Ramble On

Friday, April 7, 2017

Virginia Hops for Virginia Beer @hawksbillhops

For those that have been tracking the Richmond outpost of Stone Brewing, a few months back we learned that the IPA brewed with Virginia hops was set to be released (see previous post) as "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Beer."  I put out an all points bulletin and found some bottles at "my local" Bethesda Market near my old office, and thanks to Jay and Erin I was able to get four bottles from there.  I wanted to share these with a few of the people that have helped with that particular start-up, but I did manage to save a bottle for myself.  I enjoyed it out on the deck in Alexandria a couple of weekends ago when I didn't go out to Luray.  It is a satisfying brew, the kind of IPA Stone is well known for, with hints of fruit from Virginia produce mingling in for good measure.As it happens, I needed to run an errand to the Whole Foods in Alexandria for some vegetables to pair up with some ribs I was making.  To my surprise, they also had some bottles on the shelf, so I picked up another couple of bottles to stash away.I don't expect the three bottles I have on hand to last the summer - they may not even last much past planting season, which is coming up for the hop yards.  That's going to make balance a challenge - the brewery's opening happens right at the same time!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Grown Here - Brewed Here @hawksbillbrew

We've made a commitment at the brewery to try and source locally whenever we can.  To begin with, it means we'll use the hops we grow at Hawksbill Hop Yards as often as we can, and we'll supplement those with hops from other Shenandoah Valley and Virginia growers - inevitably we'll need to source some from hops brokers though.  And we'd like to find sources for other local ingredients, especially the barley base malt we're going to use.

For now, the pursuit of local ingredients is a goal, but it is a key part of who we are and what we want to do at the brewery.

Meanwhile, we've figured out some other things we can do to have a good local impact.  We decided to source some of our opening day furniture locally, and reached out to Luray High School to see if we couldn't have some picnic tables made - and they delivered!

We have these four foot tables inside the brewery, and then larger 8-footers outside in the beer garden.  The gray bar stools are repurposed from an Alexandria restaurant that closed last year.

The weather in Luray, for those who don't know, is really great for three-season outdoor living.  Sure there are thunderstorms and rainy days, but we're sure these are going to get plenty of use.  I can't wait to have a seat and an IPA out there myself!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Volunteer Day @hawksbillbrew

Where did March go?

Since my last post on the blog we've been keeping busy getting Hawksbill Brewing ready to open.  I'll spend the next few posts catching up on March before writing up April.  But a quick sidebar:  the grand opening date for the brewery is set for May 12!

A highlight last month was the volunteer day we had in the middle of the month.

Finally all of the major construction was done, so we made a call for help to help us with a scrubbing down.  We were very blessed to have about 10 folks show up to help out with polishing the brew kitchen, cleaning up brick dust from where the new A/C system punched through the wall, and other odds and ends that just needed some time an energy.

We put in about 6 hours that day.  Lots of polishing the stainless.  I think we are familiar enough with the mop and bucket that we are going to name them.

But at the end of it all, the place was spic and span.  We've got a few weeks left before we open, and brewing is underway, but for now, everything looks great!

Friday, March 10, 2017

First Official Brew Day @hawksbillbrew

(Don't forget our Kickstarter - we're just about half way through.  We sure appreciate your support!)

At Hawksbill Brewing, we've received our license, and we have our equipment commissioning scheduled.  Until we've completed those final inspections we're not doing full 5-barrel batches just yet.

But on Thursday, David decided to fire up the 1/2-barrel pilot system to do a batch of the Chocolate Milk Stout.  This recipe has been fine-tuned with a couple of trials, and we think it's almost ready for prime time.  This final batch should do it!

We're also having a volunteer day at the brewery this Saturday, 3/11, starting at 9am to do some final cleanup before commissioning.  We can start brewing as early as next week, so the volunteer time (not to mention the Kickstarter) will help us stay on track!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day and "Women Making History" - A Berlin Story from Jennifer

(The VFW is observing "Women's History Month" - and one of my USAF Berliner friends penned an article that was published on their website.  It's a great story and exactly the kind of thing I love to hear and share when I encounter posts from friends like Jenny - people I am proud to have served with during Berlin's Cold War era.  Her article is cut-and-pasted in full below, but you can also click on the link in the title and head on over to the VFW page to see it in full.  - Jim)

