Sonder Stories Chapter 19: Original Settlers

Chapter 19 - Original Settlers Oktoberfest

Crafting quality German brews is second nature to the Sonder brew team

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A style that is a personal favorite to a lot of people in the Sonder building, this hybrid style oktoberfest is light but not missing any malty flavor. A beer cultivated with german malts, it’s mostly a traditional beer, but does have a slight bitterness to it which Americanizes the beer a bit. Being a hybrid beer this beer delivers the marzen mahogany color and maltiness, but has the drinkability of a festbier. Original Settlers did not make its way into package this year, but is in the plans to be canned next season. With all four managing owners having German heritage, it’s no shock that this is a fan favorite to everyone from the owners to the customers.

The name Original Settlers comes from Chase’s family being some of the original settlers of his home town New Glarus Wisconsin. His whole family is very german, with his mom’s side being part of the original founders of the town. 

Really owning German beer, heritage, and festivities is something Sonder is striving for, so it’s no coincidence that the Mason Deerfield Oktoberfest festival is our biggest event of the year. It has German beer from 17 craft breweries from all over Ohio, German food, live music, vendors, and activities over two days. Cincinnati is a heavy German town, and we love being a part of the German heritage celebration.

Sonder Stories Chapter 18: Danny

Chapter 18 - Danny

A desert island with Gumballhead, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Miracle, and Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard would be a pretty cool desert island

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Marketing Manager, or PNP as the podcast listeners know him as, Danny Herold brings a unique background to the Marketing team. He studied Marketing and Economics at Xavier, and brings consumer packaged goods experience to the team. A couple of his major responsibilities at Sonder include social media, managing the website, and producing the Sonder Stories podcast. The Marketing Manager at a brewery brings a different task to the table every day, but in his time here Danny has also done things such as hop on the bar to pour beers during a crazy rush, helping out on the can line, delivering kegs, among many other things. He likes that because he’s able to be creative with his job, but also help out around the brewery to be a part of much more than just marketing. He often jokes that the startup life is wild, but he admits that he wouldn’t have it any other way. Interacting with Sonder followers and fans online is his favorite part of the job. He finds that fans of Sonder can be just as passionate about the beer as the employees, and it’s fun for him share those experiences with them even if it’s through social media. 

Not coming from a beer industry background, he got into craft beer in a normal traditional way as a fan of good beer. Started with sharing Great Lakes seasonals with his Dad during breaks from college, turned into him buying some craft beer to enjoy before switching to cheaper options during a night of going out, and then going out to breweries with friends after college. He jokes about filling the millennial beer nerd quota at Sonder, so it’s no surprise to see him grabbing beers like You Betcha!, Blanc, and his favorites being the Frosted series and The Midwesterner. His favorite non-Sonder beers are locally Nutcase by Listermann and in general Gumballhead by Three Floyds. Not often does he repeat purchase beer because he likes testing out new ones, but he dips into some Nutcase and Gumballhead every once in a while. 

When Danny isn’t behind the camera at Sonder, you’ll find him doing things like playing disc golf, reading thriller novels, traveling, and watching Xavier basketball or Cleveland sports. He combines all this by traveling during long weekends to disc golf tournaments, and then when he’s not playing going to breweries to read. It’s a way for him to get out of town for a couple days, and really devote some time to his hobbies. Some of his desert island selections would be Brooklyn Nine Nine for a tv show, Miracle for a movie, and Yellowcard by Ocean Avenue for an album. If you ask him, he’ll be open about his guilty pleasure of rom com movies, and even jokes about staying in, watching rom coms, and enjoying some craft beer with roommates on weekend nights as a change of pace. 

If you see someone snapping pictures in the taproom, there’s a good chance it’s Danny, and if you’ve interacted with Sonder on social media, there’s also a good chance that you’ve interacted with Danny. So if you see him in the taproom, make sure to say hi, he loves getting to meet consumers who love Sonder just as much as him!

