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Boulevard Brew Tour

It has been a couple of months since my last post.  Work has taken over my life lately, but, alas, I have returned.

For my birthday a while back my friends decided to take me to Kansas City, MO for some brews, blues, and BBQ.  I immediately sprung into action seeking reviews on the best and most unique places to eat and drink through the weekend, focusing on bars/breweries all within walking distance of one another.  I will post  on my other great findings in the area shortly, but for sake of time and attention span I will just talk about the main reason we visited KC and that was for Boulevard.

Boulevard tour with Jeremy Danner.

We first went to the Tasting room to wait for our gracious host.  While all the tour goers were drinking 4oz samples, we were given full-sized Belgian glasses while we waited to go on our private to a good start!  We tried Nommo which is a Belgian Style Dubbel.  And it was, as I was told by the brewer, EXTREMELY fresh, and damn was it delicious.  Wonderful dark fruit flavors of raisin, plum, perhaps fig, and some great light pepper flavors accompanied by some toffee notes.  To be completely honest, I can't remember ALL the beers we started out with as it turned into that kind of day.  Jeremy explained a little bit about all the various beers on tap in the tasting room and required we try the ones that rarely get out of the state.

Next we visited the smaller brew house as he showed us all the digital components and the overall processes and differences between the larger and smaller brewing gear.  Then back to the tasting room for some beer.  Then up some stairs to see the grain mill and hopper.  Then some more beer samples... Without going into too much detail, we walked for miles all over the brewery, the packaging area, the beautiful reception area (where they often hold weddings), the barrel aging room etc.  We then traveled up a plethora of stairs through hallways, and rooms and eventually made our way to the roof.  With a fresh beer in hand, we drank beer on the roof next to the BLVD sign overlooking the entire city.  What a sight!

Arguably one of the coolest parts of our tour was getting to hang out in the lab with "Science," the nickname for the lab tech.  We got to check the yeast propagation to some extent, see a massive deep deep freezer (which Jeremy doesn't like since they wont let me him make dip-n-dots in the freezer) and we got to try a couple of aged beers being used for taste comparisons.  Lastly, we were able to drink beer directly off the taps in the lab.  This may not sound as cool as it really is.  To my knowledge, this is the FRESHEST beer directly off a vessel or keg or bottling line.  The tap box in the lab is used for last minute quality control and boy is it tasty.  The regular wheat beer was so incredibly fresh and delicious I wish we could get that beer in Omaha that fresh.  We were also able to taste Nutcracker which I have had numerous times in the past, but, I have never tried it right after the dry hopping.  Frankly, I didn't even know it was dry hopped every other time I had tried it because they actually sit on that beer for months before distributing it!  It is great regardless but it is a delicious, dry-hopped, masterpiece when it is only days old.

My buddy Matt-Left
(we had come from Oktoberfest)
 and Brewer Jeremy Danner -Right
After going round and round the brewery, we finally came to a stop once again in the tasting room.  To my knowledge, a normal tour takes approximately 45 minutes, maybe less.  All in all, ours lasted approximately 4 hours.  4 wonderful, laugh-filled, beer-filled hours.

All in all, one of the best tours and best tour guides we have ever had at ANY brewery.  Thank you so much Jeremy Danner and Boulevard Brewing for being such great hosts.

Thanks all for reading.  Check back to hear a bit about some of the other amazing beer bars in KC.

Chad Roz
The Lauter Tun


Basic Beer/Brewing Terminology

Beer Terminology

Last week I discussed some basics in brewing. If you missed out last week, you can check out them out on my archived blogs. This week, lets go over a few basic beer/brewing terms that come up frequently. You may have even seen some of these terms or abbreviations on beer menus in the past.

I was shocked to learn some people were not aware what many of these abbreviations meant. But then again, I've spent a large part of my life in or around a bar so what is common to me is likely uncommon to the average consumer. It's like my wife (who is a school psychologist) discussing IEPs and SATs and low and high SESs etc. She can spit out terms like that without flinching not knowing I had no idea (until recently) what any of them meant.

