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  • It's Oktoberfest!

  • Let's legitimize our drinking by talking about it

  • scientifically.

  • Hey guys, Anthony here for D News.

  • I've got local craft brewer Jesse Friedman

  • here with me from Almanac Brewery here in San Francisco.

  • All cooking is kind of chemistry, right?

  • Yeah.

  • But brewing I find is especially so, right?

  • Because it's so specific and precise,

  • the way you have to get different beers, and things

  • that you have to change to make things work.

  • Yeah.

  • I often say that brewing's a lot like baking.

  • OK.

  • You know, both involve a lot of fermentation

  • if you're breadmaking, and you sort of set up everything,

  • and then you just sort of set the process loose,

  • and see what comes out at the other end.

  • And so instead of like cooking, where

  • you adjust as you cook, and stuff like that,

  • with beer it's more like you see how it comes out,

  • and then you go back to the beginning

  • and make a new batch, and tweak, and adjust your process.

  • So tell us about the main ingredients that

  • are going to go into every beer, and kind of what purposes

  • they serve.

  • So, all beer by definition contains four ingredients.

  • Water, hops, yeast, and barley.

  • OK.

  • And that goes back to a 17th century German purity

  • law that said only those ingredients could

  • be made with it.

  • At the time they didn't say yeast,

  • because it hadn't been discovered,

  • but after they found out there's yeast, they added that in.

  • OK.

  • And so each of those ingredients, and you

  • can vary all of them in different ways

  • to make all the different styles of beer.

  • So what makes us adhere to the 17th century definition,

  • as opposed to kind of evolving it?

  • Oh, we don't.

  • We flaunt it.

  • My brewery flaunts it at every opportunity.

  • Excellent.

  • We put all sorts of different things in our beer.

  • Yeah, let's talk about it.

  • Let's talk about some of the other stuff

  • that you guys put in.

  • I mean, sometimes fruit is added, right?

  • Yeah.

  • Sometimes other kinds of food.

  • So Almanac Beer, we call ourselves

  • a farm to barrel brewery.

  • So we brew, we describe our beers

  • as being brewed in collaboration with local farms.

  • So the idea, and we use a fancy French term here,

  • is to infuse a sense of terroir into our beer.

  • Because beer is all made with-- all the ingredients in beer

  • can be dried and easily transported.

  • So the idea is to go to local agriculture systems,

  • and bring in fruits and vegetables,

  • and local ingredients to infuse a sense of California

  • back into our beer.

  • You know, we brew with a lot of real fruit,

  • so we source that fruit from local farms,

  • and then we stand there and by hand put

  • all that fruit into the barrels one piece at a time.

  • Gotcha.

  • So talk to me about the chemistry of what goes on here.

  • When you throw everything into the vat, what happens?

  • Well, you start out with your barley,

  • and the barley is molted, and that's usually

  • done by a molster.

  • So usually a brewery won't do that ourselves.

  • And they sprout it, and then kiln it to different levels.

  • And actually, that toasting process

  • is how we make beer lots of different colors.

  • We take that, we soak it in just the right temperature of water

  • to extract out exactly what we want out of there,

  • and beer brewing is one of those great things where

  • the process has been evolved over so many hundreds of years

  • that it's like a self-contained process.

  • So when we melt all the sugars and starches out of the barley,

  • the husks that are in there actually

  • become a natural grain bed that filters it out,

  • so you get an almost perfectly crystal clear liquid

  • when you're done with that.

  • Then we begin a boiling process, and we

  • add hops during the boiling process.

  • And the hops act as preservative, and delicious,

  • delicious flavoring agent.

  • So we add hops at the beginning of the boil,

  • and that creates bitterness.

  • And the more hops you add at the end of the boil,

  • those actually add aromas.

  • So you guys are also doing something

  • that's kind of trendy right now in brewing,

  • which is the barrel aging.

  • Exactly.

  • How does that work?

  • Well, that's one of those trendy things that's

  • thousands of years old, if [INAUDIBLE].

  • It's definitely very in vogue, and it's

  • one of the most exciting parts of the beer brewing process.

  • So we take the beer, and don't just

  • go brew with brewer's yeast.

  • We sort of draw-- for how strict,

  • and the Germans are about their beer brewing process,

  • the Belgians are kind of the opposite.

  • OK.

  • So they'll make beers in Belgium that

  • are what are called spontaneously fermented.

  • So that means they make the sugar water solution, called

  • wort, and then instead of adding a very specific yeast strain,

  • they actually open the windows, and whatever

  • drifts in through the windows will then

  • create the spontaneously fermented beer.

  • What?

  • So we drawn on that tradition for a lot of our wild,

  • what are called wilder sour ales.

  • OK.

  • So there's a--

  • But what drifts in through the window?

  • Well, I mean, it's just like San Francisco Sourdough.

  • OK.

  • So in San Francisco, if you want to make San Francisco

  • Sourdough, step one, go to San Francisco.

  • OK.

  • And then you just mix some flour and some water

  • and put that out, and it'll naturally inoculate.

  • Because we have, there's wild yeast, there's lactobacillus,

  • there's all these different bugs.

  • They're all around us all the time,

  • it's just a matter of culturing them.

  • And then as you grow them up, the alcohol tolerant ones

  • will naturally weed themselves out.

  • OK.

  • And so we use a cocktail of while Belgian yest and some San

  • Francisco sourdough to bring in that local flavor,

  • and we age the beer in a barrel.

  • In a barrel the oak is perfect, because as it

  • gets warm and dark during the day,

  • the barrel actually will breathe, soaking in the beer

  • and pushing it back out.

  • So we get all those great whisky, oaky flavors.

  • Wow.

  • That is awesome.

  • So, how long have you guys been around?

  • Just celebrated our two year anniversary.

  • That's awesome.

  • Happy anniversary.

  • Well, thank you.

  • And you guys have a website, as well?

  • Yeah. almanacbeer.com.

  • Do you want to know more about Almanac's barrel aging

  • process, or about the beer brewing process at all?

  • There is a new show for beer enthusiasts,

  • it is called Brew Age.

  • it's at youtube.com/brewagetv.

  • That starts on October 23, so check it out.

  • Jesse, thanks so much for coming by.

  • Hey, thanks for having me.

  • Let's go get a beer.

  • Yes!

It's Oktoberfest!

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