I'm Weedy Weidenthal, Brewmaster at Tombstone Brewing Company. Beer Me Anything!

Discussion in 'Beer Me Anything' started by honkey, Aug 24, 2018.

  1. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,318) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Premium Trader

    Weedy, I forgot to ask you in my prior post but is Tombstone ever going to consider adding a second location say in Tucson or up in the Phoenix area? I know your beer is in high demand locally and was curious if this demand would warrant you guys opening another spot to make it easier to get your beers around the state?
    On a side note, are you planning any collaboration projects with other Arizona breweries?
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  2. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    To highlight this point... I think that a fair comparison for French's Yellow Mustard is Budweiser. You'll continue to see yellow mustard at every neighborhood cookout and ballpark in America, but if we see a day when the condiment industry takes off, their yellow mustard sales will likely be hurt by local, artisinal mustard makers (funny to think about!). For the food scientists at French's, I'd imagine that yellow mustard is not something they are passionate about making, but rather they are making what they're paid to produce. For craft beer, most of us started this as a business we love and have a passion for. If you lose that passion by producing the same beer every day, you'll likely jump ship and do something else. Perhaps that's why we've seen so many immensely talented brewers leaving lucrative jobs salary wise to start their own brewery. That creative freedom and the liberating feeling of going back to the roots of your passion is something that you can't put a dollar sign on.
  3. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    Every once in a while we look at each other here and say "Can you imagine how much money we would make if we had opened in Tucson/Phoenix?" On slow days when tourism dies down in Tombstone, it's something that is tantalizing, but with that also comes so many headaches that I currently don't believe it is worth the upside. I love living in my small town on the border and commuting to Tombstone. The stresses of city life are non-existent here. If we get much bigger, we also lose our ability to self distribute which means we lose some control over our product and potentially some of that creative flexibility that I think we have a bit of a reputation for would be lost and we'd be looking at an entirely different business model, which to me is not all that interesting. We would also end up with higher retail prices which is another thing that I think has made Tombstone a bit special... The ability to get (what I believe to be) a great NEIPA with the highest quality ingredients (floor malted Maris Otter, hand selected lots of Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Amarillo) at a retailer for $13 is something that I'm very proud of. Our margins are slim enough that we would not be able to lower our price to a distributor, they'd take a margin, then the retailer would pay more and need to charge more.

    We have plans to do a collaboration with Superstition in the near future. For the most part, I'm not a fan of doing collabs simply because it almost always ends up being the host brewery brewing a beer with the collaborators watching and drinking. It's always fun, but to me it's a little bit pointless and mostly over done. I love to collaborate in more unique ways that involves everybody involved bringing something to the table. When we collaborated with Ballast Point, I was pushing for us to use our malts and yeast with their Sculpin hop bill. That didn't play out and instead we had a fun time brewing a barrel fermented porter which Ballast Point had a lot of input on and I got to pick their brains for a day while we brewed. With Superstition, I think we will be brewing a sour brett beer with honey and we'll do some fruit additions and maybe they'll bring down one of their used barrels to age a portion of the batch in.
  4. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,318) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Premium Trader

    Will keep my eyes open for the collab with Superstition. I totally understand on the expansion side, sometimes bigger is not always better. Your pricing is amazing, when I look at the beers up my way your always priced the best and use nothing but high end ingredients!

    Thanks again Weedy for all the info, I appreciate it.
    AlcahueteJ and honkey like this.
  5. breadwinner

    breadwinner Meyvn (1,200) Mar 6, 2014 California

    Finally someone else (and a brewer, no less!) who thinks most collabs are worthless, particularly when they're riffs on the usual styles ("We brewed a sick NEIPA together! We brewed a stout with some "local" ingredient that makes it extra cool and special!") It's tiresome. FWIW, I did enjoy the barrel-fermented porter collab w/ BP:slight_smile: Also enjoyed the recent black lager you guys did!
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  6. LupuloJoe

