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Hugs + Hops

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Mike tells us the story behind Hugs + Hops, our collaboration brew with 21st Amendment and Independent Brewing Co.

Steve and I worked with Shaun in 2005 at the 21st Amendment Brewpub in San Francisco where Shaun is the co-founder and brewmaster. I was a newbie, having only homebrewed a handful of times but Shaun had graciously taken me on as an assistant brewer. Steve had a full-time job, but had worked previously in the brewery, and so was the experienced, on-call brewer, who came in to do things beyond my abilities, like run the DE filter, teaching me in the process. Here, we “brought the band back together” to collaborate on a beer.

I had had an email exchange with Steve about a year and a half ago where we threw out the idea of somehow brewing a beer together, which was the moment I began to learn of his deep love for Kuyts — a style I’d never heard of. Then Shaun passed through Paris a year ago and the idea came up again and began to take shape. Shaun set up a conference call in the summer, and we nailed down enough of the details to move forward. Steve wanted to make a Kuyt of course, I wanted to use some new French hop varietals, and Shaun wanted to make a big IPA. And so in the spirit of collaboration we decided to make a Koyt IPA with some French hop varietals.

The beer, which we’re calling Hugs + Hops, ended up being 50% malted oats (a mix of standard malted oats and Simpson’s Golden Naked Oats), 20% wheat, and the balance with a mix of vienna and pilsner malt. In order to deal with the lack of husk material from the wheat and naked oats, we also used a good amount of rice hulls, which our malt supplier Soufflet kindly tracked down for us. For hops, we used Australian Galaxy, German Magnum, French Mistral, and French experimental P10/9 from Cophoudal in Alsace. The result is a highly aromatic and hoppy beer, with aromas and flavor of peach, guava, and melon, with a deep malt richness and mild residual sweetness from the oats and wheat. We brewed 25HL in Bonneuil.


Suivi cuve
A traditional Kuyt from the Netherlands wouldn’t be so hoppy, nor would it employ French or Australian hops, so this one is pretty far outside of style aside from the malt bill. But interestingly, some consider the Dutch kuyt to have been an earlier adopter of hops and of higher hopping rates than British pale ales and IPAs, thus making it a forefather of sorts for modern hoppy beer. At least this is what Steve tells me.


This collaboration got me thinking about collaborations in general, about why we do them, when we do them, and with whom. I don’t think a brewery really needs a reason to collaborate on a beer with any other brewery, but some collaborations seem to make a lot more sense than others – and I really liked the feel of this one. Here my two former mentors and I were able to get back together as friends for the first time in 11 years since the last time we all met at the Zythos Festival and traveled together in Belgium. Aside from giving us the chance to stir through nostalgia and compare notes on our respective and very different brewery situations, the collab allowed us to deepen our connections – accompanied of course by a few beers! Hugs and Hops.

photos 3


Bonneuil: our new brewery

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A few weeks ahead of our first “open day” in our second brewery in Bonneuil on March 18, Mike recounts the installation phase which kept us busy a good part of last year.

We got the keys to our new building on April 15, 2016, and bottled our first batch of beer on September 28th, 2016.

Before those milestones, however, we spent more than 6 months looking for the right spot. We visited about 20 sites in the Eastern suburbs of Paris, and gradually expanded the search geography away from our home base in Montreuil as we exhausted closer options. The search period was exciting as we could begin to visualize our future in new and different physical spaces, but in the end it also proved to be quite a challenge to find a space that fit all of our needs and hopes.

In the end we selected a building in an industrial park 15 km south and east of Montreuil, in Bonneuil-sur-Marne. We were immediately drawn to the shape and condition of the building and to the park itself, which had much more greenery than nearly any other site we visited. The building had a little too much office space, was a little expensive, but the large square shape with plenty of natural light was mesmerizing.


For the bulk of the brewery purchase, we selected the Slovak producer Processing System Solutions, or PSS. They made a great impression on us when we met at the brewery trade show BrauBeviale in Germany the year before. They showed a bit more enthusiasm, professionalism, and willingness to go further than other makers in terms of providing a complete package. Most manufacturers would provide tanks, mills, and other basic necessities, but PSS, as a large producer of stainless steel products, was able to do more extensive and customized work with a much shorter lead time. They were also keen to take extra steps to subcontract other brewery elements and incorporate them into the overall project, greatly simplifying the project and installation.

The installation itself was at times exhilarating, and at others extremely frustrating.


