Brewers Staff Lives Up to Name at MillerCoors
Over the All-Star Break, a small group from our Front Office had the chance to live up to our team namesake by heading over to MillerCoors and getting a behind-the-scenes tour, complete with the opportunity to brew our very own special batch of beer.
As you would expect from a team whose ballpark is named Miller Park, we have a wonderful partnership with MillerCoors, one that extends beyond naming rights; our newest all-inclusive area, the Miller Lite Party Deck; the popular Miller Lite Beerpen on Friday nights; and the various other events we work with them on year in and year out.
The brewery’s dedication to professional baseball in Milwaukee goes back almost 60 years to 1953, when Frederick C. Miller – the great-grandson of the brewery’s founder — helped bring the Braves to the city. The partnership with the Brewers dates to 1970, the team’s first year in Milwaukee.
“The Milwaukee Brewers and MillerCoors partnership continues a relationship between two iconic heritage brands from our market,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “We have great appreciation for the support that MillerCoors has demonstrated to the Brewers over the years.”
So, on Friday, we had the awesome opportunity to get know our friends at MillerCoors–and their product–a little better and I’d love to share some of what I learned with you!
We arrived at their main building on Highland Boulevard at 8am where we were greeted by Troy Rysewyk, Manager of Pilot Brewing Services. We were taken over to the Technical Center where Troy, along with Manny Manuele, Director of Technical Insights and Product Development, promptly put us through a condensed version of Brewing 101: Brewers Boot Camp.
There, we learned a little about the history–including Frederick Miller, the brewery’s founder–and the composition of beer. We talked about the types of beer (ales, lagers, pilsners, stouts); main ingredients (barley, hops, water, yeast and adjuncts), the process (including making mash, “pitching yeast,” and fermentation); and how to judge beer by AATMF (appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel and finish).
Then, it was time to actually make the beer and take a hard-hat tour of the facilities and we headed to a special mini-brewing operation where Troy, Kevin, Gustavo and Megan run test batches of new brews and manage quality control, among other things.
For our visit, they had come up with a special recipe they were hankering to try, one they dubbed “Crackerjack Lager,” which will ultimately have notes of caramel and peanut–sounded perfect to me! (Note: This beer was just a fun recipe–sorry, there are currently no plans to make it available for public consumption.)
We were able to get hands-on experience with the mash tun, lauter tun and brew kettle, adding the barley, corn flakes (that’s flakes of corn, not breakfast cereal!), hops (the type we used is called Brewer’s Gold–how appropriate) and yeast throughout the day.
One of the things that was very apparent was the amount of art and science, particularly chemistry, that goes into brewing and perfecting a beer. That’s generally something that gets glossed over on your average brewery tour. Also, the technology is amazing. The entire process is very controlled and computerization has allowed for vast advances in production and quality control. To make great beer, one has to understand the art and passion for brewing, which was truly evident by the people at MillerCoors.
Alas, since beer isn’t brewed in a day, we weren’t able to finish off our concoction and will have to wait a few weeks to be able to sample our finished product.
That’s okay–that will give us another excuse to get together with our friends at MillerCoors again and taste our product. And, just because we didn’t get to sample Crackerjack Lager, that doesn’t mean we left thirsty. No, we ended our day with a sampling session, tasting five different brews and exposing our palettes to a spectrum from Miller Lite, Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler, and Leinenkugel’s new Orange Shandy to a new beer that’s slated to come out September 1 (sorry I was sworn to secrecy!) and a special Anniversary Porter that Troy and his team brewed to celebrate MillerCoors’ 5th anniversary (sorry folks, it won’t be available to the public).
A fan of Summer Shandy and Lemonberry Shandy, I also enjoyed the Orange Shandy. It’s currently available only in sampler packs, but I’m told it will be out on its own in September.
My favorite part of the day (aside from the beer itself of course), was learning about how Megan Mares, a Pilot Brewer at MillerCoors and trained panelists taste the beer for quality control. Here’s a quick lesson for you as well!
Here are some more photos from the day!