ABV. Alcohol by Volume. This is the typical measurement of alcohol in a liquid. It is the overall percentage of alcohol in the container. A bourbon that is 40% ABV contains 40% alcohol out of 100%. Easy enough right? Average beers range from 4%-5% or more. So if you are used to drinking a light or "lite" beer at around 3.5-4.2% ABV, then you consume a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout at 14.5% ABV on a will be intoxicated relatively quickly. That's like drinking 4 of your light beers in one glass of Bourbon Stout! I've had a few patrons have 2 or 3 of those and wonder why they need to call a cab to drive them home. I say "well you had 12 regular beers in 2 hours man!".

It gets more confusing when start discussing ABW vs ABV. ABW= Alcohol by Weight. This is the measurement of weight of alcohol vs the rest of the liquid in the container. Alcohol is lighter than water so the measurement is generally lower than ABV. So 3.2% Alcohol by Weight is 3.2% of the total weight out of 100%. So say the bottle was 100 grams. If the beer was 3.2% ABW, that would mean that 3.2 grams of alcohol was in the bottle. ABW is generally around 4/5 of the ABV. So if you see some three-two beer (3.2%), just double check that its 3.2% ABV or ABW. If it is 3.2% ABW the alcohol percentage is actually higher. Clear as mud?

O.G. No. Not original gangster. OG = Original Gravity. In previous emails and blogs I discussed some basic brewing. Wort is the sugar water made from combining hot water and malted barley. Well, OG is the measurement of dissolved solids in liquid (namely sugar). We use a hydrometer to measure how much more dense the wort is than water. The more dense the more potential sugars dissolved in the wort. Why is that important? The more sugar in the finished wort, the more sugar for the yeast to eat and the more potential for alcohol in the finished beer. So the Original Gravity is the measurement of sugars in the wort before fermenting.

F.G. = Final Gravity. This is, as you may have guessed, the measurement of sugars in the beer after fermentation. Alcohol is less dense than sugars so we can use that little hydrometer again to measure the density of the liquid again. The more sugar that was consumed by the yeast during fermentation, the higher the alcohol. So we can take the original Gravity and the Final Gravity and calculate the approximate ABV of a beer.

Why are those terms important for the regular consumer? A lot of breweries list the OG or FG next to the beers. If the beer has an extremely high OG you can guess its going to be a pretty boozy beer. If it has a really low FG that means it has very little sugars left so it will likely be dry with little residual sweetness. A high FG means a lot of residual sweetness because the yeast didn't consume all the sugars. If you like sweeter beer, a higher Final Gravity is what you want! So a beer like Budweiser or a light crisp Pilsner or Wheat beer may have a very low Final Gravity where as a nice English Brown Ale or Imperial Stout or Barleywine will likely have a slightly, if not extremely, high Final Gravity.

IBUs = International Bitterness Units. This is the relative measurement of bitterness in a beer. I say relative because some beers that have high IBUs don't necessarily taste extremely bitter. Its all relative to the sweetness of the beer. Imagine a super sweet Chinese dish with a bunch of red peppers in it. It will still be spicy but wont taste nearly as spicy as if it were a bland dish with no sweetness and tons of peppers. OK, maybe that was a poor analogy. However, if you have an extremely high ABV beer that has a relatively high FG (see how I'm using terms we just learned, nice right?) a high level of bitterness isn't going to be as noticeable or perceivable as a beer that is 'light'. A lighter beer with a bunch of hops will be perceived as 'hoppier' or more bitter.

Lets put this in perspective. Most of the American Light Lagers or "Domestic" styles are around 8-12 IBUs. A German Pilsner may be upward of 25 IBUs. An American Pale Ale 30-45 IBUs and an American IPA 40-70 IBUs.

SRM = Standard Reference Method. SRM is just a method for estimating beer color. So if a beer is listed at a lower SRM it is lighter in color than a beer with a higher SRM. A light American Lager may be 2-4 SRM. An American Pale Ale 5-14, American Brown Ale 18-35, and an Irish Stout 30-45. Higher number = Darker.

I hope that clears up a few of the abbreviations you see while you're at your favorite pub. Now the next time you are out with your friends you can be the know-it-all with all the answers!