My rusty forklift skills were tested again and again as the 8 tractor trailers arrived in the first three days, with the Slovaks smoking cigarettes and chuckling as I slowly and carefully removed massive amounts of (expensive) stainless steel from the trucks. Much stressful improvising occurred as we found the forks of the forklift were not quite long enough to handle all of the skids. After everything was inside there was a strange moment where our empty 1000m2 actually looked like it was getting filled up.

While standing up the tanks and brewhouse, the lauter tun slipped and hit the ground. That was scary — but it was OK.



We had between 3 and 6 technicians from PSS on the ground at any given moment for most of the month of August, including a father and son (family business). Communication was limited for the most part to gestures, pictures, and phrases from Google translate. There was no miscommunication about their fondness of beer, however, as nearly one case seemed to disappear each day.

After several weeks, when their seemingly endless supply of canned meat and fish must have run out, the technicians made the great discovery of the large nearby supermarket where they could each buy their own entire rotisserie chicken for lunch, which they seemed to do almost every day thereafter before the daily siesta. Around this time, they also discovered they could blast polka from their car radio.


We had several crises as we needed to install a chimney at the last minute and also needed the gas company to inspect our new gas hook-up. Both tasks seemed nearly impossible at moments, complicated by the fact that we were in August, the month when everyone is on vacation.


In the end, we began our first brew Friday around 3:30PM on the 9th of February (Mission Pale Ale of course), following several brews with only water, and a full cleaning program. For once everyone stopped their welding, grinding, or running electrical lines to turn to following the process and checking their work. We were able to have a nice moment as a team and open a magnum of our Anniversary IPA from earlier in the year. We would finish that night after midnight…

For bottling, we worked with a local re-seller and automation specialist, eventually purchasing most elements of the bottling line from Italy. In Montreuil, we chose an extremely basic solution for bottling, which requires two to three people to bottle about 100 liters per hour. Here, on the other hand, we opted for nearly as much automation as possible. With the same number of people now, we can bottle up to 1000 liters per hour. At the previous brewery I worked at, we needed four to five people to do the same work. We also selected an advanced bottle filler to minimize the amount of oxygen entering each bottle. Oxygen causes beer to age rapidly, so for freshness, the less oxygen the better!


Every brewery expands in order to make more beer. In Montreuil, in order to produce more, we added more and larger tanks and brewed as much as possible, but with the limits of space and longer and longer bottling (and delivery) sessions, we became structurally limited and maxed out at a capacity around 700HL / year.  

In selecting our original brewery size for Montreuil, we intentionally wanted to start small in order to be able to sell the freshest beer possible with enough flexibility to offer many different beers at the same time. We accepted the inconveniences and inefficiencies that came along with such a small system. As we planned our new brewery, we recognized the needs to increase our efficiency in packaging, increase the quality of our packaged product, and to reduce our environmental impact, particularly in terms of our water and energy usage, but also with our effluents.

We gained some flexibility by brewing our Trouble #6 and Mission Pale Ale at Brasserie Rabourdin for the past year, which allowed us to brew more of our other beers and continue to make special beers in Montreuil. Now, we can take advantage of having two breweries of different scales to test new recipes, release new offerings, and make beer of a higher quality than ever. Just before the end of the year, we released our first one-off brew made in Montreuil, a rustic, dry-hopped pale ale hopped almost exclusively with German grown Cascade hops. Stay tuned for more limited edition offerings and possibly some new permanent offerings as we gradually transition our core beers to Bonneuil!

Summer of Hops

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The end of July and beginning or August marks the return of our Summer of Hops Series : as many people leave town on vacations and many places close for a few weeks, we take the opportunity to brew some special beers for those still around. As last year, expect 3 special beers, starting with Dwarf Hops Club which will be available from next Wednesday July 27 at several bars like La Fine Mousse, Les Trois 8 or Le Supercoin, and from Saturday July 30 in growlers at our workshop.

Here is the program :

– Dwarf Hops Club, 5.5%

Extra pale ale brewed with oats and lactose and four different varieties of “dwarf hop” varieties including experimental ADHA 484. Expect fresh peach hop flavor and aroma layered over a creamy malt body. More information on dwarf hop scan be found here : http://www.adha.us/

– Golden IPA, 7.1%

A golden ale rich in hop character. Potently charged with Summit, Columbus, and Equinox hops, this IPA has a resinous, earthy hop character with a lasting bitter finish. Orange pith, lime zest, and green pepper.

