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Behind the scenes with Mad Anthony's brewmaster

Friday, December 27, 2013 - 12:01 am


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    The regular brews:
    Ol' Woody Pale Ale
    Style: American style pale ale
    Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5 percent

    Gabby Blonde Ale
    Style: American style golden lager
    ABV: 4 percent

    Auburn Lager
    Style: American style auburn lager
    ABV: 4.6 percent

    Harry Baals Irish Stout
    Style: Classic Irish stout
    ABV: 4.2 percent

    Raspberry Wheat
    Style: Wheat ale infused with Oregon Raspberries
    ABV: 4.7 percent

    The seasonal brews:
    Snow Plowed Winter Ale
    Style: Full bodied, brown colored ale with a malt and hop balance
    ABV: 5.9 percent

    Style: German style lager with an amber color
    ABV: 5.5 percent

    Summer Daze
    Style: A blend of wheat, honey and caramel malt
    ABV: 5.5 percent

    Bent Rim Black Lager
    Style: With imported malts from Germany, the recipe is a mix of pilsner malt, Munich malt and a special carafa malt (similar to a chocolate malt)
    ABV: 5 percent

    The process:
    *Malted barley and hot water are mixed in the huge mash tun until the starches in the barley convert to sugar water and the mixture becomes wort.
    *Then, the wort is circulated into a large kettle where the hops are added. The mixture will then boil for several hours.
    *The concoction is then transferred to a fermenting tank and injected with yeast. Over time, the yeast ferments the sugars, releasing carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol.
    *The brew is then transferred into holding tanks and “finings” are added to improve clarity or adjust flavor or aroma. One brew can take 14 days to produce.

Days for Mad Anthony Brewing Co. brewmaster Jeremy Zuber begin early. Often arriving before the sun is up, Zuber has a job to do – a job that with one slight alteration to the recipe could leave him with a bad batch of beer.

So far, in his nearly seven years as brewmaster, Zuber hasn't made a mistake. For him, brewing is a precisely calculated equation – each ingredient is recorded, the temperature is strictly monitored and the timing is essential.

This is the life of a brewmaster.

Zuber, and the assistant brewmaster, Chris Nix, man two vessels: the original brew-house and the production brewery, both located at 1109 Taylor St. in Fort Wayne.

From regulars Gabby Blonde Lager and Ol' Woody Pale Ale to seasonals such as Summer Daze and Snowplowed Winter Ale, Mad Anthony is known for having something on tap for nearly every beer lover, and Zuber has made nearly every one of them.

Keeping it local

It's obvious from its hometown art work, signage and business practices that Mad Anthony is all about keeping it local, which is why they like to keep their product on tap at local restaurants and on the shelves at stores statewide.

But if you want unique, seasonal and fresh-from-the-vat beer, you have to stop into the brewpub.

Often people will ask co-owner Blaine Stuckey why Mad Anthony doesn't make a certain type of flavored beer (pumpkin, coffee or others). He has to remind them that most of the time they have made other specialty beers that are only served on tap.

For Stuckey and business partners Todd Grantham and Jeff Neels, the focus has been – and always will be – about keeping business local.

“We distribute locally and that's our focus and that always has been,” he said.

Distribution has taken Mad Anthony into over 70 locations in Fort Wayne and surrounding cities such as Angola, Warsaw, and Auburn. To keep up with demand, the pole barn brewery is expanding.

“It has been great to see everyone beginning to appreciate craft beer, and I am looking forward to seeing new breweries opening in Fort Wayne and seeing the local styles being produced and enjoyed,” Stuckey said. “There is something about supporting a local business, having a pride in it and discovering something new.”

The future of Mad Anthony beer

As the business grows, so does the operation.

Stuckey said the brewery expansion is a project they have been looking forward to for nearly three years.

“This has been a long time coming. We've already expanded four times, and there have been times we've run out of beer. This is a significant expansion to help make us much more productive and potentially put more product in the bottle,” Stuckey told The News-Sentinel in November. “This would lead us into the position where we could do much more in the future.”

If approved by city planners, the expansion could create one job and allow the company to bottle more of the 65 varieties it now produces each year.

The project, which will also include the purchase of new equipment, will cost less than $100,000, Stuckey said.

Jeremy Zuber, brewmaster at Mad Anthony Brewing, works in what employees call the "monkey cage" or the original brewery. The seven-barrell shop was first built when the company opened 16 years ago. Today, the original brewery produces all draft beer served in the pub. (Photos by Jaclyn Goldsborough of The News-Sentinel)

Where the magic is made

The “original” Mad Anthony Brewery, as seen behind the four-foot windows in the brewery dining room, was used from 1998 to 2001 to produce Mad Anthony beer for the restaurant as well as all bottled and draft beer sold to outside companies.

Today, however, the brewery only produces the draft beer served in the restaurant. The brewery is situated in a tiny 500-square-foot room and is often called the “monkey cage” by the owners, staff and regulars.

It's a place where anyone can stop in, peek through the glass and see what Zuber and Nix are fixing in the microbrewery.

The original brewhouse is a seven-barrel direct-fired brew house custom built by Cross Distributing Company in Springville, Calif. Originally, it was supported by four seven-barrel fermenters and six serving tanks, but two serving tanks, as well as a fermenter and storage tank were added later to meet increasing demand.

Located in a mint-green 2,500-square-foot pole barn in the parking lot of the pub is the main brewery. The equipment in the pole barn produces all bottled beer, and beer for local festivals.

The brewery itself is a 15-barrel brewery with a copper brewhouse, two 15-barrel fermenters and a 30-barrett fermenter. Three fifteen-barrel tanks give the Mad Anthony beers room for conditioning.

All bottling is performed by bottler with a capacity of 30 to 50 cases per hour, and the bottles are then hand labeled by an employee. The setup is impressive to say the least.

But that setup will all change when the owners expand the operation to keep up with the distribution demand.

How the magic is made

That puts a lot of pressure on brewmasters Zuber and Nix, who will be churning out more beer than ever.

But this process cannot be altered, because the beer-making process is a fine art with strict rules, and each batch is closely monitored and recorded.

Starting with four ingredients – water, yeast, malt and hops – the guys brew multiple batches simultaneously. They start by loading the mash tun with grain and water, then brew the mixture. Once the sugar water – or wort– is run from the mash tun to the kettle, hops and flavorings are added, and the mixture is brewed for seven to eight hours. Then the mixture is brought to the proper temperature, whether hotter or colder depending on the beer, to create a fermentable liquid. Yeast is added to the mixture as carbon dioxide escapes the kettle through a hose placed into a bucket. The fermentation process takes seven to 10 days to complete. Lastly, any additions, changes or alterations are made before it's sold or tapped.

From brew to tap, it takes about two weeks to make a batch of beer served at Mad Anthony, and as the team catches up to the ever-increasing craft beer market, Stuckey, Zuber and Nix are all preparing for another year, big changes and even more homemade batches of beer.