The BOMB crew sailed into the heart of Swarthmore, PA on Thursday night. The small college town was buzzing with activity and people dining outdoors in the warm summer evening air. We all gathered in the main taproom of the Ship Bottom Blendery & Barrel House, eager to fine out more about just "what is a blendery?"
We were warmly greeted by Hannah Gohde, the master blender and a brewer for Ship Bottom Brewery. With cold beer in hand, we were led into the barrel house cellar to learn the answer to our question and more. Hannah explained the purpose of the "blendery" was to combine or blend beers being fermented and conditioned at the barrel house to produce a new, unique beer. The wort is brewed at Ship Bottom's Beach Haven, NJ brewery and then kegged and transported to the barrel house for fermentation, conditioning and to be magically transformed into something unique.
She explained an unintentional consequence of producing a unique beer is that it may be difficult to reproduce, due to all of the elements of the process, are unique to this time and place. Hannah calls her fermenting vessels of beer "barrel babies". She feeds them a diet of adjuncts such as chamomile, lavender, lemon grass and even kumquats from a locally sourced grower in NJ. Each barrel's progress is carefully monitored for flavor development. Once the fermentation and conditioning is complete, Hannah confides, the real magic begins. Through sampling and tasting the barrel's contents, she gets a flavor profile for each beer and builds a flavor palette. With a vision for the finished beer, she then paints with beer by combining and blending the barrels until she arrives at the flavor she envisioned...pretty cool, eh? Click the link below for more images of the evening.