– Strissel & Fils, 5.3%

A light bodied amber lager (first one for us !), Strissel & Fils blends traditional Alsatian hops with new experimental variety GJ2, all of which stem from the classic Alsatian variety Strisselspalt (hence the name, Strissel & Sons). Expect a crisp lager with malt complexity and a robust Old World hop character. Herbal, floral, exotic fruits.


Mark your agendas now : there will be a Summer of Hops quiz night at Le Supercoin on August 24 with the 3 Summer of Hops beers on tap.


Thanks again to David Rager for the designs !


Deck & Donohue part II

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That’s it! We finally found the spot we’ve been looking for: by the end of the year, Deck & Donohue will add a second brewing site to our workshop in Montreuil.

For two years, your enthusiasm for our beers has exceeded our expectations and the Montreuil workshop Montreuil has been breaking at its seams for many months: a lack of space, pallets spilling out into the shared space with our neighbors, and long, long bottling days. The team has grown to keep pace, but spending eight to ten hours bottling one at a time several times a week continues to be a mighty effort for the whole team. We have been able to count on the Rabourdin Brewery in Courpalay to accommodate us to brew our Trouble # 6 and several other special editions, but the idea was always for this to be temporary. We are very pleased to establish a second site of production to be located in Bonneuil-sur-Marne, 15km from Montreuil. Works will begin soon, and we’ll share our advances as they come!

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What will not change

Our ingredients remain strictly the same, our recipes will not change, and our commitment to quality and excellence in all stages of production remains unchanged. We will continue to self-distribute and keep close to us the same the same concerns for proximity and responsiveness that has driven us from the beginning.

Montreuil will remain open for direct sales on Saturdays, and as things go we’ll try to extend these hours little by little. We really appreciated by the warm welcome we have received in Montreuil over the last 2 years and even though we weren’t able to find a new location in the city, we remain strongly attached to Montreuil and our neighborhood.

What will change

Having a greater capacity will allow us to perform the incredible feat of delivering all the beer that our current customers order! Often these days we are out of certain beers for a few days and are forced to “ration” deliveries. This production capacity will also certainly allow us to offer our beers to new customers.

Having a second production site will also recover brewing time in Montreuil, creating opportunities to offer more new beers. Expect new one-offs and collaborations with clients and beyond soon!

Upgrading our brewing and packaging equipment will give an immediate and significant upgrade to the quality of our beer. These improvements will also close a lot of efficiency gaps in our production, leading to a more energy efficient and less water consuming process. Finally, we’ll free up more time to work on new recipes, more events, and more opportunities to share beers with you!


What’s New at Deck & Donohue

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At the two year mark from when we embarked in earnest upon the Deck & Donohue adventure, we thought it appropriate to take a few minutes to reflect on the past months, talk about our current projects, and peek into the future. Our workshop opened its doors in March 2014 after eight months of recipe testing, preparation, and installation in a former printing press on “Rue de la Fraternité” in Montreuil.

Right from the get-go, we were surprised and encouraged by the interest in our beers and our project, from the curiosity of our neighbors and other loyal customers visiting us each Saturday during our open hours, to the enthusiasm of bars, restaurants, and stores that have helped move us forward. We’ve shown up in Libération, on Paris Première, and even found ourselves being mentioned as part of the definition of a hipster in Les Inrocks.

One phrase we heard time and again has been, “I like your labels. Is it you who designs them?” Of course it is not us but the talented David Rager, who has been the designing force behind our visual identity. We are always excited to see what David brings to the table, and even more so to see the results of his efforts on the tables of bars and restaurants and the shelves of stores.

From the beginning, we took the decision to start small to be able to brew a large variety of beers and to keep central the concept of freshness. We are proud to see that in fact most beers that leave our brewery for consumption have been bottled within the previous two weeks. Fresh beer, check. Up until this moment, we have managed to brew 14 different beers: the 5 beers of the permanent line-up, 4 seasonals, 1 wet-hop beer, 2 anniversary beers, 1 collaboration with Earth Bread & Brewery, and 1 special draft for The Beast restaurant. Lots of beers, check.

We have tried to keep at the heart of things bringing our craft to the people, and as a result have engaged in tons of events over the past year: two barbecues with The Beast, a NNoches de los Muertos party with Café Chilango, a Ghost bottles evening with Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, two Paris Beer Week, a beer cocktail event at Lone Palm, more than a few “soirées” at Trois 8 and the Supercoin, several beer dinners at Esquisse, Le Bal, and La Fine Mousse , large tastings at L’Amitié Rit and Caves de Reuilly, an anniversary party, and a cruise on the Canal de l’Ourcq.