    LupuloJoe Initiate (0) Aug 29, 2018

    I have a ton of questions since I’m an AZ native

    1. Have you done any exploring across the border looking for Mexican breweries?

    2. Do you look at ratings or reviews on Untappd, Yelp, etc?

    3. What are you favorite yeasts to use and why?

    4. Aside from your love of Firestone I’ve heard you talk about, if you could only have one beer for the rest of your life what would it be?
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  7. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    1. I have not personally looked at Mexican breweries. I go into Mexico on a weekly(ish) basis for lunch and I keep meaning to begin a travel/taco review video log, but I have not been looking into breweries across the border. The owner of TBC has done a lot of that though and we are hoping that we can participate in a beer fest in late September in Hermasillo. One of my problems with trying to get in touch with breweries is that I know very little Spanish. I feel significantly more comfortable if I know I have someone fluent with me.

    2. I am, unfortunately, addicted to looking at reviews on every platform, but especially Untappd. I have a love/hate relationship with it... I love the instant feedback of Untappd. However, I hate how easily a score can be tanked. If a group of 10 people tries a beer and they influence each other, the group think score can end up really low (or really high). If a beer starts off with 10 terrible reviews that all come from one group, future users are influenced by that score. We also have the typical experience where sometimes people will review a beer with a horrible score, and I'll reply from the brewery account asking what was wrong. It's not uncommon that we get responses like "Nothing wrong. My friends loved it... I just don't like hops." Of course, the temptation exists to respond with "Well why the hell did you order a beer called 'Most Hops'?" However, it does average out with a large enough sample size... That's the joy of having a little bit of a stats background in that I can appreciate that we just need a larger sample size for us to figure out the true "acceptability" of certain beers.

    3. For ales, I like Imperial Organic A38 Juice. It produces a lot of glycogens, it is highly effective at biotransformations, it ferments quickly and reduces diacetyl quickly, it is highly flocculant (except in the presence of dry hops), and the ester profile is very tasty.

    For lagers, I like Imperial Organic L17 Harvest. It is reportedly the same strain that Augustiner uses. It produced low amounts of diacetyl, removes sulfur quickly, it produces more esters than most lager strains, and it is highly adaptable to a wide variety of lager styles.

    For Brett beers, I like Drie and Clausenii for the fruitiness that they produce in young beers.

    4. This is the hardest question for me... I have a lot of admiration and love for SNPA, New Glarus Spotted Cow, and FW Union Jack. I'm inclined to say if I could only have one beer that it would be Spotted Cow simply for the drinkability while also being delicious. I would have to seriously consider Augustiner Pils though. A dark horse option would be Yazoo's "Brett... Not Sour". It was the beer that got me into Brett beers and it is highly drinkable with an incredible tropical fruit flavor with a notable amount of pineapple flavor...

    Right this second, I'm going with Spotted Cow, but ask me again tomorrow and it could be anything on that list.
  8. OmarOfMotherBunchBrewing

    OmarOfMotherBunchBrewing Initiate (25) Jun 27, 2017 Arizona

    @honkey do you have a starting hop amount per barrel on your NEIPAs ? im sure it depends on the beer but just wondering if you have a base amount then changed on each beer or just added as you felt according.

    Whats the name of the fest in Hermosillo?
  9. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    I don’t have a base line amount as so much of it depends on hop variety, oil content, and how the hops were pelletized. The least I’ve used is 4.5 lbs per bbl and the most I’ve used was 13.5 lbs per bbl with help from some hop oil and concentrated hop pellets.
  10. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (816) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Do you think a part of the problem regarding getting people to try them outside the tap room is that they have to commit to buying an expensive product before trying it on tap? (Assuming your bottled Brett beers are more expensive than say, a Pilsner)
    meefmoff likes this.
  11. RKP1967

    RKP1967 Aspirant (232) Sep 26, 2010 Virginia

    What's the story with your screen name?

