November 28, 2011

Logo Design

As we get closer and closer to realizing our dream of opening our brewpub it is becoming necessary to have a logo for our company.
We chose the name Hollis Brewing Company because it is the old family name. Years and Years ago the name was changed by our Great (maybe second great ?) grandfather after a family dispute, he took the last name Hamilton (his step fathers last name) and that is what currently remains as the family name.
We were going for a rustic look that evokes some of the raw ingredients used in the brewing process. Nobody in the massive staff of 2 at Hollis Brewing Company has much if any artistic talent so we had to have people from outside the company do everything.
First off we contacted friend of Hollis Brewing Company Chris DeCelli ( to start the work on our concept. Chris is a talented artist mostly focused on painting, we told him some points we were looking for in our label and he came up with the concept to the right (among others).
Next we needed to clean up the image a bit and add a few elements. For this we contacted Josh with brew brand creative. Brew brand creative is an design agency that caters specifically to the brewing industry, they do logos at different price points for professional brewers, home brewers, as well as suppliers and vendors. We sent Josh the concept we worked on with Chris and sent him to work. We wanted to add some barley to the logo and make the hop cone on the top of the logo a little more realistic, still, we wanted to keep the feel of the initial concept.
Above is the first draft that Josh sent to us, the idea was just to give us the feel of the logo he though we wanted to see.
Im not going to go into specific details of pricing of logos here as I would imagine it is on a case by case basis, suffice to say, The price is very reasonable and we own all rights to the image. We liked Josh's initial design and worked further with him on it.

Here was the first finished logo we got from Josh, We liked the direction the logo was heading but felt it was not quite right, we were not in love with the background colors behind the Hollis part of the logo and we wanted to bring the same realism that the barley had into the hop cone. Also, we wanted the 2011 on the bottom changed to 2009 (this was they year we started brewing serioulsy)

Josh worked on those elements we wanted to change and sent us yet another comp.
After this comp we still felt the background color was not quite right, also the hop cone change didn't make it into the comp so we wanted to work on that. We spoke to Josh again and received the logo to the right next, we thought this was almost exactly what we wanted but not quite there. We still were not in love with the background color but at this point we really liked all the other elements. 
Here is what we received next, this is also the final comp and now our logo. 
This logo is exactly what we were looking for, it has a the rustic feel we were going for and incorporates the barley and hop cone like we wanted, Josh even went so far as to do a little research on his own about the surname Hollis, It a Scottish surname and refers to place of the hollies or place where hollies grow, thats where the holly berries and leafs come from in the bottom part of the logo. 
Josh is available for logos still he can be contacted through his website He is great to work with and has done work for many breweries, home brewers and beer/ brewing related side industries. Currently we have Josh working on the labels for our bottles so look for a post about the bottle labels coming up. 

November 18, 2011

Brewvember/ Pints for prostates

This month mens health magazine is trying to spread prostate cancer awareness amongst men. They have dubbed the month of November Brewvember and have teamed up with Fegelys Brew Works (a brewpub chain with three locations) and a home brew shop in Brooklyn. The guys at mens heath will brew a belgian tripple with brew works of which $1 of every pint will go towards prostate cancer awareness, the Brooklyn home brew shop will be donating 10% of the sales of a special beer kit to prostate cancer awareness too.
According to the American cancer society prostate cancer is the second most common forum of cancer among men. 1 in 6 men will be dignosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, of these men 1 in 36 will die from the disease making prostate cancer the second deadliest cancer amongst men right behind lung cancer.
Rick Lyke was one of these statistics, He was prompted to ask his doctor to do a PSA test (prostate specific antigen) even though he had to pay for the test out of pocket because most health insurance will not cover the test until someone turns 50. Its a good thing he was insistent for the test, Rick turned out to have prostate cancer and early detection saved his life. Rick now advocates men to get tested at 40 rather than 50, even if they have to pay for the test (it costs about $75).
Rick was inspired to try to spread the word about prostate cancer through a medium men were not only comfortable with but often excited Through the Pints for Prostates program. The program reaches out to men at beer festivals and through participating breweries and urges them to get tested and to get tested early, additionally they educate men about the statistics regarding prostate cancer and let them know that it generally runs in families.
The pints for prostates program is supported by some of the top breweries, their website lists Jolly pumpkin artisanal ales, Rouge ales, olde mecklenburg brewery, and Pike pub and brewery. Additionally the program is supported by Rob Todd from Alagash brewing Sam Caligone from Dogfish head, Greg Koch from Stone, Garret Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery and Doug Odell from Odell brewing company. Additionally many more brewers/ brewery owners sponsor the program.

November 15, 2011

Parti Gyle Brew-day

Recently we brewed the first of two batches of our famous porter. Every year when we make this beer we like to try to get a second session beer out of the leftover sugars in the mash.
Generally to do a parti gyle beer you would use only the initial and strongest wort for the first beer sparging very little or not at all, the second beer you would rinse the sugars out of the grain (sparging) and get a second lower alcohol beer.
Honestly were more concerned with getting the first beer we send to the boil kettle reproduced the way we originally made it, our method is not exactly a true parti gyle but it does get us two beers out of one grist. We mash and sparge our first beer exactly as you would a non parti gyle beer with the exception that we stop the sparge a bit earlier than we normally would. Once the first beer is in the boil kettle we add some more grain to the mash tun (about 1/4 of the original malt bill) top off with some hot water and let the mash sit while the first beer is finished. Once the boil kettle is free we run off all the second wort add yet more water and run off again (a process called batch sparging), This keeps the gravity as high as possible.
For our second beer this time we were the least careful we have ever been regarding a beer, we didn't measure out any of the hops (nugget for bittering and goldings for flavor/ aroma) or pay any attention to the gravities.
We like this method because it allows us to produce the amount of beer we want and to keep our original recipe intact. The second beer is just for fun, it allows us to get some essentially free session beers and to experiment with hop varieties we may not have used before.

