Standing Stone Brewing Company

Author: maschweisguth

Tips for Hosting a Fabulous Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is September 17th to October 3rd – let the fun begin! Our Oktoberfest lager will be on tap around September 29th, and available to-go for celebrations.

Last year, we shared a bit of history on the occasion. This year, we thought we’d help you prepare to host your own with insights from our friends Steve and Rebecca Pierce, of Alpha Beta Hops Farm. They lived in Germany for four years, enjoying many Oktoberfests. They host a fabulous party each year, keeping the tradition alive in Ashland, OR.

What aspects of German Oktoberfest celebrations stand out most?

Steve & Rebecca: The amazing “tents,” holding 4,000-6,000 people, the happy folks eating and singing, and, of course, the beer. People join strangers at the tables and, before you know it, food and beer arrive. Oktoberfest is like the Bavarian Biergartens—the friendly atmosphere, the hum, or roar, of good conversation, great beer, a rousting oompah band, and the sights and sounds of Bavaria.

The normal fare consisted of half a haehnchen (chicken), brotchen (pretzel) and a liter of beer. Food on the midway included pickled herring sandwiches, lebkuchen (gingerbread) heart cookies, steckerlfisch on a stick and cinnamon seasoned nuts. Since food was consumed in the tents or as you walked along, there were lots of finger foods like freshly cut fries with curry ketchup and hot dogs (no buns) that we dipped in ketchup or dark, sweet senf (German mustard).

What do you usually make for Oktoberfest?

Rebecca: We have 40 to 60 guests so our delicious dishes have to be easy to prepare and serve to a crowd. We always include traditional Munich dishes: sauerkraut, pork, sausage, kartoffelsalat (potato salad) and blaukraut (red cabbage). Radi (large white radish sliced paper thin and salted) is traditionally served. We use Daikon.

What foods do you recommend for aspiring hosts?

Rebecca: Try blaukraut and kartoffelsalat. There are lots of recipes online. Find ones that sound good and easy. For an authentic kartoffelsalat, avoid recipes with mayonnaise—it should be vinegary. Roasted or grilled chicken is authentic. Sausages and good crisp skin “hot dogs” are easily prepared. Serve them without a bun so they can be dipped in senf. Try to find large bread pretzels (also dipped in senf). And, of course, good beer and a few “eins, zwei g’suffa!” (one, two, down the hatch!). Add a couple of Bavarian oompah CDs for a great tasting, authentic celebration.

Tell us about the beer you’re brewing for Oktoberfest

Steve and Son/Farm Partner, Spencer with a homebrew (Photo: Steve Pierce)

We brewed a Lager with Two row, Munich Malt, Belgian Pilsner and Carapils. Of course, we use our organic Cascade hops – not very authentic. We should use Saaz, Tettnanger or Hallertauer. The secret with any lager is to use a good active yeast. I use Wyeast Oktoberfest and brew early enough so the beer can age and condition at about 40-45 degrees for months.

What’s Oktoberfest like at Alpha Beta Hops?

Steve and Rebecca: We celebrate with the folks who volunteered to pick hops with us. It’s a chance to repay them for their hard work and dedication, break out the Weis und Blau (white and blue – colors of Bavaria) decorations and relive the wonderful times we had in Munich and Bavaria. We grill, sample good bier and continue the conversation.

Thanks Steve and Rebecca! We hope this inspires great times with good friends, craft beer and tasty food.

Hop, Hop Hooray! Harvest at Alpha Beta

Late summer is peak harvest season—one of our favorite times of the year! As a brewery, we’re especially excited that the hops harvest is underway at Alpha Beta Hops right here in Ashland, OR. Earlier this year, we paid a virtual visit to Alpha Beta to give you a taste of what hops farming entails. We thought we’d go back to give you a peek into the process of how hops get from plant to pint, too.

