NET Presents| Savor: Nebraska Craft Beer

NET Presents| Savor: Nebraska Craft Beer


matic music) CHARLIE YIN: The product
is as good if not better than anything else that’s
on the market right now. Nebraska is making
some amazing beer. The nice thing about beer
is it’s not tied to terroir. It’s not tied to your
climate, so much as wine. (upbeat music) You can import malt,
you can bring in yeast, you can bring in hops. We can compete on a national
scale and we do compete. JIM ENGLEBART:
The challenge for us became, how do we ever sell anything that isn’t just like
Bud, Miller, and Coors, ’cause that’s not
what we want to do. (upbeat music) BILL BABUREK: It’s not
about seeing how
quickly I can get drunk or how many shots I
can do or whatever. It provides the lubricant
for great conversation. JIM BALLARD: In moderation,
it can be just wonderful, pairing with food,
having with friends. I think the wine and beer
industries are interesting. That’s been exciting to see and how it’s kind of
changed and is evolving. DAN HODGES:
I think they’ve embraced our
beer because it’s drinkable. We have people come in here that used to drink Coors
Light all the time. They’ll try the beer and
they keep coming back. In Nebraska, we’re always
slow to embrace stuff. We’re always the last ones. People are just now realizing, hey there’s something
there that’s better, and they want to try new stuff. (upbeat music) (beer being poured) (upbeat music) CHARLIE YIN: Beer is a much
more local product, it’s a much more
approachable product. It is for anyone who
wants to drink it. It’s an amazing product
so I think you’re seeing a lot of folks realize
like, hey this thing that I’ve been drinking
since I’ve been 21 is now getting a
little bit more care, so there’s better
versions of this beer. It’s not just beer that
tastes like water anymore, it’s beer that tastes
like something. JIM ENGLEBART: We think of beer
as something we’re gonna drink, and have a good time because
it has some alcohol in it. 500, 1,000, 10,000 years ago,
it was part of people’s diet. I think we brought
some of that back. It creates a bigger, brighter
picture that isn’t just again, flavorless, colorless
lifestyle choice beverage. It’s really more about drinking
something that tastes good and enhances my life,
because it tastes good. NARRATOR: Like the
rest of the nation, craft beer has emerged
as a popular alternative
in Nebraska, to the traditional pilsners
made by major brewers. BILL BABUREK: Most craft
breweries
will make a gateway beer. Say four people walk
into our tap room, and three of them
love craft beer, and the other guy’s a domestic. He drinks Busch
Light, all the time. It’s like jumping into
a cold swimming pool. It’s the worst, you know, you don’t want to
shock their system, you want to wade into
there and get used to it, so you give them something
that they can kinda relate to. You get ’em interested
in something like that, and then you hope that
maybe the next time, maybe they become a
little more adventurous. (upbeat music) NARRATOR: As palates
grow beyond pale lagers, a whole world of different
tastes await consumers within the craft
beer experience. YIN: A ton overview
breweries have opened in the last five years, and we’ve seen
exponential growth. Competition just raises the bar, and I think that’s
what we’ll see, better product being produced. (upbeat music) ENGLEBART:
We played a big role in it, because when we opened
our doors in 1991, most people in Lincoln’s
perception of what beer was, was this near colorless,
near flavorless, carbonated liquid
that you drank as cold as you could get it,
and by the 30 pack. At the time we were the
only brewery operating in the state of Nebraska. The original concept
was a restaurant that also happened
to make its own beer. You saw that same concept
just really starting to gain some traction on either Coast,
West Coast and East Coast. RICH CHAPIN:
I’ve been fortunate enough
to be involved in home brewing and won a couple
of national awards. When the owners of this decided
to do the brew pub concept. He goes, “I hear you make
beer,” and I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “We’re gonna open
a restaurant brew pub.” I said, “I’m your huckleberry,” so that’s really how it started. ENGLEBART: All signs pointed
to a success really from the get go. And those first five years, it
wasn’t a regular occurrence, but there was definitely
more than a few times where it was like, hey
we barely can keep up with what we’re doing here. CHAPIN: That idea was
really popular and still is, but it was very small, but then it’s taken off
into microbreweries. You’ve seen that explosion
