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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.

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Thanks again to David Rager for the designs !

 

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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!

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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

come!

Mount Airy-sous-bois: Tom, Mike & Thomas

Mount Airy-sous-bois

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We brewed Mount Airy-sous-bois, our first collaboration brew, on April 13th with Tom Baker and Peggy Zwerver, long-time friends and owners of Deck & Donohue’s favorite Philadelphia brewpub – Earth Bread & Brewery. EB&B is known for pushing the envelope on both traditional and non-traditional styles, with a special penchant for gruits, alts, milds and saisons.

For this collaboration, we wanted to create an homage to the modern French biere de garde, arguably one of the only “alive-and well” French beer styles. To achieve this, we selected an uncomplicated malt bill, Alsatian Bouclier hops, and an ale yeast we figured we could ferment at unconventionally low temperatures. In addition to this, we boiled the wort for double the typical time to achieve an additional roundness of body and added a dose of black pepper to the whirlpool.

The result shows a clean but rich “lageresque” nose, with light sulfur, spice and bread. The cool fermentation temperature creates a highly restrained and subtle yeast character. A bready malt character and smooth body, with a touch of honey sweetness on the finish, complete this nod to modern French bieres de garde, which we are proud to present exclusively on draft at some of our favorite local spots, including La Fine Mousse, Le Supercoin, and Les Trois 8.

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Jolly Roger – fall seasonal

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Our Fall seasonal – a pumpkin ale – arrives this week !

Pumpkin has been used to make beer for centuries in the United States, being a native plant that was far more available than high quality malted barley. Its sugary flesh replaced malted grains to make a less expensive beer. In fact, certain beers were made entirely from pumpkin.

 

“if barley be wanting to make into malt

We must be contented and think it no fault

For we can make liquor to sweeten our lips

Of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips”

 

Jolly Roger was brewed with pumpkins from the nearby farm “A tout bout de Champs à Claye Souilly”, which were roasted (7 per batch) by our friend Darin in the ovens of the local restaurant Little Kitchen. Once lightly caramelized and softened, the pumpkin was added directly to the mash with the malted barley and wheat, contributing fermentable sugars, a characteristic aroma, and a round mouthfeel. A rich amber color, Jolly Roger presents a malty, round, and lightly toasted flavor with notes of traditional spices and vanilla before finishing dry.
 

It is Freddy Cats, organizer of the festival Noches de los Muertos in Montreuil for the past 6 years, who customized our label with his artwork. This 6th edition of the festival is symbolized in the “Jolly Roger”, traditional emblem of pirates and corsairs. “Ornementation à la fois naïve et aggressive, symbole de la folie destructrice des hommes, porte bonheur pour “trompe la mort”” «An ornament both innocent and aggressive, a symbol of the folly of men, a lucky charm to cheat death». The collective exposition brings together 20 artists in the month of November, in Montreuil and Romainville. Jolly Roger will be available at a number of the events.

 

On Saturday Novemeber 15th, come to the workshop to meet Agnès who supplied the pumpkins for us from the Monts Gardés à Claye Souilly, 30km away. Agnès has already been taking our spent grain since we opened to feed her animals and for compost. She also planted several hop varieties for us, which we look forward to harvesting next year… She will present to us her work, the vegetable baskets from her CSA program (community supported agriculture), and have a pumpkin soup to sample as well!

 

On Wednesday evening November 19th, we have the pleasure to have the Noches de los Muertos come to our workshop with tacos from Café Chilango, the dynamic art of Mucho Media, and a hanging display of art by the children of Les Beaux Mercredis inspired by the theme of Jolly Roger. Come!

 

Addition of November 24th : an image from the November 19th event at the brewery, thanks to all who came!


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Strisselspalt Harvest Ale

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At the start of September, we journeyed to Alsace for the annual hop harvest.

We traveled accompanied by Kate, a writer who was among the first to visit our workshop, and Jean-Marie, photographer extraordinaire — who had already spent a day shooting at the brewery several months back.

