“Let’s say you have a beer. Let’s say this beer is a hazy, New England Style IPA with tons of hoppy goodness. Let say you love this beer SOOOOOOO much, that you want to make it twice as awesome as it already is. So, you take the recipe for the original beer and double the ingredients (or in our case use half the amount of water.) What you would expect is an even hazier, hoppier, boozier version of the original, yes? As it is in life, and definitely in brewing, things never go the way you think they will.
The Chinook salmon is called “King” salmon for good cause. It is the largest species of Pacific salmon and prized by sport and commercial fishermen alike. It’s extremely popular with diners, who enjoy the rich flavor of the deep red flesh, packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Chefs like working with it because it lends itself to so many different cooking techniques and styles. It is delicious poached, pan seared, roasted, grilled, sous vide, cured for gravlax, smoked hot or cold, and more!
A common reaction to those of us who enjoy a pint or two at the end of a long work day. Why would I want my already perfect, carbonated, malty adult beverage to be all fruity and sweet and smelly?! While this reaction isn’t completely unfounded, it may be a bit uninformed as to the results you can get using fruit to enhance the flavors, aromas, and of course appearance of ales. It’s a practice that goes far back in to the beginnings of brewing. There is evidence of fruit being tossed in to ferments with barley dating back to the 10th Millennium B.C. Of course, this beverage was probably only barely similar to what we now call beer, but adding seasonally available fermentable things was most definitely a common way to not only preserve the fruit, but add interesting flavors that would accentuate the terroir of the region as well. And… it made us all feel good too.
Have you ever taken a nice refreshing sip of a British pale ale and thought to yourself, "Who put raisins in my beer?!”. Unless you have a drinking buddy who plays practical jokes, the answer is a Maltster. As the moniker suggests, this is the methodically thoughtful and creative force behind what is the second highest ingredient in our brews, water being the first. The Maltster takes finished barley from the farmer, if he or she isn’t one that is, works and manipulates magic processes normally reserved for Mother Nature. Not only is this where, in large part, the flavor of your beer is initiated, but the actual biological process of creating fermentable sugar for our little buddies, Yeast.
Which came first Hops or Hemp? Did using hops in beer really prevent Leprosy in the Jewish captives in Babylon? We generally think of hops as an ingredient that adds a most desirable flavor to the world’s favorite fermented beverage but read on to learn more about these little green nugget and their role in the history of beer!
I have an experiment for you to try. Go to that secret hiding place where you keep the bag of jelly bellies (or maybe it’s skittles? Starburst? Whatever you’re hiding in there.) close your eyes, cover your nose, reach right in and pop one in your mouth. What does it taste like? Now before it’s gone, un-cover your nose. Now, what does it taste like?
“We people, especially the betting kind, are in to stats. It helps us organize an otherwise open playing field. Knowing which horse to put our money on, what level hotness we want our pad Thai to be, which side of the coin is likely to come up when we trust our luck to the flip. It is in this desire to organize the world around us that the powers that be in Brewing Science came up with IBU’s (International Bittering Units). To put it simply, 1 IBU is 1 milligram of iso-alpha-acid (which is solubilized alpha-acid, the main bettering component of hops) per liter. Simple enough, right? I’ll try not to get too math-classy about it, but to break it down a little bit:
Say you have a hop, oh… Nugget, for example. A classic bittering hop. And you know it is 8% alpha acid since your hop dealer told you so, who was him/herself told this to be so by a lab which analyzed the hops fresh from the field. You now know that 8% of the total weight of that hop is potential bitterness. But, the thing that works against you is that theoretically you can only get about 30% of that 8% to solubilize in the boil which you may or may not actually know the volume of. And to further complicate the numbers, a considerable amount of these iso-alpha-acids that make up the bitterness are lost during fermentation due to carbonation stripping the components out of solution, and flocculation of the yeast grabbing some for itself on the way down (theoretically, anyway). When you condition the beer in the tank before you put it in kegs, you lose a little there as well. And none of this accounts for aroma (we’ll talk about that next week), or degradation over time in the keg.
