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Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Saturday in Springfield and Local Beer

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet up with a great group of people from an online cigar community. We converged on Springfield, Missouri in the morning. While hanging out and enjoying camaraderie, I had the opportunity to sample a few great beers. First up was a Chocolate Stout from Fort Collins Brewery. Thick, rich, and chocolately, I really enjoyed this beer. Then, there was wax-dipped Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter from Arcadia Ales, clocking in at 12% alcohol by volume (ABV). This beer was incredible! Then, my friend pulls out a bottle of Heaven… The Czar Russian Imperial Stout by Avery Brewing Company. This potent brew is 11.69%ABV, and from a 2009 batch. Words are hard to find for this beer description. I felt a warmness as the sip trickled to my stomach; a whisky-like warmness. Sweet as a nectar, deep rich fruit flavors… I really liked this beer. I had already decided to stop by Brown Derby on my way out of town to find a bottle. We finished up with a sampling from a nearly four year old Saison, from Boulevard Brewing Company (mentioned previously in "Frank About... Saison!" ).

Around noon, we all headed over to Springfield Brewing Company for lunch, and more beer. Springfield Brewing Company produces, in-house, a line of beer named Mueller Beer, a historic brand out of Springfield. They offer a great six-glass sampling of what they have on tap. On this day, the six drafts included: Mueller Lager, Mueller Unfiltered Wheat, Bull Creek Brown, Hop Lobster, Mueller IPA, and Mueller Doppel Bock. I had not drank the Bull Creek Brown or Hop Lobster, previously. The Hop Lobster was pretty tasty. I’m not normally a “HopHead”, but this beer was not a turnoff for me. The Bull Creek Brown was really good, as well. It wasn’t overly complex, but I enjoyed it.

As far as food, I had to go with a good ol’ standbye, the Black and Bleu Burger. They also have really good fish and chips, a killer mac ‘n’ cheese, and the Brewben is great, from what I hear. My medium burger was great, and really hit the spot, with my beer sampler.

After completion of our lunch, we headed down the street to Mother’s Brewing Company for a tasting and tour of the brewery. If you have no idea what Mother’s is, or is about, I apologize. You NEED to get to know this company, and their product! After spending more than fifteen years as a Springfield entrepreneur and civic leader, Jeff Schrag decided to open a production brewery, along with friend and colleague Jeremy Wicks, director of sales and marketing. Pair these two with brewmaster Brian Allen, a Siebel Institute graduate brewer, with 16 years of brewing experience, and a Great American Beer Festival judge for 13 years, and you have a threesome made in Beer Heaven!

The 30 barrel brewery is located at Walnut and Grant Streets, in downtown Springfield. The location is in a historic building, erected around 1902, home first to the Star Bottling Works. Throughout the 20th Century, it housed a bakery, in many different names and shapes, until the final closing in 2009. Mother’s made great use of the old equipment and building components, including old signage and the gorgeous tasting bar, made from old parts and wood from the bread factory. And the brewery embraces the local theme and the ecologically friendly stance. They donate spent grains to local farmers, who sell locally. The water used for cooling the wort is recycled into the heated water tank used for creating the wort. These are just a couple of the practices that Mother's uses to stay local, and stay eco-friendly. 

Jeremy Wicks explaining the bottling line, on the brewery tour

The tasting bar was staffed by Jesse and Hannah. Jesse took great care of our group! Jeremy gave the tour on Saturday, with assistance from an employee I hadn’t met before named Jeff. It was a fantastic tour. Jeremy and Jeff made it very informative, and entertaining! It was great to see such an operation, and how it was set up!

A Bit about Mother’s Beers:
Mother's Brewing Company produces three main beers, that are available year round: Towhead, Lil' Helper, and Three Blind Mice. As Jeremy pointed out on tour, Mother's creations hardly fit into a single beer style. They enjoy thinking up, and bringing to fruition, "mashups" that play on, and are inspired by, multiple style categories. 

