Beer is a big part of who we are at BJ’s, and each month our talented team of brewers will share their thoughts and insights into the wonderful world of beer in What’s Brewing at BJ’s.
Alex Puchner | June 25th, 2013
The Birth Of Nit Wit
Nine years ago I hired an assistant brewer named Melissa Phillips here at BJ’s Brewery in Chandler. She was a very astute and learned at a rapid pace. As an avid home brewer, Melissa was always ready to create her own recipes once we felt comfortable with her abilities. She really wanted to add a Belgian Witbier to our lineup, which was a beer style that we had been considering as a summer seasonal. When we gave her the go ahead, Melissa gave it her all. The first batch was really good but after tasting it together we agreed that it needed some fine-tuning to be true to the traditional Witbier style. We made some adjustments and re-brewed it. We named the beer Nit Wit after her boss (me). This second batch was entered into the 2004 Great American Beer Festival and was awarded a Gold Medal in Belgian-style Wheat Beers! Winning any medal at GABF is difficult enough. For a rookie brewer to earn a Gold Medal is a rare accomplishment.
What’s our new Brewmaster’s Reserve line of beers all about? Our brewing team’s goal here is to introduce new beers that are based on some of our most popular signature beers. But not that we’re trying to improve on them. Our signature beers are already brewed to exacting standards with the highest quality malts and hops. Rather the goal is to enhance the flavor profile of our signature beers, adding more intensity and complexity. We decided to start with “Reserve” versions of our two most popular signature beers – Jeremiah Red and Brewhouse Blonde. This quickly turned into an exciting project for our brewing team. After our first brainstorm, we realized that we were formulating new beers that represent just what we want to drink. Higher gravity, more malt, more hops, fuller body, more depth of flavor, and the smoothest possible finish. We sure liked the concept of sparing no expense to brew beers for our own enjoyment! It was a no brainer to start calling these beers “Brewmaster’s Reserve”.
BJ’s Brewing Team and many American craft brewers are inspired by the creativity, variety and flavor intensity of Belgian beers. We brew beers big and complex in flavor, but in many ways the flavor profiles of American-style craft beers and traditional Belgian ales couldn’t be more different. American brewers are inclined to brew with copious amounts of American-grown hops to contribute a citrusy or piney aroma characteristic and a pronounced bitter finish. In contrast, Belgian-style beers are generally mild in hop aroma and bitterness. Belgian brewers tend to rely more on fermentation-derived flavors that contribute all kinds of fruity and spicy notes.
Around 100-150 years ago, finding a craft beer in the United States was relatively easy – with thousands of thriving breweries, it was a simple matter to head to your local and have a pint or two, then head home. The downside? Finding a great craft beer could be a little harder.
BJ’s beer fans, have we got something for you. Our next beer is a new one in our line of tried and true seasonal offerings. It is in the style of Belgian Abbey ale and its name is Abbey Normal. Those of you who are familiar with the movie “Young Frankenstein” will recognize where the name came from. But it is the beer that will make you want to sing.
All you beer fans will be happy to know that we are currently serving our late winter seasonal brew Oasis Amber in our restaurants. This wonderful American Amber Ale was introduced in 2010 and is already proving to be a favorite among our guests.
A quick check of Webster’s reveals that the phrase “Grand Cru” has many connotations, such as “first harvest” or “estate reserve.” In wine circles it can be thought of as a synonym for “Our Best.” At BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse we think of Grand Cru as our annual celebration of beer that epitomizes everything about brewing at BJ’s.
Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ale: A Beer for Every Season
Oktoberfest is not just some big party in Munich, Germany; it is a tradition steeped in rich history and lore. It’s also a really big party held during the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October for the 6 million people who attend each year. It’s the most famous event in Germany, and it just might be the biggest fair in the world. The original Oktoberfest on October 18, 1810 was the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and the Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.