brother Jon and his wife Brenda (both fabulous artists - see Jon's works here) and had a wonderful dinner accompanied by the monkeys in a glass :)
The latest excitement in Valpo's food/pub scene is Industrial Revolution Eatery & Grill which is scheduled to open on May 6th. They have 16 tap handles featuring primarily american beer, half of which are dedicated to the small craft breweries including F8, initially with Camp 4, our nut brown ale. Be sure to drive by and check out the impressive renovations that have taken place there.
21 April 2010 - Last week was a bit
nervous for us as we nearly ran out of growlers again and only received a new
order today, so tonight will be spent filling them for our customers (Pat's Liquors
and Trail Inn Liquors) as well as for our own stock.
Joel and I had dinner at Pikk's last Wednesday and I enjoyed a couple of First Ascent on draft, which I have to say was a great experience, pairing exceptionally well with their fine tavern burger...
This past weekend, we began servng our Offwidth Double Pale Ale in earnest and it is now available in growlers. With it's balance of hop bitterness and malts, the response has been excellent!
We are expanding our hours to include Thursday evenings from 5 to 8pm beginning tomorrow night. Hopefully this will give those who cannot make it out to see us on the weekends a chance to stop in.
13 April 2010 - We are excited to report
that our First Ascent is now on draft at
Pikk's Tavern! This is the first tap handle
outside of our brewery and we are pleased that Pikk's has given us this opportunity.
Pikk's is a great restaurant in downtown Valparaiso and we always enjoy dining there.
With only a 1/6 BBL keg (about 40 pints), I'm guessing we'll be sending them more
Our tasting at Trail Inn Liquors last Friday went very well, with at least two patrons exchanging a six pack of some non-descript domestic for a growler of our brew :) Lynne, Annebelle, and I had a great time meeting and serving people tastes of our wares, along with our good friend Kyle, from across the street at Uptown Cafe, who stopped to help for a while too. He has a vast knowlege and background with craft brews and is always a delight to see in action when he is describing a beer - he has so much energy!
8 April 2010 - Life has been busy and
I've been negligent about updating the news. We brewed our second batch of
Ro Shampo last Wednesday and it is now ready to be moved to the conditioning
Last weekend, as we were madly waiting on the long line of people visiting F8, one of our fine patrons asked if this was what having a newspaper article did for us. While we had a copy of The Times April 3rd edition sitting on our kitchen counter, neither of us had gotten to the Lifestyles section of the paper to discover this article. We aren't sure if it was the article or just the fabulous weather, but turnout was great!
As the sign says, we will be having a tasting to launch the sales of our growlers at Trail Inn Liquors here in Valparaiso. Technically, I'm only a brewer, not a brew master, but we are excited about adding a new, local, sales location to give people an option when we are not open for business.
29 March 2010 - We took a few days
away from our hectic life by visiting The Red. The weather cooperated for
the most part and we were able to climb for a couple of days and getting
outside was wonderful.
On our way down past Lexington, we side tracked to Buffalo Trace distillery and picked up a Bourbon barrel in which I intend to age some of our Rye Knot - it should be quite tasty!
Our Offwidth Imperial Pale Ale is now in the conditioning tank and should be ready for consumption in another week or so...
21 March 2010 - We brewed Offwidth
Imperial Pale Ale last Tuesday and it all went smoothly. The large grain
bill filled the mash tun pretty well and even after the final runoffs
were through, the level was still above the door. While the pictures don't
quite do justice to reality, the color of the wort in the brew kettle is
always amazing. In this picture, you can see the four strings trailing
away to the large bags of hops. In the final picture, the spent grains
are lined up to be taken to a local farmer.
Our weekend hours continue to be full of happy people, sometimes making our small tasting space a standing room only area. Our shipment of empty growler cases runs down the back hallway and people have found that they are a good substitute for a counter. I think we will be adding a narrow counter along that wall to provide a place to set glasses after the boxes are moved.
We are excited to be attending our first craft brewing event, Illiana Mayfest, this coming May 22nd. It runs from 4 to 8 pm at the Lake County Fairgrounds and is being organized by one of the other five local micro breweries in our area, Crown Brewing. From talking with Steve at Crown, it sounds like there will be a large turnout of microbreweries at the event, so it should be a great day! We have tickets available for sale ($25) and they will also be available at the door for $30.
