Hapa's Brewing Company


By in Brewing 4

One More for the Trophy Case

Like many brewers the Hapa’s Brewing team got their start home brewing in the kitchen.  What started with a 12 quart pot, an Igloo Cooler mash tun, and plastic 5 gallon bucket grew to a tricked out stainless steel half-barrel system.  The brews got better and better the awards soon followed.

Sadly, this year marks the last amateur home brew competition for the Hapa’s Brewing team.  However, we’re happy to report that we went out with a bang!  The beer that will henceforth be known as Barbie’s Blond Ale took home first place at the World Cup of Beer!

First Place Ribbon!

First Place Ribbon!

Hapa’s Brewing Company Signs Lease

It’s official! Hapa’s Brewing Company has a home (Kinda. More on that later)! Earlier this week we signed the lease for our space in San Jose. After a long negotiation, the signing itself was somewhat uneventful – lots of initialing and one signature is all it took.



Now why do we “kinda” have a home?  Our lease is contingent on the city approving a conditional use permit.  This permit will allow us to build our taproom so all you craft beer drinkers can have a pint in our building.  Stay tuned for more updates!

By in Brewing, News 0

Motivation for Sanitation

Brewing beer is a fun and rewarding hobby.  It is also relatively easy to do.  By using good ingredients, following a recipe, and consulting a good homebrew book, almost anyone can brew a good and drinkable beer.  However it is possible to brew a stinking mess and apparently if a homebrew goes completely wrong your kitchen brewery can be mistaken for a meth lab.

Workers at an apartment complex in Colorado Springs, CO encountered what was described as “a noxious smell” after entering a unit.  After starting to feel ill, the workers called authorities fearing they had stumbled upon a meth lab.  Eventually, the authorities were able to determine that the smell was coming from a homebrew kit gone horribly wrong.  As if ruining your beer wasn’t punishment enough for a poor sanitization job, now you can be mistaken for a drug dealer!

Investigating a noxious odor

By in Breweries, Brewing 0

Thirsty Bear 15th Anniversary Celebration

A little over a week ago we brewed a special batch of beer with the Thirsty Bear crew.  This batch has a higher calling than just being delicious.  The brew, being called an imperial red ale for lack of a better name, will help commemorate the brewpub’s 15th anniversary.

Thirsty Bear is hosting a celebratory get together at the brewpub on Tuesday, September 13th.  The imperial red ale will be making its debut and tapas will abound.  If you’re in the San Francisco area we strongly suggest stopping by.  Be there or be sober and hungry!  Thirsty Bear Brewing Co, 661 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105.

By in Breweries, Brewing 0

Brew Day at Thirsty Bear Brewing Co.

San Francisco is home to a thriving beer culture.  Between specialty stores, beer tours, and craft breweries, the city has plenty to offer the beer aficionado.  One of our favorite beer Meccas is Thirsty Bear Brewing Co.

Located in San Francisco’s SOMA District, and certified organic, Thirsty Bear’s menu has a beer and/or Spanish inspired dish for everyone’s taste.  This year marks the brewpub’s 15th anniversary and to celebrate brewmaster Brenden Dobel decided to whip up a special single release batch.

The Hapa’s crew are regulars of Thirsty Bear so we were ecstatic when Brenden agreed to let us help brew their 15th anniversary batch.  Not sure what to expect and nervous that homebrew skills wouldn’t translate to a commercial brewery, we showed up ready to contribute in any way and learn from the masters.

For this limited edition beer, Brenden decided to think outside the style guideline and brew something new.  The recipe called for 1,100 pounds of pilsner and pale malt with additions of turbinado sugar and Belgian candi syrup.  This added sugars will kick up the alcohol content and added a nice coppery brown coloring.  This being harvest season, fresh wet hops were also used at the end of the boil.  The end result of this brew will be a well balanced beer with a hoppy backbone and amble ABV.

The first order of business was to change into some appropriate footwear.  Galoshes are a brewers best friend as things tend to get wet when you’re dealing with nearly 500 gallons of beer. 

