Beermakers hope to tap into the right temperatures for Queen City festivalBy MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader July 25. 2018 7:58PM
If you go...WHAT: Manchester Brewfest
WHERE: Arms Park, Manchester Millyard
WHEN: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday; VIP admission at noon
TICKETS: $40; $50 for VIP and $15 for designated drivers
A hot July. A couple of acres of blacktop. A crowd of craft beer aficionados expecting to sample the best that New Hampshire brewers have to offer.
Nothing could throw cold water on the fifth annual Manchester Brewfest more than cold water. Cold water, that is, in the tap-feeding cooler where ice should be.
With that in mind, organizers of the all-you-can-responsibly-drink Millyard event and brewers take all possible precautions to ensure that beers, ales, stouts and porters are poured at their ideal temperature. (Although there is a healthy debate about what that temperature should be.)
“We’ll have three pallets of (crushed) ice. I don’t know the weight, but the biggest 1-ton pickup truck you have couldn’t carry it all,” said Bill Herlicka, who organizers the Brewfest.
The Brewfest takes place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at the deceptively named Arms Park (it’s a sprawling parking lot) in the Manchester Millyard.
This year’s event includes two live music acts, a cornhole fundraiser run by the 603 Cornhole League, more than a dozen food trucks, and 32 brewers offering more than 100 selections.
The live music (by Nashua-based rock cover band The Slakas and singer and songwriter Dan Cloutier) is a first, and Herlicka predicts a crowd of 1,500 to 2,000.
Profits from the event will go to the New Horizons soup kitchen and homeless shelter.
According to several brewers, beer wouldn’t likely rise to the ambient air temperature if the ice runs out. But a significant temperature gradient between the beer in the keg and at the tap would create the scourge of any bartender — foam. It’s happened enough at other brew fests, Herlicka said, that brewers have been known to hoard bags of ice.
“Especially in a festival in a hot parking lot, you want to do everything to keep it cold,” said Steve Allman, founder/owner/brewmaster of the Canterbury Aleworks nanobrewery.
He will insulate his kegs and keep them in the shade. (Organizers provides canopies for the brewers.) The secret is the jockey box, a converted cooler with holes drilled in for taps. Inside, stainless steel coils are submerged in ice. The coils funnel the beer from the keg to the taps and keep the beer cool.
As for the proper temperature, it’s a matter of debate:
• Fifty degrees is good, especially for stouts and darker beers, said Michael Potorti, founder of Beara Brewing Co. in Portsmouth. He’s considering offering a citra-witt beer, a s’more dark beer and a bacon-chipotle stout.
“If it’s too cold, you don’t taste it,” he said.
But he noted that the weather and demand — the more frequent the tap, the colder the brew — are intangibles.
“There’s no scientific way to do it when you’re in a parking lot,” he said.
• The proper temperature depends on the beer, said Allman. Low alcohol, high carbonated beers are better cold; dark, low-carbonated beers are better warm.
“There’s a joke (that) the better the beer is, the better it will taste when warm and flat,” he said.
Allman is aiming for 40 degrees.
• Even colder for Frank Heidenreich, the brewmaster at Woodstock Inn Brewery. He wants to pour his beer between 35 and 38 degrees. Warm temperature creates off flavors, he said. And, after all, it is July.
“Cold beer’s good; cold beer sells,” Heidenreich said.
Brewers include: Stark Brewing of Manchester; Samuel Adams of Boston; Woodstock of North Woodstock; Beara Irish Brewing of Portsmouth; Border Brew of Salem; Kettlehead Brewing Co. of Tilton; The Outlaw Brewing Co. of Winchester; Shipyard Brewing of Portland, Maine; Jack’s Abby of Framingham, Mass.; Kona Brewing Co. of Hawaii; Martha’s Exchange of Nashua; Litherman’s Limited of Concord; Neighborhood Beer Co.of Exeter; Lord Hobo Brewing Co. of Woburn, Mass.; Angry Orchard of Walden, N.Y.; Newport Brewery of of Newport, R.I.; Millyard Brewing of Nashua; Tuckerman Brewing Co. of Conway; Mighty Squirrel of Boston; Canterbury Aleworks; Ballast Point of California; Lefty’s Brewing Co. of Greenfield, Mass.; “Rising Tide Brewing” of Portland, Maine; Ashuelot Brewing Co. of Richmond; Cisco Brewers of Nantucket, Mass; 1766 Brewing Co. of Plymouth; Bad Lab Beer Co. of Somersworth; Bantam Cider Co. of Somerville, Mass.; Swift Current Brewing Co. of Manchester; The Traveler Beer Co. of Burlington, Vt., and Candia Road Brewing Co. of Manchester.