Brewers Association Membership

Last night we joined the Brewer’s Association as a 0-500 bbl brewery. There are a ton of benefits that come with this membership. A lot of the benefits will be great once we get started, but there are a few that are really going to help as we write the business plan. These benefits all fall under the “Member Education” category:

New Members-Only Area of BrewersAssociation.org

Features exclusive content available to BA members only, including extensive statistical data, presentation archives, technical information (covering hops, keg repatriation, and other topics), message boards and committee meeting minutes.

The New Brewer

Free multiple subscriptions to The New Brewer magazine for staff members.

Brewers Association Forum

Free multiple subscriptions to the Brewers Association Forum, a daily, moderated email digest connecting you to more than 4,400 participating members.

Industry Statistics

Annual Beer Industry Production Survey reports the growth of craft beer industry; featured in the May/June issue of The New Brewer.

Professional E-Conference Series: Power Hour

Power Hour is an online, interactive teleconference series on regulatory, marketing and other information six times per year.

Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®

Registration discounts of $220-$245 per person for the full conference rate at the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America.

Brewers Publications

Discounts on pre-publication releases, along with free additional copies of the current Brewers’ Resource Directory for brewery-level members.

On top of all this, we also now have access to the wonderful staff at BA for the various specific and unique questions we’ll have along the way. I’ve had beers with a bunch of people who work there, and they’re awesome. It’ll be great to work with them in a professional capacity as well.

We’re really excited to start diving in to these resources. The business plan writing and other key planning stages are under way, thanks to the help of two recent DU MBA students and one current one. This membership should help with that planning. I’ll be sure to share as we go.

If you’re a brewer and read this blog, what are your thoughts on BA, the membership, and the services they provide?


A lot has been in motion the past few weeks. A lot of it is sort of hush-hush right now, but here’s a brief overview to get you through the holiday season.

Business Plan

We’re working with two recent MBA grads. They are awesome. One is all up in the marketing side of things, and the other knows finances like I know.. Well, I think he knows finances better than I know anything. With their help, we hope to start presenting to investors in the next month or two. Pretty exciting stuff.

Unnamed Bar

A bar which I shall not name has recently approached us, inquiring if we’d like to open in what is essentially their back room. It’s a ridiculously good location, with great people, and a lot of possibilities. This is just in the talks, and might not ever move past that, but it’s really fun to think about. Right now, the plan is to ignore it as a possibility in the planning process, and if it comes through, so much the better. Don’t try to guess what bar it is. I won’t tell you. Sorry.


We’re going to meet with Josh Mishell in the first week or two of the new year to discuss branding for Mad Haven. Josh used to do branding for Flying Dog. He loves beer, knows his stuff, and we love hanging out with him. Great combination. I’m excited to see what we can come up with, channeling the crazy in my head through the awesome in Josh’s to make sweet sweet branding.


Mad Haven is being enjoyed by people more and more. Between office mates, bartenders, and that random guy on the corner (two truths and a lie, can you pick out the lie?), the Rye Dry Stout and Heartburn (the chili beer) are making their way across the lips of Denver. Check it out, we’re even on Untappd!


Right, brewing. That important little project. The past few batches haven’t gone so well, but I’m working on fixing all the things that went wrong. I think 4 years in a row of near-perfect results has caught up with me. Two batches in a row were infected – I’m pretty sure the latter was just infected by the former, and not a repeated process issue – and I had a stuck mash during a batch of Pam last week. It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it, right? I plan to brew a lot more of the Rye Dry, and a few batches of the Scotch Ale, as we cannot keep enough in supply.


I might be starting a Denver-based publication soon. No details yet, but it’s something I think Denver needs, and will enjoy. You know, because I’m not busy enough yet.

The Real World

Beyond all this fun news, I have an actual full time job. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a Front End Developer for MapMyFitness.com. It’s going great. I love the people I work with, the work itself is challenging and pretty forward-thinking, and it’s a very fast-moving environment.


That’s all for now. Please, keep reading, keep trying the beer, and keep giving your support, thoughts, opinions, and empty bottles. Have a great [insert your holiday of choice here] and an awesome New Year’s, and we’ll regroup in January.

