(San Diego, CA) – Lee Chase probably has a lot more to do with those five beers that were named in the Beer Advocate Top 25 than he’d ever take credit for . . . but since his decade-long tenure as Head Brewer at Stone Brewing, he has definitely left his mark on the brewing world one way or another. He has consulted with numerous breweries in the country including Alesmith and Port Brewing, and upcoming startups like Fullsteam and Lonerider Brewing. He’s also left an impact in India, Norway, and other parts of the world. Now, closer to home, he finally has his own project, along with his wife, Jennifer, Jeff Motch and Clea Hantman:
a brewpub and pizza place opening in Normal Heights tonight.
Over the past month, I’ve traded some emails with Chase, getting a feel for what Blind Lady could become and just picking his brain on brewing in general. Here are some tidbits about the new operation, straight from Chase:
What can we expect beer-wise on the 30th?
“On the 30th, you can expect a great selection of beer from the 20 All-Stainless Taps (currently on tap! Yes, I’m having a Stainless-Drawn Draft of Alesmith Lil Devil as I write), as well as the full menu of pizzas and salads.
The selection of beers is probably weighted a bit to the belgian-style, though there are a number of locals on, simply because they are great beers!
Our house beer might be a few more weeks away…It’s just now about a week into it. The beer is in the tank now, but I haven’t thought too seriously about the second. One thing is fairly certain: they’ll all probably be organic.”
Where is beer being brewed until the brewery is set up?
I will be working with my friends at Mission Brewery [...] The first style is going to be a Belgian Golden pale ale. When we get to installing a system at the pub, it will probably be small–like 5-7bbls…
What is the house brew?
[note: Info from the Blind Lady blog.]
“I settled on a style I really like to homebrew– An Organic Belgian Single. Ray and I are working on the details to get the batch brewed, and we think we could get it into the fermenter in the next couple of weeks.
The Malt: I’m super excited to use Organic malt on a whole batch of beer! I’ve played with it in the past, but only on a homebrew scale. I’ve tasted a number of Award-winning organic beers at the World Beer Cup and GABF. I judged both of those events (which are “blind” tastings, i.e. they don’t tell you who brewed it, or that they are organic when judging), so I know that Organic is not only great for sustainability, but can also produce world-class beer. Considering other crops, Organic usually leads to more flavor than the commercial counter-part.
The Yeast: White Labs, a local yeast producer, will have the yeast ready next week. I love this yeast! This is a special yeast strain, which really gives a distinct character to the beer.”
As a brewery consultant, what are some of your thoughts on current brewing trends?
I think brewers are getting better at making all beers. The Strong ales are a great way to differentiate your beer from the majors, but ultimately, I think moderate-beers-with-flavor are still going to win the race in the craft movement. They may not have the same (no pun intended) buzz as the super-duty beers, like the imperials and doubles, but they are, in a way, more enjoyable. Certainly less celebrated, and rightfully so, but a low-alcohol beer which has a great flavor is kinda like that smart, beautiful, nice girl that you really like to hang out with–not that easy hottie that shows up at a party and every guy is all over her… Know what I’m saying…?
What is the most common mistake that breweries seem to make?
Every brewery has different areas in which improvements can be made. The biggest single mistake (or rather a lost opportunity) that many breweries make is that they rarely schedule time to critically taste their beers. A simple *organized* Tasting Panel starts the analysis leading to improvements in the brewery. All the big breweries extensively use the sensory-evaluation process. With some training and dedication, small brewers can also use this invaluable piece of equipment! From there, all kinds of improvements can be identified and implemented, and beer quality improved, and the brewery can grow and prosper…in theory. As I said, all breweries are different, but flavor is the bottom line.