Alpha Beta Hops is a family operation, run by Steve and Rebecca Pierce, and their sons, Spencer and Morgan. They currently grow about 1.5 acres of organic Cascade hops, prized by craft brewers like us. The Pierces undertake each step with great care and attention to quality, and incorporate sustainable practices throughout, brewing great things for beer lovers, people and planet.

The harvest involves about a week of long days. When hops are at their peak, good producers know they need to pick, process and pack their crop quickly to maintain optimal flavor and aroma. Following farm tradition, four generations of the family pitched in, with volunteers including friends and folks from World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).

The process begins by cutting hop bines, which grow on tall trellises. Alpha Beta uses heavyweight paper string for trellises, a renewable material they compost to feed next year’s crop. Always innovating, the Pierces built an harvesting attachment for their tractor, consisting of a platform they stand on to cut and a chute they load with hops.

The Pierces take each load of bines to a worktable where everyone carefully plucks off hops and places them in buckets. The pile shrinks quickly as workers enjoy chatting and enjoying the Rogue Valley’s beautiful views and clean air. The farm also has free-range chickens that like to check out the action, though they haven’t yet been trained to help.

The Pierce family is on the right (Photo: M. Schweisguth)

Full buckets are dumped into drying bins heated with a passive solar system. The building with the drying bins has a greenhouse on one side of its wall and the drying bin area on the other. Hot air from the greenhouse blows toward the drying bins. Workers gently rake the hops to ensure even drying.

After the hops are dry, they’re packed into bags for customers, ranging from individual homebrewers to brewing supply stores and brewpubs like Standing Stone Brewing Co. Hops are also great in herbal teas and tinctures, since they contain compounds that aid relaxation.

Volunteers from WWOOF (Photo: Steve Pierce)

Despite the long days, Rebecca finds the time and energy to whip up a delicious lunch each day. When the day’s work is done, of course folks enjoy a well-deserved IPA to celebrate their progress.

Thanks to the Pierces for doing what you do with such care for the hops, the planet and everyone involved. Making the best craft beer requires the best ingredients, and we’re grateful for farms like Alpha Beta that deliver that, always with a smile. Cheers!

Behind the Scenes: George Rubaloff, Photographer & Musician

georgeIf you’ve perused our website and photo galleries, blog and Facebook page, you’ve certainly noticed the great images there. George Rubaloff who’s also played music here for several years and coordinates our music series, is the creative force behind the camera. We love working with him, and we love his work! In our ongoing series pointing the lens at the people behind the scenes at Standing Stone, we asked George to share his motivations and tips, and paired that with some our favorite shots.

What drew you to photography?gina

All my life experiences gave birth to my passion for photography. During my tours in Vietnam in the late ‘60’ I discovered that I felt compelled to compose things. I picked up a hand-crank film editor and started cutting and rearranging my movie film. Later, I spent a decade studying and practicing songwriting. I wrote compositions every day of my 30-year career in local government. I began shooting and editing video as a focused hobby in the 90’s and discovered I was shooting like a photographer. I also did some photo reporting during the later part of my first career. As I approached retirement, I thought seriously about how I wanted to transform my life experiences into something meaningful and creative. In 2007, I retired, bought camera gear and made it my focus.

How did you acquire your skills?hailey

I dug into every technical aspect of photography that I could and spent substantial time on the cyber-campus of the worldwide Digital Photography School.

I also read everything I could get my hands on and brought that knowledge into my personal laboratory for practice and experimentation.

What are your favorite subjects?

I truly enjoy making photos no matter what the subject. I like the challenge of new assignments and telling a story with images. My favorite work at Standing Stone is shooting the company’s progress and successes. There’s plenty of that happening every day.

As a guitarist, what styles do you play? Any favorites?marina

I’m a rhythm guitarist—sort of like a drummer with six strings to make harmony. For me, 30’s and 40’s swing and Latin Jazz is it. I do like other genres, particularly with ethnic flavorings.

