The SOMM Journal

August / September 2015

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Page 22 of 132

22 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 { the punch-down } interviews and ruminations with beverage industry pros by Jonathan Cristaldi AS MICRO AND MACROCLIMATES ARE important to the health and vigor of a vine, Nile Zacherle believes the same may be true for grains that are grown to make beer. Zacherle has 25 years of brewing experience and has seen how efficiencies in brewing have precipitated into impressive brand marketing, but as he sees it, a critical element is missing. There's a serious lack in awareness of the raw materials that make beer—the water, barley and hops—and where and how these products are grown. Bringing transparency to beer is his mission, and he's only just begin - ning to answer a long list of questions as he seeks to define "ultra-craft" beer. Jonathan Cristaldi: Which craft malt companies are you working with? Nile Zacherle: We source estate grown Mecca Malt from Madras, Oregon, a Full Pint barley used for our ESB and Dubbel Abbey Ale, and Copeland from Rebel Malt in Reno, which is grown in Fallon, Nevada, for our Golden Ale, Blue Corn Pale Ale, IPA and Weizenbock. Also Full Pint from Brownsville, Oregon for our Porter, Imperial Rye Stout and Rye; and Scarlet Variety Two-Row, an estate-grown malt from Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa Colorado, for our Pale Lager, Double IPA and Kolsch. This year we are also working with our own Calistoga-grown Copeland and Hockett. You talk about someday hoping to control yields in growing barely. How might that impact the flavor of the beer? What's the difference between five tons an acre of Cabernet and two and a half tons per acre? We want to ask the same ques- tion. Will malt yields impact color, extract, potential, overall flavor intensity? We're not there yet, but working on it. Where are you sourcing your water? That's the first thing you'll see on our labels. Currently, we source from wells and reservoirs in St. Helena and Calistoga. From 120 gallons of water, we make about 60 gallons of beer, and we recycle and re- use as much as possible. How long does it take to test out a water source and a grain? Anywhere from six to 20 weeks. We car- bonate naturally, ferment in various ves- sels and age in recently used wine barrels. How does barrel-aging impact your beers? These beers are unfined and unfiltered, so the barrel acts as a settling element giving the beer time to condi- tion, giving it roundness and some flavor extrac- tion. We age anywhere from two to seven months. It's a "mixed culture influence," and after aging we bottle in Grolsch-style swing-top stoppers. Drink some now, drink some later. How is demand shaping the styles you offer? We currently make 16 beers that have been made, or are being made, and there really aren't any standouts. Each lot of malt is so small, our production is limited to the raw materials and core ingredients of each beer—which offers a direct link to where that beer is from. You don't go into the store and ask for a couple more bottles of Mad Fritz—that's just not our product. Learn more at Career Highlights: 1990: Nile Zacherle brews his first batch of beer 1994–1997: studies fermentation science at U.C. Davis, Master Brewers program; experimental winemaker for Sterling Vineyards. 1997–98: Brewer and Director of Quality Assurance at Anderson Valley Brewing Company. 1998-Present: Winemaker in California, Australia and France focused on estate-grown wines. 2014–present: Mad Fritz Brewing Company is created and founded with Whitney Fisher, winegrower for Fisher Vineyards, focused on a new level of beer quality driven by the raw materials, based in Napa Valley. Beeroir Believers NILE ZACHERLE AND WHITNEY FISHER TAKE A WINEMAKER'S APPROACH TO ULTRA-CRAFT BEER AT MAD FRITZ BREWING COMPANY PHOTO: JONATHAN CRISTALDI PHOTO: JONATHAN CRISTALDI PHOTO: JONATHAN CRISTALDI Nile Zacherle, co-founder and Brewmaster, Mad Fritz Brewing Company. Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Every back label details the sources of the raw ingredients in each bottle of Mad Fritz beer. One selection from Mad Fritz beers.

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