in the last five years. (upbeat music) ENGLEBART: We have people
that were asking how they could get our beer. They would like to have it and
sell it outside of Lazlo’s. The beer is a special enough
product that Lazlo’s makes. We could give it its own
name, and its own brand. All those conversations
turned into, let’s do a celestial
theme brewery because you look at history, and you see people
have fermented alcohol out of various things throughout
all of recorded history, and typically that
alcohol leads to them, laying on the ground at night looking at the stars, and coming
up with myths and legends. Our brewer threw out this
Greek word Empyrean, that shows up in literature
in about five places, one of which is Plato’s story
about the depths of hell to the highest heaven. He gets to the highest
heaven and refers to it, or names it, the Empyrean. Almost 40% of our
production is either porter, stout, or brown ale. We sell about 52,000
cases of beer, a year. The City of Omaha consumes
about 52,000 cases a week of Busch Light, so it kind
of gives you an indication of the difference in scale. We can show through the
different beers we brew kind of the history. This dark beer came from
this part of the world. This pale color beer came
from that part of the world. This beer flowered that
uses a lot of hop flowers and it has this unique flavor developed in this part of
the world, for this reason. The myths and legends side of it really creates a
bigger, brighter picture that isn’t just again,
flavorless, colorless, lifestyle choice beverage. BABUREK: Nebraska has a fairly
rich history in brewing. A lot of it is tied to
the European immigrants, and a lot of those immigrants
obviously settled in Omaha, and established really
large breweries. Fred Krug established
his brewery in 1859. He was really the
first major Brewer to establish a
German brewery here. Followed, not long after
by the Metz brothers, and then Gottlieb
Storz came here. There were some really
big breweries in Omaha. Krug, and Metz, and
Storz, all sold their beer throughout the
entire United States. The city was a pretty
big brewing center, not quite like St.
Louis or Milwaukee, but held its own for the size
of city that it was, for sure. ENGLEBART: We can’t have that
conversation without referring to what we call the
dark days, prohibition. 1918 through 1933,
the great experiment of the federal government
saying alcohol is forbidden to produce and forbidden to
sell, and forbidden to own, basically making it
an outlawed substance. BABUREK: Most
of those breweries, never came back
after prohibition. The problem was is that
we’re in the middle of the depression, and
when Krug and Jetters both raised capital to
reopen their breweries, it wasn’t enough. The Falstaff
brewery in St. Louis was brewing a lot of beer in two different
breweries in St. Louis. They were very, very popular, and they were looking
to add more capacity. They stepped in and took
over the Krug operation here in Omaha in ’35, and operated that
plant for 50 years. It was significant in
that it was the first time in the history of U.S.
brewing that a brewer had two different facilities,
in two different cities. It pioneered the
multi-plant operation, because before that,
even Anheuser Busch, as big as they were, every
bottle of beer that they brewed only came out of St. Louis. Falstaff
pioneered that multi-plant
operation with Omaha. ENGLEBART: There was this dead
period of almost 12 years when the Falstaff
Brewery in Omaha closed, where there was no brewing
licenses in the state. (upbeat music) ENGLEBART:
Now we continue to grow. It’s amazing, the growth trend. It has doubled in just
the last 10 years, not just in Nebraska
but nationwide. NARRATOR: Over
the last decade, the number of breweries in the
state has more than doubled. Nebraska produces
over 50,000 barrels of craft beer, each year. ENGLEBART: Fermentation’s been
around longer than people have. For the last 10,000 years,
people have figured out how to harness fermentation
to our own needs. Whether it’s wine,
whether it’s beer, there’s multiple other foods
that are fermented too. CHAPIN: Basically, you’re
making a sugar solution out of malted barley. We all know fructose
and sucrose, the main sugar in
beer is maltose, and maltotriose,
that’s a higher sugar. So that’s what you
extract by temperature that you boil, add hops to,
and then you cool that down, and add yeast to it. ENGLEBART: When beer yeast
gets that sugar, it’s gonna produce
some carbon dioxide, which gives us fun bubbles, but even funner, it gives
us our good buddy alcohol. The whole process of brewing is about creating
a source of sugar. We’ll spice it sometimes
with actual real spices. The spice in beer