We have also developed a key relationship with the experimental agroforestry site of Monts Gardés à Claye Souilly. The director Agnès passes by the brewery each week to pick up our spent grain, which she reutilizes to feed her animals as well as for compost for her CSA program. She provided us with pumpkins for our Fall seasonal, honey for one of our anniversary beers, and a spent-grain raised lamb (!) for our anniversary barbecue. We have jointly planted several varieties of hops and participated in several agroforestry events.

If you have been following us regularly, you must have noticed that we have had a hard time keeping up, with beers often out of stock or only in limited quantities. We installed a new fermenter back in December, but not long after our first anniversary, we decided that things had to get bigger. We welcomed the much-needed help from our interns, Etienne, Bryan, Auguste, Victor, Ronald, Dimitri, Madelina and Milo, each of whom stayed with us for several weeks — and hired Simon, who came armed with a true passion for craft beer and solid professional and amateur brewing experience. We have also had the opportunity to brew several of our beers “out-of-house” at two different local breweries. Since May, we have brewed the Trouble #6 at Brasserie Rabourdinin Courpalay (77). We’ve been excited to use the barley and wheat produced by Hubert Rabourdin himself in the beer, which we think keenly lends itself to the concept of the beer as a rustic, farmhouse ale. In the same grain, we’ve been welcomed by Jonathan and Brasserie Parisis in Epinay-sous-Sénart (91) to brew our summer seasonal, Clem’s Summer Wheat.

crédit photo: Jean Marie Heidinger

So that’s that. And for the future?

–New beers: the end of July marks the start of our new series “Summer of Hops” in which we’ll release several special, hoppy beers for the summer. Get it? We are also gearing up for another trip to Alsace in the Fall for a new wet-hop ale, as well as working on several other concepts before the end of 2015.

–Ongoing projects: if you happened to be at our Super Parisitic D&D party at the Supercoin during La Paris Beer Week 2, you perhaps had the chance to taste some initial tests of a distilled version of our Indigo IPA by our friends at Audemus Spirits. This project continues, and we hope to have some results very soon. We continue to explore future collaborations with craftsman and artists from here and there, some of which may see the light of day by the end of the year. More to come!

–Finally: A new brewery? As things have moved faster than anticipated for us and the Montreuil brewery is starting to feel extremely tight, we have begun the process of looking for a larger space. We’re pretty sure this will take quite a bit of time to realize, but we are targeting this creation of a second production space before the end of 2016.

A huge thank you for your support since the beginning. Please stay tuned for more exciting things to


Forty days later

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It’s been a month that our beers are out, and it’s time to give some news. We’re slowly getting used to our new pace of life, between brewing, bottling, deliveriesand tastings.

First cases leave the workshop, March 13

We’re very happy that our beers are already available in 30 locations, both in Paris and in Montreuil. Our first case of beer was delivered to Septime on March 13. Our first keg was tapped at Trois 8 the week after (we were there!). We also really thankful to be able to find our beers in Montreuil at Little Kitchen, just a few short blocks from our workshop.


First keg tapped @ Trois 8, March 21

We did our first tasting in a nice courtyard in the 20th with “A tout bout de champ”, the association which takes our spent grain to feed animals on the banks of the Ourcq. We also had the chance to pour you beer at Superbarquette thanks to les Camionneuses.

Our workshop is open to the public on Saturdays from 10am to 3pm to show you our work and of course taste our beers. Thanks to all of you who already came. We have had the pleasure of welcoming Benji who took pics for our website, Emily, Meg, Nichole, Kate, Dorothée, Aaron, Nico, Pierrick, Jean-Marie, and all the others, friends, neighbors, the curious, and many new friends!

Last but not least, we also prepared our website to share more about what we do, our beers, and to stay in touch. Our friend David Rager, who already gave a face to all of our beers by working on our visual identity, designed the site. Thanks!

So what’s next ?

Ricochet, our hoppy amber, should be ready around May 10 to finalize our core line up of 5 beers. We are working on the recipe for our first seasonal, and on some experiments which will be available for tasting at the workshop.

We are also preparing events for the first Paris Beer Week, which will take place between May 24 and June 1. We will have a booth at the closing event at Café A on Sunday June 1st.

Stay tuned!