Pilot System Questions… Answered

Hi all,

I’ve really enjoyed getting to talk with a lot of our patrons over the past several weeks about our pilot system; I thought I would take this opportunity to address some of the most frequent topics of discussion.

1.      The first relates to “Black Max” (named after our yeast starter stir plate), which is a foreign-style stout and lots of espresso.  I really enjoyed Nathan’s coffee amber ale – particularly for the delicate balance between coffee flavor and malt.  So, essentially, I took this concept and turned it around – I wanted a coffee beer that screamed coffee flavor, and I think I achieved that with “Black Max”.   It’s still balanced in the sense that the coffee does not overwhelm the base beer, yet the coffee flavor and aroma is very much forward.  

2. I’ve also been getting lots of questions about bottling.  Bottles will be for sale eventually at Altitude, but not for a while.  Here’s why:

a. Bottling presents a whole other set of issues, particularly with regards to flavor stability and carbonation levels.  There is little doubt that bottling will require some trial and error, therefore we will not be selling bottles until they meet our standards.

b. We are still trying to understand exactly what will be legally required of us in terms of labeling.  It’s entirely possible that we will be required to get federal approval for each label, which will obviously delay our release.

c.  In terms of what to expect for offerings, we will not be bottling Altitude standard releases such as Tumblewheat and Pale Ale.  These beers are meant to be consumed as fresh as possible; bottling either of these beers would only detract from them.  Rather, we will be bottling beers that derive added benefit from either bottle conditioning or aging.

3.  Lastly, I’ve been getting a lot of questions as to why Altitude does not brew fruit beers.  The short answer is that they are extremely difficult to get right, particularly if using actual fruit (and not fruit concentrate, which I have philosophical objections to).  In other words, not doing fruit beer has nothing to do with beer snobbery.  What I can say is that there are some projects in the pipeline that may or may not involve fruit.  Stay tuned.

Upcoming releases:   – California Common Ale (amber lager), Extra Pale Ale