And if you need a song to listen to, check out Your Humble Narrator by Two Cow Garage. It has nothing to do with this post at all, but it does have an awesome line: “The sun has a way of making us pay for our revelry-filled nights.”

NOTE: Please see the update at the bottom of the post.

According to some potentially sweeping legislation, the difference between synthetic caffeine and coffee beans doesn’t matter. So what, you might ask.

Alcoholic energy drinks are a somewhat recent phenomenon. Over the past 5 years or so, numerous companies have entered the malt beverage market with caffeine-infused drinks. One you might have heard of is Sparks. Essentially, take Red Bull and Smirnoff Ice and can it.

While there haven’t really been any studies to confirm that these beverages are dangerous, public outcry after the deaths of some college students who had been drinking similar beverages has caused a federal legislative movement. A few states have already enacted their own bans on these drinks, and the FDA is expected to rule shortly as well.

The issue comes in the form of loose, vague, and overarching wording. In banning caffeinated alcoholic beverages, naturally occurring caffeine, from coffee, tea, and chocolate, would also be banned. So not only is Four Loko going to be banned, but Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti would also be taken off the shelves. I personally won’t mourn the loss of Joose, but Youngs Double Chocolate Stout will be missed.

The ban on these drinks needs to be more specific. If I want to add some tea to my boil, or some espresso in secondary, I’m not doing so to give the consumer an energy boost; I’m doing it to add flavor and complexity. These natural ingredients need not be banned.

As of right now, I’m not sure what you or I can do to help. Be aware of the issues, and keep an eye on the Brewer’s Association. They’re a great clearing house and focal point for political and legal information related to brewing. Following is the press release from BA about this ban:


Boulder, CO • November 16, 2010—The Brewers Association announces today that it will formally petition the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to conduct rulemaking on alcoholic energy drinks.

The petition seeks to disallow synthetic and pure caffeine additions to alcohol beverages, but allow incidental caffeine from ingredients that have a long tradition in brewing, such as coffee, chocolate and tea. The petition seeks to clarify that coffee, chocolate, herbs, spices, seeds and fruit are ingredients that should remain available to brewers to make beers for responsible enjoyment by beer drinkers.

Certain alcoholic energy drinks have received significant negative attention from state attorneys general, public health groups and concerned citizens. Many states are taking action this fall before the federal government has responded, leaving a patchwork of different regulatory wording, all with the same intention. The goal of this federal petition is to provide a clear and consistent national standard to assist state-based rulemaking under the 21st Amendment. This standard would remove the products of concern from shelves without creating unintended damage to the hundreds of craft brewers who, for many years, have been using traditional ingredients like coffee, tea and chocolate to responsibly craft interesting and flavorful beers.

Brewers Association President Charlie Papazian stated, “Responsible brewers have successfully used coffee, chocolate and tea to add interesting flavor and complexity to their beers for decades. In fact, the Aztecs brewed a corn, honey and chili-based beer that contained cocoa. Many craft brewers build on these traditions today using coffee, tea and chocolate. On the other hand, the addition of artificial caffeine not from a natural ingredient source has no heritage or tradition in brewing. We support a ban on the direct addition of caffeine.” The Brewers Association invites TTB to open up public comment and rulemaking on whether these products are appropriate for responsible consumption.

More information:



The FDA sent warning letters to 4 companies they were seriously concerned about. In their explanation, they specifically said coffee-flavored beverages are safe, at least for now:

These warning letters were not directed at alcoholic beverages that only contain caffeine as a natural constituent of one or more of their ingredients, such as a coffee flavoring. (Read more)

More from the FDA:

Spicy chili beer math

My office is about a block from Wynkoop Brewing. It’s also a block from Falling Rock and about six from Great Divide. But this story is about Wynkoop.

I went there for lunch about a month ago, and had some of their chili beer, called Patty’s Chile Beer. It’s got a great chili smell and a slight pepper taste, but almost no spice to it. It falls under how I describe most of Wynkoop’s beer: a very balanced flavor that doesn’t go far enough for my palette. I love what they do there, and what Wynkoop has done for beer in Denver, it’s just not my favorite. Or second favorite. Or.. anyway.

One day, we'll use this many ghost chilis in one batch.