Upon arrival in Alsace we met up with Erwin Sohn from Cophoudal(Coopérative des Producteurs de Houblons d’Alsace), at the warehouse of the cooperative in Brumath. Founded in 1939, Cophoudal at one time consisted of as many as 360 hop growers, but now numbers only 58. The region’s harvest had begun several days prior to our arrival and already members of the cooperative were pulling up with large trailers that resembled boats, full of 50kg bales of their dried hops. The warehouse was still nearly empty, with only several corners of the cool room showing growing piles of the Tradition and Fuggles varieties, but the harvest would last an entire month.

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La filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.com

Erwin was a brewer before joining the cooperative, and so serves as an ideal link between producers and brewers. As we sampled rubbings of Cophoudal’s experimental hop varieties, which take about 10 years to bring to market, Erwin enthusiastically advocated for one that smelled like overripe pineapple. We opted for another variety, the P11-11, which had strong floral and lime aromas. Erwin graciously complied and vacuum-packed several kilos of this variety for us, which we used to dry-hop a keg of our Mission Pale Ale at a recent barbecue at the workshop. We then moved naturally from sampling hops to sampling beers as Erwin appeared with an armful of bottles brewed with different varieties of their experimental hops.

La filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.com

In the afternoon, we found ourselves on the land of the Holtzmann family, producers of hops for generations. It was the patriarch who showed us around the impressive processing facility where hops are mechanically separated from the bines (yes bines, not vines) and dried for several hours before being baled up and sent off the cooperative for storage. He spoke with pride and passion of the automated drying system they recently developed, which ended decades of a much more manual and sweaty labor of processing hops in temperatures of 60 degrees Celsius. The Holtzmann family produces 8 varieties of hops, and has even recently produced several beers of their own. The large barn where the hops are processed was steeped in the heavy aroma of the Strisselspalt hops, sweet and spicy, vegetal and garlicky. The Strisselspalt variety is the classic Alsatian variety par excellence, and has been cultivated for over a hundred years in the region.

La filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.comLa filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.com

Sebastian, the son who took the reins of the operation from his father, returned from the fields every thirty minutes or so with a trailer full of hop bines. Hop bines can grow up to 10m tall and can contain up to 7000 hop flowers per bine. We took our van off road and followed Sebastian in his tractor out to the hop fields being harvested, where hops extended out to the horizon. We left with ten kilos of “wet hops” – un-dried flowers fresh from the bines.

La filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.comLa filière du houblon, de la récolte à la coopérative. www.heidingerjm.com

Hops are a fragile plant and drying within a few hours of harvest preserves oils and resins that provide the unique taste of beer. There is only one harvest of hops annually, and conservation to allow brewing all year round is crucial – hence, the drying and cold storage. The unprocessed aroma of fresh hops was intense and memorable, and drives the inspiration to brew a fresh hop beer once a year.

It was the brewery Sierra Nevada in Chico, California that revived the tradition of the wet hop beer in 1996, and many American breweries have since followed suit, offering “harvest ales” using fresh hops. In France, Christian Artzner of Perle Brewery in Alsace has made wet hop beers now for several years.

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We returned to Montreuil the next morning to immediately brew our “harvest ale”, approximately 24 hours from field to kettle. Hop additions were made during the boil in primarily mid and late additions, in giant floating sacks.

We are pleased to present to you the result of this trip: Strisselspalt.

Strisselspalt exhibits a soft floral aroma with notes of earth, spice, and light citrus. Bitterness is extremely low to showcase these smooth Old World hops, which in their fresh form add a green and vegetal characteristic to the brew. Slightly caramelized malts add a nice Autumnal color and a faint nuttiness. The beer finishes discretely dry.

Deck&Donohue-strisselspalt

Strisselspalt will be available on tap at Supercoin and Les Trois 8. Bottles are available from our usual partners! You can also come to taste the brew at our workshop each Saturday from 11am to 15h while supplies last!

 

 

Photo credits: Jean-Marie Heidinger, http://www.heidingerjm.com/All rights reserved

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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.
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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.

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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!