Let’s slow down little, check back in. We got out our trusty calculator and figured out that our beer would have 120 IBU’s in it (we want to make a face-melting super-hopped IPA, of course). But, since we will lose some of these bittering units in the fermentation and conditioning, how reliable is that number? An additional factor is that other components of hops add bitterness via different chemical reactions that have nothing to do with iso-alpha-acid at all. So…. Do we have more than 120IBU’s in the end? Less??! I wonder…does it really matter!?!?
In the end, chasing these numbers should be taken for what it is. Perhaps, the intent of the brewer, or the driving force behind the marketing of a particular beverage (Dogfish head’s 120 min. IPA, for example). According to the Science people, we can only taste up to about 100IBU’s. Beyond that, it’s a waste of Hops? Or is it?! Surely it’s contributing something?! But we need expensive analyzing like Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to measure these things, I think they mainly use Gas-Chromatograph Mass-Spectrometer to measure the contents of stardust. To run our IPA through the machine seems a bit overkill, don’t you think? In the end, does it taste good? Is the beverage well balanced and does it make your heart happy? Then its “______IBU’s” (insert your own statistic here). When you read a menu to decide what to order for dinner, you notice Chef Bob doesn’t say how many teaspoons of cumin he used. Just, that cumin is in the dish. You know what that means. You know wether you like cumin or not, which in turn helps you make an informed decision.
I think you see my point. IBU’s are not always what they seem. Take Guinness, for example. Would you call that beer hoppy? I surely wouldn’t. But what would you say if you didn’t previously know what Guiness tasted like, and you saw it on the menu coming in at 45 IBU’s. If you don’t like hoppy beers, would you even consider ordering that? I might think twice.
To summarize, don’t let the IBU’s rule your decisions. Let your tastebuds keep score and create your own stats. You’ll surely win every time."
When the first sight of Spring hits and the sun is out over Humboldt County people can’t wait to have an outdoor adventure. Two of our Gyppo Ale Mill employees set forth to kayak down the Eel river.
The Eel River is Californias third largest watershed! It is protected from dams by State (1971) and Federal (1982) agencies because of it’s Wild and Scenic River designation. With three forks in the Eel, it contains several river types - high mountain pine forests, flowing through steep canyons and coastal redwood forests that empt into the Pacific.
The two adventurous women started their journey at Toobey Park and let out in Phillipsville near the entrance to the Avenue of the Giants. This time of year, the water is high and swift so it’s not a trip for the inexperienced paddler but the perfect time to capitalize on an early Spring day. With water rushing and moving at a good pace the girls steered the kayak around the trees and bushes in the middle of the river all while looking at the beauty of the Redwood Forest. They passed fly fishermen and other boat cruisers seizing this beautiful day in Humboldt County. They made sure their packs were stocked with water, snacks and our favorite Gyppo Ale Mill beer. The girls took a break at Redway Beach and cracked open a Blood Orange Wheat growler of craft beer.
Continuing their journey they hit two set of rapids that threw them for a thrill and adrenaline rush. It was a moment they will never forget. Pulling up to Phillipsville the girls were stoked on their 3 hour kayak trip down the Eel River. This is a highly recommended adventure to see the Redwoods as you kayak down the river in Humboldt County.
When people are driving the Avenue of the Giants with the majestic redwoods, they have no idea just how close they are to California’s Lost Coast. , the longest stretch of coastal wilderness in the continental United States. Fortunately for the Gyppo Ale Mill, we get to call this wonder filled and rugged area home. Getting to know the gems that are sprinkled around us is one of the joys of living here. Little Black Sands Beach is just one of those unique and beautiful places that make Shelter Cove unique among the array of small California beach towns.
Tucked away and honestly a little hard to find is the shy and secluded little sister to Black Sands Beach, aptly named, Little Black Sands. Little Black Sands Beach is the perfect cozy spot to throw down your beach blanket, unlatch the picnic basket and of course pop open a growler of some Gyppo brew! Delgada Canyon is located in front of you, where the ocean floor plummets 450 feet deep just ½ mile off the shore. This canyon creates a display of crashing waves that is a stunning water work show. Did we mention the whales? Delgada Canyon offers you rare opportunity to watch pods of whales frolicking and splashing at an incredible close distance. Top that Sea World!