What moments of your music career stand out?

The point when I decided to learn Gypsy Swing stands out for me. This genre opened up doors for me, as if I were stepping into music for the very first time. Other great moments include doing musical work with my wife, Gayle Wilson, who’s an amazing musician. She knows how to dig into musical work and is a great model for me.george music

What’s your guidance for aspiring photographers?

Do it! Know in your heart that no one can do what you do as well as you (tricky if you say that fast). Study the technical aspects of what makes good exposures and good compositions. Practice like a monster and be conscious all the while of what gets you closer to making the photos that excite and resonate with you.

What’s your advice for developing musicians?tasters

Music is for everyone and transforms us…it changes our lives and it’s a gift. Practice, study, practice, study, practice; and learn to give the gift of live music.

Thanks for sharing your gifts and inspiring us, George! We hope you’re inspired to find and share your own talents, too.

Our Rooftop Garden: Sustainably Delicious Penthouse Produce

If you follow our blog or the news, you probably know that we’re getting ready to launch our own farming operation right here in Ashland, OR. We’re leasing land from the City and will be able to move in on October 1st. We’re counting the days!

We’re not waiting to start growing our own food, though. We’ve planted a rooftop garden to jump-start our in-house food sourcing, make the most of all of our brewpub’s space and tap into solar power in yet another way.

Though we’re already raising our own egg-producing free-range chickens, buying beef raised in Ashland and purchasing as many local and regional foods as we can get our hands on, we want to do more to get our ingredients closer to home. This maximizes flavor and minimizes environmental footprint – a double win.

Brandon Schilling, server and sustainability coordinator, has taken the lead to grow this effort, helping reduce food miles to mere feet.

Admittedly, it provides just a small part of what we use for our menu, but we believe in doing what we can. Any tiny step in the right direction takes us closer to a more sustainable world.

We started simple, with herbs like basil and mint. If you’ve noticed a new twist on favorites like our special mojitoes and select pizzas, that’s the taste of ultra-fresh, organic ingredients. We repurposed produce containers so they’ll keep delivering sustainable goodness.

As the weather’s become warmer and we’ve fine-tuned our skills, we’ve planted tomatoes, tomatilloes, cucumbers and strawberries. They’re happily thriving in repurposed 5-gallon buckets from ingredients and reused plant pots. We’re starting kale, beets, carrots and other greens for the fall and winter.

Our garden is fed with compost made from our restaurant kitchen scraps and spent grain from our brewery. As we work to localize food production, we’re also seeking to shrink the environmental impact of related inputs.

The next time you visit our restaurant, be sure to ask your server what foods and beverages feature our penthouse produce.

Till then, we hope you enjoy some recent photos and get inspired to start growing a bit of your own fresh food, no matter how much space you have.

To save money and maximize your positive environmental impact, reuse old containers for planters and look for things you can repurpose into plant supports. They’ll last for many seasons to come, keeping good materials our of landfills and saving the resources used to process the many reusable items that get recycled long before their useful life has ended.

Compost yard and kitchen scraps to amend your soil, too. Natural processes like this make expensive, prepared fertilizers, which often contain petroleum byproducts, unnecessary. Plant matter makes up much of what’s in our landfills, too. This wastes valuable materials we need to rebuild our world’s depleted soils and generates a lot of methane one of the most potent greenhouse gasses.

Now that’s really gardening with a green thumb, and the results are delicious for people and planet alike. Dig in!

Rogue Valley, Get Ready for Eat Local Week 2011

As September approaches, we’re reminded that it’s almost time for the Rogue Valley’s annual Eat Local Week. Of course, as local food fanatics, we love the festivities this week brings!

Organized by THRIVE (The Rogue Initiative for a Vital Economy), this annual celebration takes place September 9-18, 2011 and includes a menu of educational and culinary events, the Eat Local Challenge and the Rogue Flavor Dinner.