A few days later, I got to try some of Nick Nunns’ chili beer. It had some zing to it. It made me realize that you can make a great beer with veggies in it. So, Kell and I set out to make our own.

I did some research on spices, looking into the Scoville Scale, and started doing math. Side note, per Nick’s suggestion, I think I’ll make a Scotch Bonnet Scotch Ale one day. Anyway, we wanted to make it spicy. Not unbearable, but not for the faint of heart either. The goal was to make a beer as spicy as a jalapeno.

I had to contact my buddy James, who’s getting a PhD in Chemistry, for the extremely complex formula to determine concentration. Super complex:

C1V1 = C2V2

C stands for concentration, V for volume. Crazy, huh? (I’m being sarcastic, fyi)

Armed with this equation, and the incredibly inexact Scoville Scale example ratings, I was ready to do math.

Initially, we took a Serrano pepper, food processed it in a pint of water, and tasted. We assumed a Serrano pepper, ground up, would equal 1 tsp. The scale suggested that Serrano peppers have a Scoville rating between 10,000 and 25,000. There are 96 teaspoons in a pint. Math:

10,000 Scoville * 1 tsp = 96 tsp * x Scoville
xlow Scoville = 10,000/96 = 104

25,000 Scoville * 1 tsp = 96 tsp * x Scoville
xhigh scoville = 25,000/96 = 260

Veggie water?

So, diluting 1 Serrano pepper into a pint of water would result in the water having a Scoville rating between 104 and 260, or the equivalent of a Peperoncini. And to test, we tasted the water. Having tasted a Serrano seed previously, which made my mouth burn a bit, this solution wasn’t very spicy. It appeared the math was correct.

Now we wanted to add peppers to the boil. At first, we were overly cautious. I didn’t trust the math, even though we’d just proven it’s reliability. We determined how many points one Serrano would add to a 5 gallon batch, using 12,000 points as an assumed rating for a Serrano. Why? No reason. There are 768 teaspoons in a gallon, or 3,840 in a 5 gallon batch.

12,000 Scoville * 1 tsp = 3,840x
x = 12,000/3,840 =  3.125

One Serrano pepper in a 5 gallon batch would increase the Scoville rating by 3 points. For some reason, we didn’t really believe this. We thought it would be much higher than that. So, we added 6 Serrano peppers and hoped it would be spicy at secondary. Mind you, that’s a total rating of almost 20. A bell pepper has that rating.

The other night, we transferred the beer to a bucket and tasted it. It had a slight chili flavor, but had no spice. Surprise! The math was correct. To get it to the spice level we wanted, assuming the math was correct, we would need about 800 more Serrano peppers. (12,000 * x = 2,500 * 3,840 )

Being cautious, intelligent men, we took the obvious next step.


We added Habanero.

Unlike the weak little Serrano, the Habanero has a Scoville range of 100,000 to 350,000. They’re also a little bigger, so we assumed an initial volume of a tablespoon. Exact science here, obviously. Therefore, each one would increase the rating of the beer by

100,000 * 3 = 3840x
xlow = (100,000 * 3 ) / 3840 = 78

350,000 * 3 = 3840x
xhigh =  (350,000 * 3 ) / 3840 = 273

We added 5 Habanero peppers, which gave us a total rating, including the 18 from the Serrano, of between 408 and 1,383. A jalapeno has a rating between 2,500 – 8,000. We’re close.

We tasted along the way, adding only one pepper at a time, and the last taste was definitely spicy, but not unreasonable. We just finished bottling it, and it has some heat. It appears the math was mostly correct, especially considering the inaccuracies of the scale and my ability to measure things. In about 10 days we’ll see how it turns out.


Habanero in the food processor

For the recipe, I tried to do something close to a pale ale, substituting most of the hops for peppers. I didn’t want anything too hoppy, or too anything, as the pepper was the ingredient I wanted to accentuate. And, it being a first attempt, we went with extract.

Chili beer attempt #1

  • 7 lbs Light Liquid Extract
  • 1 lb Vienna
  • 1 lb British Light
  • 1/4 lb Torrified Wheat
  • 1 oz Perle at 60 min
  • 6 Serrano peppers at 60 min
  • 1 oz Fuggle at 30 min
  • California Ale Yeast (WLP001)
  • 5 Habanero in secondary

That’s really what it comes down to. Why the hell doesn’t Mad Haven exist yet?

