Saturday, January 21, 2012

Valentine's Day Menu

Valentines Day Beer Dinner Menu
$55 per person, tax and gratuity included

First Course
Beer- Kingpin Kolsch
Food Pairing- Baked Brie in Homemade Puff Pastry with Local Honey and Comice Pears

Second Course
Beer- Oyster Stout
Food Pairing- Seafood Gumbo with Shrimp and Crab

Third Course
Beer- Alley Way Amber
Food Pairing- Seared Duck Breast in Amber Ale and Porcini Sauce over Mustard Greens and Goat Cheese Grits

Fourth Course
Beer- Raspberry Tripel a la Champagnoise
Food Pairing- Chocolate Fondue with Fresh Berries, Homemade Marshmallows and Homemade Pound Cake

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Growlers Beer Dinner- December 19th, 2011

For the first time in what seems like a million years, we are hosting a beer dinner at Growlers.  4 courses, 4 pilot brews with a menu written by yours truly. The theme is Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert. Want to see what we have planned? Here it is:

First Course
Beer- Oat Ale with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon
Food Pairing- Louisiana Cane Syrup Coffee Cake with Apple Cider Caramel

Second Course
Beer- Peanut Butter and Jelly Amber Ale
Food Pairing- Fried Plantain Topped with Shredded Carnitas and Blackberry Chipotle Gastrique

Third Course
Beer- German Style Stone Beer
Food Pairing- Seared Lamb Rib Chops over Bacon Braised Brussel Sprouts with Green Peppercorn Demi Glace

Fourth Course
Beer- Chocolate Caramel Stout
Food Pairing- Irish Coffee Cheesecake with Brown Sugar Whiskey Sauce 

All this for on $45, tax and gratuity included. E-mail me at or Eric at for details.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Number 500

On Nov. 17th we brewed out 500th beer as Growlers of Gaithersburg.  We chose a Belgian tripel because the style is already associated with the Cinq Cent label from Chimay and because it has the champagne-like character that we associate with a celebratory drink.  It is definitely outside our normal range, but that was also part of the point.  We wanted to show how much Growlers has grown and evolved over the last 5 years.

When I became the head brewer 2 years ago I was given a very simple mandate: Keep 'em guessing.  We have 8 taps for which the bosses wanted 5 house beers and 3 ever-changing specials. Essentially, I was given the keys to the castle.  It was every pub brewers dream, but with that great power came great responsibility. I was given a tremendous opportunity, but I was also going to have to use every bit of my brewing knowledge to achieve success. I was also going to need some dedicated help.

2 years on, we are selling insane amounts of beer and maxing out the capacity of our little brewery.  We have added our 1 barrel pilot system, which allows us to push the brewing envelope even further, and we are continuing to learn and grow as a brewery.  Soon we will be bringing back cask ales and beer dinners and doing all of the things that people expect from a truly accomplished brew house. Brewing at Growlers has been the highlight of my professional life and, like my customers, I am always chomping at the bit to see "What's next?"!

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, I could not have done this by myself.  There are a lot of people I have to thank for helping me to get to this point.  First, I want to thank Matt Hagerman, my predecessor at Growlers, for getting me acclimated to the brewery and helping get my feet back under me after a long absence from the craft.  Also, I want to thank my bosses for trusting me with such a huge part of their business. Finally, I want to thank my assistants, past and present for supporting me in my (sometimes eccentric) pursuits. Charlier Buettner, now brewing at Mad Fox and has made me very proud of his progress.  Micheal Lynch for his superior repair and fabrication skills, who saved us countless hours and dollars in the entire restaurant by getting things done with his own two capable hands. And, finally, my current assistant Eric Gleason, who has shown a dedication to the business as a whole that it can only be described as fanatical. Beyond making beer, I try to be the best mentor and leader that I can and these guys have shown me that my efforts are far from in vain.

So, here's to number 500 and, hopefully, 500 more.  I will be here if you all will.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Notes from the Assistant Brewer

Just a few words from your humble assistant brewer:  I'd like to say thanks to Bret and the owners of Growlers for the opportunity to sharpen my brewing chops and learn "the" proper way to brew a tasty beer.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience and look forward to many, many more adventures in brewing at Growlers.

For those of you who are wondering...yes, it is very complicated.  Extreme temperatures, tight spaces, heavy malt sacks, TONS of spent grain...gadgets and gizmos everywhere, wet feet and clothes, sore back...but I can't think of any way I'd rather spend my days.  Just take a look at this contraption:

Trust me, you'd never figure it out, so you're better off leaving it to the professionals.  (ha)  This learning experience has been simply phenomenal and I am loving every minute.  

So what's next??  I've got big plans with BrewMaster Bret and our little brewhouse.  Next week we're getting ready to churn out the 500th batch of Growler's Beer on our 7 bbl Pub System.  We have something very special in store for our guests.  Believe me, you will not be disappointed.

And experimentals???  You might not think we would have any way to top brewing our Stone Beer with red hot rocks for the boil, but you haven't seen anything yet.  I'd like to tell y'all more about it, but you'll just have to stay tuned to the ol' blog to keep up to date as our adventures unfold.

In the mean time, you can also catch the daily highlights on Twitter @gaithersbrew (Bret) and @growlerseric (Me).

Stay thirsty, dear friends...

36 and Counting

A few months ago we finally achieved our goal of building a pilot system for our brewery.  Initially, we just cut the tops off of a couple of our old kegs and used those for the kettle and mash tun. Eventually, however, we realized that the popularity of these small, one-off brews was exceeding the supply our little 10-12 gallon system could turn out.  So, after a swap with our friend Paul at Baying Hound Ale Works and a generous contribution from the Growlers ownership we got our hands on a 40 gallon kettle and a 55 gallon mash tun that enabled us to turn out 1 barrel pilot batches.  Since then, the pilot system has become a hot bed of activity that accounted for nearly 15 percent of our production last month.
The only rule on the pilot system is simple: There are no rules.  Any reasonable idea gets brewed, including crazy things like a Thai beer that was flavored with galangal, lemon grass, tamarind, coconut palm sugar and Srirach chili sauce.  Or, a prickly pear ale sweetened with agave, cactus honey and piloncillo sugar.  But, we are not mad scientists with a grudge against our craft.  We also try our hand at classic styles like schwarzbier, baltic porter and belgian pale ale to test our classical brewing prowess.
The reason we are doing all of this is many fold.  First, we are a bit petulant and get bored if we aren't constantly doing new stuff all the time.  Also, we want to push the boundaries of our own abilities and see what we are capable of doing.  Finally, we have found that our customers crave the constant excitement of finding out what's next at their neighborhood pub.  We love love love that!  It creates a real connection between us and the good people on the other side of the brew house glass and that is exactly what we want.  Your local brewer should be an active part of your community and be there to hear your input, good, bad, or indifferent.
So, when you see Eric or me don't be shy.  Come say hi, share your thoughts, make a request, ask for a tour and ask all the questions you want.  We have no secrets about our beer or process.  We will even show you our recipes if you want. Seriously.
So, with all of that being said, I expect every single person that ever reads this to come in and have a pint and a chat with us.  That's an order.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The First in a Long Line...

Welcome, everyone.  This is the place where Eric and I will be telling you about what is going on in the Growlers of Gaithersburg brewery. We will post upcoming events, beers we are working on, general musings and probably an occasional rant.  There is a whole hell of a lot going on around here, so check back often to see what we are up to and we will do our best to keep you informed and entertained.

Bret and Eric