November 9, 2011

New York State Hops

Recently there has been renewed interest in cultivation of hops in upstate and central New York. Browns Brewing in Troy, N.Y recently hosted the Northeast Hops Alliance who is pushing for more hop cultivation in upstate N.Y.
Hops first came to America around 1630 but did not find their way to new york state until 1808. The crop was small for many years supplying only small or farmhouse breweries but by 1830 hop production was serious business. By then end of the century New York was producing about 80% of the nations hops. There was disaster on the horizon though, disease and pests  wiped out much of the production in the early 1900's then prohibition made hops an obsolete crop.
Today most of the nations hops as well as much of the worlds hops are grown in the pacific northwest, primarily in the Yakima Valley area of Washington. But a recent New York Times article pointed out that hops are making a comeback in new york state.
I emailed Steve Miller at the Northeast hops alliance for some numbers on the New York hops crop, while he didn't have any hard figures he did provide me with some numbers. In the 2011 growing season New York had about 30 acres of hops, each acre yielded approximately 1000 pounds of hops giving us a total harvest of abut 30,000 pounds (not too shabby). Steve also mentioned that much of the crop is sold as fresh hops and not dried and stored. Steve says that the hops conference (held at the beginning of November at Brown's Brewing in Troy, NY) had 185 participants many of whom intend on planting hops or planting more hops for the 2012 growing season. Many new york state breweries are using locally produced hops in an effort to make their product more local, additionally a farm brewing bill has been proposed, where a farm that grows hops or malt can brew up to 15,000 barrels per year provided they use a large amount of their crop in the beer they produce.
I think this is great, I would like to use some New York grown hops in some beers. Hopefully the amount of farmers specializing in hops will increase and we can see some of the innovation with the new high alpha varieties being developed here that we see out west.

November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Ale / IPA #5 Tasting

Recently I made a spiced pumpkin ale . This was my first stab at a pumpkin beer and i think it came out decent. The taste is good but the appearance leaves much room for improvement. In a large glass it looks like dirt water, however, if the glass is very small it has a nice orange color like the outside of a pumpkin.
Aroma(12/12): Earthy, slightly sweet, smells like pumpkin pie :)
Appearance(1/3): No head retention at all , beer pours with some head but it fades to virtually nothing, very cloudy (almost turbid), retains a beautiful orange color just like the outside of a pumpkin
Flavor(15/20): Very savory spiced pumpkin pie flavor, earthy pumpkin notes push through the spices, slightly phenolic character
Mouthfeel(5/5):Carbonation slightly high, rich full mouthfeel, mouthfeel could be better with a lower carbonation level
Overall(7/10): Good beer, phenols dominated the flavor before it had some age but are fading fast, Pumpkin makes the beer savory, full tasting and contributes mouthfeel.
Total(40/50): Excellent range

Another recent brew to go through the brewery was an American style IPA dubbed IPA #5. This is the first IPA I have made that I'm really happy with, it still needs some work but it is the best IPA I have mad by far. Also for this beer i used the blichmann hop rocket for the first time
Aroma(11/12): Citrusy hops dominate, grapefruit and other tropical fruit notes, resiny hop aroma, could use more malt presence
Appearance(2/3): Golden in color, bright white head is thick, doesn't hold on for as long as I would like, has some haze could be more clear
Flavor(16/20): Smooth bitterness, grate hop flavor of grapefruit and citrus, some mouth coating bitterness lingers, clean fermentation character, no malt flavors present
Mouthfeel(5/5): Good amount of body to stand up to the hops, carbonation is appropiate and carries some bitterness away,goes down very smooth
Overall (9/10): Great IPA, Could use more early hops to bump bitterness a little more, malt character could be slightly high but could detract form hop presence, needs to be more clear next time
Total(43/50): Excellent range

November 1, 2011

Spice additions

A few weeks ago i published a post about making spice tinctures for my pumpkin ale. The other day I finally got around to adding the spices and blending the beer.
The tinctures i made were very strong, this is by design so I don't have to use too much to flavor the beer.

I started with 100ml samples of the base beer and just did random small amounts that i thought would work. It took about 8 trials to get things right. notes were kept on how much of each spice was added to the mixture, off of a 100ml sample of beer i was using .5ml-1.5ml spice additions.

I ended up having to consult outside help because both my brother and I totally blew out our pallets with the first few trials, our taste was completely off. I had tinctures of nutmeg, ginger,cinnamon and allspice. I ended up leaving out the allspice because we didn't like the flavor it was lending to the beer.

Once happy with the amounts of spice i scaled everything up for 20 gallons of beer and mixed it in the 55 gallon kettle (which was very carefully sanitized). From here i ran the beer of into kegs and put in the fridge to carb, look for the post with tasting notes soon.