Confession: My husband and I once brewed our own beer at home during one frigid Island winter and I was too afraid to drink it once it was ready.
That’s a true story that I’m not afraid to admit because 1) we are amateurs in the beer brewing business and 2) it looked cloudy and weird and I thought I’d die if I took a sip. My husband tasted it and didn’t die (thankfully), but from that moment forward, we decided to stick to cooking and leave the brewing to the experts. Recently, I met with one of those experts: Jacobi Reid, the brewmaster at Bad Martha Beer, and the man responsible for my newfound love of Strawberry Blonde (the beer, not the hair color).
As I sit down with Mr. Reid, a Wareham native, he places a flight of beers in front of me. The two stellar samples I’ve been wanting to try are the Strawberry Blonde and the new 508 IPA. “Brewing beer is a lot like baking — exact ingredients combined with precise techniques, result in an appetizing product,” Mr. Reid says as I sip on the Strawberry Blonde. This particular beer is made with 25 pounds of local strawberries infused into the beer for almost two weeks before it goes on tap. The 508 — Bad Martha’s latest beer — is Mr. Reid’s homebrew recipe that he has remade for the brewery. The new 508 IPA is 7% ABV (alcohol by volume), with 70 IBUs (International Bittering Units) and has aromatics of grapefruit and tangerines. The flavor profile is tropical fruit and citrus with a subtle hint of a biscuit malt backbone. It finishes off with a little hop bite, but no lasting bitterness.
Mr. Reid is most excited about some of his upcoming beers, including a Jalapeño Cucumber Kolsch made with local jalapeños and cucumbers, a Choco Nitro Stout made with Not Your Sugar Mama’s local chocolate, and a Cranberry Vienna Gose made with cranberries that Mr. Reid’s family grew and harvested. It really is like the culinary industry, this beer-making world, because the focus on sourcing ingredients from local farms is just as important to a brewer as it is to a chef. Whether it’s growing a variety of hops in the brewery’s patio or sending the spent grain from his brews to Morning Glory to feed the cattle, this brewmaster is incredibly in tune with the food world that surrounds him.
“We are focused on offering delicious award-winning beers with unique flavors that distinguish Bad Martha and provide something for every beer lover,” Jonathan Blum, CEO and co-founder of Bad Martha said. “The Farmer’s Brewery and Tasting Room is a bit of an experimental laboratory, allowing us to get creative and innovate with flavors. When we find something that’s very popular with our customers there, we will bottle it and sell it commercially. It’s fun to interact with customers and get their feedback every day. That’s allowed us to offer beers we know will be a commercial success, and it’s exciting to see how quickly we are growing across the region. Our goal is to not only create delicious high quality craft beers, but also run our business centered on socially responsible practices. We are using the finest local ingredients, providing spent grains to local farmers, and donating a percentage of our profits to hunger relief charity. We are well on our way toward growing Bad Martha Beer into a dominant regional microbrewery based on this business model.”
Another goal for Mr. Blum is getting President Obama in to brew some beer at the brewery while he vacations on the Vineyard this week. Mr. Blum says he knows President Obama is a home-brewer, so he invited the Commander in Chief to come work with Brewmaster Reid in brewing his own batch of beer. The White House has not responded to this invite yet, but there is still hope.
In the meantime, you can try your hand at brewing the White House’s official Honey Porter or Honey Ale (recipes courtesy of The White House) or simply stop in Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery in Edgartown for a flight of tasty beer, a growler to take home, or a chat with Mr. Reid.
The White House Honey Porter
2 (3.3 lb) cans light unhopped malt extract
3/4 lb Munich Malt (cracked)
1 lb crystal 20 malt (cracked)
6 oz black malt (cracked)
3 oz chocolate malt (cracked)
1 lb White House Honey
10 HBUs bittering hops
1/2 oz Hallertau Aroma hops
1 pkg Nottingham dry yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling
- In a 6-quart pot, add grains to 2.25 quarts of 168˚ water. Mix well to bring temp down to 155˚. Steep on stovetop at 155˚ for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 2 gallons of water to 165˚ in a 12-quart pot. Place strainer over, then pour and spoon all the grains and liquid in. Rinse with 2 gallons of 165˚ water. Let liquid drain through. Discard the grains and bring the liquid to a boil. Set aside.
- Add the 2 cans of malt extract and honey into the pot. Stir well.
- Boil for an hour. Add half of the bittering hops at the 15 minute mark, the other half at 30 minute mark, then the aroma hops at the 60 minute mark.
- Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Place 2 gallons of chilled water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons, if necessary. Place into an ice bath to cool down to 70-80˚.
- Activate dry yeast in 1 cup of sterilized water at 75-90˚ for fifteen minutes. Pitch yeast into the fermenter. Fill airlock halfway with water. Ferment at room temp (64-68˚) for 3 to 4 days.
- Siphon over to a secondary glass fermenter for another 4 to 7 days.
- To bottle, make a priming syrup on the stove with 1 cup sterile water and 3/4 cup priming sugar, bring to a boil for five minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 1 to 2 weeks at 75˚.