is obviously hops, so that’ll be added during the
boil process, and afterwards, depending on the
beer we’re making. Beer yeast doesn’t consume
all of the sugar fortunately. It leaves a little bit of
sweetness behind for us, which makes the
beverage enjoyable. Two weeks to make it,
starting from scratch. BABUREK: Having that local
ownership, and local pride back, has really instilled a new
faith and spirit in these towns. CHAPIN: Plus the advent in the
last six or seven years, of a hop producer in our state. There’s more than one,
but that’s an easy sell, beer made with
local Nebraska hops. KATIE KREUSER: Hops are the
flower of a plant, and their primary use
currently is in beer. The hops produce
the lupulin inside, and that’s what the
brewers really care about that has the essential
oils, the aromas, the alpha acids
and the beta acids. They provide the bitterness,
and more recently, they’re providing
aroma characteristics. Growing hops in Nebraska, some people have been doing
it for about a decade, but it’s relatively new in
the past three or four years, and what really began
with a hop shortage out in the Pacific Northwest,
a local foods movement, and then the explosion of
the craft beer industry. But there’s a small percentage
of Nebraska grown hops in craft beer
produced in the state. That growth is definitely
following the industry as the volume, it
continues to increase, we’ll start to see more
use of the local hops. CHAPIN: There’s the science
that goes behind it, and then it’s, where do
you want to play with that? Particularly with IPA,
it’s like some people add 16 different hops
to it, some add one, and at what time you add those bring out the various
aromas of citrus or pine, or stuff like that, so
there’s a lot of creativity. I could make the same batch
of wart as we call it, pitch a different yeast,
at a different temperature, and it’s gonna be
a different beer. BABUREK: That’s the beauty of
the craft beer industry is that we’re always
producing new beers, always experimenting. Sometimes you get a hit, sometimes you
get sort of a miss, but you’re always trying. There’s a lot of
science behind brewing, and there’s a lot of
art behind brewing. DAN HODGES: When my home
brewing started to develop, I was almost showing
more interest in that than I was my other job. I had been a mechanic
for 45 years, never would have dreamed that I would have been
doing something like this. Then I got into the chemistry
and the science of it, and absolutely loved it. It was a release
for me after work. (upbeat music) NARRATOR: Like many
small towns in Nebraska, craft breweries
are springing up as community hubs and
helping economies thrive. NATE BELL: I had a homebrew club
here in town that I had started. That’s how we got to know Dan,
our head brewer and myself, and try our beer, and he thought
our beer was really good. HODGES: He said, “What do you
think about opening a brewery?” I thought, yeah that’s
a little far out for me. I’m a home brewer, I don’t
know anything about it. Well, the more we
talked about it, the more we decided
it was doable. BARRY FOX: The reason we chose
the name Kinkaider, really had to do
with the history and the heritage of this area. In the Sandhills, the Homestead
Act was just 160 acres, and so people will go out
and settle the Sandhills, and then they would just
claim the government land around that, and as that became
a little bit more populated, then you were having
a lot of fighting, because nobody really
owned the land. Kinkaid introduced
this act to expand that from 160 acres to 640 acres, which would get the Sandhills
settled then at that point. So those people that
took advantage of that were called Kinkaiders. (bouncy, energetic music) BELL: We do our best on
a lot of our beers to have pretty local Nebraska
generated history behind them, Devil’s Gap, Frame the Butcher, which is named after
Solomon Butcher, a famous photographer
from around the area. 4-County, our
license plate number, we’re very proud of
that, Dan the Wiser. HODGES:
I was totally against it when they come up with
naming a beer, putting my name on it, but if you put a name, the
head brewer, or brewmaster, whatever you want to call
me, put my name on a beer, it’s gonna mean
more to the people, because a lot of breweries, you have no idea
who made the beer. BELL: Where we’re located, and
in the western part of Nebraska, central part
of Nebraska, different
than Lincoln and Omaha, our palates out here
are still very young, from a beer perspective. (bouncy, energetic music) Craft beer can get that stigma of being a little exclusive. That’s the last
thing we wanted to do. I mean we’re out here