Sonder Stories Chapter 17: Buzzword

Chapter 17 - Buzzword IPL

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The most buzzword worthy beer out there, this beer definitely grabs your attention

Our friends from BC’s Bottle Lodge and Higher Gravity got together with us to come up with the most buzzword worthy beer you can imagine, a Double Dry Hopped Hazy IPL. This is also Sonder’s first collaboration, and is part of the Bottle Shop series BC’s and Higher Gravity are coordinating as collaborations with local breweries. Breweries tend to collaborate really well with each other, but it’s not often that a brewery collaborates with bottle shops to create a unique beer. It’s a fun way for the bottle shop owners to get inside the breweries, come up with unique beer ideas, and work with brew teams on creative beers. With community being so important in the craft beer industry, there’s value and opportunity in partnering with places like bottle shops that serve quality craft beer to people in their neighborhoods every day. 

This beer is abnormal to say the least. You can’t walk into too many breweries, bars, or bottle shops and see an IPL on tap, let alone a hazy double dry hopped version. This beer was built off of a New England IPA malt, and they krausened You Betcha! into this beer to give it New England style characteristics. Krausening beer means to add measured amounts of another beer at its highest fermentation level into a beer to more thoroughly ferment the beer. The base of the beer, being fermented with lager yeast, allows for a clean and crisp beer, but the added dry hopping gives the hop aroma to the beer. A true hybrid beer because of the two different yeast strains, this beer doesn’t lack character. 

Character doesn’t always turn into sales, and there was some concern of this beer not selling in the brewery or bottle shops due to the lack of “sexiness” behind IPLs. With Chase and Luke both being so well versed in lagers and hazies, they were able to talk the group into the idea. It’s a well placed beer in the middle ground of lagers and IPAs. It’s an approachable beer with a slight hop and fruit aroma that is very clean, but still gives a slight hop finish. This beer may single handedly bring back the IPL style from it’s unsexy reputation. Only a one time brew, this beer is available at Sonder, both BC’s Bottle Lodge locations, and Higher Gravity. If the consumers like it, hopefully it can get back on the bottle shop series calendar for next year!

Sonder Stories Chapter 16: Quacky

Chapter 16 - Quacky American Lager

It’s a simple recipe, but that’s the only simple aspect of Quacky

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This American Lager is brewed in collaboration with the Freestore Foodbank to benefit the Rubber Duck Regatta. The motto of the Regatta is “Buy a Duck, Feed a Child”, and all month long at many places around town (notably Kroger stores) you’re able to purchase rubber ducks as a token of feeding a child. In support of this, all draft sales and six pack sales of Quacky benefit the Rubber Duck Regatta, and you can drink a Quacky in the taproom or stop in at select Krogers, local beer spots, and the taproom to take a six pack home with you. Community is important to the Sonder family, and we couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this to play such a role in helping one of the biggest charity events in Cincinnati annually. So if you’re into lagers or feeding children experiencing homelessness, buy a Quacky and help feed a child!

Now onto the beer itself, the goal of this beer was to make it approachable to all types of consumers. Traditional American Lagers are lighter in alcohol and lighter in body, and heavy on corn in the process. This was a high gravity beer, which means the brew team started with higher sugar content, fermented it, then diluted with water. What this means is that the added dilution takes the alcohol content down to the desired level of 4.8%, and delivers a very refreshing taste and finish to the beer. It’s incredibly drinkable, and is not an easy beer to brew. The straightforwardness of the beer means that there isn’t anything to hide flaws or off flavors. This beer is only corn flakes and 2-row malt, leaving no room for error in the brewing process. It’s not an easy brew, and it’s also not a quick brew. Dilution can get a bad rep when talking about beer and alcohol, but when done right it gets the beer to the desired flavor profile and alcohol level along with adding to the taste and finish. Chase and Luke had to come in on a Sunday to properly treat the water, and the day ended up being 3x longer than what was expected because of the time it took to get the water to the desired level.

