Musings on Muir and Stickeen

Cans of Stickeen, our double IPA dry-hopped with Simcoe, Eureka, and Idaho 7, will be quietly stocked in the pub cooler at open on Tuesday (7/31). This beer hits home for us in so many ways.

High on my “if you could have a beer with anyone” list is John Muir. He sublimated his naturalistic spirituality into visionary conservation efforts, creating a template for us to protect, manage, and--most importantly--experience the wild lands that connect us to the primal world whence we came.

Muir’s exploits are a model for living. He climbed a hundred-foot-tall spruce in a winter storm to better hear the music of the wind and feel the tree’s experience of the gusts. He climbed to a ledge behind the tallest waterfall in North America in the middle of the night to see the moon through its tumbling gauze. He made the first ascent of Cathedral Peak, a steep and exposed peak that today’s climbers don’t stand on without the air of ropes and protection.

Later, Muir explored the glacial inlets of Alaska on a canoe-based expedition. He took advantage of a day on shore to traverse a glacier that spilled into Taylor Bay. His expedition partner’s little black dog, Stickeen, foisted himself on the journey. Stickeen had a strange aloofness, independence, and idleness that made Muir cool to him, but the dog had also shown a keen interest in excursions on land, demonstrating great endurance, curiosity, and bravery. He turned out to be a natural adventurer out on the glacier, climbing footholds that Muir cut with his pickax and leaping easily across crevasses.

When a violent storm of wind and rain came ripping upslope, Muir and Stickeen found their retreat back to shore halted by a yawning fifty-foot-wide crevasse with no seeming terminus in either direction. Stickeen’s confidence and poise peeled away as Muir descended the crevasse to a narrow ice bridge he intended to take across. He cut steps into the ice to assist his descent, made a careful embrace of the slippery bridge as he worked his way across it, and repeated the step-cutting on the other side, now some thirty feet deep in the crevasse. He carefully climbed out and called for Stickeen to come across, but the dog was trembling and resisted venturing out on the wind-whipped ice bridge. Muir tried walking away to induce a crossing to no avail. They went at this for some time before Muir forcefully commanded Stickeen to cross and the weary dog finally snapped to and obeyed. Muir reached down to grab Stickeen as he worked his way up, but the dog flew joyously past him and proceeded leaping a few hundred yards across the glacier’s surface, rolling around and panting in complete exultation.

Isn’t the beer industry going through its own icy trial, making the leap from a demographically proscribed subculture to becoming relevant to all? Doesn’t any particular brewery in a market of 6,000 have to work its way into a dark, cold, windy hole of self-discovery and climb its way out? Isn’t our city trying to do much the same? These are the questions traversing my mind as we roll out Stickeen.

I’m also thinking about the spirit of awe and adoration Muir had for the natural world and the conservation ethos he channeled that into. Our location on the western aspect of Appalachia and the arc of colonial, revolutionary, and industrial history means that our natural ecology is heavily shaped by patterns of the human hand: settlement, agriculture, transportation, and extractive industry. Penn’s old woods are well-kept in small stands here and there, but we inhabit a world largely alien to nature. Subdivisions outnumber hemlocks, and skyscrapers and furnaces tower over them.

Still, there’s a growing sense of the value of the natural order in the way we eat, drink, recreate, and go about our lives. We strive to build into this ethos as much as we can. Our kitchen sources local, seasonal, responsibly grown and raised ingredients whenever possible. We partner with a local farmer to ensure our brewing waste ends up in the food chain rather than a landfill. We seek partnerships with local conservation organizations like Tree Pittsburgh to support their missions. We are proud of our gold certification with Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants for water conservation, waste reduction, energy efficiency, and responsible sourcing.

How wild that humans actively seek to loosen their grip on the world around them these days; that we strive to make it less in our own image? Or is just that that image is changing into one where we draw benefits from the revival of natural landscapes rather than the subjugation of them. Aren’t we just trying to make possible locally what Muir extolled over a century ago? “Keep close to Nature’s heart,” he urged, “and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

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Stickeen - Double IPA - 8.2%

Our extra-resiny double IPA returns with a gentle pruning to crystallize sappy gobs of Simcoe, Simcoe Cryo, Idaho 7, and Eureka into the fluffy flaked oat substrate. No lactose this time and the slightly drier finish means there's more punch in the myrcene. Drinking dank and pungent at 8.2%, these are basically just sugar pine cones masquerading as pounders ready to stick your icky. Inspired by the crevasse-crossing type-two epic John Muir and the eponymous adventure dog had on Brady Glacier in an Alaskan squall way back in 1880.