Towhead is an American Blonde at 5.2%ABV and 21 International Bitterness Units (IBUs). I find it to be very clean, a slight fruit note, a hint of sweetness, with a crisp hoppy finish. It plays off a combo of German golden ales and American wheat beers. Lil’ Helper is their India Pale Ale offering at 7.0%ABV and  70 IBU’s. I think it's very fragrant, citrusy, maybe some grapefruit aroma and flavor. It's a hoppy IPA, but clean; it doesn't leave your mouth piney from the hop blast. The best way to categorize Three Blind Mice is as a brown beer. It comes in at 5.5%ABV and 24 IBUs. This beer is not heavy at all, and is  inspired by English brown ales, Irish red ales, and German altbiers. A faint chocolate character, maybe some toffee or caramel notes, but a little sprinkle of hop flavor in there. Very drinkable, very enjoyable! As a bonus to TBM lovers, in March, Mother's is releasing an Imperial Three Blind Mice. 

Mother's also boasts some good seasonal offerings. Sandi, “Hopped Up Wheat”, is their summer offering. Old School is their fantastic Oktoberfest offering in the fall, a traditional amber lager with a great malty character. Winter Grind is divine! This is their Winter seasonal coffee stout. A 6.0%ABV stout brewed with an espresso blend, roasted by local roaster the Mudhouse. You would think you were drinking coffee with a kick. Major coffee flavor. Love this beer! Very rich, very aromatic, very delicious. 

They also have other special releases: Foggy Notion is Mother’s barley wine offering, at 10%ABV, aged for six months. Tons of malt, a rich, dark sweetness to it. Very enjoyable. Uber Pils is an Imperial Czech-style pilsner at 8.5%ABV, and 55 IBUs, but I don’t think it’s overly hoppy. There is an underlying sweetness, with a balance of hop flavor. Extremely tastey beer. This one was released in mid-December.

Mother's also makes limited one-off firkins, including their First Firkin Fridays. In a few words, a firkin is an old English word, meaning fourth… referring to a ¼ barrel of beer. This cask is approximately 10 gallons. Usually used for small, experimental or special occasion, batches. Many small breweries have Firkin Fridays. Mother’s has brought this tradition to Springfield. The last Firkin Friday saw the cask emptied in 23 minutes. That is saying something!

On tap, Saturday, were Uber Pils, Harvest Ale, Foggy Notion, Lil’ Helper, Three Blind Mice, Sandi Wheat,  and Towhead. The only one I hadn’t tried previously, was Harvest Ale. It was a pretty good beer. Seemed a little thin, to me. Not a favorite of mine.

I am a huge supporter of Mother's! I love what they do, I love what they stand for. And they are LOCAL! If you haven't had a chance to visit them, yet, please do! Their tasting room is open Wed-Fri from 4pm-7pm, and on Saturday from 1pm-6pm, with tours at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. Their bottled offerings are available throughout Springfield, and now, in most stores in Joplin. Many restaurants and bars offer Mother's on tap in Joplin, as well. 

There are other chances to try Mother's beer in Joplin. Tomorrow night, Friday the 24th, Mother's will be at Macadoodles from 5pm-7pm for a tasting. PLEASE make a point to stop in and give them a try! Also, Mother's is doing something special on Thursday March 22nd, at Blackthorn Pizza: they are bringing a firkin filled with a brew created with cocoa nibs, vanilla bean, and coffee stout. It will go fast. It starts at 8pm, so I would be there at 7:30! 

Worst comes to worst... if you can't get to any Mother's events or tasting room, and not sure about spending four bucks on a pint, get hold of me. I will gladly buy you a Mother's to sample!!! (I'm not kidding... I'm that passionate about this wonderful local beer.)

It was a great day in Springfield! We really enjoyed our stops! And a big special thanks to Springfield Brewing Company and Mother's Brewing Company for putting up with us! Next time you're in Joplin, definitely get into the places and try them out. 

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