Blanc Takes First Place at US Open Beer Championships

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Blanc, our Belgian Style Wheat Ale brewed with citrus peel, took home first place at the US Open Beer Competition for the Belgian Witbier category! Brewed with a traditional Belgian yeast strain, this refreshing light ale has notes of tangerine and light spiciness from locally sourced spices. This was the first Sonder beer to ever make it to package, and has been a staple since opening in October 2018.

The US Open judged over 7,000 beers for more than 130 categories with judges from England, Canada, and the United States. The competition happens every year where judges taste the beers blind, only knowing the category of the beer and not where the beer is from. The US Open judges more beer categories than any other competition, and accepts beer from all over the world to be entered.

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The story behind Blanc starts prior to Sonder opening with the four owners getting together and figuring out what beers will be year round once the doors open. Once three of the four realized that Belgian Style Wheat Ales are among their favorite styles of beer, it made sense to move forward with Blanc as an option. Chase, our COO and Director of Brewing Operations,  crafted the recipe on his home brew system, and it was clear from the start that this would be a core beer. This is also the most mysterious beer we have due to the secrecy behind the recipe and brewery practices. Only three people know the full recipe and brewing nuances of this beer, and even three of the managing owners are left out on the secrets. This beer definitely gets a bit of extra love every time it’s brewed, and it shows in the end product. Blanc is the beer we recommend for pairing with food, and is the ideal counterpart to your favorite meal. When Daniel Schmerr, CSO, is at events talking about Blanc with food he’ll say, “Pairing with food is a balancing act. Anything that is left on your palate craves acidity to wash it off. The gentle spice from Blanc excites your palate, while the bright acidity cleans and refreshes your palate to make the next bite of food taste just as fresh as your first bite”.

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With the beer being so delicate and artfully crafted, the name needed to embody how beautiful it is. Haley, Director of Strategic Partnerships, when tasting the beer said, “This is a beer that is so beautiful that it deserves a name like Blanc”. The name stuck, and Blanc is now a flagship beer for us and will continue to be a Sonder Brewing staple. 

Sources:

http://usopenbeer.com/

http://sonderbrewing.com/blog/2019/6/18/sonder-stories-chapter-13-blanc

Sonder Stories Chapter 15: Coconut Tears

Chapter 15 - Coconut Tears

“Screw coconut tears, I’ll take onion tears all day over coconut tears” -  Luke

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Coconut Tears is our Brown Ale with toasted coconut, toasted cocoa, and vanilla. We brought it back and brewed more of it this time around because of how big of a fan favorite it became. It was one of our fastest moving adjunct beers, so it made sense to brew more of it this time around. It’s a fairly efficient beer for the team to brew because the base beer is our brown ale, Bird Watcher. Although, it is a timely process to add the additional flavors to this beer, and requires Luke to wake up pretty early on the bright tank day for this beer. He’ll get in around 5, and toast the cocoa and coconut on premise in the BrewRiver kitchen. It was 10lbs of coconut per barrel for a 10 barrel batch that gets toasted, and the first time around this was uncharted territory for Luke since he had never used coconut in a beer prior. He reached out to a couple brewing friends to gauge their ways of using coconut in their beers, and then just went for it and clearly it’s been a hit. The added ingredients sat in the bright tank with Bird Watcher for a couple days until Chase and Luke got the flavor they were looking for. Chase and Luke actually talked for a bit about the concern of too much coconut giving the beer a suntan type taste that often comes with coconut beers, but they let it sit for a bit longer than expected and it ended up being very good for the flavor of the beer. 

The original inspiration for this beer was to create the Mounds bar version of a beer, and the original name was supposed to be Sonder Joy. A funny and unique name for sure, but Coconut Tears ended up being the better story because of what happened the first time Luke toasted the coconut. He had never toasted coconut before, and he found out the hard way that toasted coconut will really make your eyes water during the process and Luke actually said, “Screw coconut tears, I’ll take onion tears all day over coconut tears!” The moment was too perfect to not have it play into the name.

