Hapa's Brewing Company


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Power to the Growler

Beer is served from vessels of all shapes and sizes.  There’s the standard 12 ounce can or bottle, the keg, and of course the classy and timeless Forty.  Each container serves its purpose, whether it be enjoying a cold one while manning the grill or slugging malt liquor at a D├ębutante Ball, and the growler is no exception.  Generally speaking, growlers are used by beer lovers to take home samples from their favorite breweries and brewpubs.  Most growlers have a capacity of half a gallon and are filled directly from the tap.

Filling a growler

So what is the origin of this mysterious vessel that looks remarkably like an old timey moonshine jug?  Legend has it that in days of yore, patrons who had not drunk their fill at the pub would carry home pails of beer for the after party.  Along the way, CO2 escaping from the lid would make a growling sound, hence the name. 

Old timey moonshine jug

The modern day growler is said to have originated in 1989 when brewer Charlie Otto wanted to offer beer-to-go from his Otto Brothers Brewery.  The Otto family patriarch suggested the use of growlers that he remember from yesteryear.  The younger Otto took that suggestion and ran with it using half gallon glass jugs and giving rise to the growlers we know today.

Most growlers have either a screw cap or ceramic flip top.  Experience has shown us that those with a flip top will keep beer fresh for longer but, in general, a growler filled at a brewpub will keep beer ready to drink for up to a week.

                 Flip top growler                                     Screw cap growler

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Chi-Town Bound

Chicago is best known for its sports teams, deep dish pizza, and crooked politicians.  A trip to Prairie State this weekend afforded Hapa’s a chance to experience two of these Windy City institutions.  Here at Hapa’s we leave the bribing and blackmailing to the mobsters and yes-men, so we kicked off the weekend with a classic deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s and trip to the United Center to see the first place Bulls beat the Grizzlies.

Pre-game warm up on the court

At the game, we caught wind of a new brew pub near the arena.  Never the type to pass up the chance to try some new beer and talk a little shop, we headed over to Haymarket Pub & Brewery.  It wasn’t long before we had a three beer tasting flight in front of us that consisted of an American IPA, a Double IPA, and an American Pale Ale.  The beers were all quite good with varying levels of bitterness and all shared notes of different citrus including orange and grapefruit.

Left to right: Peace Frog American IPA, Anarchy Double IPA, Ti Jean American Pale Ale

After the tasting we had the chance to talk a little shop with the assistant brew master who had just finished adding hops to a fresh brew.  We chatted about Haymarket’s brewing rig and brew process.  The brew pub uses a steam heated hot liquor tank, mash tun, and boil kettle.  A giant heat exchanger cools the wort before the beer is pumped into the fermenters.  The young beer is then moved to the serving tanks where the brew is cooled and carbonated with CO2. 

Left to right: hot liquor tank, boil kettle, assistant brew master, mash tun

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A Special St. Paddy’s Day Pint

What would St. Patrick’s Day be without a pint of your favorite stout?  Most likely many of you are sitting in your office regretting that last Guinness and vowing that this is the last time you will over indulge during the work week.  A lofty, but laughable ambition.  At Hapa’s, the same holiday spirit that drives us to intoxication on a Thursday permeated through the walls and we couldn’t help ourselves but tap the stout keg. 

The beer poured a dark brown with a think and billowing head that left wonderful lacing in the glass.  Sweet caramel maltiness washed over the mouth and faded to a burnt toast finish that lingered on the edges of the tongue.  A great pint! 

Hapa’s St. Paddy’s Day Stout

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The Stout Is Kegged

A lot happened over the course of last week: gas prices blew up like Barry Bonds’ head, the iPad 2 rendered the iPad 1 worthless, and the NFL / NFLPA CBA negotiations moved slower than a girl walking in high heels.  As the title of this posting suggests, Hapa’s Brewing’s stout was also kegged after a week in secondary fermentation. 

Once again an auto siphon was used to transfer the beer to the keg where it was chilled.  CO2 was then pumped in and will dissolve into the cold beer.  After a week or so the stout will join the Pale Ale on tap!

Transferring beer to the keg                                          Chilled and pressurized

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Stout It Out

Eight days after the brewing session, the stout was transferred to a glass carboy for secondary fermentation.  The beer has a great dark color, bordering on pitch black.  The gravity of the beer was taken and, of course, a quick taste was stolen.  Classic stout flavors like caramel, dark chocolate, and burnt toast tease the mouth and make waiting another two weeks for this beer to be ready feel like an eternity.  Patience is a virtue!

Measureing the gravity                                         Glass carboy for secondary fermentation

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You Make me Wanna Stout

Stouts have been all the buzz recently around Hapa’s Brewing.  Five of Beer Advocates top ten beers of 2010 were stouts, next week’s Tuesday Tasting is a stout, and last weekend we brewed up a batch of our own.  The grain bill for this beer was a basic stout recipe; nothing fancy or uber-creative.  We like to think it’s still acceptable to make a basic beer, but make it well.  As such, 2-row was used as the base malt with roasted barley, Crystal 60L, and flaked barley making up the remainder of the bill.