The Layman Brewing Basics

Whether commercial or homebrewing, the basic process of making beer is pretty much the same. On a commercial system you'll likely have more control than you would have on a five gallon brew system in your garage, but the steps are similar.

Here are some of the steps in the brewing process to help you better understand how beer becomes beer. Why is one beer a different color, bitterness, sweetness, etc? 
1. Planning. This seems pretty obvious but it takes careful planning and preparation to make a great beer. The most basic of planning involves deciding the style of beer you want to make. What color? How Bitter? What strain of yeast? Combining various malts of various colors will change the color of the finished beer as well as the flavor. All light malt will yield a light colored beer. Add dark malt and you will start to darken the final product. The quantity and intensity of the malt will determine color. Imagine mixing paint in art class. You start with a white base, then mix various colors to achieve the desired hue. Adding a little bit of black to a yellowish base will lend a amber, copper, or brownish color. Add a lot of black color to the mix and it will inevitably make it completely black. This, as I had mentioned, will affect beer flavor as well. Lighter grains may lend a general light, malty sweetness where amber or "crystal" malts will add a note of caramelly sweetness, while dark roasted malts in high quantities may offer a chocolate, coffee, or burnt flavors. 

2. Milling. Once the brewer has decided from the plethora of types of malt, he must crack them or "mill" them in order to expose the starches inside the grain.


3. Mashing. The cracked grain or "grist" is sent to a "hopper" (a container that holds this cracked grain, sort of like a grain funnel). The hopper is then emptied into a mash tun and combined with hot water. This combination of grist and hot water is called the "mash"(in distilling it is often called the "wash"). Mashing allows enzymes in the malt to break down starches in the grain to sugars. Why is that important? To make alcohol, yeast eats sugar and converts it, but it can't eat starches which is why they need to be broken down into simple sugars. So in short, grain + hot water = sugar water.

Mash Tun
4. Lautering. After the mash has successfully converted starches to sugars, we send the sugar water called "wort"(pronounced wert) to the boil kettle. The process of separating the grain from the wort is called "Lauterting." During this process we slowly rinse or "sparge" the rest of the grain to get all the sugars out.

Boil Kettle

5. Boil. We boil the wort for several reasons. One big reason is that it sterilizes the wort. This is why, historically, beer was safer to drink than water any many places. During the boil we add hops. Hops are extremely important as they add needed bitterness to balance the sweetness of the wort. Wort by itself is literally just sugar water so it needs some amount of bitterness. Hops are added at various times during the boiling process (which usually takes 60-90 minutes). Hops have resins and oils in them. Resins become bitter when you boil for long periods of time and oils add aromatics. In generally, the longer you boil a hop, the more bitter. The less you boil the hop, the more aromatic. So that "triple hops brewed" beer we all hear about is pretty typical. It just means they used hops at three different times during the boil. In fact, many, many beers are "triple hops brewed". Many beers have hops added five or more times!

6. Chilling. After the hops are added and the boil has commenced, the hopped wort needs to be chilled quickly and transferred to a fermenter. The wort goes through a heat exchanger which will chill the boiling liquid to around 70 degrees extremely fast. 

7. Fermenting. The chilled wort is combined with healthy yeast in a fermenter. In a matter of days or weeks the yeast will consume the sugars and make alcohol and carbon dioxide. 


8. Filtering (optional). In some cases the beer will need to be filtered to get rid of any yeast and clear up the beer. For this, the fermented beer is usually sent through filter pads where the filters catch all the yeast, sending a nice, clear beer to a serving vessel.

9. Misc. and Carbonating. Some beers are dry hopped, or aged in oak, or add fruit puree etc. This is usually done in the serving vessel. For sake of time I'll only discuss one of the many things that can be added to a serving vessel. "Dry Hopping" is when hops are added directly to the serving vessel. Because there is no boil, the aromatic oils will not evaporate, thereby making a very intensely aromatic beer. Lastly, Unless the beer is going to be bottle conditioned (meaning yeast is left in the beer and the beer will self-carbonate in the bottle), CO2 will be forced into the beer to carbonate it to the desired level.

