Friday, October 5, 2012

Interview with DryHop - part 2

In this, the second part of my interview with Greg Shuff (GS) and Brent Dubovick (BD), we talk about Chef Pete, brewing collaborations, Galaxy hops, Dry Hop's brewing system, and how great Midwesterners are. Enjoy!

MBB = We have not talked about the food. The food that DryHop will have. Would you mind saying a little bit about what your thoughts are, your plans are in that realm of things?
GS = Absolutely. When we started going down the food route, once we segwayed from Last Bay which has a growler focus, we started to say that this would work much better for us if we segwayed into food. It took awhile, a lot of thinking, a lot of meetings between us and some other people, but then we decided, really for us the best thing would be to tackle food in as intensive way as possible. Try to elevate it to the same level, and with the same amount of energy to it, as we’re putting into our beers. So, we kind of think of ourselves as a gastro brewpub. It’s a small plates concept, about thirty dishes, all based around midwestern cuisine. But we start from the perspective that we are brewers first, we know beer first and foremost. What sort of dishes would pair best with the beers we are brewing for the season at this time?  At this time of year, pumpkin beers make a lot of sense. Oktoberfests make a lot of sense. So, the thinking becomes, what sorts of dishes can be paired to these beers as opposed to what beers pair well with what we’re cooking. it’s a slight paradigm shift in your mind from thinking ‘what can we brew to match our cheeseburger?’ I am not really interested in that. We have one of the best pumpkin stouts that Brant does that is very good. So what can Chef Pete do to really bring that out? We already have a chef by the way. Do you want some story on him?
MBB = Yeah, why not?
GS = So Pete is formerly of Charlie Trotters. He’s an old sous of him and also a sous at Turtle Creek. It’s another kind of foody place. (He’s) been in the Chicago culinary scene for a very long time. Very talented chef. (To Brant) I would say you’ve had his food.
BD = Yeah, it is excellent.
GS = Yeah, it is truly excellent.
BD = Yeah, really nice. He really brings the flavor out nicely, and it pairs very well with beer.
GS = We have recently been working on testing our menu ‘cause we have a proposed menu that is really just scratches on paper. So we’re going through and Chef Pete is extremely diligent. So we are going through each individual dish, preparing them as we would prepare them in the brewery, and plating them in the exact same (way). ‘Does this make sense for the beer concept? Is this working?’ So that’s one of the big projects we have right now. So making sure our menu is lined up and taking pictures and putting it on facebook.

Photo taken by Michael Kiser, goodbeerhunting.com



MBB = So how did you all cross paths with Chef Pete?
GS = Chef Pete. Yeah
BD = Originally we were only going to do one thing. We were going to be a taco place or a sausage place. Just something that would get us licensing basically. Something real simple.
GS = This was when we were still like ‘Growlers!’. We were really focused on beer and growlers only, and we just wanted the food to pass licensing. That’s all we wanted. But as you can see, our food concept has grown tremendously since then.
BD = Greg was like ‘How are we going to go about hiring a chef?’ I said ‘Why don’t we throw something on Craigslist? It can’t hurt and all we can do is say no if we don’t get any people that we like.’ We put an ad on Craigslist and Pete was one of the first people to send us a resume. We had some really good prospects. We had maybe ten prospects that were really gastropub-centric chefs, and I was surprised. I think we had something like 350 resumes sent to us through Craigslist. So, we met with maybe four people I think?
GS = Yeah.
BD = Four people. Greg and I talked it over and decided Pete was the best way to go. Greg made him an offer. Fortunately he accepted and there we went. So, he worked on a consulting basis for maybe four months?
GS = Yeah.
BD = And he came on full time in September 3rd I think was his first day.
MBB = Okay.
GS = Pete’s culinary philosophy, and kitchen philosophy, is you design the menu first and then you design your kitchen around your menu. So it was important to have him on pretty early. because right now, already with building permits into the city our kitchen is designed. Because we had to submit it. So he came on, we talked about our menu, and we got it pretty close to what we were talking about. And then to do some of the things we are planning on doing you need some specialized equipment. Planning for that is really important. He’s been with us for a while now. He just started with the menu testing really recently. He’s been working with us for several months. He’s great. He’s a good guy.

MBB = If Chef Pete’s approach is menu first and then kitchen, did he have any issue with your bias towards the beer and then the menu and the food second?
BD = Everything he has said since he came on has been ‘you need to put the beer forefront’.
GS = It’s all about the beer.
BD = The food will play a secondary role.
MBB = That’s fantastic.

A photo of the DryHop + Atlas collaboration called High Voltage

MBB = May we move onto the beer that brought us here tonight?
BD = Absolutely.
MBB = This is probably silly but how did you get in touch with the brewers here and how did you decide on this style of beer for your collaboration?
BD = This is our fourth collaboration. The three other collaborations that we’ve done before this, one was the wheat IPA which is going to be a staple at DryHop. The other two were a little funky. We did an Americanized version of a Bier de Garde at Haymarket.
GS = Is that still on down there?
BD = I don’t know.
GS = If it is, have you (MBB) had it?
MBB = Yeah I have.
BD = He was at the (release). Greg could not make the release.
GS = I was there for an hour.
MBB = I think I arrived just as you were leaving.
GS = Yeah. Sorry I missed you.
MBB = Bah.
GS = (laughs).
BD = And we did a summer ale with Lunar with a...
MBB = Lemon balm.
BD = Lemon balm and lavender. It came about with Atlas that we wanted to do.. Lets not go crazy. Lets not do a beer that has 55 herbs in it. Lets just do a straightforward beer. I think a pretty straightforward beer is a single hop IPA. It obviously only has one hop. So we came down for the first night they were open, and I met with Ben. Started talking and I said we ought to do a collaboration. It sort of grew from there. Ben’s a great guy and John, his brother, is the GM here. He’s a great guy. They welcomed us into the brewhouse with open arms. I came down and brewed with him. It was a really nice, smooth brewery. Very very pleased with the result.
GS = I’d like to add some story to this. The goal is to brew a less eccentric beer, lets say. We were focusing on a single hop, or an IPA. Something like that. But it’s a galaxy IPA. Both of us, I think, are particularly partial to the galaxy hop. It was a fun opportunity, I think, for us to showcase what this hop is all about. It’s certainly known. It’s not like we just discovered galaxy or anything but it’s a less common hop variety in the American craft beer scene currently.  So it was fun to do something basic, sort-of, to showcase one element of a beer and really elevate it as much as possible. It was a fun exploration of the galaxy hop.

