Civil So­ci­ety Brew­ing Co.

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents - By Jamie Bogner

Jupiter, Florida, might seem an un­likely out­post for juicy fruit-for­ward New Eng­land–style hoppy beers, but Civil So­ci­ety Brew­ing Co. has carved out a niche in the sun­shine state for just that. And that niche keeps grow­ing as they con­nect and col­lab­o­rate with like-minded pro­gres­sive brew­ers across the coun­try.


genre-bust­ing styles in a state such as Florida where the av­er­age craft-beer fan has fewer ex­pec­ta­tions. In places with longer-stand­ing brew­ing tra­di­tions, such as San Diego or Chicago, brew­ing a tur­bid IPA chock full of fruity hops notes could be seen by some as an af­front. But Florida is still on the fron­tend of the craft-beer curve, and Civil So­ci­ety has taken full ad­van­tage of that ea­ger open-mind­ed­ness by fo­cus­ing on fla­vor-for­ward beers with only the faintest nod to tra­di­tion. And while other Florida brew­ers have gen­er­ated ex­cite­ment by fo­cus­ing on culi­nary fla­vors—sweet dessert stouts and fruit-for­ward tart weisse beers—civil So­ci­ety is all about the hops.

“We mold our beers around hops, for the most part,” says Co­founder and Head Brewer Karl Vol­stad. “Most of our lineup is hops-for­ward. We like to ex­plore how hops work to­gether, so we do a lot of se­ries of beers where we’ll pair [dif­fer­ent] hops to­gether.”

Vol­stad got his start in beer as a trader, scour­ing shelves for the lat­est and great­est that he could trade for beers not avail­able in South Florida. That en­gage­ment with craft beer and a love for styles not read­ily avail­able led him next to home­brew­ing, where he could make the ex­act beer he wanted to drink.

Launch­ing a brew­ery was a cul­mi­na­tion of that in­ter­est, and to­gether with his cousin, Ma­jor League Base­ball pitcher Chris Vol­stad, long­time friend and home­brew­ing buddy Evan Miller, and younger brother Kaleb, Vol­stad has put to­gether a brew­ery that’s as much about fam­ily as it is about beer.

When it comes to brew­ing, he’s an open book. “It doesn’t bother me to talk about process be­cause I don’t think any­body can re­ally do ex­actly what we do here,” says Vol­stad. “And like­wise, I can’t do what peo­ple do in other places be­cause there’s so much more that goes into the fin­ished prod­uct.”

Be­cause Florida wa­ter is all pumped from a rather shal­low aquifer, wa­ter treat­ment is a must. Every Civil So­ci­ety beer starts with wa­ter ze­roed out through a re­verse-os­mo­sis treat­ment sys­tem. “Wa­ter in Florida sucks for brew­ing. Darker beers you’re okay, but for lighter beers, it’s just no bueno. That may be why stouts have be­come so pop­u­lar in Florida.”

Vol­stad builds his hoppy beers with a hefty help­ing of base malt—typ­i­cally 80–90 per­cent Cana­dian 2-row bar­ley but oc­ca­sion­ally Thomas Fawcett Golden Prom­ise Pale Malt or Pearl—and smaller amounts of wheat or oats for body with­out fla­vor con­tri­bu­tion.

“We de­sign our beers so the malt doesn’t get in the way. We want the hops to shine. I want there to be some pres­ence, but I want as min­i­mal malt fla­vor as pos­si­ble be­cause the hops should be in

the fore­front of the pic­ture,” says Vol­stad.

That ap­proach to hops is fairly dy­namic, shift­ing as the hops them­selves change from crop year to crop year, farm to farm. Their flag­ship IPA, Fresh, started as a homebrew recipe with Ci­tra, Colum­bus, and Amar­illo, but as Amar­illo be­came harder to get, they phased it out of the recipe, and found they ul­ti­mately liked the beer more with just Ci­tra and Colum­bus.

“Ci­tra and the Colum­bus [in Fresh] re­ally play well to­gether. You have that dank and earthy piney char­ac­ter, but you also pull a lot of cit­rus char­ac­ter out of the Colum­bus, and Ci­tra is just a trop­i­cal fruit smoothie.”

With Pulp, an all-mo­saic pale wheat ale, they ran into a chal­lenge when they switched providers for the Mo­saic hops. “It just didn’t pop the same way,” says Vol­stad. “Two batches into it, we went back to the hops we were get­ting from the other com­pany, and sure enough—it was night and day dif­fer­ence. So now, Pulp al­ways uses hops from this one provider, and we’re very spe­cific about that now be­cause we got the fla­vors we re­ally wanted out of it.”

“Mo­saic has the abil­ity to be fruit-for­ward, but it also has a dank un­der­tone, and the dank­ness just wasn’t there, or when it was there, it was a kind of piney dank­ness go­ing back to the C-hops style. We wanted more of the fruity over-the-top dank­ness, and it just didn’t have that.”

Vol­stad honed his hops blend­ing skills through home­brew­ing, where the batch size meant the stakes were low. It was a per­fect lab­o­ra­tory for teas­ing out the ef­fects of hops in­ter­ac­tions. Cer­tain hops, he’s found, work best not in equal amounts but in smaller pro­por­tions to high­light the char­ac­ter of other hops.

“Ekuanot is one of those for me,” says Vol­stad. “It can dom­i­nate some­times, but if you add only a lit­tle bit, it can re­ally ac­cen­tu­ate the other hops in the blend. Vic’s Se­cret is an­other one. I re­ally like us­ing it, but by it­self, it didn’t pull the fla­vors out that I re­ally wanted and I found out that

Op­po­site » Chris Vol­stad, Evan Miller, Karl Vol­stad, and Kaleb Vol­stad of Civil So­ci­ety Brew­ing Co. Clock­wise from top » Cans of Fresh IPA come off their small can­ning line; all four have cus­tom-etched CSBC knives; the tap­room is a mix of in­dus­trial...

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