Crowd-sourcing isn’t new in brewing and certainly not in Milwaukee brewing – I’m looking at you, MobCraft. Now, New Barons Brewing Cooperative, 2018 S. 1st St., is using the skills and talents of its own membership to crowd-source the perfect kolsch-style beer.
Meet Klub Kölsch.
“This is a member wide collaboration on building a new recipe utilizing both the homebrewing talents within our membership and the consumer preferences of our thirsty patrons,” says CEO John Degroote.
“Kölsch is a beer with wide appeal, but ironically it’s difficult to make given its little room for error, which is where our membership comes in.”
Six of New Barons’ member homebrewers are working with the brewery’s production team, piloting different recipes that tinker with style, in search of what Degroote calls “one ‘golden’ recipe.”
Kolsch is a style of beer from Cologne, Germany that uses ale yeast but is lagered like, well, a lager. It’s therefore something of a hybrid that is unique to the city, which serves the beer in 200ml glasses called stanges.
Only beer made in Cologne (Koln in German) can truly be called kolsch, but many American brewers make kolsch-style beers today.
“Where one might use Vienna malt, another might try wheat instead,” he says. “One kölsch yeast strain from one supplier, can be different from another and so on.
“But the fun part is these brewers have been coming into the taproom on select Tuesdays to taste test their recipes with our patrons,” says Degroote. “Between rounds, I’ve been working with each homebrewer on recipe tweaks and procedures that can improve their approach.”
Two rounds have been tested so far and a third group is coming on July 19. The event is $10 and open to the public. Details here. Members get in free.
At the taproom events, customers have also filled out feedback surveys that ask how drinkable the beer is and whether or not customers would order the brew.
“So far, we’ve coalesced around two recipes,” says Degroote. “For our final event on July 19 we plan to converge on just one.
“Once we have it, we’ll brew it at the brewery, all six homebrewers participating in brew day for a special release late summer.”
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.