Brewer enjoys sweet
Marty Mendiola has been asked a lot of questions
since winning a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for his
"Bumble Beer Honey Ale," including: "What kind of honey
did you use?"
But the more
important question may be, "What
yeast did he use?" After all the yeast imparts far more flavor
profiles than most other ingredients. The yeast choices made by the
31-year-old Mendiola, brew master at Rock Bottom Brewery in La Jolla,
Calif., surely helped him capture the gold medal, as well as a bronze
medal for his "Ragtop Red Ale."
Like many craft brewers around the nation, Mendiola
uses his companys own yeast strains. In the case of the winning GABF
beers, he used Rock Bottoms Scottish Ale yeast.
To get the most from the yeast, he has White Labs
Inc. store and propagate it, so all he has to do is pitch it. This saves
Mendiola the hassle of trying to operate his own lab. But more
importantly, using White Labs has resulted in a huge increase in quality
(Mendiola was one of more than 60 White Labs clients
who won awards at the 2000 GABF in Denver, CO on Oct. 5-7).
While it may be impossible to determine why the
judges picked Mendiolas beers, customers have said the honey ale
imparts a clean, crisp taste. It does so despite retaining an alcohol
level of about 6 percent. The red, on the other hand, has some sweetness
that is balanced by spicy hops.
The medals have spurred sales.
"It definitely does help. When the average
consumer comes in, they immediately want to try that beer. The medals
give them one more inducement to try it. For the regulars, it also
helped get everybody interested in the beer again," Mendiola said.
The awards may have been some of the best
professional recognition that Mendiola has received in his three and a
half years as a brewer. But he takes a lot of satisfaction in the other
aspects of his career.
He became involved in homebrewing after working as a
bartender. Inspired by the work of some of the brewers, Mendiola
enrolled in the University of California at Davis Master Brewers
program. After graduating he sent out 150 resumes.
He got three offers. Two were part-time jobs in
California, while the third was a full-time position with Rock Bottom in
Denver, Colorado. He worked as an assistant brewer there for two years
before becoming brew master at the new La Jolla facility.
When he goes to work each day he routinely answers
questions from inquisitive drinkers, including the one concerning the
honey in his gold-medal beer. Nothing fancy here, said Mendiola.
"Its wild flower honey, made by a local
honey harvester. It has no exciting flavors. In the past I experimented
in small batches with exotic honeys, including something called
Tasmanian honey, which gave the beer a very strange taste. So I learned
that you want to use a honey that creates a light, clean beer."
Apparently, he succeeded.