- Central State's Chris Bly, Josh Hambright and Jake Koeneman.
“Three pretty cool events in October,” are on the calendar for Central State Brewing announced co-owner Jake Koeneman. “We” — meaning co-owners Chris Bly, Josh Hambright and Koeneman — “are hosting out-of-state and out-of-country brewers for a meet-the-brewer session at The Koelschip, on the same day we brew a collaboration beer with them.”
The events open to the public include:
October 17, 6:30 p.m., with head brewer Todd Holder from Prairie Artisan Ales based in Tulsa, Oklahoma
According to the Shelton Brother's Importers "Freigeist strives to break the stylistic chains of the modern mainstream German brewing industry by reviving and updating the country’s unique, regional beer styles, many of which disappeared only a few decades ago. At a time when the global beer revolution seemed to have been passing Germany by, Freigeist has been the principal flag-bearer for re-establishing the country as a major force in creative brewing."
October 30, 1 p.m., with brewer Khris Johnson from Green Bench, St Petersburg, Florida’s first microbrewery.
“We are very proud of these relationships,” said Koeneman, who then stepped aside for brewer Josh Hambright to reply to NUVO’s queries.
NUVO: What are the special reasons/attractions for collaborating with EACH of these four brewers and breweries?
Josh Hambright: Prairie has been a brewery we have respected for a long time. As we were first looking at our business plan and the styles we wanted to make they were a beacon of light for producing unique and eccentric beers in rural/under developed markets. They also make delicious beer that we've drank a bunch of over the years. We met Todd, the head brewer, when he was in town for Upland's Sour Wild and Funk Fest and bonded over a few beers at Koelschip. He reached out and asked if we'd be interested in brewing a collab and we immediately said yes.
As for the Germans, we first met Tilo (Ritterguts) and Sebastian (Freigeist/Monarchy) a couple of years ago at the Shelton Brother's Importers [Beer] Festival in Los Angeles and became quick friends; we bonded over our love of Gose especially.
Tilo is probably the most knowledgeable person in the world on the topic of Gose as a style and Sebastian has done a lot of work reviving dead or near-dead styles of German beer so we share a love of obscure and delicious beer styles. Plus they are just great to party with!
We always have Ritterguts Gose on tap at the Koelschip, even now that we have our own year-round Gose in the market, because we love that beer and I think all three of us who own Central State would list it as one of our top 5 desert island beers. When we found out that they would be nearby for the Shelton Brother's [Beer] Festival this year in Louisville, we knew immediately that we had to get all of us together to brew a beer.
Green Bench Brewing we also met through a festival, or should we say several festivals. Khris, their head brewer, and I have had a chance to hang out several times and have become good friends; he invited us down to his "Foeder for Thought" invitational last spring in St Petersburg, Florida. He is another brewer going to be in Louisville for the Shelton Brother's [Beer] Festival at the end of the month [October] so we decided it was a great opportunity to get him up here to brew a beer. Plus Khris and I both share a love for funky low ABV blonde farmhouse beers, so we've bonded over that.
NUVO: Where will the brewing site be for each collaborative brewing session? How does this special brewing experience interface with the brewing site?
Hambright: We will be brewing all of these collab beers at the Black Acre production site at the Coal Factory, this is where we produce all of our year-round beers and it's like our home away from home; it will be fun to have all of these breweries visit the space we make our beers.
NUVO: What recipes will be up for each brewing venture? Why this recipe, this style of beer?
Hambright: For Prairie we will be brewing a farmhouse beer that will utilize the house yeast from both breweries; this should result in a nice funky yeast character that should show off what both breweries are known for in our farmhouse beers. We will also be using Raspberry leaves in the boil; neither of us has ever worked with them but we thought they sounded like an interesting ingredient. The mash will also feature Malted Corn from Sugar Creek Malt up in Lebanon, [IN] because we wanted to use an ingredient to show off our Midwestern side.
The brew for the collab with the Germans will be a Gose. It’s probably our favorite style of beer to drink and both Ritterguts and Freigeist are known for their Goses so it seemed like an easy choice. We will be switching this one up a bit by using some flaked corn in the mash and adding cherries to the beer during secondary conditioning.
The Green Bench collab is still in the works so I can’t give any details on that recipe yet. We've kicked around some ideas that will blend the strengths of both breweries to come up with something unique and new.
NUVO: Describe the collaboration experience — who gets to choose: what recipe, plan of brewing, etc.?
Hambright: Each time we brew a collaboration it works a little differently. Ideally I usually like to discuss collabs over a few beers, as that helps get the creative juices flowing; due to obvious geographic limitations for these collabs most of the planning has been done over text and email. It usually starts with one party throwing out an idea of "What if we did this?" or "What if we used this ingredient" and then it snow balls from there. As the host brewery we have the final say on the exact recipe and process as we have to make sure it can be executed here and will work with our existing process and system.
NUVO: How will this month of collaborative brewing interface with the overall Indiana craft brewing scene? What will be expected for the ‘greater good’ of Indiana craft beer?
Hambright: One of the goals of Central State is to raise awareness in the market of some of the styles that are under-represented here. When we started brewing a year and a half ago we were the weird kids using weird yeast and doing sour beers; yes there were people doing these things before us but we were still the weird kids.
Now it’s much more common and accepted in Indiana to do the styles we are doing. We love showcasing similar breweries doing the same stuff in other places and saying, "Holy crap, look how good this beer from XXXXX is?! EVERYONE SHOULD DRINK IT!" because at the end of the day we are still giant nerds for beer like we were before we started doing this for a living and we get just as excited to try new and exciting beers as any other beer fan.
We also consider ourselves ambassadors for the Indiana beer scene as we travel around and do collabs in other places; we are very proud of where we are from, we love this city, we love the breweries here and we hope that we can at least do some part in helping spread the word of some of the other great [Indiana] beers as we travel around.
NUVO: Why should craft beer patrons show up to one, two or three of these dates? What’s important for a craft beer patron to know/learn/experience at a Koeslchip Meet-the-Brewer event?
Hambright: All 3 of the tappings will feature beers that people won’t be able to try anywhere else in the state any time soon.
As much as we wish they could visit us more often, all four of these breweries don’t get to make it to this part of the country often so it’s a really unique experience to get to hang out with them in an intimate environment like the Koelschip, as opposed to getting a few seconds to ask them a question at a beer festival.
NUVO: Add anything else NUVO readers need to know about the ‘coolness’ of Koelschip events & the Central State Brewery family?
Hambright: We will also have food for all three events that will be paired with the beers being served so that should be really fun. I can’t emphasize enough how unique and special these three events are; people don’t want to miss this as you won’t get a chance to have the experience of meeting these four world class breweries again in such an intimate setting.
The Central State family continues to grow; we've signed a lease on a building in the area of 25th and Sherman where we plan to open our own production facility next year. This will allow us to expand the number of offerings we have plus grow our wood and wild program.
From their website: “The world’s best beers … imported by hand. There’s no miracle to importing good beer – just hard work and a lot of travel. We generally seek out unmanipulated beer, looking primarily to small breweries with craftsmen taking seriously their passion for natural, traditionally made beverage.
“Shelton Brothers Inc. is the only beer importer with these specific criteria for hand-selecting what we offer to our customers. We’ve turned down offers from large European breweries, and we’ll do it again. We’re only interested in bringing you the very best.”