One of the exciting things about being a brewer is being able to occasionally brew with your friends from other breweries. Chris German and I go way back to the early 2000s when he was doing radio sales and I was getting my start in the Duluth brewing scene. He used to buy malt and hops from us after the local home-brew supply store went out of business. Then he got his big break and took a sales job with Brewers Supply Group, then a fledgling company that has since blown up.
Chris and I were discussing what we wanted to brew and he mentioned he had access to some Moutere hops from New Zealand that might be fun to play with. They are a new variety with a very limited supply. When we rubbed the hops to assess their aromatics, we got a lot of stone fruit, cherry in particular. Chris really wanted to throw some rye into the mix, to see how the spiciness of the rye would play against that cherry hop background. Hence the idea of a rye IPA with a fun New Zealand hop was born.
Chris came up on a snowy early March day to help brew the beer. We had decided to name the beer after the Edward Ryerson, an ore ship that has been moored behind the Cedar Lounge for quite some time. the Ryerson has been described as one of the most beautiful ore carriers on the Great Lakes. The brew day went smoothly and we eagerly awaited to see what the results of fermentation would produce in this beer.
Edward Ryerson IPA is golden in color with a bready malt character made spicy by the use of rye malt. Even though we only used one hop variety, there is a lot of hop complexity in this beer. The prominent hop flavors include cherry, pineapple and pine or resin. Edward Ryerson IPA is now pouring at the Cedar Lounge and at select Twin Ports retail locations. Get a taste of this complex IPA while you can.
Earth Rider has started a tart series of beer with a rotating fruit expression, also known as the Earth Rider Crush series. RaspbeCrush is an off-shoot of our ApriCrush, the first release in this series. Earth Rider tart beers have a light, bright, and crisp acidity that is reminiscent of a shandy with a built-in fruit flavor and aroma.
The base beer is an American wheat beer with low-to-no yeast expression—the tartness comes from half of the batch being kettle soured and fruit puree is added during fermentation.
For those not familiar with kettle souring, we add lactobacillus to the first turn (or first half) of the brew, holding it warm (90-100F) for 24 hours to allow the bacteria to create lactic acid. Lactic acid is the main source of acidity enjoyed in most soured and tart beers. Once the tartness is achieved, we boil the wort (unfermented beer) to kill off the bacteria to prevent risk of contaminating any other beers. We call our Crush series tart, not sour, because it’s a more accurate description of the flavor and also, as a mixed fermentation brewery, we don’t want to confuse our tart brews with our truly sour (mixed fermentation) beers that will be released in the future.
Our kettle-soured beers go through our regular-ale fermentation process that takes about two weeks while mixed fermentation is a very complex process that usually takes place in wood barrels and is a mix of both intentionally added bacteria and multiple yeasts. These beers take many months to many years to mature— keep an eye out for those Earth Rider releases.
Being able to do a tart series of beer has been a fantastic experience. Being a passionate brewer of sour, tart and clean beers, I love that I can be a part of creating so much variety at Earth Rider.
RaspbeCrush has 756 pounds of raspberry puree in the 40BBL batch, or more than a pound and a half per gallon. Look for big raspberry aroma and flavor. I am very excited to share the beautiful red color, raspberry aroma, and bright tart acidity with you. Cheers!
Earth Rider Beer is now available in 12 oz. cans at bottle shops, restaurants, and taverns. Now you can enjoy Earth Rider at more places—including your own home!
Cans of Earth Rider can be purchased now from retail partners throughout the Twin Ports with distribution expanding by summer to include the South Shore to Ashland, North Shore to Two Harbors, and other points within the Lake Superior watershed.
Four Earth Rider flagship styles will be packaged initially: Superior Pale Ale, North Tower Stout, Precious Material Helles, and Caribou Lake IPA.
Earth Rider Brewery and the Duluth Coffee Company teamed up to craft a honey-colored cold-press coffee pale ale. Earth Rider brewers intentionally crafted a beer with “flavor gaps” that were filled by blending the brew with naturally processed Ethiopian coffee selected and roasted by Duluth Coffee Company. Earth Rider Duluth Coffee Pale Ale has aroma and flavors of herbs, spice, berry, cocoa, roast, and wood. Hop bitterness is restrained with coffee providing much of the bite sought in a pale. Bready malt and coffee flavors become more pronounced and complex as it warms. ABV 5.8%
Earth Rider Brewery founder Tim Nelson and director of brewing Frank Kaszuba brought in a sample of Pale Ale V.1 to Duluth’s KQ95 Morning Show Bev-Craft Beer Break. Morning show hosts Jason Manning and Scott Savage had a lot to say about Earth Rider’s first batch of beer.
I woke up in the sleepy, unassuming town of Yakima, Washington, the epicenter of the hop growing capital of North America. The hop growing region in the Yakima River valley starts near the town of Yakima and extends for approximately 50 miles downstream—almost down to where the Yakima River empties into the Columbia River. While apples, cherries, peaches and wine grapes take the prime growing real estate near the edge of the Yakima River, hop plants are content to grow on the land further up the banks.
I am out here this week selecting hops for Earth Rider Brewing. This is my sixth year coming to the Yakima Valley during the hop harvest. This area becomes a who’s who of brewers this time of year. I’ve run into brewers from national craft brewing powers like New Belgium, Russian River and Sierra Nevada as well as Midwestern breweries like Summit, Half Acre and Surly. They are all here to examine this year’s crop, meet with hop growers, and select hops for the coming year. Hops are one of the four main ingredients used in brewing beer, along with malted barley, water and yeast.
