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!