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Ask The Brewmaster

A Visit To Rising Storm Brewing Company: Interviewing Bill and Jeff About Going Pro

So as a teacher, I have to maximize my summertime as much as possible. So with it being a great summer day, I went to Rising Storm Brewing Company in Livonia New York. you may remember that I interviewed the owners years ago in this post. Since then they’ve gone from homebrewers to Pro Brewers. Traveling just south of Rochester New York, I pulled up to the brewery.

On this day, Jeff was brewing a stout as well as testing out a new keg washer and showing the ropes do the guys from Irondequoit Brewing Company.  They were here to see a batch being brewed. Jeff is always trying to help optimize his time in the brewery. After everything was brewed ,we kegged a triple berry wheat beer and tested out the new Bouncer Pro during the process. 

So to maximize time, I figured I would ask a few questions about Jeff and Bill’s change from homebrewing to pro brewing.  This was of course during the laundry list of things I mentioned Jeff was up to above. Bill swung in to grab some kegs on lunch to deliver to one of their accounts, so he was able to weigh in on a few of them.

  • So what is the current size and capacity of the brewery?
    • Jeff: Currently, it is a 40 barrel capacity, (6) 5 barrel fermenters and (1) 10 barrel.  We have expansion plans for another 10 barrel eventually.
  • What was the biggest change from your homebrewing to Rising Storm Brewing Company?….(Not counting the size of your batch)
    • Jeff: Pumps.  It helps the process go so much faster.  I never even used a chugger pump while homebrewing.  In regards to brewing, homebrewing was every other weekend or so.  Now on the pro level, the brewery is averaging two to three batches a week. Also, Pitching size.  On a batch of stout, there is a full liter of slurry, if not more.  We don’t reuse or harvest the yeast. It isn’t worth the time and risk of infection.  Even on a homebrew scale, we used mostly used new yeast.

  • Did all your recipes scale well?  Any surprises?
    • Jeff: Most everything scaled up, the hops was a little stronger, so we pulled back a bit.  Other than that, things were looking great.
  • What do you miss from homebrewing?
    • Jeff: Nothing.  Well, maybe having my kids helping put the hops in.
    • Bill: If anything, the pressure to not have to sell it.  If you screw up at home, you dump $20 of ingredients.  If you have to dump a full scale batch, then it sucks. Especially if you have fruit or mass amounts of hops in there.
  • How do you formulate your next recipe?  Is it based on ingredients or what you have on hand?
    • Jeff: Plan it, then order the ingredients.  If there is a ton of stuff left over, then a batch may be formulated based on that.
  • If you could upgrade one thing here at Rising Storm Brewing Company, what would it be?
    • Jeff: More 10 barrel fermenters or a bigger burner for the kettle.
  • What is the worst part?
    • Jeff: Cleaning…but it is the most important thing to do right. 
    • We talked about the use of a shop vac to get the gunk out of the kettle.  It helps save time. It was a shot in the dark on whether it would work or not, but it works out great!
  • What’s on tap at home?
    • Jeff: Nothing – I just bring crowlers of beer from the brewery home.
    • Bill: Nothing as well, just crowlers.
  • How often do you guys drink other people’s beer?
    • Jeff – whenever I can get out. (Just went full time so there is not a ton of time)
    • Bill – all the time I can.
  • What are you glad to have to deal with now that you are not homebrewing?
    • Jeff: Selling beer.  It is a great feeling to move the beer.
  • How has the time with the critics gone?
    • Jeff: I really don’t pay attention to it.  I am probably my biggest critic. There are times that I don’t like my batch or it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to, but people still like it.
  • How do you plan and set up collaboration brews with other breweries?
    • Jeff: The collabs are all started over a conversation.  There is not set plan to start them up. We do them as they come along.
  • So what is your favorite hops to play with?
    • Galaxy.  It used to be Citra, until I met Galaxy.  Mosaic is a close second. In regards to Galaxy, it is expensive, but so worth it.
  • What are the hops outside growing?
    • Jeff: Cascade, Centennial and Chinook. They have a long way to go.

It was a great day to hang out at the brewery. I am always in awe of how well things seem to be run. These guys are doing great. With the one year anniversary coming up, I see many great things in the future for Rising Storm Brewing Company.

Want to see more of the brewery? Check this out!

A pictorial representation of a a few visits.
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