in Busch Light country. We wanted to be inviting
to something different, and provide an environment
where it’s inviting. FOX: People feel like
they own Kinkaider, people feel like they’re
a portion of Kinkaider. I think it’s really
helped put Broken Bow on the map a little bit, because we’re out there and
the name, and Kinkaider, I think we’re in 500 and
some locations now statewide. So the visibility of Kinkaider, and then I think that’s been
a big boon for Broken Bow, and having the community
take ownership of us has been a huge boon for us. BABUREK: There’s almost a sense
of obligation to support that, because this is something
that they can call their own, but it is creating
tourism in these towns. There’s a lot of people that
seek out local breweries, and go on what’s commonly
referred to as a beercation. YIN: You’re supporting
these local communities, and if you look at
cities like Ord, Taylor, Broken Bow, cities that you
might not have known about, they are pumping money
into these cities and helping these cities thrive. HODGES: When I was homebrewing,
I didn’t realize there was this big
world out there. The longer I homebrewed,
The more I realized there was more people out there
drinking that kind of beer. Once I understood
that, then I thought, this could take off. People are really
gonna embrace it. YIN:
Right now, Nebraska consumes
about 3% of how much beer is drank in the state. That’s Nebraska made craft beer. We’re trying to take those
folks that are picking up any of the big name brand beers, and to at least show them that there’s product
being made locally that’s just as
good, if not better. FOX: But if you can
just open people’s mind and break down that conception of what beer is
supposed to taste like, or what they think beer
is supposed to taste like, then people are way
more open to it. YIN: Over time, you develop a
taste and appreciation for it. (bouncy, energetic music) BABUREK: I’ve been collecting
Nebraska beer memorabilia for over 40 years,
since the mid 70’s. The bulk of the
collection has come from hundreds of different sources. (bouncy, energetic music) I’ve combed the back roads
of Nebraska, and farms, and estate sales,
and garage sales, or private owners,
or flea markets, antique shows, you name it. In ’96 I decided I
was gonna open up a craft beer bar in Omaha. There was only a certain
amount of craft beer available in the city. There wasn’t a whole
lot of choices, and when we opened our doors, we were overrun with people, so it was really a
validating experience. We went from 24 taps to 36 taps, and I think now we have
something closer to 80 taps, but always had in
the back of my mind that I’d love to
actually have a brewery. So, Infusion was born. (bouncy, energetic music) I kind of oversee the operation as the passionate beer guy. I was fortunate enough
to know some guys that were pretty
accomplished homebrewers. We meet and we
talk all the time, and we discuss recipes,
and flavor profiles, and consistency and quality. I let them do their job. I do my job, and hopefully
we continue to produce beers that people want to drink. WOMAN: Okay, that is good. LADY: Yeah, this is good too. FEMALE: Yours is good. BABUREK: In 1981, I was,
this young collector. I was 21 years old I was really, really into
the history part of it. So there was a column
in the World Herald, called the Action
Editor, and my father wrote a letter
into them and said, “Hey my son’s looking
for information “on the Fontenelle
Brewing Company in Omaha. “Can anybody help out?” This elderly gentleman
calls and says, “Hey, I used to work
for the brewery, “I’d be more than happy to
come over and talk with you.” So he comes over to our house, and brings some memorabilia
with him, and such. We sit, and we talk. NARRATOR: The
Fontenelle Brewing Company, looking for an established name purchased the rights to
the Metz brand in 1935. Frank Curran worked for
the brewery for 31 years as their advertising manager. BABUREK: He leaves me with
all this stuff, and won’t take any money
for it or anything, and I never see the guy again. But then about four
and a half years ago, I get a text message from
one of my brewers it says, “Hey, a guy I went
to high school with “is cleaning out his
great grandfather’s home. “He’s got a bunch of
beer stuff over there. “Would you like to go see it?” Went over there,
looked, lo and behold, it’s the same guy’s house
that I had met with in 1981. It made sense for
me to pay him back for all the knowledge
and information, and things that he gave me. That’s exactly why we
started the Metz brand up. I thought that was a pretty
fitting end to that story. PATRON: Okay, last time I was
