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Category Archives: brewery

Hyperion opens to huge crowds, outstanding neighborhood support

IMG_8417 (1)Last week something wonderful happened in my neighborhood; with the opening of our first neighborhood craft brewery, hope and pride swelled to overflowing.

For longer than I have lived in the district, Main Street has been a source of frustration in its inability to attract consumers from other areas of the city. Uptown Kitchen made inroads, but it alone was not enough to provide the spark Main Street needed to truly start on the road to recovery.

Then, a few months ago, when Hyperion Brewing Company announced that it would be setting up shop in the Springfield National Historic District, the neighborhood lit up. The combination of Hyperion, the soon-to-open Crispy’s restaurant and bar and another brewery — Main & Six Brewing Company — seems to have reawakened interest in the long neglected heart of Springfield.

From the beginning, Hyperion’s mission was to open in an emerging neighborhood. The goal was to help in the renaissance of the area and to become a draw to bring more people into the area and bring vibrancy. After a long search, several false starts, and a bit of a rezoning fight with the city of Jacksonville, a location on Main Street in the Springfield National Historic District was chosen.

In a press release issued by Hyperion May 22, co-owner and CEO Alexandra McKeown estimated that more than 100 eager patrons attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening Friday, May  19. When I arrived I talked with numerous neighbors and others who were all excited for the new opportunities the brewery would bring to Main Street.

“All of us at Hyperion Brewing Company are overwhelmed by and so thankful for the support we received from the Jacksonville community, and especially our Springfield neighbors, at our Grand Opening and first weekend open for business,” McKeown said. “We look forward to adding more brews to our selection in the coming months and offering our customers a great experience at [our] historic Springfield’s first brewery.”

The new brewery will serve a variety of beer styles, traditional and innovative, on a 32-gallon 1-barrel system, ensuring plenty of variety for patrons to sample. The opening of Hyperion marks the first true nano brewery in Jacksonville with the aim of creating a large variety of beers while avoiding — at least initially — brewing “core beers” that are always on tap. The larger selection of beers provides patrons with a constantly changing selection that is meant to expose them to many different styles of beer.

Over the course of the weekend, Hyperion estimates that they served more than 900 patrons. I personally visited several times to find the taproom full of excited, laughing patrons eager to support the new business. Many expressed their enthusiasm for the direction and tone set by Hyperion.

Based on the response, it is easy to see that Hyperion touched a nerve within the historic district. And, if one can predict the response other new Main Street businesses like Common Grounds coffee shop, Block Skate Shop, Crispies and the forthcoming Main & Six Brewing company can expect from the outpouring of enthusiasm heaped on Hyperion, Springfield is about to become the next great entertainment and shopping district in Jacksonville.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2017 in Beer, brewery

 

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New Belgium’s Ft. Collins brewery: beautiful, awe-inspiring

new-belgium-brewery-logoThe drive from Denver to Ft. Collins is about an hour long, but is a necessary journey for any true beer lover. Originally called Camp Collins, the outpost was established in 1862 to protect travelers and settlers along the Colorado branch of the Overland Trail. Just two year later, in 1864, a flood destroyed the camp and the U.S. Army decided to reposition the settlement and call it Ft. Collins. Today, the city is known for its beer culture and as the home of several of Colorado’s most noted breweries.

While at the Riverside Craft Beer Festival, I mentioned to the local New Belgium representative that I was considering a visit to my daughter in Denver. He offered to set up a tour of the brewery in Ft. Collins if I made it out there. So, when the plans were set, I took him up on his offer. And, am I glad I did.

New_Belgium_Sign_March_2017When you come up the street and the brewery comes in to view the first thing that comes to mind is that it is a very popular place. The huge front lawn of the brewery is always full of visitors playing corn hole, lounging on blankets and playing Frisbee all while sipping New Belgium brews.

The building itself is at once modern and traditional with a three-story high roof over the entrance, plenty of glass and lots of warm reddish brown wood paneling. It evokes a feeling of a mountain cabin while also displaying a modern design sensibility. The mix of old and new is thoroughly pleasing to the eye and immensely inviting.

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a tour check-in desk in front of a buzzing hive of activity that is the brewery’s taproom. The design esthetic carries from the outside in to the taproom with more warm wood and a huge glass wall that shows off part of the brewery in the back. The bar stretches from one end of the main room to the other and a chalkboard behind it announces the beers currently available for tasting. On the left is another smaller tasting room with another bar and tables for sitting and enjoying pints.

At the check-in desk, we told the hostess our names, she checked our IDs and told us – my wife and daughter were along for the tour — she would let our tour guide know we had arrived. Within moments, Penelope Gilland, a long-time employee owner at New Belgium, appeared and ushered us to the bar for beers to drink while on the tour. I chose a raspberry treatment of their sour base beer Oscar – it was delicious, by the way – and we were on our way.

Our first stop was just around the corner from the bar, but it was a very important first step and set the tone for the tour. In a small hallway, mounted to the wall is a display case that holds the relic upon which the brewery was built, the actual beer journal used by Jeff Lebesch on his beer vision quest through Belgium in 1988. In that notebook, Lebesch jotted down the original recipe for Fat Tire the company’s flagship amber ale.

