Craft Distilling or just Moonshining?

I am very intrigued with the idea of CCB evolving into distilling. I know it’s still illegal without proper licensing so in the meantime, I have started reading a few books on the subject and I even cracked the old Chemical Engineering Textbooks (Distillation and Separation) for a refresher. I don’t want to moonshine or anything. Just looking for another aspect of the brewing industry and something I think will become more prevalent in the next 3-5 years. Craft Brewers / Brew pubs making their own alcohols. Some are already doing it, some are getting good at it. I think it might be a niche in the Napa Valley to have a micro-distiller who makes all different kinds of alcohol including spirits to fortify wine for the high-end wineries.

What do you guys think? Any suggested reading?

Back on the horse…

After hanging out with my family the past 10 days, I realized that I need to get back into brewing. I still love beer and I am very passionate but I think I am in a rut. The new job is tough. I am still learning and that uneasiness is unsettling and makes it hard for me to think outside for inspiration.  I need to brew more. I need to brew more. I need to brew more.

Ok, now I have said it. How do I do it? I have 1000 reasons that I can’t but are they just excuses. Kids, work, wife, obligations, t-ball, lack of recipes, beer without labels, diet without drinking, etc. Only reason to brew is that I love it. The creative outlet is a way for me to challenge myself and get beyond an evening of candy crush or Food / Cooking Network shows.

I removed my first excuse on Tuesday after dropping Steve at the airport. I went to a homebrew supply store in Berkeley, CA. The store name is actually called “Oak Barrel Winecraft” but they seemed to have as much beer and wine ingredients. I bought LME (Pale) and DME (Pilsner), Palisades, Columbus, and Summit hops and a smack pack of my go-to yeast, Wyeast 1056. After reviewing my other ingredients in the inventory, I have decided to make a RyePA (since the classic recipe is long last to a failed hard drive). My focus will be on making it drinkable, bitter, clean and free from defects (unlike the last attempt).

Now I need to find some time to make it happen…. Any thoughts on how to make it happen?

East vs West

TEWKSBURY, MA (Feb. 3, 2013):

The groundhog has spoken; early spring is on its way. And what time could be better for Champion City Brewing to announce its latest project – the East Coast vs. West Coast “Opening Day I.P.A.” challenge.

Call it a friendly competition, one that will be best argued over a bottle or pint. C.C.B’s brewmasters, at their geographically dispersed breweries, will compete to create a “tribute” beer. Their assignment pays homage to Champion City Brewing’s “Grand Slam I.P.A.”, the first beer brewed under the C.C.B. name back in 2005.


“Its official, the Porter and Stout era of Champion City Brewing is on hiatus,” said Jonathan Jay, Founder, Director of West Coast Operations, and Brewmaster for C.C.B. West, “Our move to the West coast lends itself perfectly to re-inventing and re-imagining the beer that started it all. It is that connection to the breweries roots and of course, the style lends itself to some friendly East vs. West competition. You never know but the West Coast version might even use some of the inventive techniques implemented during the first Grand Slam brew, like the use of Hop Teas, brewkettle overboils, and snow cooling.”

Champion City Brewing has breweries in Vacaville, CA. and Tewksbury, MA, having recently completed a brewery expansion and establishing a presence on the West coast in 2013.

Consumer feedback will help C.C.B. narrow the two beers to a single limited-edition offering available to coincide with Major League Baseball’s Opening Day in April 2013. “The Opening Day aspect of the project is really intriguing to me,” said Stephen Jay, Director of East Coast Operations, and Brewmaster for C.C.B. East, “Baseball’s roots run deep for C.C.B. And Opening Day inspires me to craft a beer that has all the hallmarks the Champion City Brewing brand is respected for, but which is still approachable enough to enjoy a few at a ballgame and still remember who the starting pitchers were.”

Champion City Brewing’s commitment to quality and spirit of innovation are at the foundation of the company’s history and continue to be a defining characteristic. Look for more updates as the “Opening Day I.P.A.” project unfolds this spring.

Champion City Brewing expanding to West Coast, Moves East Coast facility

VACAVILLE, Calif – Dec 21, 2012 – Champion City Brewing is pleased to announce that it has chosen a site in Northern California to become the home of West Coast Operations. The site is located in California to allow for expansion and future growth into that market. As part of the expansion, the East Coast operations with be moving from our current home in Nashua, NH approx 25 miles south towards Boston into the historic brewing community of Tewksbury, MA

“We are thrilled to have found two ideal locations for the breweries continued expansion efforts,” says Jonathan Jay, founder of Champion City Brewing. “The beer culture, water quality and quality of life are excellent. We feel lucky to be a part of both communities.”

The new facility in Vacaville will add much-needed capacity for Champion City, and will allow for the quicker availability of brewery-fresh beer to consumers on the West Coast. As part of the expansion, the East Coast operations will get a face lift with a new brewhouse and increased fermentation capacity. The current bottling operation will remain and East coast beers will continue to be available in 12 and 22 oz bottles and 1/6 bbl draught kegs.

Long time Senior Assistant Brewer, Stephen Jay, has been promoted to Director of East Coast Operations. His role will expand to all day to day activities of the East Coast Brewery and as an advisory member of the board on new products, brand management and development. Stephen Jay began his career with Champion CIty Brewing at its founding in 2005. He has worked in all aspects of the brewery operation with keg cleaner, bottler, brewhouse assistant, and most recently with brand / recipe development on the critically acclaimed, Summer Sunned Haze Wit. “It was with this most recent role that he demonstrated a tenacity for all things brewing that makes this decision a no brainer. He has really shown some great things, he has the mind for brewing great beer, and that is a hallmark for Champion City, ” says Jonathan Jay. “I couldn’t be happier for him and for CCB to have him in this role”

As completion of the new brewery begins, CCB has also announced several new releases to commemorate the recent expansion. A Flanders Red brewed and blended from both breweries and possible an East Coast / West Coast IPA Throwdown.



Its getting funky in here

After 7 months of waiting, the Flanders Red that I brewed back in March is starting to form a nice pellicle. I think it has taken so long since I don’t give it enough oxygen which helps the infection grow. The aroma is awesome. I am looking forward to brewing this again in the spring and blending it as was traditional done.

Its Alive

Recipe Formulation

Working on three new beers for the winter.

RyePA – a reappearance after a nine year hiatus. A new formulation for 2012

Gluten Free Porter – Back by popular demand for those who can not enjoy traditional beers. I have an innovative idea on how to minimize the syrupy sweetness of sorghum

Mothers Milk Stout – a traditional milk stout with a twist using oats, flax, and fenugreek.

Red Sox Opening Day

Steve and I kicked off Opening Day the Champion City way with cherry wood smoked mild and a trip to our usual watering hole for $8 Bud Light pitchers. I think the mild has come out perfect. Enough smoke to know its there but not enough to feel like you licked an ash tray. A few ideas from the creative department on names but I would love to hear from our Champion City fans on what they would like to call it. Think British and smoky, maybe BBQ. Post your thoughts and maybe you can help name this next CCB offering.


BTW, the Red Sox won 12-2.