Crafty Pint / 25.07.12
A few weeks back, we brought you word on the latest moves of Sam Füss, the brewer who has plied her trade from west coast to east and is now striking out on her own as Old Salt Brewing. Her last port of call was at Black Rock’s True South, where her former sidekick Brian Kiss von Soly has taken over the head brewer’s mantle. Already, he’s seen his first commercially developed beer, the Clock Tower IPA, added to the permanent range and started developing a series of new seasonals.
The first new beer to appear since the changing of the guard is the Angry Argie – and there are a couple of stories related to its genesis. Brewery owner Grant Dow says it was launched earlier this month to coincide with Argentinean Independence Day. According to Brian, however, it’s because the beer was created with input from True South’s Argentinean chef Mauro Callegari who Grant reckons is your typically angry chef. Either way, the beer is already the second biggest seller over the venue’s bar, so expect to see it heading outside the brewery sooner rather than later.
“We set out to create an Argentinean style beer but quickly found out that there’s no such thing!” says Brian. “Mauro came and tasted some malts and smelled some hops and told me what sort of beer he would like – something easy to drink and very aromatic. He liked the carapils and maris otter malts and Galaxy and Cascade hops and we’ve ended up with quite a dry ale that’s a light, easy-drinking, summery sort of beer.
“Chefs have their pretty big mood swings, so Angry Argie is just Mauro; Grant always comes up with names for beers and this is the first one that’s come through!”
Before taking his first paid brewing role at True South, Brian completed the Master Brewers Program at UC Davis Extension in California. He also gained experience working at a couple of American breweries: Capital Brewing in Wisconsin (“more of a lager brewery”) and Great Dane, a brewpub also in Wisconsin.
“I started home brewing and figured that it was something I’d like to get paid for,” he says. “It turns out the most prestigious course is in America. I’ve got a US passport so after two years on the waiting list I got onto the course.
“When I was at Great Dane, they tried to crack the record for the highest alcohol beer. They tried to do it by constant oxygenation every couple of days but the yeast didn’t like it. It was an epic failure!”
Things have gone rather better since joining the Black Rock brewery two years ago, where he’s learned from Sam’s experience and was rewarded by given free rein to create the Clock Tower “on 9/11/11”.
“It sold so well that I got to brew another one and that beer’s now a staple,” he says. “[Being head brewer] is good – I love it. It’s an awesome brewery to work on. The next beer I want to brew will be a nitro beer or an organic one. It does my head in how sophisticated people think there are when they drink wine then think that beer is a second class beverage when it actually has a lot less added to it. By making an organic beer I want to try and educate people a little.”
According to Grant, he’s never had a bigger audience to educate, with True South enjoying its best period since opening its doors at the end of 2009.
“We’d been working against a headwind since starting up in a suburban location and trying to get a regular following of locals,” he says. “That headwind turned around in October last year and has become a following wind; it’s come on in leaps and bounds.”
He says one catalyst was the change of direction in the kitchen. Mauro was brought in to give the menu a Latin American overhaul that has seen True South host a variety of themed events, including lavish Argentinean style BBQs. Another has been winning over the locals.
“It took almost exactly two years to create a footprint. What we’re trying to do is provide a segue for people and Sam created that: a pathway from traditional mainstream lagers to ales and then onto something more daring.”
Given they currently have a wider range of beers on tap than at any point in their short lifetime, it seems they’re well on track. Call in now and you can tuck into the Angry Argie, New World Pilsner, Summer Ale, Red Truck Marzen, Pale Ale, Coconut Porter and “Barnesy’s” Dark Ale – enough, surely, to keep any beer drinker happy.