Today, making the rounds around town, looking for new and/or interesting creations by our local fermentation locations, I stopped by the Ram on Park Center. Among the other couple dozen Brew-on-Premises places in the area, The Ram doesn’t often have something that I’ve not seen before. They are a chain, and there are some corporate standards and lines that must inevitably be towed. Even in these settings, some freedom and creative “wild hairs” are allowed apparently, however and today I got to try one and the experience turned out to be a highlight of my week.
I usually pick an off-hour time between lunch and dinner to increase the chances of some conversation with the staff as they are typically less bust before the after work crowed started to show up. Being early afternoon on New Years eve, the place was fairly deserted. Making a bee-line to the bar side of the restaurant I was greeted briefly by whom I assume was staff and possibly even a beer maker. I gave him a nod a smile on my way in and sensed that he was making eye contact a split second longer than normal. I probably should have paused a bit more and invested int eh greeting and probly came off a bit terse.
The beer menus had the same seasonals that I recalled from a week or two ago when I checked last but for the one on the bottom, “Udder Chaos” milk stout. This I had to have, and I ordered a half-pour…a “shorty” they call it. Black pour, full dense sticky dark tan head and a great mellow chocolate, and milk sugar sweetness. The character from the local Form and Function coffee was a nice touch and complimented nicely and we not over powering. At over 8% I was glad I ordered only a 8oz glass.
Shortly after, the brewer came up and introduced himself. I recognized him right away as the guy I basically snubbed on the way in. Meeting the classic caricature of a brewer, a wirely, early middle aged guy in a zip-up hoodie and wool knit beanie., Jake had apparently recognized me from earlier visits and recalled a friend at another local brewery mentioned me as a local beer nerd/social media/ writer. Aw Shucks.
We chatted a bit and got along really weel right away. When he suggested I stop by sometime for a little brewery tour, I looked around and said “…it seems pretty slow today..?” and off we went.
We walked and talked bout grain silos, gravity fed boilers and fals bottom mash tuns etc… and ass a long time home brewer, I had some good questions to ask him as far as dry-hopping, laagering, corporate recipes and standards vs creative one-off projects etc. He even shared a recent funny storiy about a minor mis-hap regarding how lactose can actually be somewhat flammable when atomized just right. Lest just say, this milk stout I was drinking might well be called a caramelized or “crème breule’ “based on the events that late October brew day.
It was a great tour and great experience and is just another example how the people in thiis business, with very few exceptions, just love to make good beer and share the experience and products of their endeavors with anyone interested.
Here’s to Jake, and the Boise Ram for