10. Drink it!


Beer 101 - Basic Beer Ingredients

I recently started adding some basic beer vocabulary and information in The Lauter Tun's Newsletters.  It had occurred to me that, though I describe new beers briefly, what makes them different as far as ingredients and brewing practices may not be common knowledge.   I know many beer geeks know this information already, but for the layman drinker, I hope this information is at least a little bit useful.  

Basics in Beer Ingredients

This week I started really hitting my staff hard regarding brewing and why certain beers look, smell, and taste the way they do. For the most part, the staff is fairly familiar with various beer styles and your basic beer knowledge. I think, however, to really know the beer you are drinking, your need to have a little basic brewing knowledge. It also aids in beer-cabulary and it will make you sound smarter when you are talking to people at your local watering hole.

As I don't want to bore the readers too quickly, I will simply touch on the basic brewing ingredients. In future blogs, I will touch on the actual procedures in brewing.

First off, what are the four main ingredients in beer? Water, Malt, Hops, and Yeast. Each ingredient is EXTREMELY important.

What is malt? Well, malt is short for malted barley, a cereal grain. Malting in short; the grain is moistened, made to start germinating, dried/kilned, and sometimes roasted. The temperature/intensity and length of this kilning and roasting will determine the color and flavor profile of that specific malt. Think of a piece of white bread that you are about to put in a toaster. The longer you toast it, the darker it becomes and the flavor changes a great deal. After being malted, the grain is cracked and mixed with hot water which extracts sugars from the grain. The sugar is important as that is what the yeast will consume and covert to alcohol. There are dozens and dozens of varieties of malt, all of which impart unique flavor characteristics to a beer. It also is the largest determining factor in the color of a beer. In general, dark malt (which is kilned and/or roasted at higher temperatures than lighter malt) provides darker color. So, pilsners use much lighter malt than a brown ale or a stout. While you shouldn't taste a beer with your eyes, color does often help one infer what the malt flavor of a beer could be.

Hops are female flower clusters actually related to cannabis. These wonderful plants provide the needed bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt. Hops also help stabilize a beer as they have preservative qualities. Hops are generally used during and after the boiling process in which they impart, as previously mentioned, a much needed bitterness, but also flavor and aroma. There are a plethora of types of hop varieties with flavors and aromas ranging from grassy and earthy, to citrusy and spicy, piney to cheesy (if the hops are old)... Depending on the quantity of hops, duration of the boil, and variety used, the finished beer may be intensely hoppy like an IPA or mild like an English Brown Ale. I always get a kick out of people who say they "hate hops" as I guarantee every beer they have ever tried had hops in it. Intense hoppiness may not be desirable to some people, of course, but many people can't live with out it!

The water is arguably one of the most important components of beer as most beers are over 90% water. Even though the water is boiled and therefore sterilized, the flavor of water can destroy or enhance a brew. Imagine drinking a beer made from the Missouri River water or water from your home faucet. Very different chemical compounds and therefore very different flavors and aromas. Another example: Have you ever washed your hands and you couldn't seem to get the soap off? That means the water is extremely soft. On the flip side, sometimes just washing your hands dries your skin out completely. Hence, very hard water. If that happens to your hands in 15 seconds of washing, imagine what it can do in a 500+ gallon brew.

Yeast usually has the last say in what a beer will taste like. Of course, yeast eats sugar (left by the mashed grain) and converts it to CO2 and glorious alcohol. Different yeast strains will provide extremely different finished products. Imagine a Boulevard Wheat Ale. Easy drinking, crisp, lightly citrusy, refreshing and light. Now ferment that beer with a Belgian Yeast or a German Hefeweizen yeast and you will have a VERY different beer with possible flavors of banana, clove, vanilla, bubblegum, peaches or pears, white pepper, who knows!? And I'm not even touching on wild yeasts and other fungi and bacteria that can be used to ferment beer. Lastly, with regards to yeast, there are really only two (2) main types of yeast. Ale, and Lager yeast. Ale yeast is top-fermenting, generally fermented at a warmer temperature, and can promote yeasty flavors that may be described as fruity and spicy (especially in some Belgian style yeasts). Lager yeasts are bottom-fermenting, generally fermented at a cooler temperature, and due to the colder temperature, the yeast is often prohibited from providing those yeasty flavors so the finished product showcases more of the malt/water/hops characteristics. However, these DO NOT determine color. There are lagers that are black as night, and ales that are extremely pale. Generally when someone says to me "I like lagers", they really mean they like light beer. But don't be mistaken, there is no distinction between the lightness or darkness, or heaviness of a beer based on whether it is a lager or an ale.