Catching Rays on the Celestial Shore

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This week we release Celestial Shore on draft. We're calling this a TartShake IPA brewed with peaches, lactose, vanilla beans, and Citra and Amarillo hops. This is a super exciting beer for us because milkshake IPAs are a heady, relatively new style with a lot of room for exploration and we're eager to dig in. This will also mark our entry into cans. 

If you've had Stray Radiant, our sour, hazy strawberry IPA with lactose and vanilla beans, you have a sense of where we're headed with this. I learned a few things from making and drinking that beer, and decided to soften any rough edges by omitting hot-side hops entirely and slightly reducing the acidity, and to supplement the body and mouthfeel with an even higher mash temperature and the addition of raw wheat. 

The result is a peaches-and-cream, Bellini, cobbler-esque beverage that marries the mango, tangerine, and apricot flavors of Citra and Amarillo hops with a nearly ridiculous amount of peach puree added during fermentation. Half of the batch was lightly kettle-soured for brightness, structure, and balance without making this beer what you might consider sour. I find that a touch of lactic acid really helps support fruit flavors from the hops and puree. We double-dry-hopped this beer, then conditioned it on real Madagascar vanilla beans. The vanilla adds a perceived sweetness and combines with the lush, creamy mouthfeel for a cake-batter-like experience.

This will also be the first beer we put into cans. We pride ourselves on being the best brewpub we can be: offering modern, bright beers and elevated, scratch--but un-fussy--pub food in a warm, comfortable space with on-point, relaxed service. That part is intimate, and really all on our terms. But we want our beer to walk beyond our doors and into yours: your beer fridge, your buddy's bottle share, your first kayak outing of the season, maybe in your thermos at your kid's soccer game. Hey, who knows? We're not here to judge. To make that egalitarian offering possible, packaging in cans is a no-brainer.

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If you've seen the brewery space at 3705 Butler, you know it's tight down there underneath the restaurant. We found just enough room to move a few things around and wedge in a small manual canning line from the exceptionally polite and mechanically expert people at Cask Brewing Systems in Calgary, Alberta. I worked on a Cask line at Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville, Illinois, where we were putting out over a thousand cases per week while I was there. Our volumes at Cinderlands will be much, much smaller, and the work will be a lot more manual, but pulling wrenches on this seamer sure will feel like coming home. We anticipate a release of sixteen-ounce four-packs of Celestial Shore on Saturday, May 12th, barring any complications in getting our new equipment up and running. Those details are still pending, so keep up with us on Instagram for details. We hope to follow that up with a monthly-or-so offering of typically hazy, hoppy beer, but I'd honestly love to augment that with easy-drinkers like kölsch, cream ale, helles, and pilsner. Drop us a comment or a mention if you would show up for those!

We've got to tip the hat to the folks at Tired Hands, Omnipollo, and Hudson Valley for their frontiersmanship in this foggy realm, for getting weird with adjuncts, acidity, and testing the limits of mouthfeel, memory, and intricate flavor combinations. The beer world is a more interesting place because of the merging of the milkshake and sour IPAs they've invented and popularized. 

I don't do any beer trading, so when I started talking to our Managing Partner, Jamie, about the wacky Tired Hands stuff he was following and sometimes pulling in, I wanted to get a taste of what that was all about. I was still at Solemn Oath and living outside of Chicago, so I collaborated with my friends at Werk Force Brewing to make Farm Juice, what we called a kettle-soured NE Farmhouse IPA with peaches, apricots, lime juice, lime zest, lactose, and Motueka and Mosaic hops. It was a weird, beautiful beer. It drank something like a margarita smoothie. It had me intrigued about what else beer like this could be, so I put together Stray Radiant at Cinderlands. Then I started hearing about Hudson Valley's sour IPAs and their sour milkshake beers they call brunch-style IPAs. I had a chance to try a few of those and--damn, they're tasty. Grist House has since put out a few excellent sour IPAs with fruit that I love drinking too. I feel like the local scene might not be fully ready to embrace beers like Celestial Shore, but I'll be damned if we don't paddle out and wait for this one to roll in. 

SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES!

Hey, friends - Jamie here. Some of you have read and some have asked about our planned expansion into the old Spaghetti Warehouse space at 2601 Smallman Street. Let me first say, we’re extremely excited about this development and all of the opportunities it will present in the future! It will be awesome to make much more of the beautiful beer and food that you have come to expect from us, and it's an opportunity we are absolutely ready to embrace. While I don't want to spoil all of the surprises, I will tell you that our brewhouse and kitchen will be considerably larger, the space will include a barrel room, and the surroundings will be grand, but warm and approachable.

With this expansion well under way, you’re probably wondering what will become of our beloved shop at 3705. First of all - fear not, because our Lawrenceville location is staying right where it is.  Once the Warehouse opens, 3705 gives us a very unique opportunity to try out new ideas and concepts for both beer and food in a space that we are familiar with. Our current location will become an incubator of sorts (more so) for interesting ideas, while still holding true to our commitment to provide an inclusive environment where you can come with friends and family to enjoy some good beer and food. We plan on taking everything that we have learned from 3705 and scaling it up to reach a larger audience at the Warehouse.

I'm not going to lie: the plans we have for the space are ambitious.  Nevertheless, our number one goal is to create an environment for you that is both contemporary and familiar, high quality and inventive, serious and fun, and nods to our past while embracing our future. In the coming months, please stay tuned to our blog and various social media outlets (our go-to is Instagram) for updates. Our team is very excited to share this new space with you, our neighbors, and we promise to keep you all posted on any developments with our new location - check back next week for our first progress journal!

Stack (and more) is Back!

These two West Coast style Double IPAs are back!

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Stack - West Coast-Style Double IPA - 9.5%

American 2-Row and a 20% helping of light Munich malt supply a light but bready platform for the tangerine aromas of Amarillo, mango juiciness of Citra, and pine resin of Simcoe. A slightly fruity and dry fermentation with a hop-accentuating American ale strain leads to a mid-palate of candied orange and a firmly bitter finish true to the style. This beer might drink easy, but it packs a serious punch. 

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Stack Overflow - Coffee Double IPA - 8.7%

This beer is a study in harmony and contrast. The bready base of light Munich weaves its flavors together with the palate-drying, roasty flavor of the Intelligentsia Coffee Karyenda - Burundi we add at a rate of twelve parts beer to one part coffee. The coffee's brighter notes--tamarind, tangerine, dried cherry--complement and buttress the fruit aromas from heavy whirlpool and dry-hopping. The biggest payoff here is the finish: it's a mouth-smacking blend of robusto cigar and chocolate-covered tangerine, bringing together high fruity notes with mid-range toffee and milk chocolate, and deep, drying earthy roast underneath it all.

Some old friends - Stickeen, Gorgeous George, and Stellar Peak

These three favorites came back for our beer dinner last night and there is still a little bit left for today.  Get down to 3705 early though, there are probably about 15 pours left of Stickeen but you can never be too sure.

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Stickeen - Double Dry-Hopped NE DIPA - 8.3%

This is our biggest, juiciest, softest IPA yet. We used especially dank, odiferous hop varieties for an unapologetically intense aromatic experience. The grist is composed of American two-row, malted white wheat, rolled oats, and carafoam for a grainy, cereal sweetness to support the fruit flavors from intense hopping with a total of over four pounds per barrel of Simcoe, Idaho 7, and Eureka.

Vermont ale yeast softens everything up with its peachy bubble gum and cotton candy fermentation character, but the palate is all syrupy pine sap, dank earthy musk, and a long chew on grapefruit skin. Worthy of celebrating near-fatal unplanned overnights on glacial ascents with adventure dogs.