THRIVE is a terrific nonprofit that works to create a more sustainable local economy by promoting local businesses and agriculture, and helping local enterprises develop business skills. We’ve been a proud member and supporter for years.

For Eat Local Week, they’ve defined “local foods” as items whose ingredients are grown or raised within 200 miles of the Rogue Valley

Events take place from September 2nd to 18th, with the bulk occurring during Eat Local Week. Highlights include:

  • Farm tours and open farm days, including the Rogue Flavor Farm Tour on September 11th
  • Food & wine pairings
  • Food tastings galore
  • Tomato taste-off at Growers Markets
  • Cooking and food preservation classes
  • Local food menu specials at numerous restaurants, including Standing Stone
  • Talent Harvest Festival on September 11th
  • Rogue Flavor Dinner and Auction on September 17th

Our omelettes and quiche are Eat Local Week-friendly, made with eggs from our own free-range chickens!

The Eat Local Challenge is designed to encourage us to maximize the amount of locally-produced foods and beverages we consume, and all participants are eligible for a prize drawing as an incentive. You can participate at different levels:

  • Locavore Supreme- Eat only foods that are grown, raised or produced within 200 miles…no coffee, chocolate, non-local spices, etc.
  • Locavore- Eat only foods that are grown, raised or produced within 200 miles, and you can have your coffee, chocolate, non-local spices, etc.
  • Taster- Eat only foods that are grown, raised or produced within 200 miles for one meal per day
  • Sampler- Eat only foods that are grown, raised or produced within 200 miles during two meals throughout the week

It’s not difficult to make the commitment—even for the highest levels—since our regional producers offer a wider variety of items than most of us realize. To make it easy, THRIVE has created a guide for finding everything you need right here in the Rogue Valley. Check it out!

The Rogue Flavor Dinner and Auction on 9/17 at 6 pm tops off the week. It benefits THIVE and takes place at RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, which affords beautiful views of vineyards, farms and orchards. The Spanish-themed menu features five courses of locally grown food prepared by top local chefs, each using a local wine as an ingredient. This event typically sell out early, so call 541-488-7272 or visit THRIVE’s website to reserve your spot.

Speeding From the Mt Ashland Hillclimb to the Siskiyou Challenge

Photo: Andy Atkinson

Southern Oregon’s great summer and early fall weather make these seasons perfect for racing – whether it’s biking, running or water sports. Two of our favorites are the Mt. Ashland Hillclimb Run and the Siskiyou Challenge.

The Mt. Ashland Hillclimb Run, which we’ve sponsored for years, took place in early August. This 13.3-mile race climbs more than a vertical mile, starting in Lithia Park at the center of Ashland, OR and ending at the peak of Mt. Ashland. Organizers added even more available spots to this ever-popular event, but it filled up in near record time nonetheless.

Photo: Andy Atkinson

Congratulations to everyone who participated, and a special hats off to male and female winners Erik Skaggs (of Ashland, OR, in the photo above) and returning champion Stephanie Howe (of Bend, OR). We offered gift certificates and post-race beer as usual, and hope everyone enjoyed that little reward for your efforts. See you next year!

We’re already looking toward the Siskiyou Challenge on September 24 with excitement. This six-leg multi-sport relay benefits Rogue Valley Farm to School, one of our favorite causes.

The race was a blast last year and promises to be even better its second time around. They’ve added another leg to last year’s five-leg relay and moved the start/finish area to Lithia Park increase the fun and community participation.

This year’s race course starts with a road bike ride to Emigrant Lake, followed by a kayak/surfboard paddle at Emigrant Lake, a road bike ride back to Lithia Park through farms and orchards, a 10k run climbing above Lithia Park, a mountain bike segment and a 5k run around Lithia Park.

Team Standing Stone, 2010 Siskiyou Challenge

Solo racers and teams of 2-6 are invited to step up for the challenge. Standing Stone is assembling a team again this year, and we’re looking to improve our placing while having even more fun!