If this is the year you visit the California Redwood Coast, be it tackling one of California most beautiful foot races, the Avenue of the Giants Marathon or the historic motorcycle rally, The 42nd Redwood Run. Make time to take the adventurous drive out the California’s Lost Coast where the mountains, (Kings Peak 4,088 ft) meet the sea in three short miles.
While you are here don’t forget to stop by the brewery for some house made craft beer and Shelter Cove’s most delicious fish and chips and famous Gyppo Chokesetter Burger! We are located on the 9th hole of the Shelter Cove Golf Links, directly next store to the Shelter Cove Campground. If you are lucky enough to own your own small airplane (or know someone who does!), fly on in and take the 5-minute walk to come for a visit. We promise you; you will not regret it.
*** Black Sands & Little Black Sands Beach are for watching NOT wading. Do NOT swim here. Check out Shelter Cove Beach for that. •••
Our Boots to Beer Blog is put out weekly. Please check back for a new gem each week/month. We love seeing you out enjoying this place we call home. Please tag @gyppoalemill in your social media post! Cheers to the Freewheeling life!
In search of an epic view to enjoy a cold craft beer? These adventure seekers find themselves in one of the most remote and beautiful coastlines, California's Lost Coast, in the King Range National Conservation Area. We come prepared sporting our Gyppo Ale Mill insulated backpack loaded with the essential, snacks, sustainable stainless steel cups, glass growlers of Blood Orange Wheat Beer & and even a jug of Belgium Dubbel.
Our journey begins in a deeply forested Wailaki Campground named after the indigenous people of the area. Sounds of trickling creeks greet us as we cross a handsome wooden bridge and meander among sword ferns along a single track trail assent. It’s a beautiful climb to the top through the depths of the forest - the mushrooms in the winter and wildflowers in the summer allow for entertainment year round. Look closely and you can identify a rare mushroom or two! Stream crossing with with mossy rocks make for picturesque spots for a quick water break and the opportunity to snap a photo to document this amazing adventure.
Upon reaching the peak of the mountain we are met with a breathtaking view. Blue skies with puffy white clouds and miles and miles of wilderness. We bust out the snacks and open our growlers of beer. It is these shared moments among friends admiring the beauty of Southern Humboldt and all mother earth has to offer that make Boots to Beer memories that much more monumental.
Gyppo Ale Mill embracing the freewheeling and sustainable lifestyle all while enjoying a cold craft brew. We would love to see photos from your Chemise Mountain trail hike. Share them here. Cheers!
Secluded on the shore of the Redwood Forest in Humboldt County, CA you will find a gem of a brewery full of award winning beers - Gyppo Ale Mill. Shelter Cove is home to the only brewery in Southern Humboldt and one of only three restaurants in a 20 mile radius of country roads that take twice as long to drive. It is the most natural and undeveloped area of California coastline today. The gorgeous road through Kings Range Conservation Area to Gyppo Ale Mill is only half of the adventure. But, you can count on us to be waiting your arrival with a pint of cold beer! Become lost in Shelter Cove with Gyppo’s mouth watering gastropub food and taste flights of beers all brewed in-house. Off you’ll go to explore the scenery with a growler of our local’s favorite, Mexican Logger or West Coast IPA, we’ll send you out to explore Shelter Cove’s Black Sand Beach, hiking the famous Lost Coast Trail, and charter fishing the Pacific Lost Coast where the salmon run. The outdoor activities are endless in beautiful southern Humboldt. Travel to the most remote brewery on the Lost Coast of California a scenic adventure you will never forget. Now we know what your thinking - Lost Coast, missing persons, Netflix’s Murder Mountain. Don’t let Hollywood scare you away from the experience of sitting back at where the Redwood Forest meets the Pacific Ocean and enjoy the company of a small town with a big heart. The name Gyppo stands strong as a term for an independent logger and later translated to an independent lifestyle of the Humboldt hills. Travel to the last sleepy beach town on California’s Redwood Coast. If your passing through on a road trip or live in Northern California we invite you to take the day trip out to California's most remote brewery. Mention this blog post and we will have something special waiting for you at the end of the majestic Shelter Cove road!