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Gorgeous George - Belgian-Style Quadrupel - 9.5%

We love and revere the Belgian brewing tradition, even as today's most popular styles (IPA, pale lager, and stout) hew towards German and English origins. You can count on catching classic takes on Belgian styles here at Cinderlands, just as you did with our witbier and saison over the past few months. The Quadrupel, or Belgian dark strong ale, is the most potent of the monastic beers, though the recipe is fairly straightforward. We start with a grist comprised mostly of floor-malted pilsner, then layer in the bready notes of light Munich, the deep raisiny tones of Special B, and the vinous sweetness of CaraRuby. We ferment with a famous trappist strain known for its bright, fruity esters, delicate spice, and crisp finish. Expect a beer full of the aromas of brown sugar, bubblegum, and puréed raisins. On the palate, there's fig, tobacco, and mild clove. This beer is decidedly sweet on balance, but with above-average effervescence and a dangerously dry finish for its strength. Copper-brown in color and perfectly bright with a mousse-like off-white head. This is a big beer, not quite inconspicuous like a set of car keys. We suggest not losing your chance to try one.

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Stellar Peak - Double Dry-Hopped Sour NE IPA - 6.0%

Acid brings a new dimension to the typical flavors encountered in a new-fangled IPA. While brewers seek to absorb as much fruity flavor and aroma as possible into hazy IPAs and support those oil-derived aromas with enough residual extract and grain texture to make them sing, inviting the sharp tang of lactic acid to the party presents an interesting opportunity. We love New Zealand hop varieties largely because of how fruity and weird they can be. Two of our favorites, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin, present huge flavors reminiscent of key lime/vanilla and sauvignon blanc, respectively. Both of these absolutely begging for acidity to really pop, so we kettle soured our standard NE IPA wort and made it so. Fermentation occurred by way of Vermont Ale yeast and we laid on the hops heavy with a combined total of nearly four pounds per barrel of Motueka and Nelson Sauvin, including a hearty dose of the highly concentrated lupulin powder from Ekuanot. This is an intense, bright beer that opens up exciting new paths for future acid-forward, hoppy beers. More coming your way soon.

Get your growlers and bring 'em on down!

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Recently, quite a few of you have been asking us about beer to-go (growlers, crowlers, etc.), and we get it - we love fresh draft beer too! So, where is it? Well, neighbors, know that our #1 priority is making sure that we have a solid variety of beers to offer our taproom and restaurant guests. While we would like to get as much of our beer to as many people as possible, the size of our current system (just a 3BBL system packed into a small space) is quite limiting.

With this in mind, we’ve decided to begin gradually rolling out growler sales on a trial basis. Our team has been discussing how to best serve the to-go demand while also staying faithful to our brewpub crowd. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

  • To start, we will fill your growlers. We don’t currently have our own glass, but are happy to fill yours, provided that it is clean and free of any off-odors. IMPORTANT: we reserve the right to deny fills if you bring us a gross mess of growlers. What does this mean? If there’s any residue or foul aromas in your growlers, we won’t clean them and we won’t fill them. We’re telling you all of this up front so there aren’t any hurt feelings later :)

  • Out of of necessity, we will be limiting fills to 128oz per person, per day (so (2) 2L or (4) 750ml), and honoring fills only on certain days of the week (most likely Tuesdays, to coincide with our new beer releases)

  • In the coming months, our plan is to bring in a crowler (32oz cans) machine to satisfy our to-go crowd and ensure the freshness of our beer. We’ll likely revise our to-go policies at that time.

  • Pricing: For a 64oz, if it's served in a tulip glass it's $24 per growler, if it's served in a becher glass it's $20 per growler - and if you are filling a 32oz growler (or 750 ml) it's half of those prices. Simple, right?

With all that said, we are excited to open up for growler fills starting THIS SUNDAY (Christmas Eve) and NEXT SUNDAY (New Years Eve)! We’re excited to share our beers with you all for the holidays, and can’t wait to see you down at the brewpub for fills.

Thank you for being patient with us as we figure out our supply and demand here at Cinderlands. You have all been so awesome, and we can’t wait to show you all of the great things that we have planned!

Cinderlands Holiday Newcomers

The holidays are here and we bet that you could use a little break from all of that holiday shopping.  Come by this week and try three bright and beautiful new beers - you deserve a little holiday "me time".