As Penelope explained the origins of the company and how, after just a few years of homebrewing, Lebesch decided to sell his beers to local Ft. Collins bars it became apparent the pride she, and every other New Belgium employee I have ever met, have in their work. The idea that a brewery that began in a basement with self-distribution by his wife in the family station wagon could flourish to become the company that is now the nation’s fourth largest craft brewery in the United States is astounding and wonderful at the same time.

NB_Cathedral_March_2017Next, we walked over to the brewing area in what has been called the cathedral. It is called that because of the vaulted ceilings that look every inch of 40 feet tall with exposed wooden beams, high windows allowing for abundant natural light and the length of the room. It looks like a church with huge, 100-barrel kettles rising majestically from the floor and running down the middle. Each kettle ringed by a story that is related through mosaic tiles on the floor around them. The room is breath-taking, immaculately spotless and a real show-place for New Belgium. Indeed, several weddings have been held in the room lending even more weight to the cathedral nickname.

But, impressive as the cathedral was, the fouder (pronounced food-er) room was my favorite. Fouders are large wooden fermentation tanks used to age sour beers. New Belgium’s fouder room, known as “The Woods,” holds 64 wooden vessels of many shapes and sizes. Each contains a different living beer in varying stages of completion.

NB_The_Woods_March_2017Walking through The Woods is sort of like taking a trip in time to an age before brightly polished stainless steel fermentation tanks and high-efficiency brewing. It harkens back to a time when a brewmaster needed to know how to control a beer’s fermentation process is closely as he watched the brewing process. It sort of felt like being in Belgium again, where breweries such as Cantillon still make lambic beers through spontaneous fermentation using the yeast and bacteria in the air and the wood of the fouders to bring their beer to life.

After our walk in The Woods we returned to the taproom for a few more cold beers and to talk about our experiences on the tour. We enlisted the help of another “Mothership” – the name New Belgium insiders have given to the main brewery – visitor for a group picture with our guide, Penelope and mulled our next move.

The consensus was overwhelming that New Belgium would be a staple for future visits to Colorado and that of all the brewery tours we had taken together, the Ft. Collins New Belgium tour was among the best.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Beer, brewery

 

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Hyperion sets grand opening date

hyperion_logoI first met Alexandra McKeown and Troy Orton of Hyperion Brewing Company at a kickoff event for the brewery at Community Loaves in Murray Hill more than a year ago. The event was low-key, but served to introduce Orton’s brewing skills and McKeown’s marketing skills. On those counts it was an unmitigated success.

Hyperion’s concept rests on Orton’s ability to craft a large number of tasty brews on the brewery’s one-barrel system and to askew the notion of having several core beers available on at all times. While that original concept may have changed a bit, the central idea remains. The brewery will serve a rotating

“We prefer flights to flagships,” said Hyperion owner McKeown. “We believe in freedom of choice. Our goal is to let the public decide what our core beers should be.”

Data from the brewery’s tap room point-of-sale system and guest feedback will be used to determine which brews will be brewed for distribution in the future.

Another aim for Hyperion was to open in an emerging neighborhood. The goal was to help in the renaissance of the area and to become a draw to bring more people into the area and bring vibrancy. After a long search, several false starts, and a bit of a rezoning fight with the city of Jacksonville, a location on Main Street in the Springfield National Historic District was chosen.

At a preview of their facility afforded to residents of their new Springfield home, Orton and McKeown showed off blueprints and concept drawings for the space. The brewery will occupy two store fronts on Main Street, but only one will be utilized at first. The other side will be used for expansion in future as demand warrants.

Within just a few weeks of the preview, the façade of the store fronts were painted black and the company’s logo appeared above the roll up door. In addition, the words, “Bold, Rebellious Beer Coming Soon,” were painted on the door.

On May 19th, the hard work and preparation will come to its fruition as Hyperion Brewing Company holds its grand opening celebration and welcomes guests for the fits time. The celebration will begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by the doors to the taproom opening to the public at 5:00 p.m. As an added bonus, the first 50 guests will receive a Hyperion branded tasting glass and a coupon for a free beer at a later date. To feed hungry beer-lovers, Hyperion has enlisted the help of Springfield-based Eddis and Sons food truck to serve legitimate Philly-style cheese steak sandwiches.

The taproom will boast 15 taps, but will only have limited Hyperion selections on opening day.

“We’ll be brewing at a break-neck pace to have as many of our beers ready for the grand opening as possible,” says head brewer Orton.

Crowlers – over-sized cans that can be filled and then sealed – will be offers in the taproom affording patrons the ability to take Hyperion brews home from the brewery. A limit of two crowlers per person will apply on the opening weekend.

Hyperion has also made arrangements with the Jax Brew Bus to shuttle beaches residents to the brewery with departures from Green Room Brewing Company at 4:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the round trip are $15 and all riders must be 21 years of age or older.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2017 in Beer, brewery

 

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