I’ve got a bunch of excuses, but pretty much it boils down (pun intended) to laziness and fear. Two things that I’m kicking to the curb.

Laziness. As much as I’m not built to sit behind a desk and work a scheduled life, it’s easy.. Or not easy, but stable. Consistent. Steady. It’s not that I’m afraid of working 18 hour days, shoveling mash out in the morning and then slinging the craft across town all night. It’s that it’s easier to sit on the couch or go out with friends than plan all that needs planning.

This is a terrible excuse, and I’m done with it.

Fear. It turns out, brewing is quite the endeavor. From the myriad of mistakes that can happen from the time the grain is crushed to the time the beer is packaged, so the plethora of other mishaps waiting just around the corner of every step, it’s a scary undertaking. The investment is pretty serious, at least for someone in my point in life. I’d like my rate beer rating to be the same as the fail rate in the industry (hint: somewhere in the 90% range). And when the time comes, I’ll leave the security of a salary and benefits for the adventure of a start-up.

(To those I work with, don’t worry, there are many months, if not years, before this will become a reality)

But enough whining, enough excuses, and enough babbling. There are risks in everything. The reward, the benefit, the adventure, and the beer outweigh all the little things that pop up.

I just went on a search for fun quotes about taking a risk. And this one came up. And I like it.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – André Gide

So here’s a promise. It’s not to any of you reading this, though I hope you’ll help hold me to it. It’s a promise to myself.

I’m going to see the easier way, and choose to ignore it. I’m going to see the risks, and find ways to avoid them or mitigate them to an acceptable level. I’m going to keep moving forward. I’m not going to stall any more. I’m not going to sit idly by and dream. I’m going to open a brewery. I’m going to open Mad Haven.

Let’s get to work.

Breakfast and Brewing #2

Back in January, we invited people over to eat some bacon and brew some beer. It was awesome. So we’re doing it again. 10 months later.

Last time we brewed an extract clone of Bell’s Best Brown. It turned out great. I think we might still have some to share, actually.

This time, we’ll be doing the infamous Rye Dry Stout. All grain baby. All grain.

It all happens this Saturday, 10/23. I’ll start the water boiling around 10am, and have bacon and eggs and other suchness ready to go around that time as well.

If you’d like to join, shoot me an email (pj [dot] hoberman [at] gmail [dot] com), leave a comment, text me, tweet at me, call me, smoke signals… Whatever your preferred method of contacting me might be.

See you Saturday!



Rye Dry Stout grains


This week in Mad Haven

It’s been an interesting week at Mad Haven (aka the kitchen in my apartment). One beer turned out amazingly well. One is.. scary.

We weren’t able to stick to the schedule I mentioned a few weeks ago. Surprise surprise. But we did brew a lot. It just won’t all be ready this week.

The last batch of the blonde turned out so well. It’s a little belgiany due to no temperature control – it costs a lot to run an AC 24/7. But it’s delicious. I’m going to submit it into a homebrew competition at City O’ City on Tuesday. I’ve posted the recipe before, but here it is again, in extract form:

  • 6 lbs Liquid Light Malt Extract
  • 1 lb Flaked Wheat
  • .5 lb Munich
  • 1.5 lb Vienna
  • .25 lb Crystal 15
  • 1 oz Cascade (5.5%) @ 45 min
  • 1 oz Czech Saaz (5.0%) @ 5 min
  • White Labs WLP001 California Ale

As well as that turned out, the Scotch Ale took a different approach. It appears I didn’t sanitize the oak chips well enough, and some sort of bacteria or mold got into the batch. This isn’t for the faint of heart:

Various people have suggested various things about this batch. My plan is to fill 6 bottles and try them in a few weeks, and then let the rest of it age for a few months. Unless someone reading this is a microbiologist and can see something deadly in there.

Before I saw this interesting infection, Kell and I had tried some off the spigot. And it was absolutely delicious. So, we’ll see what happens.

Hooray Beer!

In other news, Beer Week is upon us. Let me know if you’re in Denver this week!