Beer Church Pale Ale will be released on Tuesday, November 23rd at the Beveridge Place Pub. Details below.
In addition to running the Washington Beer Blog, my wife and I also run Beer Church—a not-for-profit organization that creates fun and affordable ways for regular people to support charitable causes. Over the past 13 years Beer Church has hosted all sorts of parties, bringing people together in a spirit of community and giving. To date, our Beer Church events have raised nearly $100,000 for a variety of local and national causes.
While our events always include beer, it has been the people who do the actual giving. This time the beer is doing the work.
It is with great pride and pleasure that I announce the release of Beer Church Pale Ale. Working with Alejandro Brown at Big Al Brewing, we developed a recipe that matches our core Beer Church philosophy. We did not set out to make some life-changing fermented panacea. We simply wanted to make a really good beer. With the help of Big Al Brewing, David Richter at Briess Malt and Ingredients Company and Chris Miller at Snipes Mountain Brewing, we figured out a way for this beer to make money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Why? Because we’re Beer Church. It’s what we do.
The Official Release
The release of Beer Church Pale Ale is scheduled for Tuesday, November 23rd at the Beveridge Place Pub. We invite you to join us. We will be there at 6:00 p.m. to make it official, but the beer goes on tap when the pub opens that day. While this beer was conceived with charity in mind and its very existence supports the cause, the Beveridge Place Pub has offered to donate a dollar per pint as well.
Following the official release, Beer Church Pale Ale will be available at better beer bars around the Seattle area. Quantities are limited and it’s going to go fast, so tell your local pub or alehouse to get on it quick and order up some of Big Al’s Beer Church Pale Ale. You can contact Big Al Brewing or you can contact me if you’re interested.
Beer Church parishioners attending the 12th Annual Beer Church Turkey Bowl on Saturday, November 20th will get a sneak preview of the beer. We’ll be pouring it at West Seattle Bowl that night. Although the event is sold out, come on out and support the cause. All are welcome at Beer Church. Please bring a food donation. Turkey Bowl is a food drive and fundraiser for the West Seattle Food Bank.
About the Beer
Our goal was to create a beer that was sessionable but also hoppy enough to satisfy IPA lovers. Beer Church Pale Ale weighs in at 5.3 ABV. It is a beautiful shade of deep straw gold. While the IBUs are not going to knock your socks off (38-40 is all), the hop aroma and flavor is not at all lacking. I actually considered not mentioning IBUs here, knowing that many people equate IBUs with hoppiness. (IBUs refers to bitterness and does not speak to the other characteristics that hops add to beer.)
Beer Church Pale Ale is floral, spicy, aromatic and deliciously overly-hopped. We used Nugget, Cascade and Palisade hops. And plenty of them. Without going into detail about the grain bill, to create the backbone we used a few different Briess specialty malts with Briess Pale Ale Malt as the base.
The beer matches our philosophy. Beer Church believes that beer is inclusive and not exclusive. We open our hearts to all people who love beer and we do not turn anyone away; therefore, we set out to create a beer that was accessible to the masses. We also wanted Beer Church Pale Ale to be interesting enough to appeal to the more serious beer enthusiasts.
It’s Glorious. It Sings.
Last night we sampled the beer, which is currently undergoing its final conditioning. The beer was still a bit green (literally and figuratively), but… WooHoo! Beer Church Pale Ale turned out exactly as advertised. It’s glorious. It sings. Of course Al is the one who really deserves the credit. We have vision, he has skills.
Benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Because of the efforts of Big Al Brewing and the support of Briess and Chris Miller (the hop wrangler), this beer is raising funds before it even starts to pour. Beer Church Pale Ale will continue to keep on giving as some of the bars pouring the beer have agreed to donate a portion of their sales to charity. It’s not at all a requirement, but some bars tell us they plan to donate a portion of proceeds. In the coming weeks we will let you know where to find Beer Church Pale Ale.
The charity of choice for this beer is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). A couple years ago, Kim (a.k.a. Mrs. Beerblog) survived a cancer scare with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Currently, the twelve year-old daughter of one of our friends is bravely fighting a battle against a particularly aggressive form of leukemia. What’s more, when I was sixteen years old one of my best friends died of Leukemia. Those are a few of the reasons we chose the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as the beneficiary of the first Beer Church brew.
Brewing the Beer
Some time ago, Kim said that she wanted to make beer. We have visited many breweries and talked with many brewers over the years, but she felt like her lack of experience compromised her complete understanding of the brewing process. (I was an avid home brewer in a previous life and have also been around more than one brewhouse on brew day.) Kim wanted to truly understand what all those words meant and what all of that equipment was for. With that in mind, we decided to talk to some of our industry friends about brewing up a batch of beer on a pilot system.
One night we were talking to Alejandro Brown of Big Al Brewing and he generously offered up his pilot system (Little Al). The other thing we talked to Alejandro about that night was the upcoming Beer Church Turkey Bowl—our annual bowling party fundraiser that attracts over 200 people each year.
While Kim was trying to figure out what we would do with the two 1/6 barrel kegs the pilot system would produce, Al and I were scratching our chins and thinking about how easy it would be to move a beer called Beer Church Pale Ale, especially if it tasted good. To begin with, we would surely go through a couple kegs at Turkey Bowl.
Knowing that name and logo (both trademarked) would attract all of the right kind of attention, and knowing that the beer would end up being delicious, we decided to leave Little Al behind and brew the beer on Big Al’s 15 barrel system.
A Team Effort
From the brewery, Big Al himself and Carl Holzboog were there to guide us. Kim really wanted to immerse herself in the process, even though I’d warned her that much of it was way less sexy than she imagined.
Actually dumping the bags of grain into the mill proved to be a bit much for Kim, but Dave Richter from Briess was there to handle that chore. Makes sense, really. Other than that, Kim handled the heavy lifting. She even shoveled out the mash tun. We offered to help, really we did, but she was so enthusiastic that we didn’t want to spoil her good time.
We had a great day of brewing, with lots of joking around and lots of learning. The sheer volume of hops we used made cleaning up a bit more challenging than it otherwise might have been, but that’s okay. It was worth it.
We cannot thank Big Al Brewing, Briess Malt and Ingredients Company, and Chris Miller at Snipes Mountain Brewing (the hop wrangler) for helping us pull all of this together.
There will be more to tell in the coming weeks. In the meantime, come on out and join us for a pint at the Beveridge Place Pub on Tuesday, November 23rd. Come any time, but we’ll be there at 6:00.