Hops have become an especially important ingredient for craft brewers in the US since IPAs have become so popular over the past decade. With the explosive growth in the number of craft breweries, the competition for sought-after hop varieties has increased. Most breweries now have hop contracts to ensure they have the supply they need for the beers they want to produce.
Hop selection is an important tool that breweries can use to make sure they are getting the quality and flavor of hops they desire. There are over 40 commercially available varieties grown in the Yakima valley and each one has distinctive flavors. Brewers have a hop-flavor profile in mind when they design a recipe and choose the hop varieties based on that profile. But hops are an agricultural product, thus the character of a hop will vary based on where it was grown, the growing conditions that year, and when the plant was harvested. So even within a hop variety, Cascade for instance, there can be a large variation in the characteristics. As it turns out, a Cascade is not a Cascade is not a Cascade. So hop contracts ensure that we have an adequate supply of the hops we need, but hop selection allows brewers to hone the particular characteristics within those varieties that we desire.
This morning I am heading to Hopsteiner’s main offices in Yakima to meet our rep, Doug Wilson. We are going to tour one of their farms and hop-processing facilities in the lower valley south of Yakima called River Ranch. Also in the van with us are three brewers from Half Acre Brewing in Chicago.
River Ranch has one of the newest, most-advanced hop-processing facilities in the country. Hopsteiner uses combines in the field when harvesting hops which reduces the amount of extraneous plant material (vine and leaves) that make it to the processing facility. When the trucks arrive at the processing center, they empty their load onto a conveyor belt that runs to the separating part of the plant. The goal here is to isolate the hop cones from the rest of the plant material. This is accomplished by a dizzying array of belts and shakers and screens. The hop cones are then sent by conveyor to the kiln. Hops must be dried or else they will spoil quickly. The hops spend about eight hours in the kiln, give or take depending on the hop variety. The moisture percentage of the hops is monitored and when they reach a certain level of dryness, the hops can be removed from the kiln. The dried hops are then sent to the conditioning room where they cool before being put into 200-pound bales. These bales are shipped to warehouse in Yakima where they are kept cold until they can be processed further into pellets. The engineering behind this place is impressive. It is staggering how much money is invested into hop-processing facilities that are only used for about six weeks a year!
When we returned from our tour it was time to do our hop selection. There were three lots available for me to choose from for each of the varieties we had on contract. The hop growers in the Yakima valley do a great job, so I have some excellent options to choose from.
We assess the hops by taking a small amount and rubbing them briskly between our hands. This releases the aromas from the hop oils. Then we smell the rubbed hops in our hands to see what we detect, good or bad. We are looking to select a lot of hops that have the desired characteristics we are looking for without having negative characteristics that we don’t want. I was able to get the aroma profiles we are looking for in all of our contracted hop varieties. Hop selection was a success!
I look forward to brewing with these hops throughout the year until I return next fall to experience the hop harvest in Yakima Valley.
Earth Rider has received the second and final delivery of brewery tanks today. The delivery and install work added two 40-bbl fermentors, two 20-bbl fermentors and a 40-bbl bright tank to the previously delivered brewhouse. Equipment already installed includes a 20-bbl combination mash/ lauter tun, 20-bbl boil kettle, 20-bbl whirlpool, and 60-bbl hot and cold liquor tanks. Brewery installation work will continue next week.
Earth Rider’s brewing team expects to start brewing by late September and releasing the first brews by late October.
This time-lapse video of our 20-bbl bright tank going up.
Earth Rider founder Tim Nelson and brewers Frank Kaszuba, Allyson Rolph and Tim Wilson traveled to Sprinkman Corp. in Waukesha, Wis. toinspect Earth Rider’s newly constructed brewery equipment. With Earth Rider’s official approval, the system is set to be delivered next Tuesday to the Earth Rider Brewery in Superior at 1617 N 3rd St.
Earth Rider’s brewing equipment was manufactured in Wisconsin using American steel that was sourced in Minnesota and Wisconsin iron mines. The state-of-the-art equipment is considered among the best in the world. It will be used to make independently brewed world-class beer for residents around the tip of Lake Superior.
The brewery equipment installation will begin at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
Shown: Earth Rider Brewery’s soon-to-be delivered brewdeck with Earth Rider founder Tim Nelson, brewers Frank Kaszuba, Allyson Rolph and Tim Wilson, and the manufacturing team at Sprinkman Corporation.
Construction activity has been fast paced at Earth Rider Brewery. New windows have been installed to let some sunshine into the brewery. The plumbers have finished installing the new drainage network which includes trench drains from the future brewhouse. Six-inch water service to the building has been installed to meet the volume demands of the brewhouse. The electricians nearly finished installing 400-amp, 480-volt electrical service, which will allow us to power all our brewery equipment as well as provide capacity for future expansions. Our bulk CO2 tank for carbonating beer was set into place a week ago by Minneapolis Oxygen. Construction of our boiler room begins this week.
We have been receiving equipment as well. Our glycol chiller, keg washer and some of our grain handling equipment have arrived. We anticipate receiving our Wisconsin-made brewhouse from W.M. Sprinkman early this August.
Of course, we can’t wait to start brewing beer! If all goes to plan, we will start brewing in September and will pour our first finished batch in October.
Earth Rider Brewery officially launched its construction phase while receiving a $109,877 Wis. Economic Development Corporation grant at an event earlier today. The event was held in the future brewery space in the former Leamon Mercantile building.
“Superior doesn’t need its own brewery,” said Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch to begin her speech, “but Superior deserves its own brewery.