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Raj - English Pale Ale with Black Tea - 5.3% ABV

We built a true-to-style English pale ale on a base of nutty, rich Maris Otter malt and a healthy dose of Crystal 45 for those drippy caramel mid-tones. Crystal hops in the whirlpool and Crystal and Idaho 7 in the fermenter provide aromas of strongly brewed black tea with lemon, while a 15%-by-total-volume addition of Kilogram English Breakfast tea to the finished beer ties it all together with geranium and orange blossom high notes and earthy tea leaf dryness closing the finish. The inspiration here was peachy, tea-like aroma we know well from Crystal hops, and our curiosity about how those tones would or would not harmonize or synergize with actual tea; we're very pleased with the result. 

 

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Stack - West Coast Double IPA - 9.8% ABV

American 2-Row and a 20% helping of light Munich malt supply a light but bready platform for the tangerine aromas of Amarillo, mango juiciness of Citra, and pine resin of Simcoe. A slightly fruity and dry fermentation with a hop-accentuating American ale strain leads to a mid-palate of candied orange and a firmly bitter finish true to the style. This beer might drink easy, but it packs a serious punch.

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Stack Overflow - West Coast Coffee Double IPA  - 9.0% ABV

This beer is a study in harmony and contrast. The bready base of light Munich weaves its flavors together with the palate-drying, roasty flavor of the Intelligentsia Coffee Karyenda - Burundi we add at a rate of eleven parts beer to one part coffee. The coffee's brighter notes--tamarind, tangerine, dried cherry--complement and buttress the fruit aromas from heavy whirlpool and dry-hopping. The biggest payoff here is the finish: it's a mouth-smacking blend of robusto cigar and chocolate-covered tangerine, bringing together high fruity notes with mid-range toffee and milk chocolate, and deep, drying earthy roast underneath it all.

Pair any of these beer offerings with our delicious food for a solid holiday treat that will please you and yours, no matter what your tastes.

Happy Holidays from your neighbors at Cinderlands!

Cinderlands Opening Line Up

We have been working hard to fill our tanks and get beer in your hands. That time has come and we're thrilled to share our opening beer lineup with you. Come see us this week for a taste--we're excited to meet you. You can look forward to a new beer release or two almost every week.

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Test Piece - NE IPA - 6.2% ABV

Made with flaked wheat, flaked oats, and lactose, we lay off the bitterness, amplify the mouthfeel, and jam the whirlpool and fermenter with a total of over two pounds per barrel of Eureka and Citra for a huge aromatic experience of overripe mango, grapefruit flesh, pressed black currant, and a sticky undertone of pine sap.  Round mouthfeel and medium body with a ripe fruit-tinged finish.

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Passionfruit Whipper - Passionfruit Berliner Weisse - 4.8% ABV

Tart, punchy, and tropical. We start with 50% malted wheat, acidify the wort in the kettle with a direct pitch of Lactobacillus delbrueckii to 3.5 pH, then briefly boil the wort and send it to the fermenter for primary fermentation with a neutral ale strain. At the end of primary fermentation, we add passion fruit puree at a rate of a half-pound of fruit per gallon of beer, which contributes its own sugars and induces a secondary fermentation. When that process is complete, we gently dry hop with Waimea hops from New Zealand. The result is a beer that’s full of the essence of tropical fruit with moderate tartness, delicately grainy malt flavor, and a dry, fruity finish.

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Cobra Toes - Kölsch - 4.6% ABV

A reverential take on a classic style made for easy drinking. Floor-malted German pilsner malt and a modest portion of wheat malt provide grainy, crackery flavors with mild sweetness. A cool-fermenting ale yeast strain produces subtle fruity fermentation aromas and leads to a medium-dry finish. German Tettnanger hops offer up fresh-bloomed floral aroma with a delicate minty spice. Understated, elegant, and smooth.

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Blazing Crude - Coffee Milk Stout - 7.5% ABV

It’s not often that a beer this dark and full-bodied burns so bright. The method here is blending the exceptionally bright Tikur Anbessa - Ethiopia from Intelligentsia Coffee with notes of tangerine and pomegranate into the finished stout at a ratio of twelve parts beer to one part concentrated cold-brewed coffee. Nearly all of the espresso, chocolate, and roast character comes from grains--the coffee is actually decidedly upbeat. Then there are the two additions of sweet orange peel: one in the whirlpool and another via a hot steeped orange peel tea added to the brite tank. Premium British malts build a solid foundation, milk sugar provides a velvety mouthfeel, and Falconer’s Flight hops support the orange flavors from the peel and coffee.


@cinderlandsbeer