A Stranger in the East

Tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap.
I leaned against the window of our duty bus and glanced out. It was the spring of 1982 and we had just pulled up to a red light in East Berlin. There was a young couple in the car beside us. Cramped in the back was an old woman. I watched as she steadily tap-tapped her window.
I had arrived at my West Berlin duty station a few months earlier and, like most, was curious to see Communist East Germany. So when our flight chief announced a day trip to East Berlin I signed up. For security reasons we wore dress blues that day, no name tags, and were ordered to stay together in pairs. There was a preassigned itinerary including a list of places we could and could not visit. “Don’t wander off,” our leader had warned. “Don’t converse with the locals. Don’t give your name. Don’t ride the S-Bahn. Don’t drink the soda pop, there’s something funny in it. Laxative, I think. And for God’s sake, stay together.”Jennifer Bowman
Our first group stop was the Soviet War museum where the Russian doyen proudly walked us through room after room explaining how the resilient Soviet Union single-handedly defeated fascist Germany in the Great Patriotic War, or World War II. Next we were driven to the Karl Marx Plaza, the “showcase to the west,” with its dismal store displays and long queues of East Germans hoping for something – anything – to arrive in bulk. I bought a cheap notebook, its paper flecked with wood pulp. When the clerk handed me my change I thought the coins were fake, they were so lightweight and flimsy.
My friend Rex and I grabbed lunch at one of the few approved cafes, declining the soda. We poked around another shop or two, its wares just as depressing. I was taken aback by a small silver plated dustpan and brush for sale. It looked out of place next to the thick wool stockings and cheap alarm clocks. But for centuries the eastern part of Germany had been home to its aristocracy.
Now, the eastern part was Communist and there was no call for silver-plated anything. So someone’s family heirloom sat on the dusty shelves with scant chance of finding a new home.
After a short walk, Rex and I headed back to the duty bus. East Berlin, unfortunately, lived up to everything I had read.
At the end of World War II, Germany had been divided by the Allies. The western half worked to become a free democracy aided by Great Britain, France, and the United States. But the eastern half had fallen to Communism. The city of Berlin itself, although geographically located in East Germany, was also divided.
West Berlin, a little “island city” behind the Iron Curtain, was still part of West Germany and therefore free. But that had not been the Soviet Union’s intent. 
Immediately following the war the Soviets halted all western traffic into the city by road and rail. They tried to choke off supplies to the city’s western half in order to ensure its downfall. What they had not counted on was overhead airspace. Within weeks, planes from the US and UK began flying into West Berlin delivering cargo to keep the bedraggled city running. The year-long airlift brought everything from dry goods to canned goods, wheat, fat, fish, milk, coffee, coal and books. Aircraft came in so steadily that at the height of the airlift a plane landed once every minute. And there was the beloved Candy Bomber who had dropped chocolate bars from the sky, each equipped with a tiny parachute. All told, nearly 400,000 tons of supplies were delivered during the Berlin Blockade. Those who lived through it never forgot. 
Twelve years later, with the Allies still firmly entrenched, the Berlin Wall went up -- virtually overnight. East Germans were told it was to keep corrupt western capitalists out, but most understood it was to keep themselves in. Those who were able, quickly grabbed what they could and had fled to West Berlin, to loved ones, to freedom. Unfortunately, many older folks, perhaps like the woman tap-tapping her window, could not move that fast. Once the cement had dried on the wall, there was little to no chance of ever getting out. 
By 1982 West Berlin had risen from the rubble to become a thriving cosmopolitan city again. But East Berlin paled in comparison, like a malnourished cousin. Walking through its streets I noticed very few advertisements on its beige buildings. Clothing was outdated and ill-fitting. Music in shops was sparse, very little modern and nothing at all from the west. Propaganda signs, however, were prominent in the east, touting the virtues of soviet reform.
Our bus was headed back to West Berlin now, to our barracks, to a vibrant downtown, hopping bistros, and bulging department stores. I continued to watch the old woman as she tapped. I tapped my window and waved. She looked up and, smiling, waved back. Then she pointed to something just below my window and, to my surprise, began crying.
There was a small American flag painted on the side of our bus. She pointed again and saluted. Then I understood. 
She must have been a young woman when Allied forces marched in at war’s end. Perhaps she had watched as our planes brought life-saving supplies to Tempelhof Airfield. Maybe she stood in line waiting for her daily rations. And when the wall went up in 1961 maybe she had had small children and couldn’t get to West Berlin fast enough in a last-ditch effort. Maybe she tried but just couldn’t. So she had stayed in the east. Trapped behind the Iron Curtain.
I like to think when she saw our little painted flag she once again felt hope. I like to think she still felt kindness toward an ally who had nothing to gain but goodwill and gratitude. 
We could not have been at that red light for much more than a minute, yet I still sense the impact. I was proud to be a very small cog in our post-war mission in Europe. Proud to help stem the tide of Communism that had washed over Eastern Europe; to stand fast surrounded by opposition. But it pained me to see this frail woman saluting our bus, tears streaming down her face, knowing she had so little hope.  
It’s been almost 35 years since she and I waved, and I will never know if she lived long enough to see the wall come down in 1989. I’ll never know if she reconnected with family living in West Berlin. Or West Germany. I don’t know if she thought of escape or was ever able to leave the city. But I have never forgotten her tap-tap-tap. And I’ve never forgotten why I served our country.