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Friday, August 03, 2007

Teri Fahrendorf and Her Amazing Journey

Teri Fahrendorf is already a pioneer. She was the founding brewer at Steelhead, which was a pioneering early brewpub in Eugene. But even more significantly, she was an early woman brewmaster in a profession that is still overwhelmingly male. But now she's doing something that breaks blogging ground by heading across the country and visiting breweries and writing it up at Road Brewer. I have meant to draw your attention to it earlier, but now that the craziness of July has passed, it's a great time.

Her most recent entry comes to us from Cooperstown, where she visited one of my favorite breweries, Ommegang:
Arrived at Ommegang after most of the staff had retired for the evening. Only brewers Mike McManus and Wes Nick were left, brewing the last of the six batches for the week. They were both pulling a 12-hour, 6:00 pm to 6:00 am shift. If you haven't already figured it out, brewers work very hard to bring you your libation!...

Mike and Wes brought me to Ommegang's tasting room and set me up with a real glass (no plastic cup for the road brewer) and a bottle of their current limited release, Ommegeddon. This beer is on the trucks headed all over the country as I write. If you buy some, buy two bottles because this beer will continue to change over the next two years, and you'll want to save a bottle for later.

The base of this beer is similar to the Ommegang Abbey, however it has been infused with Brettanomyces and dry hopped. The extra hops is subtle, but the Brett is definitely present. As QC Manager & Brett-Wrangler Jason Parrish told me, you have to be patient with Brett. Jason thinks most American breweries overpitch the Brettanomyces, but Jason likes it to grow and flower and slowly develop its characteristic horse-blanket, copper-penny flavors and aromas.

Now, if you haven't tasted a beer with Brettanomyces before, this is a good starter Brett beer because the Brett character is still fairly subtle. You may think the beer reminds you of the flavors in a slightly funky French or Italian wine. Then wait six months or a year (or two) and try it again. Voila! Mondo funkadelic. But not now. Now it is baby-barely-funk.
She started the journey in June and will roll into Denver for the GABF in October and then head back to Eugene. She's posting nearly every day, and nearly every day she's at a new brewery. Next stop is Burlington, Vermont (a great beer town) where she'll stop in at Magic Hat and others.

I will be checking in regularly to hear what she's learned--you might enjoy checking in, too.

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