Local beer enthusiasts got a chance to see inside Thomas-Stieglitz Brewing last week during Goshen’s First Friday. Owners/brewers Jeff Thomas and Gary Stieglitz opened the doors to their brewery to offer samples even though they are not yet ready to open for business.
As many of us know, opening a brewery is a huge process, but looking into the brew house, you can certainly see some great progress. The walls have been framed in, the wiring is set, very soon the walls and ceilings will be finished, followed by the plumbing.
“Once the plumbing is finished, things will move along pretty quickly” Jeff said.
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Just because they are not open for business doesn’t mean these brewers have not had their hands busy brewing beer. In fact, both have been very busy brewing up their own ideas, as well as collaborating on several recipes together. Last year, Jeff served his Jolly Jack Pumpkin Ale right out of a hollowed pumpkin.
This year, the presentation wasn’t as dramatic but the flavor was just as good. He tweaked the recipe a bit, but still kept one pound of cooked pumpkin per gallon of beer in the recipe. It is an amber ale base with pumpkin spices, minus the clove. I thought the spices were kept to a minimum, which is just right for my palate.
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A new style introduced to me was Jeff’s Corn Devil Kentucky Common. Kentucky Common was a style very popular in and around Louisville, Ky., until prohibition. Although it is one of only three documented beer styles indigenous to the United States, it is rarely brewed commercially today. The origins of Kentucky Common are similar to the California Common or “steam beer” in that they were both developed due to the lack of modern refrigeration.
Louisville did not have good conditions for producing large amounts of ice for cold beer storage, however, there was a high demand for beer. While brewed at higher temperatures like an ale, it is aged for a very short time and served very fresh, thus eliminating the need for cold storage, and it could be produced quickly. Traditionally, Kentucky Common is brewed with somewhere around 60 percent six-row pale barley malt, with the rest made up of other cereal adjuncts, most of which is corn grits or flaked corn.
Mason-Dixon Brown Ale was brewed with fresh peaches and pecans. Oftentimes, the oil from nuts can cause problems with brewing, so brewers have to be careful with this ingredient. While peaches are not a common ingredient in brewing, I thought both complimented each other nicely. It was a good choice to enjoy around the fire ring in the patio area in front of the brewery.
The only other beer on the tasting menu I had previously enjoyed beside the Jolly Jack was the Fuggle Nugget Coffee Stout. Gary uses an espresso roasted at The Electric Brew, just across the way from the brewery. Since he cold presses the coffee before adding to the beer, most if not all of the bitterness from the coffee is avoided. This is the best choice in my opinion — keep the bitter from the coffee out of the beer, let the hops do that.
Later in the evening, several people gathered around a campfire in the patio area in front of the brewery. It was ideal for a chilly October evening. Gary and Jeff are not putting an opening date out there, so keep your eye on the Facebook page. Gary told me they will be following the model of many other smaller Indiana breweries in that they hope to have food trucks on site as much as possible.
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And for when that isn’t possible, they will have takeout menus from local restaurants available. Some people have asked me whether Goshen can support another brewery. I like to think of it as just one more opportunity to enjoy fresh local beer.