Those looking for an easier taste of the action can participate in a Fun Run/Walk in Lithia Park, with registration starting at 9 AM and the run/walk starting at 9:30 AM.

The festivities extend well beyond the starting and finish line, and the community is welcome. There will be a pre-race BBQ at Emigrant Lake on Friday, September 23. After the race, participants and supporters can enjoy live music and a post race meal from Standing Stone, Artik Creamery and others featuring local food and beverages.

The Siskiyou Challenge offers lots of ways for local food advocates to support a great cause, from racing to volunteering and, of course, eating. Cruise over to the event website to register for the relay, sign up for the BBQ, learn about the fun run/walk, volunteer or make a donation. Stop by their Facebook page and check out a photo slide show by our very own photographer, George Rubaloff, to get even more connected  and inspired.  See you there!

Catching up With Our 2010 Brewery Intern, Acacia Baldner

Acacia homebrewing Graduation Amber (photo: Acacia Baldner)

Last year we had a terrific brewery intern, Acacia Baldner, who’s aiming to become a professional brewer. Standing Stone Brewing Co regulars may remember the well-received Butternut Brown Ale she brewed for our specialty beer series.

Since then, Acacia completed a senior research project about beer chemistry at Southern Oregon University (SOU), was accepted into the UC Davis Extension Master Brewers Program, graduated from SOU and earned a spot to present her research at a conference. She also landed a summer internship at Snake River Brewing (Jackson, WY) and snagged a spot in a great article on up and coming brewers in the New Brewer.

We caught up with Acacia to find out about her latest endeavors, research findings, next steps and advice for other aspiring brewers.

What are you doing at Snake River Brewing?

I’m working as a brewery intern, learning everything from the day-to-day brewing processes to bottling and canning. Its a bigger brew house than Standing Stone and it’s a little more automated, so I’m learning some exciting processes that I haven’t had much experience with before.

How would you summarize your senior research?

I worked with Larry (Standing Stone brewmaster) to research how beer flavor is affected by shortening the maturation period that occurs just prior to transferring the beer to a serving tank. This involved extracting flavor compounds and determining their identities and concentrations in the beer. I found that a shorter maturation period may actually improve flavor, though more research is required to substantiate this conclusion. Though this research didn’t yield a definite conclusion, it was highly rewarding to work with Larry and the chemistry department at SOU, and couple two of my passions: science and beer.

(photo: Acacia Baldner)

What will you be doing in the UC Davis Extension Master Brewers Program? 

I’ll acquire an in-depth education in the science and engineering of brewing and the brewhouse, including malting, mashing, fermentation, fluid flow and mass transfer. I’ll begin the 18-week program in January 2012. Till then, I hope to become a certified Cicerone, the beer-world equivalent of a sommelier.

What’s your advice for aspiring brewers who want to break into the industry?

My advice to anyone who’s serious about becoming a brewer is to do some homebrewing, and get passionate about beer, its chemistry, biology, art and craft. Also, get involved with local breweries and experience the industrial side of brewing. It’s been my experience that Northwest brewers care about their communities, and welcome and embrace involvement from local brewing hopefuls. I think it’s just part of the microbrewing community that good beer, and the people who make it, need to be shared, celebrated, talked about and enjoyed.

What’s you favorite beer you’ve made, and what do you like to pair it with?

It would probably be the Butternut Brown I brewed at Standing Stone because it was flavorful and rich yet not overwhelming to the palate. My favorite things to pair it with were candied walnuts and sweet pears, though a nice pork chop would also complement it very nicely.

Thanks, Acacia. Keep up the great work. We look forward to watching—and imbibing—what you brew up next!

Pints for a Purpose Donation Program: Call for Applications

Several years ago, we created a program where we donate a portion of sales from one of our specialty beers to a nonprofit selected by Standing Stone Brewing Co employees. It’s been well received and has benefited a lot of great causes.