16 March 2010 - We were encouraged
to read the
article by Scott Bort last Friday in the
Post-Tribune's Lifestyles section. We have been following his beer reviews
and enjoy the down to earth analysis. Perhaps the positive review helped
promote the great turnout of patrons on Satuday and Sunday. Unfortunately
this online version does not have the beautiful pictures of our brew. If
you can find a copy of the actual 3/12 paper, you will get the full experience.
We had hoped to brew our Offwidth IPA, an Imperial, on Sunday, but the hops did not arrive in time and so we are brewing tomorrow instead.
Growlers are a brilliantly green invention. We have been refilling the numerous empties which people are bringing in, and for those who don't have one (or more), our order is due to arrive tomorrow.
Finally, here is a sneek peak at our prototype tap handle. Look for it (or something similar) at a local destination soon...
|13 March 2010 - We sold out of growlers yesterday and while more are on order, we do not have any prefilled bottles left for sale. So, if you have one which needs refilling for Saint Patty's Day, be sure to stop in either this weekend, or during our special hours on Monday evening from 5 to 8pm to have your growler refilled...|
10 March 2010 - As we were too busy to take
many photos during the opening, we were pleased when our artist Greg Freres offered
us some of his to post on our site. Thanks Greg!
We've been recuperating from the opening week events and adjusting to our open for business status. This included a private birthday party Monday evening (happy 44th Chris :) as well as the filling of growlers for sale at Pat's Liquors in Porter.
If you did not see it, the Sunday edition of the Post Tribune had a nice article about us by correspondent James D. Wolf Jr. Also, Scott M. Bort, staff photographer and beer columnist for the Post Tribue, wrote us up in "The Post-Trib on the street" blog. Scott is also planning on reviewing Ro Shampo in his weekly beer review column in Friday's Post Lifestyles section.
We deduced that it was our most excellent neighbor Mike who was responsible for leaving us the bottle of Utopias. Thanks Mike! We will be sure to include him when we open it for a taste...
I ordered ingredients this week for our next brew which will be named Offwidth IPA - we're excited about it and hope you will be too...
7 March 2010 (addendum) - Upon returning
to the brewery this morning for our second day of being open for business, I
discovered a couple of gifts which had been left by friends. Our friends Anne
and Kurt from West Lafayette gave us a copy of "The Beer Book - breweries,
tasting notes, tours" and an anonymous giver left a bottle of Sam Adams Utopias!
Many thanks to both!
As I mentioned in the previous entry, the weather is definitely turning for the better these days as Spring is most certainly here, and this picture of Lynne's blooming Snow Drops proves it!
7 March 2010 - The day was gorgeous
as can be seen by the sun breaking over the top of the building while I
hung the OPEN sign at about 12:30. We had an amazing turnout for our public
grand opening event. People arrived and filled our space from opening until
after close. There were people waiting in line, standing down the hallway
to the bathroom, waiting outside, etc. We had a number of friends who came
to the event as well, and they filled the production space. We weren't sure
what to expect, but the turnout was spectacular.
We couldn't have pulled this off without a lot of help (again) from our very special friends. Anne who has been a continual help, Shaun for stepping in to help fill growlers just when I needed him, Melissa and Wendi for keeping the glassware clean and ready, Justin for carting and rinsing empty growlers, Cameron and Matt for running to get more labels and rubber bands, the list goes on and on... THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH, I have no idea how to repay you for your kindness and generosity...
For those who were not able to attend on Saturday, our current plan for hours open to the public are Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5p. Hope to see you soon - CHEERS!
5 March 2010 - In an attempt to give back
to all of our friends who have helped out so much over the course of getting to
the point where we could open our doors, and to prepare for the grand opening as
well, we invited them for a private soft opening on Wednesday evening - the event
was great fun! Thank you everyone for helping us to achieve this goal.
In preparation for the friends and family night, as well as our VIP event on Thursday, Anne and Lynne worked tirelessly cleaning, preparing, organizing, setting up, and generally taking care of all of the details which I have no clue about. Thank you both very much!
Is that a new baby that proud papa Shaun is holding or just the first keg of beer that we filled?
We delivered our first batch of growlers to Pat's Liquors in Porter today (where they carry an outstanding collection of craft beers) so someone will undoubtedly be having some F8 brew(s) before our public opening - CHEERS!