Sonder Stories Chapter 14: All In

Chapter 14 - All In

Luckily we didn’t use dirty water for this beer

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The phenolics of this beer are the main reasons for why it is a saison, and it also uses a famous saison strain commonly used by producers of the style. The origin of this style of beer comes from farmers brewing dirty water to purify it to make it drinkable, and then adding ingredients like flowers and spices from around the farm to add flavor. This was a style of beer that Daniel was excited about having the team brew because of the combination of sweet and spice flavors that creates a full bodied beer along with good hop characteristics you would expect with the flavor profile.

Something you’ll commonly see us do is add fruit to some of our staples calling them the fruited version of the base beer. This is the case for Fruited All In where Lemon and Lavender were added to this beer, paying homage to the original creators of this style using ingredients like flowers and fruit to add flavor to beers. The lemon and lavender being added creates a very refreshing beer with a spritzy tang to it. Adding unconventional ingredients, like lavender, to a beer is one of the ways our brew staff will be consistently testing the boundaries of what a beer can really be.

The name of this beer comes from Justin and Chase picking up hobbies, committing to them, spending a bunch of money on them, then getting bored shortly after and dropping them. It drives their wives insane, so if you hear them talk about being “All In” on something you may need to confirm at a later date that they are still in fact “All In” on whatever that was.

Sonder Stories Chapter 13: Blanc

Chapter 13 - Blanc White Ale

“A beer so beautiful it deserves a name like Blanc” - Haley

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A beer that you will always see on the board, Blanc White Ale is one of the first beers Chase created for the group and is our most mysterious beer. A fondness for some other belgian wit style beers from the owners was the driving force behind this being a staple beer for Sonder. Wheat style beers are a particularly favorite style for Daniel, and he loves the flavor profiles of Blanc that compare to beers like Allagash White and Avery White Rascal, but the spice, fruit, and acidity of this beer makes it a unique creation that stands on its own. Daniel will also be the first to tell you that if you’re looking for a Sonder beer to pair with food, Blanc is your best option for almost every scenario because how well the spice elevates the flavor profiles of the food you’re eating.

The true beginning of this beer happened in Justin’s basement, where a lot of meetings early on took place, and the four owners wrote down five of their favorite beers as a way to kick start the conversation about what beers would be sold year round in the taproom. Turns out that Justin, Chase, and Daniel all had Allagash White on their list. Jen had never had it before, but loved it once they were able to get her a bottle of it. Justin actually tried to brew an Allagash White clone when he was living in Chicago, but it was horrible and turn into a clove bomb that no amount of citrus peel could save.

The mysterious part about this beer is twofold,  the ingredients and the brewing practices. It’s hard to speak to the brewing practices, but just know that this beer gets a bit more love during the brewing process than any other. It ends up being a bit more work for the brew team, but the final product is worth it. As far as the ingredients go, only Chase, Luke, and Jeff know the full recipe of Blanc. Daniel has scavenged through trash cans and Justin has guessed relentlessly about the recipe, but now they’ve both accepted their fate as blind consumers and have just grown to accept it as part of the story. The only hint you’ll hear from Chase is that there is no coriander in this beer. The only reason being is personal preference from Chase, but it also results in a unique to style beer because most Belgian Wits will include coriander in the spice mix.

Haley came up with the name of this beer, and it came about when the owners and Haley were blind tasting Blanc versus other beers of the same style. All five ended up preferring Blanc compared to the other beers, and when describing the beer words like beautiful and delicate were used. This gave Haley the idea of mimicking those descriptive words with a beautiful name like the word Blanc, which is white in french. The name is perfect and fits the beer so well that the owners are bit jealous to this day that they didn’t come up with it themselves.

This was the first beer to make its way into cans, and everyone at the brewery loving this beer and truly believing in it was the reason for that. It’s a beer that drinks well year round whether you’re enjoying the spiciness of the beer during the winter or the citrus in the summer. It is also the best food pairing beer we have to go with any meal you’re cooking up, and will be a hit at your next dinner party.