here, I had a really good hoppy IPA, but I can’t remember. BABUREK: Beer is such a
social beverage. If you go to Germany,
if you go to Bavaria, and you go to a beer
garden or a beer hall, people don’t go there to
get drunk necessarily, they go there to socialize. FOX: I think craft beer is
kind of a social event. There’s always
conversation about what do you taste in that, and which beer do you like? So some of that, it’s a
natural conversation piece. BELL: It’s less about the
alcohol and getting drunk. It’s about enjoying
the atmosphere, enjoying the people you’re with, and having a good time,
and talking about the beer, and talking about
different things, and doing all that. It’s not a alcohol
delivery device. YIN: When you have that
larger segment of people that are becoming
informed about it, these are also the
people that like to dine. So now, they want
to take this product that they’re used
to drinking at home, and pair it with food. A ton of breweries have
opened in the last five years. I think we’ve, we’ve
seen exponential growth. They want to keep their
consumers engaged. The obvious next step is like, how do I make this work
with what I’m eating? YIN: What we’re gonna
be doing today is sampling a lot
of our local brews, and pairing it with food. First and foremost,
make sure that you enjoy what you’re drinking. Secondly, making sure
that the food and the beer are somewhat in harmony, making sure that when you’re
picking beer with food and food with beer, that
the two have some sort of rhyme or reason as to
why you’re doing this. So this is the coffee vanilla
stout from Brickway Brewing. Stout was a term
that came about, to describe a strong porter. So if you think about a porter, you had coffee notes, vanilla
notes, a lot of baking spice. So, when they made
a stronger porter, they said well this
is really stout. The issue of pairing
food with stouts is that that they
usually are so strong, both in flavor and in
just general aroma. I would pair this with
our pulled pork sandwich. We use a barbecue sauce on
it, the pork is really fatty. It’s a great flavor profile
to go with any sort of stout. That being said, if
you’re drinking a porter, smoked meats and stouts
as well are great choices. This is the Thunderhead
Golden Frau. It’s a wheat beer. Thunderhead is a brewery
out of Kearney, Nebraska. Wheat beers are great. It’s a staple of
the American palate. I think everyone’s familiar with what a wheat
beer tastes like. You get hints of orange and
coriander, which is excellent. Wheat beers are a
great baseline beer. With a wheat beer,
I’d look for a food that was in the
middle of the road. You know, nothing too strong, nothing with much of a flavor, grilled chicken, a
lightly grilled fish. In our case, I would pair
this with the local burger. It has a little bit
of grease in there. It’s got a good
amount of fat content. So it’s gonna help
pair with the amount of hop in a wheat beer. The best thing about
learning spirits, or food, or wine, or beer, is
that it’s all that practice, just drinking a lot of beer, trying it, understanding
the flavor profile, or eating a lot of food,
or sampling a lot of wine. I mean, that’s how
you get comfortable. NARRATOR: As consumers
savor more Nebraska craft beer, local brewers hope the
industry continues its growth. (bouncy, energetic music) FOX: One thing we’re trying to
do together is expand craft beer and really educate the
consumers on what craft beer is. ENGLEBART: Don’t order a pint,
get a flight, try four or five
different beers, then you can find one that maybe you want to have
a whole pint of, and while you’re trying those four or five
different samples, the person that you came with, or the group that you came with, can try different ones, and
you can all share ’em together, and talk about the
flavor experience. BELL: Beer is one of those
really approachable drinks. It also has an image of the
thing to do, it’s local. FOX: Nebraska is a very
proud state, obviously. I mean, the ownership that
we have in the Huskers and people bleed red,
they bleed Husker red, they bleed for Nebraska, and I think with any
Nebraska product, anything that’s produced here, I think people
take pride in that. KREUSER:
The craft beer industry, it’s amazing how
much it’s grown. I think the way it
builds the communities especially out in rural
areas of Nebraska. I don’t see that slowing down. They put a lot of effort forth, and working with
the local growers, and together, to really helped
build the entire industry all together, and keep
it moving forward. (upbeat music) Captioning by FINKE/NET (upbeat music) Copyright 2019
NET Foundation for Television.

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