MBB =  I was not aware that you two were fans of galaxy hops. Is that a hop that you can say whether or not we will be seeing it in your products when the time comes around?
BD = Absolutely. Our wheat IPA is dry hopped with it.
MBB = Oh, that’s what it uses?
BD = Yeah. It’s the dry hop outfit. The wheat IPA is galaxy.

MBB = I neglected to mention/ask, (to GS) what are the chances that you will find your way into the brewhouse when things are up and running?
GS = I try not to step on Brant’s toes. So, maybe if he’s sick.
(everyone laughs)
BD = I think I am going to need him in there when we get going because we are going to be brewing twelve days in a row. Maybe not twelve days in a row but we are going to do six brews in a row. When those beers are moved over to the serving tanks we’re going to go another six beers in a row. I am probably going to need him. We are probably going to hire an assistant who is probably going to start around February 1st. We’re ready to go. We’ve hop contracts for two years. That was one of the first things I did when I got into town was get what hops I needed. We have them sitting in Yakima right now. We also have 300 lbs of zythos sitting on the south side in cold storage, and Greg’s refrigerator/freezer in the apartment has been turned into a holding vessel for simcoe and centennial. And we have 200 lbs of galaxy that are sitting in Begyle’s freezer at their brewery. So, we’ve got hops all over the place and in Yakima, Washington as well. We’re ready to roll. We just need the malt and we’ll be ready to go.

MBB = Would you mind saying a little bit about your system? Barrel size, number of fermenters, etc.
GS = It is a ten barrel brewhouse. We have six 10 barrel uni-tanks. Jacketed fermenters. We have six 10 barrel, jacketed serving tanks. The serving tanks are stacked. One on top of the other.  They are our back bar. So you come up, you’re sitting at the bar, you’re looking at the serving tanks. There is nothing separating you from them. The lines go straight from there into our taps. So, it’s as direct from the brewery as you can possibly get.
BD = If you turn around you see the brewhouse. If you look to your right you see the fermenters.
GS = Our bar runs straight down the middle of our brewery. So the fermenters and the bright takes are in front of you and the brewhouse is behind you. So, as I said, space is really optimized in our brewery. That’s why when we put the equipment in it is not going anywhere.
MBB = You might want to invest in a few boxes of tissues because being a beer fan I am sure that folks are going to look one way, shed a tear. Turn around, another one (another tear) and be like ‘I am so happy’.
BD = The double stacked serving tanks are pretty cool looking. Pete has some at Haymarket but they are kind of hard to see. He’s got knee wall in front of it but these are going to be open to the public to see. We’re also going to grind our malt. So we’re not buying pre-ground malt. That’s a big component. We actually have our grist case stacked on top of our lauter tun. So that’s going to look pretty crazy to.
GS = (making hand gestures in the air to aide his description) That’s going to go back right here and here is one of our tables. It’s just like ‘There it is’.

MBB = I am not familiar with some of the brewing systems of the brewpubs around town, but the only other place that I know of that has a serving tank connected directly to the taplines is Upland in Bloomington (Indiana).
GS = Oh yeah. I know them.
BD = These guys do (Atlas).
MBB = They do?
BD = So does Pete. Haymarket does to.
MBB = Now I am curious about what else I don’t know.
(laughter)
BD = Does Piece?
GS = Piece? I don’t know.
MBB = They (the tanks) are close enough that I would be surprised if they didn’t.
BD = Does Revolution?
GS = I have no idea. I would assume that all of the brewpubs have serving tanks but I actually don’t know.
BD = Ask Ben (of Atlas) for a tour. He’s really accommodating.
GS = I know Flossmoor has serving tanks. Bright tanks.

MBB = Those are all the questions I have at this time. Do you guys have anything you want to say about DryHop, the future, Chicago beer, whatever is on your mind.
GS = I don’t know. I guess to expand - it’s a fun time to be a brewer in Chicago. Very much. The collaborative scene is great. At the brewers guild meeting, a couple of months ago now, the owner of Lagunitas () commented that Chicago scene looks a lot like what the California scene did twenty years ago. And it’s just fun to be a part of that. That they (Chicago) are seeing the scene blow up. in craft beer. It’s a great time to be collaborating and making great beer here.
MBB = Yeah, it is an exciting time.
BD = It’s exciting to walk into your corner or grandfather’s bar and see an Old Style tap and right next to that you see a Half Acre or a Revolution tap. It’s nice to see craft beer in pretty much every bar you walk into, or at least one craft beer in their selection on draft. Which is kind of nice. Hopefully we’ll get that up to everything is a craft beer selection one of these days, but we’ll take tiny steps to get that. Coming from Pennsylvania it’s refreshing to see the love affair the city has with craft beer.
MBB = Midwesterners are pretty great. Not going to lie to you.
BD and GS = Yeah!
GS = Midwesterners rock! I love Midwesterners.

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