Functional AND stylish

Next, we opened the grain bags and turned on the mill and auger.  Grain was fed into the mill and transferred to the mash tunwhere it was mixed with water at 170 degrees.  The brewery filled with the familiar sweet smells that permeate the kitchen on homebrew days.  This was a single infusion mash at 150 degrees. 

The mill and grain bags            Doughing in                                                         The mash

After mashing for an hour wort was recirculated until it cleared and was pumped to the kettle.  The sparge sprinkler was turned on and the grain bed rinsed of every last bit of sugar. 

As the kettle filled and wort brought to a boil, I had chance to speak with Brenden about brewing and beer.  Very interesting to get the opinions of someone who lives beer.  When asked about the future of craft brewing he was amazed with how far the industry has come since the 80s and excited to see where it will go. The boom in barrel aging and souring is just the tip of the iceberg.  He foresees more experimentation small breweries pop up nationwide.  It certainly is a good time to be a beer lover.

With a rolling boil in the kettle, the first addition of Magnum hops was added.  These will impart much of the flavor to this beer and are known for their clean bitterness.  The next addition was beautiful citrus smelling Cluster hops at 30 minutes.  Turbinado sugar also went into the kettle at 30 minutes followed by the Belgian candi syrup 45 minutes into the boil.  The last ingredient added was the fresh hops which were packed into nylon mesh bags and stuffed into the kettle.

Cluster hop addition                                   Fresh hops                                               Looking like a proud father

The wort was whirlpooled and allowed to settle making it easier to transfer sediment free liquid to the heat exchanger and fermentation tank.  Glycol and cold water were used in the heat exchanger to rapidly chill the hot wort.   We had previously pitched the yeast so all that was left to do was clean up.

1,100 pounds of grain doesn’t throw itself into compost bins, so it was up to us to clean out the mash tun.  Using a rake and old fashioned elbow grease the spent barley was scooped out and sent to the city for composting.

Spent grains                                                                        Scooping out all that barley

And so now we play the waiting game.  Two weeks from now Thirsty Bear will celebrate their anniversary and pour this beer.  Of course we’ll be there and hope that you’ll join us!

By in Brewing 0

More Powerful than a Locomotive

The Belgian Golden Strong Ale spent a week in primary fermentation and ten days in secondary.  Today it was moved to the keg where it will be cooled and carbonated.  Belgian ale yeast can handle booze better than most frat boys and went Beast-mode on the high original gravity leaving the final beer with 8.8% ABV.  This might seem high but it is right in the middle of the style guideline of 7.5-10.5% for this type of beer.  This beer style is the strongest thing from Belgium since Van Damme.  The keg will be pressurized to 10 PSI as Belgian Strong Ales are highly carbonated.

Transfer to the keg                                 Low final gravity = high alcohol content

By in Brewing 0

From Belgium With Love

You may have noticed that recently we’ve been boarderline obsessed with Belgian beers.  We’ve done several tasting over the last few weeks including a dubbel, a witbier, a siason, and a flanders red ale.  Belgium is home to some of the oldest and most famous breweries in the world.  The beer styles they churn our are material enough for their own posting, but today we focus on the only logical outcome of our recent Belgian fixation: brewing our own.

The style we chose to brew is a Belgian Golden Strong Ale; the first and most famous of which is known simply as Duvel.  In tribute to the original and alluding to the high alcohol content, it is common practice for breweries to reference the Devil in naming their example of the stye.  In keeping with that tradition we’re calling Hapa’s version Kepolo Golden Ale. 


We used traditional Belgian grains for this recipe with Belgian 2-row acting as our base malt.  To bump up the sugar content and ultimately the alcohol content, we added another traditional ingredient: Belgian candi sugar

Grain bill: Belgian 2-row, Caravienne, and Carapils              Belgian Candi Sugar

A single rest mash was used as was a continuous sparge.  Wort was collected and put on the fire for the boil.  Belgian beers are traditionally lightly hopped, at least by American standards, to allow the distinct malt and fruity esters flavors to shine through.  We stayed true to the style and used two European hop varietals whose bittering potential is quite low.  The candi sugar was added in the last fifteen minutes of the boil to prevent scortching.  After the beer was cooled Belgian Golden Ale yeast was pitched and 24 hours later we had some very active fermentation.