Over these last couple of weeks, our oldest cat Nyssa had not been doing well and as her tired body failed her, her will continued to be strong and she remained our constant companion as best as she could. This morning, she was only able to do little more than move her head and yet her mind was clearly longing to do more. Choosing to release her from her broken body and to allow her to run free with her peers, we had her released from her bonds...
While her spirit will remain in our hearts forever, we will dearly miss her presence...
2 March 2010 - With the help of many
friends, we are pretty close to being ready for our grand opening and are waiting
excitedly to discover how the event turns out. If we experience a large turnout,
parking may become an issue, so please try to caravan. The lot directly in front
of our location is small and we share it with Rio's, but there is a larger lot
on the east side of the building. Also, if things get really crazy, there may
be some parking across the street, but please be careful of traffic.
Also, for those who are curious about how Joel did at his state ISSMA saxophone contest, he played brilliantly and came away with a silver medal. Needless to say, we are quite proud of him :)
|24 February 2010 - Please visit our Brews page, which has now had a quick update to provide a picture and description of our first four brews.|
22 February 2010 - Sorry about the lack
of updates, but with our grand opening just around the corner, we've been crazy
busy and the news has been lower priority. I can now report that the four brews
are all conditioning nicely and are quite tasty even at this early date.
As the banner on our home page indicates, our grand opening event is set for Saturday March 6th and we hope that everyone can squeeze in some time to come visit us and enjoy our brews. The start time is not quite locked down yet, but we are thinking sometime around 1 to 2pm and will probably run well into the evening. We'll post the official opening time just as soon as we know.
15 February 2010 - Let me preclude this entry
with the statement that we have the best friends, period.
Figuring that the brewing of Nut Brown went well (on Sunday) and because Lynne and Annabelle (who spent a great part of the day helping at F8 with Lynne and me) prepared the huge grain bill for Rye Knot while I was busy brewing and such, we decided to try brewing two batches in a row. This allows us to save the energy needed to heat cold water to near boiling, instead heating the already hot water saved from cooling the previous batch. Two in a row also avoids some of the cleaning. It does however commit us to the added time to brew, possibly leaving cleanup until the next day.
Rye Knot is the biggest brew I've ever attempted, only made possibly by the size of our mash tun. With over 700 lbs. of grains and adjuncts, it is massive. All was going pretty well until the mash got stuck. This means that the liquid held in the grains refuses to drain at a reasonable rate. Fortunately the open top mash tun allowed me to work the grain bed to help it drain, and after a long, tense, and hard job, we managed to extract most of the goodness from the mash and proceed with brewing. After beginning the day at about 10a, we were done with the brewing by 1a, and then a miracle happened! A bunch of our wonderful friends began arriving and helping us with various cleanup tasks and it generally turned into a festive event!
In the fermenters, all nicely percolating are:
Special thanks to Mark and Duane for providing waste barrels and bins and to Mark for hauling away the spent grains to the farm where there are certain to be some happy cows...
|14 February 2010 - With a lot of help from the brewery girls, the Nut Brown Ale is in the fermenter, the grains for Rye Knot are in the hopper, the water is heating, and we are going to save energy and some cleanup effort by attempting a double header - Rye Knot, here we come!|
13 February 2010 - First Ascent is
fermenting nicely, and today, Lynne and I brewed Ro Shampo just like we
knew what we were doing, even though it took another 12 hours including
cleaning. Two more brews over the next two days and we will be in good
shape for our opening on the 6th.
Just for fun, I've put up a teaser of the Ro Shampo poster which our artist Greg has put together. This is a composit of images which will be on the 22oz labels once we start bottling. The monkeys will also adorn our F8 coasters. In case you are wondering, being an Imperial Red, Ro Shampo is named after a fun climb in Kentucky's Red River Gorge, one of our favorite places to climb...
Tomorrow, we will be brewing our yet to be named Nut Brown Ale. I originally wanted to name it Hexnut Brown Ale, but the fine folks at Goose Island have already used that one. Perhaps inspiration will come while downing a pint - CHEERS!
11 February 2010 - One down, three to
go. After a quick 12 hour day (yesterday), the first batch of beer (First Ascent -
A Belgian Honey Lager) is in the fermenter. The process went very smoothly, especially
given that it was the first effort. Special thanks to my building owner Todd who
took a break from plowing the snow from the parking lot to help for a bit at a
critical moment when having a spare pair of hands was very helpful.