The grain bill

The use of specialty grains is a necessity when brewing a stout.  The roasted barley adds the characteristic dark color and roasted coffee flavors to the beer while the Crystal 60L adds sweet caramel notes and the flaked barley contributes the proteins necessary for head retention and a full bodied mouthfeel.

Unlike previous brew sessions, a single rest mash was used for this beer.  After an hour in the mash, wort was recirculated and drained into the brew kettle. 

Doughing in                                                                                 Wort recirculation

Galena and Chinook hops were used with a target bitterness of 45 IBUs with additions being added at beginning and midway point of the hour boil.  After cooling the wort using a copper immersion chiller and taking the original gravity, an English style yeast was pitched.

Hop additions                                                                              Cooling the wort

Measuring the original gravity                                                     Pitching the yeast

Primary fermentation began in earnest less than 24 hours after yeast was added and continues to be active.  This weekend, after seven days, the stout will be transferred to secondary fermentation.  Looking forward to checking in on this beer and giving it a taste!

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Pale Ale: Kegged, Cooled, Carbonated

After one week in secondary fermentation, the Pale Ale was transferred to the keg for carbonation last night.  Somewhere between the Oscars for best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Editing, the beer made its way through the auto siphon and into the keg.  After being chilled down to 40 degrees, CO2 was pumped in at 10 psi to reach the desired level of carbonation.  The beer will be given a couple days to absorb the CO2 and will be tapped in time for next weekend!

Transferring the beer                                                  Chilled and CO2 added

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A Pale Ale Tale: Secondary Fermentation

Along with providing time to cook up some delicious brisket, President’s Day Weekend also marked eight days in primary fermentation for the Pale Ale.  Into the glass carboy it went for secondary fermentation and I have to say that this beer is the best looking pale thing since Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire.

Just as in Christmas in January and Amber Ale Fermentation – Take Two an auto siphon was used to move the beer into the carboy.

Siphoning beer into the carboy

This opportunity was also seized upon to take a measurement of the gravity of the beer and steal a quick taste.  As mentioned in Hapa’s Favorite Month: FeBREWary this beer upped the IBU ante a bit and this was evident in the smell and taste of the beer.  Nice hop aromas hit the nose and a sip of the beer finishes with strong hop notes.  Looking forward to enjoying a glass of the Pale Ale in a week or so.

Measuring the beer’s gravity

For those of you who are interested in brewing yourself, take a look at the “Featured Products” list on the right hand side of the page.  Here you will find John Palmer’s How to Brew, one of the definitive beginner books on homebrewing.  This book is a great place to start for anyone interested in brewing regardless of experience.  Check it out!

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Hapa’s Favorite Month: FeBREWary

Of all the holidays, Valentine’s Day has to be the most polarizing; people seem to either love it or hate it.  It’s easy to see why this is the case as this can be a very stressful time of year.  Football season has just ended, tax season is just starting, and those who find themselves without a special someone are forced to watch all the happy couples galavant around town sporting flowers, teddy bears, or anything sold by Hallmark. 

It doesn’t seem right that those fat cats at Hallmark stuff their pockets with cash while some people wallow in Valentine’s Day solitude, so Hapa’s Brewing proposes that we celebrate something we can all agree on: beer.  To kick off the new FeBREWary tradition we brewed up a classic American Pale Ale.

The grain bill for this batch was a basic as it gets including only 2-row base malt and crystal 60.  A multi-rest mashing schedule was used with a hot water infusion added to achieve the second rest temperature.

The grain bill: 2-row and Crystal 60                                           Doughing-in

After a half an hour at each rest, the wort was recirculated and siphoned into the boil kettle.  Hops used for this batch included Northern Brewer and the classic American Pale Ale varietal: Cascade.  The hour long boil included three hop additions at the beginning of the boil, 30 minutes, and 45 minutes.  At 39 IBUs this pale ale will be nicely hopped, but will not be a hop bomb like some IPAs (we’ll save that for a future brew).

Lautering                                                      Hop additions: Northern Brewer and cascade

After an hour in the boil and being quickly cooled to a microbe-friendly temperature, an American Ale yeast was pitched.  Active fermentation is currently in full swing and will be monitored closely.  Looking forward to giving this beer a taste in a few weeks!

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On Tap: Holiday Ale

Over the weekend the Holiday Ale keg was tapped.  It was perfectly carbonated and tasted great.  It truly reminded everyone who drank it of the holiday season.  Of those who had a taste, some said it had the essence of pumpkin pie while others got the same ginger bread flavors that I got when I tasted the beer in Christmas in January.  By all accounts it was a tremendous success, and we’re looking forward to making it again for the holidays!

It’s five o’clock somewhere… drink up!