One of, if not the, strongest attributes of the Buffalo beer scene is the collaboration not competition mentality between brewers. It’s a true mantra, not simply a marketing ploy or silly hashtag. It’s that comradery that makes beer collaborations all the more special, even with a newer venue like SATO Brewpub, albeit once headed up by a familiar face.
SATO Brewpub and Head Brewer Drew Hardin have been busy in the brewhouse as of late, brewing a pair of very exciting new collaborations, including a traditional Sahti with 12 Gates Brewing and a New England IPA with Old First Ward Brewing.
Tentatively titled Garden Gates, the Sahti, one of the world’s oldest existing beer styles, includes fresh juniper and locally made bread from Breadhive. The beer was filtered through juniper twigs in an effort to stay true to the traditional style of brewing a Sahti, a process which resulted in the batch smelling like ‘fresh bread pudding,’ according to 12 Gates Head Brewer Scott Shuler. The finished product will be available on tap at both 12 Gates and SATO this Thursday.
“Drew and I have been talking the past few weeks about brewing a beer together,” Shuler says. “We wanted to both brew something we had never brewed before and something that we could utilize local ingredients and ideas. The result was a Finnish Sahti that includes fresh juniper and locally made bread from Breadhive. The process of brewing the beer itself was challenging but fun. We used a number of techniques and procedures for brewing the beer that each of us may have done once or twice, but because we brewed two batches, we were able to really try new things we had only joked about. Drew and I love beer and food pairings so we imagined a beer that captures the old world traditions all the while complimenting the flair of modern eclectic dishes.”
“The mash looked and smelled like a fresh batch of bread pudding was being prepared,” Shuler continues. “After a long and detailed mash, the wort was then lautered through the juniper twigs. After a brief 15 minute boil the wort was cooled and the house Belgian yeast strain from Sato was pitched. This will really compliment and appeal to the fantastic menu that Sato offers along with the wide range of flatbread pizzas that 12 Gates offers.”
Hardin adds that the Sahti experiment, one that was both challenging and rewarding, pushed the brewing system at SATO to new levels, or ‘to the max’ as he explains.
“It was a great experiment,” Hardin adds. “I have not really tried to push my system to the max, being it is a 1.5bbl HERMES – no steam, no fire, no boiler, no gas. The building is old and one our hardest challenges is fitting equipment for both space and functionality. Scott and I pushed my system to the point where I was like ‘yeah I’m pretty sure we got this,’ and we did. After losing some time for overcomplicating things, we were back at it crushing it on the second pass on a double brew day. In retrospect, it all reflected back to the same point. It was a pair of brewers working around simple problems that they overthought in pursuit of making great beer. Collabs force brewers out of their own comfort zone and it pushes process and use or ingredients.”
SATO also teamed up on a New England IPA with Old First Ward Brewing, which has been dubbed Citrus Maxima. It features the zest of Asian Pomelo fruit as well as a combination of five different hop varieties, including Citra, Motueka, Amarillo, Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavaria.
“The collab with OFW was great,” Hardin says. “It was a lot of fun wandering the Asian market looking for fun ingredients to use and manipulate into beer. The Pomelo fruit was an awesome find. The zest was bitter, sweet, and acidic, the pith and juice was amazing fresh.”
Citrus Maxima features ‘the most hops I’ve ever crammed into a beer at my place,’ OFW Brewer Bryan Kirchmeyer adds. “It’s going to be one juicy mofo.”
For more information on these and all of SATO Brewpub’s great beery offerings, follow them at https://www.facebook.com/satobrewpub.
Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and www.buffalobeerleague.com.