To extend the benefits further, we’ve launched a freshly reformulated twist on this initiative, dubbed “Pints for A Purpose.” Instead of asking employees to nominate recipients, we’re inviting nonprofits whose work aligns with our mission – enhancing sustainability, local food, education and community – to apply.

Here’s how the program works: The nonprofit gets 25 cents for every pint sold for three weeks. We also hold a kickoff at our restaurant and brewery where we offer the opportunity for the organization to receive up to $1 per pint depending on the number of pints sold. Each recipient’s fundraising success depends on the their efforts to promote the program. We provide template promotional text and promote it though our blog, twitter, Facebook and at our restaurant. Of course, we emphasize responsible alcohol consumption in all communication, and require recipients to do the same.

Here are the guidelines:

  • Recipients must be a registered 501c3 nonprofit
  • The nonprofit’s work must align with our mission to enhance environmental sustainability, local food, education and/or community.
  • Recipients must be locally based and benefit our community
  • We are not able to fund individuals or sports teams
  • We will not choose the same organization two years in a row to ensure we can benefit a wider range of relevant, worthy causes. Please apply only if you haven’t received funding from this program in the past year.
  • Recipients must be able and willing to promote the program and attend the kickoff to support their fundraising success.

If your organization meets the program guidelines, we encourage you to apply by August 15th. You can find more details and an application online

A diverse employee team will review applications and we’ll let you know of our decision within eight weeks. We are unable to respond to calls or emails regarding your application status, but you’ll receive an email confirmation that your submission has been received.

Thanks for the work you do, and good luck!

Alpha Beta Hops Farm: Imbibe the Local, Organic Goodness

Hops are one of the beer’s essential ingredients and provide its central flavor. Naturally, to ensure that we brew an exceptional craft beer, we start with the very best hops. Luckily, our favorite supplier, Alpha Beta Hops Farm,is right here in Ashland, OR. We use their hops in our Pale Ale and specialty microbrews.

Not only is their crop amazing, but they’re local, certified organic, and use wind power. That makes a delicious pint with positive power! We’re taking you on a virtual tour of this beautiful, fascinating place with Steve Pierce, co-owner and grower extraordinaire, who runs the family-owned farm with his his son and partner Spencer, his wife Rebecca and his son Morgan.

What hop varietals do you grow?

We presently grow only 100% organic Cascade hops, which we sell as whole flower hops. As we establish our local market, we hope to expand by adding 2-3 varieties based on brewer needs.

What breweries and beers feature your hops? Are they also available to homebrewers?

Hops from the 2010 harvest have been sold online, at homebrewer supply stores such as Grains, Beans and Things and Grange Co-op, and to Standing Stone Brewing Co and Wild River Brewing for local brews. Fresh hops from our 2009 harvest were used by Caldera and Standing Stone in wet hop brews. Wild River featured our organic hops in their Double Cross Ale, also using malt from Klamath barley. This year, as we increase our yield, we hope to add many additional customers in southern Oregon and northern California.

What led you to start growing hops?

In the 1980’s we lived in Munich for 4 years and travelled throughout Europe. It’s impossible to live in Munich, survive four Oktoberfests, four Starkbierfests, and innumerable Bavarian fests and not grow to love good beer. Just breathing in the malt-laden air and sitting in a bustling biergarten are enough to make anyone a lover of beer culture. I moved to Oregon 20 years ago, became a homebrewer and have been drinking my own homebrew for over 15 years. After raising cattle and growing hay for 17 years, we decided to try our hand at an organic crop. With my love of beer culture, hops was the first choice.

Hops were grown for many years in this area until the mid 1900’s, and the last harvest at the Grants Pass Lathrop yards was in 1989, so we knew hops would grow well here. After seeing our trial planting take off like crazy, we tracked down the materials to construct over a mile of 17-foot high trellis wire. As the only hop yard in an area of numerous craft brewers, we feel the future looks bright.