    DISKORD Aspirant (204) Feb 28, 2017 North Carolina

    @honkey, is your name really Weedy Weidenthal?
  13. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    It could be part of the problem, but I think the bigger problem is the confusion about Brett and how it’s not necessarily sour, or how it can be fruity and dry without getting horsey or phenolic.
    meefmoff and AlcahueteJ like this.
  14. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    I used to teach marching band. One of my black friends taught the colorguard and he would make fun of me when I practiced choreography design by telling me I was honkey. Another friend caught on with the name in a jazz combo and started referring to me as “ the honkey version of Miles Davis.”
    sharpski, TheDoctor, LeRose and 4 others like this.
  15. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    My actual first name is Derek. No one calls me by that name though. Weedy has been a family nickname dating back to my grandfather when he was given the name while at VMI and his friends still referred to him as Weedy when he was a General in the Army. A teacher in middle school was the first person to call me Weedy and it just stuck.
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  16. Dan_K

    Dan_K Devotee (474) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado

    I think Untappd will also throw out or devalue some of the outliers as well. I hate when someone gives a sour beer a very low rating based on it being "sour". Not liking a style isn't really an excuse for tanking the ratings of all the beers in that style.
    AlcahueteJ, honkey and Squire like this.
  17. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,291) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    As a horn player who can't dance a lick, I can certainly identify with this post.

    honkey likes this.
  18. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (9,927) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania

    Weedy, can you tell me more about your Kulmbacher? I'd like to brew one but I'm not sure about the grain bill, specifically because of color. I read an article by Michael Jackson that mentioned the they used to air dry their malts in Kulbach which would have left them pale. What gives?

    Second question, have you used Best Malz's Heidelberg malt, and if so, how and in what?
  19. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    I wrote this blog post when I brewed the Kulmbacher and it includes a bit about how I designed the recipe: http://towntootoughtodie.blogspot.com/2018/07/lagers-for-todays-craft-beer-enthusiasts.html

    When we discussed historical styles at Doemens, the teachers told us that they were dark beers historically. It's possible that by the time Michael Jackson was writing about he was talking about the beers brewed shortly after brewers got in trouble for using caramel coloring. I used sinamar for color to bring our color to a ruby-brown color. Sinamar was developed in 1902 which is right around the time that the breweries got in trouble and I don't think that is a coincidental development. Rather than getting barley that was malted in Kulmbach, I tried to recreate the most accurate flavor profile by using Weyermann Barke Munich Malt. The Kulmbach malts I looked at were not comparable to the historical barley variety. Ireks Munich Malt uses Scarlett barley which gained popularity in the late 90's mostly because of the hardiness and yield more than flavor. Another good option which isn't technically historically accurate but would have a comparable flavor profile is Weyermann's Floor Malted Bohemian Dark Malt. I did almost entirely whirlpool hops with Mittelfreu and the beer was dry hopped with the same. For yeast, I used yeast that was propagated from Augustiner (L17 Harvest from Imperial Organic). It is one of my favorite lagers that I've brewed.

    I haven't used any Best Malz. My friend at Yellowhammer in Huntsville, Al swears by Best Malz and his beers are great, but I'm all about Weyermann for my German malts.
  20. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (9,927) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania

    Excellent, thank you. Some additional questions/points if you don't mind...

    * Good blog. That was helpful.
    * Jackson was speaking historically, referring specifically to to the louvred windows atop many buildings that are still in place, and would have been used for drying hops and malt. That does not mean that they did not kiln malts; and as "all" of the history suggests they were dark beers I have to go with that. Additionally, when were these buildings built? Jackson wasn't an architect to be sure, a little sloppy in my opinion, and probably didn't investigate too far.They may have been built following the rise of Kulmbacher bier. I don't know, research would be needed.
    * How dark should it be? I don't know, nor do I think we'll ever know from a historical perspective. However, I think using Sinamar is a bit odd as these products would certainly not have been available historically (1500's forward I believe to 1902 as mentioned). You're not using any caramel malts then?
    * Just for clarity... it is wholly agreed that this was a bitter brew, but there's not a lot of information on flavor and aroma hops... you "did almost entirely whirlpool hops", or you did first-wort hops?
    * Basically I think we're on the same page recipe-wise except for the Sinamar, but what about acidity? I've read that there was some acidity to the Kulmbacher biers, probably not much, but I can certainly imagine some based on the wooden barrels of the time. I was thinking of giving it a light touch of lactic acid, just something that might help to balance it. I'm assuming you don't do anything like that?
    * Finally, Weyermann makes my favorite malts but unfortunately where I'm at I have no access to them! That's in a way torturous as I'm a huge rauchbier fan and I just can't brew one - BUT it probably wouldn't sell anyway! :rofl:

    Nochmals vielen dank!
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  21. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    I can't really speak to what Michael Jackson wrote and I'm not versed in architecture, so I'm not much help in that aspect. I built my recipe based off what I was taught at Doemens. The historical recreation that we had at Doemens was a dark brown... I would guess around 28-32 SRM.

    As far as the use of sinamar, I think that brewers would have used it in place of the caramel coloring after it was released in 1902. I think that the ever changing brewing techniques and ingredient changes over such a long period of time will make it hard to nail down any one, specific, recipe. It would probably make more sense to try to examine the beer in periods of time... Think about how much Pilseners have changed in the last 100 years, you almost have to go by decade to recreate an "era" of the style. I personally did a mix of different aspects we discussed in school and tried to keep in mind where the style would have headed if it was still being brewed widely today.

    I did use a small amount of FWH, but the bulk of hot side hops were whirlpool. I calculated our IBU's as being about 45 IBU's.

    It's highly likely that almost every beer brewed before 1800(ish) would have had some component of contaminations, which could lead to acidity or to a funk. That would come down to the "era" of the style that you wish to replicate. Before the early 1700's, yeast's role in beer wasn't really known and so it's not like they would have been isolating pure cultures. That said, I don't actually know when Kulmbachers really started being brewed. Most of what we talk about with Kulmbachers is 1870's-early 1900's.
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  22. LGHT

    LGHT Initiate (123) Sep 28, 2007 California

    Weedy, I love drinking BA beers and it’s a known fact that temp of the barrel when aging whisky plays a big part of the aging process. To hot and the heat causes the water to evaporate from the barrels much faster giving you a stronger batch, but less flavor and specific tasting notes. Too cold and water is more likely to penetrate the barrel from surrounding moisture, which lowers the proof and tempers your flavors. How do you handle Barrel Aging beer in AZ where the temps can get pretty hot during the summer months?
  23. KMitch

    KMitch Disciple (321) Aug 29, 2012 Alabama

    Hey Weedy! Just saying hello. I miss getting to see you in Huntsville.

    Note: Weedy made a hazy DIPA while in Huntsville that was awesome long before anyone was really doing them.
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  24. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    I have two refrigerated shipping containers filled with barrels. One for clean beers and one for funky beers. The clean container is allowed to vary from 32 degrees up to 55 degrees and I put it through swings to encourage the uptake and release of beer in the wood. The funky container rarely gets turned on as I prefer to just let nature take its course with those beers.
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  25. LGHT

    LGHT Initiate (123) Sep 28, 2007 California

    Ahhh a chilled container that makes perfect since! I have read that whiskey does very well in climates that are somewhat colder at night and hotter in the day time, but within a certain temp swing. Would love to try the Imperial Milk Stout will that be released again? Also do you guys have a newsletter looking to get into the barrel society next year.
  26. honkey

    honkey Zealot (539) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    We are actually getting ready to rebrew the Imperial Milk Stout in a couple weeks. I also just brewed a high gravity stout using a reiterated mash that will be around 15.5% ABV. Half of the reiterated mash stout will go into barrels and half will be in cans. We are discontinuing our barrel society in exchange for more frequent releases of barrel aged beers which will be done in larger volumes so that we can put them into 4 packs. We will also have smaller barrel releases of beers similar to what would have been reserved for our barrel society, but instead of being reserved, they will be available to the public right away.
    LGHT, sharpski and AlcahueteJ like this.
  27. LGHT

    LGHT Initiate (123) Sep 28, 2007 California

    Ok thanks for the update. Sad to see the society go away, but if that means more BA releases more often its a good thing overall.