Weekend Field Trip!

February 14, 2011

A bunch of the guys in the course put together a trip down to Indiana yesterday to visit Three Floyds Brewing. Having heard all the hype about them, I had intended to get down there at some point regardless, so it worked out well.

We met up at Flossmoor Station Pub & Brewery before heading over. Mark, one of the students, had been an apprentice brewer at Flossmoor Station before heading to Siebel, and the pub was right on a train line from Chicago, so it was a logical meeting point. From there it was onward to “lovely” Munster, Indiana!

Three Floyds is in the middle of an industrial park, and they have a very small brewpub setup in the front of their facility. We got there at one and the place was already packed! We waited outside for about an hour before we finally got inside to a table. I have to say, though, the wait was worth it. The menu was very impressive with a real nice cured meat plate, great wood fired pizza, some delicious looking burgers, scotch eggs, and so forth. It was all pretty affordable, too, which was a far cry from Chicago’s prices.

Instead of a sampler we all got different beers and just passed them around the table for people to try. The Dreadnaught was probably my favorite. That’s the imperial IPA they’re pretty well known for. It has a wonderful citrus and pine aroma and a potent bitterness that is extremely well balanced by the malt. I can only describe the bitterness as potent but soft. It worked really well and was dangerously drinkable. Their Artic Panzer Wolf, another Imperial IPA, was a very different experience, unfortunately. It had a huge grapefruit and pineapple nose, and a very sharp bitterness that made it less enjoyable than the previous beer.

The tour of the facility was why we really went down, and boy was it disappointing. The tour guide didn’t bring us anywhere near the equipment, so it was really hard to get an idea of what day to day operations would be like. He also had a very arrogant, “we’re god’s gift to brewing”, speech that he spewed at us the whole time. I really hope the rest of the people at the brewery aren’t that way, because it was very disheartening.

We made up for that lackluster tour by getting a tour of Flossmoor Station by the head brewer once we got back there from Three Floyds. Now this tour was impressive. Since the pub is in a renovated building in the train station, there is no expansion area for them to build into. This pub should be a case study in how to maximize brewing capacity with almost no physical space. They brew on a twenty barrel system and ferment in a room that’s smaller than my living room in my apartment. The serving tanks are in the most ridiculously cramped basement storage area I’ve ever seen. I’ll be honest, I have no clue how any of the equipment was physically moved into the building. Many thanks to Brian, the head brewer, for giving us the tour and for pulling out four bottles that had been aging in the cellar. Now that’s how you give a damn tour. 🙂

The whole experience just reminds me why I’d prefer to work in a smaller brewery. I prefer to work around people that stay down to earth and awesome.

Tomorrow in class we get to take a tour of the Goose Island brewpub’s system on Clybourn, and on Tuesday we’re taking a trip to the Briess malting facility in Chilton, Wisconsin. Busy week. 🙂

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