Hit our target gravity of 1.070+                                               Belgiun Golden Ale yeast is very tolerant of alcohol.  
                                                                                              Just like Drunk Uncle Dave!

By in Brewing, Culture 0

More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys

The perception has long held that beer is not a sophisticated drink – it’s cheap, comes in packs of 30, is consumed as quickly as possible, and the ultimate goal is to get boiled as an owl.  We won’t deny that for college students around the world that is an accurate description of the drink.  However, in this new age of beer, we are able to enjoy pints crafted with as much care and skill as any wine from France or Napa.

The beer can Christmas tree: 
a college staple

The dramatic rise of craft breweries, both here in the States and abroad, has resulted in an explosion of unique styles and brewing techniques.  Beer lovers are able to enjoy styles that once teetered on extinction, sour beers that are brewed with acid producing bacteria, beer made from centuries old recipes, and beer aged in wine and spirit barrels.  Building on the theme from our last Tuesday Tasting, it is the latter of these that we are concerned with today.

While barrel aging has experienced a bit of a resurgence as of late, the practice is still not common place.  Barrels take up a lot of valuable space as beer must be aged for months or even years.  Maintenance is expensive and sanitation is also a concern.  Simply keeping a barrel liquid tight poses a challenge as it must be kept full at all times; if the wood is allowed to dry it will shrink.  Barrels must be periodically topped off as a portion of the booze inside will evaporate through the porous wood.  This lost hooch is called the “angels’ share” more commonly known in our family as Drunk Uncle Dave’s Share.

Angels’ share is significantly less
sloppy than Uncle Dave’s

Barrel aged beer has a depth and complexity of flavor usually reserved for a Bordeaux or a Highlands single malt.  Some of America’s most well known craft breweries are currently experimenting with barrel aging programs and developing pints with amazing flavor profiles.   From the Godfather of them all: Sam Adams, to Goose Island, to Russian River Brewing Co. barrel aging is here to stay.  Here at Hapa’s Brewing we couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

Sam Adams Barrel Room

By in Brewing 0

Bubbles Please

After two weeks of dry hopping in secondary fermentation, the Black IPA was carefully siphoned into the keg for carbonation.  There it will sit for at least a week before it will be ready to drink.  The final gravity of this beer puts the alcohol content at a speech slurring 8.2%; on par with the style guidelines.  It’s been nearly a month since this beer was brewed and judging from the small taste we stole it will be worth the wait.  In the meantime we’ll just have to brew another batch.  Stay tuned for a brewing session recap of a Belgian Golden Strong Ale.

Transferring the beer to the keg            Measuring the final gravity

By in Brewing 0

To India and Beyond

The Imperial Black IPA was allowed to sit in primary fermentation for a full weeks to give the yeast enough time to convert all that sugar to alcohol.  It will now condition in a glass carboy for an additional two weeks before being kegged.

A common question is “how did India Pale Ales (IPA) get their name?”  The answer has nothing to do with Bollywood, outsourcing, heartburn, or anything else associated with Indian culture or food.  IPAs are not brewed with Indian ingredients or in India, but rather were brewed for travel to India. 

The long voyage to India

In the mid 19th century, thirsty and sober Englishmen in India wanted their ales shipped to them.  Without the modern luxuries of air travel, refrigeration, and the Souz Canal, beer would spoil on the long boat voyage.  To battle beer funk, brewers turned to hops.  Hops have a natural preservative quality and when added to beer after primary fermentation will not only help the beer’s shelf life but will also impart favorable aromas.  Hence the IPA was born with its characteristic hop aromatics and flavors.

The Imperial Black IPA is a twist on the classic style, but those same hop notes are still desired.  That being the case, it is only natural that we add hops to secondary fermentation in a practice known as dry hopping.

The beer was carefully siphoned into a glass carboy.  Hops were weighed, placed in a sanitized nylon mesh bag, and submerged in the beer.  They’ll stay in the carboy for the full two weeks of conditioning before being removed when the beer is kegged.  A small amount of the swill was taken for a taste and some measurements.  By all accounts it tastes great and a quick check showed the alcohol content was up to 8.5% ABV.

Hops in the hop bag                                                           Nice work, yeast!