The grain system operated perfectly, depositing the rolled grain into the mash tun where it cooked for a while before sparging and transferring to the brew kettle.
The sugary goodness was brought to a boil and further sweetened with locally produced light clover honey in the brew kettle. Then the addition of some fragrant cascade hops complemented the pleasant aroma in the facility.
The brewery girls provided essential afternoon help and wonderful company as the brew process wound down and we proceeded to cleanup. Before completing the kettle wash, I had to climb in to remove the hops bags.
With this first batch brewed, I can now relax with a day of work at my day job after which I will visit F8 to check on the status of the fermenation.
10 February 2010 - After a long day of
setup and checkout at 9p on Tuesday, everything was ready and the kettle was
filled with water for the first batch, but I was too tired to start actually
brewing. So BREW DAY is actually today instead...
The Castle Pale Malt, imported from Belgium, is the basis for First Ascent, which is the first brew.
9 February 2010 - Following my near
panic attack when the grains & hops order was lost and failed to be delivered
last Thursday, things were straightened out and the shipment arrived yesterday.
After deciding that the original grain chute design using 4 inch PVC was not going to work properly, I located a source for a 4 inch utility auger and Lynne's brother Mark was kind enough to take the time to drive to New Paris Indiana to pick it up for me. I spent the afternoon and evening installing the auger, having to also requisition Shaun's help to modify the motor mount and so now the system is ready.
After a long day of work at the school bookfair, Lynne spent the evening at F8 doing some cleanup work in preparation for...
BREW DAY !!!
|6 February 2010 - It's official, Joel took gold (nice work:) with his alto saxophone solo at ISSMA today, so he will be going to the state contest on the 27th. This means that we will be having our grand opening on March 6th. Details to follow in the coming days...|
5 February 2010 - Just a quick update
to fix the last entry date (thanks for pointing this out Cameron :) and to say
that our grain and hops order was lost for a few days, so won't arrive until
Monday. This means that instead of brewing this weekend, we will be working
out some of the final details, doing some water only testing, and perhaps a
Hope everyone has a great weekend!
3 February 2010 - We've been working
like crazy this week to be ready to brew this coming weekend, completing all of
the odd finishing touches throughout the brewery. As you may recall, the roller
mill which crushes the grains slightly in order to expose their meat to the
moisture in the mashing process lives on the upper level. The roller mill is
now bolted into place and a grain hopper is situated above the roll mill in
order to hold the entire grain bill for a brew prior to crushing. Also a chute
is in place to deliver the crushed grains from the mill to the mash tun. After
delivery, the chute can be raised out of the way (as it is seen in the picture).
I asked my dad to build table tops for the retail space and as he has been completing them, Lynne has been sanding and finishing them. This bistro height table was the first to be installed and it sits in the front window. Two more conventional height movable tables will fill out the remaining tiny retail space.
Assuming everything is done in time to brew this weekend and the brewing process goes smoothly (Tom crosses his fingers), we are still set for a grand opening either February 27th or March 6th. The later date will be chosen in the likely event that my son Joel earns a gold on his ISSMA alto saxophone solo this coming weekend, in which case we will be heading to Indianapolis to hear him perform there. We are all quite proud of his prodigus skills and hard work and don't want to miss this opportunity. Once the results are in, we will lock down the opening day and announce it here and on our home page...
And now a hint at our first four brews:
Our "Brews" page will have a detailed description soon (probably next week), but we hope that these sound good - cheers!
28 January 2010 - It's been crazy
here for the past week and this blog has taken a lower priority to everything
else. Without making it official, we had been aiming for the 13th as a
tentative opening date, but now having ordered ingredients for our first
four brews, I can say definitively that the 27th of Februay looks like
our actual grand opening date. We still have a number of key tasks to
complete before that date is a reality, but I'm feeling pretty confident at
With the production floors all nicely painted and the equipment mostly all in place and cleaned, we've been tying up a number of loose ends to make sure that we can brew when the ingredients arrive.
Thanks for keeping tabs on us and hang in there for just a few more short weeks, then let the freshly hand crafted hops infused brews flow...
|News prior to 28 January 2010|
|Last updated: 20 July 2012||
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