This is just a brief description of the basic brewing ingredients, but I hope it helps a little bit. In future emails I will describe the actual brewing process more in depth.

Chad Roz

-The Lauter Tun

402-934-6999 | The Lauter Tun


Lovechild #2 Review

*As perceived by the mouth of Chad Rozniecki
**Individual tastes may vary

Boulevard Brewing Company

-This beer is a Bourbon Barrel Aged Malt Beverage as the label describes it.

-750ml Cork and Cage Bottle

-Served into Chimay Goblet

--When my wife bought me this beer, I assumed it would be a strong, malty, sweet, bourbon-barrel-aged ale with heavy notes of vanilla, oak, caramel etc. What I found was QUITE the opposite, and yet very tasty.

Attractive Dark Copper/Amber color with little to no head even after practically forcing it. The white head dissipates almost immediately after pouring. A slight haze to the beer either from suspended yeast or chill haze.

Extremely tart and refreshing, similar to something like Goose Island's Lolita. I smell some darker red fruits like raspberry or maybe cherry and definitely some great funk. Again, not at all what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised.

There is mild carbonic bite as it hits the tongue accentuated by the acidity of the brew. Salivary glands immediately start working as I can sense the tartness before I even swallow. There is a very mild sweetness on the front of the palate followed by a very minimal/mellow oakiness in the middle. I also sense a very small amount of bouron flavor in the middle followed by fairly intense fruity sourness.

An incredibly refreshing sour beer. Of course, after reading the label, I should have noticed that they used Lacto and Brett in the beer thereby making it sour... but I think this added in the enjoyment of the beer in that I had no previous expectations (rather an uniformed expectation). Reasonably complex flavors from not only the basic ingredients but also the barrel aging and the various other fungi/bacteria used to ferment the beer. I would definitely get this beer again, though I should probably have a friend to share it with so I'm not consuming 750ml of barrel-aged sour beer by myself...
but then again...

From 1-5 I give this beer a 4+.

Thank you readers and please check back soon to read more.

Check out Boulevard Brewing for more info about their beers and check for information about our bar.



The Lauter Tun Homebrew Showdown

The LT is hosting a homebrew showdown for local brewers and homebrew clubs. Please follow the information below to enter.

The NEW UPDATED homebrew showdown forms for Aug 5th are uploaded online. Please download and print forms if you are entering.

Thank you and good luck!



Summertime Rye - Nebraska Brewing Co. Review:

*As perceived by the mouth of Chad Rozniecki
**Individual tastes may vary

Nebraska Brewing Company is located in Papillion in the Shadowlake Shopping Center.  In my experience, the brewers, owners, and staff have been nothing but incredibly nice and informative.  They, to my knowledge, are the most awarded brewery in the State by far.  But enough about my love affair with NBC.

Summertime Rye on Tap at The Lauter Tun (Omaha NE)

This beer is an extra pale ale as described to my by Tyson Arp (head brewer for NBC).

-Appearance:  The beer is very clear, not quite crystal, with a light straw gold color.  The heady is fluffy white and creamy which lasts for a reasonable amount of time, leaving some, but not a lot of lacing.

-Aroma: CITRUSY.  One of the main hops in this beer is Citra hops and it definitely comes through in the aroma.  Fairly floral, slightly grassy/earthy, lemon and grapefruit with a light graininess.

-Flavor: Light, medium-light bodied with a nice citrus and mildly grassy hop flavor and bitterness.  The beer is definitely hop forward but not overpowering.  Fairly clean with a light spiciness whether from the rye or the hops.

-Overall:  Not a lot to say other than this is a ridiculously refreshing summer pale ale.  Light and crisp with a nice citrusy hop bite.

From 1-5 I give this beer a 4.5 "Is there crack in this?  I can't stop drinking it!"

Thank you readers and please check back soon to read more.

Check out for more info about their beers and check for information about our bar.