The Master Gardeners recently toured the local Roy-Pitz Brewing Company in Chambersburg, one of 108 craft breweries in Pennsylvania where they explored a different use for plants. Barley, malt, hops and other interesting ingredients –watermelon, pumpkin, blueberries- go into making a variety of craft beers.
|Master Gardeners listen to Jessie Rotz talk about the brewing process.|
Jessie Rotz, co-founder and president, led us through the building, built in the early 1900’s as a hosiery factory, and down into the basement brewery. This is 6,000 sq. ft. of classic brick and old pine timber which has been restored to its original look and texture.
|Master Gardeners examine and smell some of the barley|
Jessie walked us through the brewing process from barley selection to vats and on into bottling and marketing.
|Bottler in the brewery|
What did we learn? (Continuing Education)
|Liquid Art Logo|
Chambersburg water supply is a perfect blank canvas for the Liquid Art of the brew masters. The water is similar to the water in Cologne, Germany, with a pH of 7. This is soft water which is used untreated and unfiltered.Different hops- American, English or noble German hops- create a different taste for their specialty brews. Some brews combine as many as five different hops.
Seasonal brews use different ingredients such as pumpkin, blueberries and watermelon. Other flavorings are added to add caramel, chocolate, citrus or other tastes. Occasionally batches of brews are concocted such as Chambersburg Peach Sour made with Chambersburg peaches pressed by Hauser Estate Winery. One of the newest batches has been made with chocolate from Nathan Miller Chocolate, a Chambersburg business located in the brewery building.
|Melon day when brewing the Lovitz Watermelon Lager|
This is a local business started by local residents, Jessie Rotz and Ryan Richards, long time friends. They have marketing education and actually studied the art of beer brewing.Many of the brew names refer to local area places and personages. See info pulled from their Website .
What is skunked beer? The off taste of beer referred to a “skunked” comes from exposure to sunlight not lack of refrigeration. Amber bottles are the best color to protect beer from light while clear and green are not so good.
There’s a lot of taste testing involved as this brewing process is very different from the big beer companies and batches are very individual. There was more taste testing early on before Jessie and Ryan were married, less taste testing now.
Different hops in diverse combinations, many varieties of barley creating special blends, different malts from around the world, yeast, great Chambersburg water, cold temps and hot water, steam and special ingredients added in the conditioning vessel, green beer, wort, carbonation - this is artistic chemistry.
|Some of the vats in the brewing process|
Let’s just come back and do some taste testing. A suggestion for a horticulture/garden theme book club was tossed out for consideration.
Here’s some of the interesting local themed beers with information from their Website.
This dark brew was inspired by the historical Civil War burning of our hometown of Chambersburg, PA in July 1864. During the raid, Ludwig's Brewery, operated by George Ludwig, was burned to the ground by Confederate soldiers under Gen. McCausland's orders. In remembrance of this truly buzz-killing event, we created a German style Rauchbier, or dark smoked lager. This beer uses all its ingredients from Bamberg, Germany, which is where the style was born (coincidentally, the same area where Ludwig himself was born and taught to brew).
OLD JAIL ALE
This beer was inspired by Chambersburg's 1818 "Old Jail" that is one of the few structures to have survived the burning of Chambersburg by Confederate Forces in 1864. The jail also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. [Check out the monkey with the stein.]