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Beyond the Brewhouse

Your Questions for Ken Answered

Last month you flooded us through Facebook and Twitter with great questions for Ken Grossman. He combed through them and had fun answering a few in this video (stick around for the end!). He also typed up several other answers to hit on a variety of topics.

Let us know if this is something you’d like to see on a more consistent basis. Use the hashtag #SNBCBlog on Twitter or head to our Facebook page to send us feedback. Thanks again to those who participated.

The water sources for Chico and our Mills River brewery are both deep wells. A really important factor when we decided on Mills River was that the site has numerous springs that provide excellent water. We have already drilled our own wells on the property that produce outstanding quality and quantity. The water in Mills River is a lot softer than Chico’s, which makes it ideal for certain styles of beer. For other beer styles, however, we’ll add minerals to harden the water to be identical to Chico’s water. Quality and consistency are very important to us, and we’re taking all the steps necessary to make sure your beer tastes the same whether it’s brewed on the East or West Coast.

We’ve focused on hops since our inception and we’ve formed great relationships with the hop-growing families in the Pacific Northwest. (I’ve actually been buying from some of the same families since my homebrew shop days in the 70s.) Hops bring wonderful character to beer, and breeders and growers are on a roll researching and introducing varietals with aromas like tropical fruit, peaches—things you don’t really expect. You may have had, for example, our Ruthless Rye, which uses a new proprietary hop variety that doesn’t even have a name yet.

We recently hosted the American Hop Convention, an annual event that’s very important for staying dialed into the industry. It’s a “help them help us” situation because brewers need healthy hop growers to keep up the creativity we’re seeing in craft beer.

All-malt brewing of high ABV beers typically means greater portions of ingredients, which these days are quite expensive. Malt is the backbone of beer and we may use anywhere from two to five times the amount that would go into a lighter lager-style beer. The business reality is charging a bit more, so we certainly owe thanks to those who feel our bigger beers are worth the extra dollars.

Mr. Franz, it’s really, really awesome.