What’s spring like at your farm?

Spring is our busiest time. After whacking away all the leftover hop bines (Bines? Says Steve – “bines” have hairs, versus “vines,” which have tendrils) and winter groundcover, we string about 6,000 paper strings from the trellis wires. Then, it’s a week or so of wrapping the hop bines up the strings to start them on their way to the top. Then we get the irrigation system going to take over from spring rains. Hops are thirsty. As they start to grow we begin monitoring for aphids, spidermites, and downy mildew.

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Thanks, Steve, for the hard work, fantastic hops, and sharing a bit of your story. We’ll definitely pay another virtual visit in the summer and fall, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy them in our Pale Ale and get some Alpha Beta Hops for your own home brew.

Steve enjoys the fruits of his labor, a homebrewed IPA (Photo: Alpba Beta Hops)

Behind the Scenes: Pizza Secrets & Our Wood-Fired Oven

If you’ve visited Standing Stone Brewing Company, you’ve probably noticed our wood-fired oven, since we built our kitchen with an open view of this hard-working beauty.

When we decided to open our brewery and restaurant, we knew we wanted to offer incredible wood-fired pizza. We sought out Alan Scott of Ovencrafters, a skilled, passionate and highly regarded craftsman, to design and build it. It’s fueled with sustainably harvested madrone, a fast growing tree that’s native to the Ashland, OR area. With its high heat, we bake pretzels, bread and other treats, too.

A recent Oregon Wine Press article spotlighted Standing Stone as one of the best places to get wood-fired pizza in the Pacific Northwest. Cheers to our chef, Eric Bell, and the kitchen crew, for cooking up innovation and quality, slice by slice. We thought we’d ask Eric to give us a peek behind the scenes and share pointers for perfect pizza.

What’s the secret to great pizza?

I would say the simple points are: a good oven, dough methodology, and knowledge (the most important ingredient) of what makes a great pizza are key.

The first secret to crafting great pizza is a great oven, and thousands of pounds of thermal mass. Alan Scott has such an incredible legacy as an oven builder that his name is mentioned at the San Francisco Baking institute during class lectures on oven types. That Standing Stone is home to an Alan Scott oven is a spectacular bonus to any chef/baker. Wow! To bake in an Alan Scott oven is only a dream for many. A pizza cooks best at temperatures between 750 and 900 degrees, and is cooked to perfection in a minute to a minute and a half.

How do you craft pizzas at Standing Stone?

I start with a single cold (retard) ferment that lasts a minimum of two days, and a maximum of five. This allows the flavors to develop. As the yeast consumes the starch, alcohol builds in the dough, and the gluten fibers strengthen. I use active dry yeast, the only yeast that is a live yeast cell surrounded by dead yeast cells. This is important as the dead cells act as “conditioners” that make the dough extensible – that is, it stretches out, and doesn’t snap back like a rubber band.

Our inspired Chef, Eric Bell

This method is Italian, and growing in popularity in the west. As such, I use what’s called a “00” grind flour, at about 9.5% protein. The tomato sauce is cooked only once – on the pizza, and I use tomatoes that are grown from the famous “San Marzano” seed.

What are some favorite ingredient combinations for wood-fired pizza?

Inspiration comes from the fire. Pizza cooked in a wood oven only tastes like it was cooked by fire if that pizza is lifted into the smoke towards the top of the oven. Anything that is complemented by that “smokiness” is desirable. Wild foraged mushrooms, leeks, smoked or aged cheeses & seafood are wonderful. Leafy greens like Nettle that caramelize in the heat and get “crispy” are magical, and we love them with Fennel Sausage and local goat cheese.

Stop by sometime to enjoy a wood-fired pizza, pretzel or other delights, and watch the action in our kitchen. We offer classic and innovative combinations, plus specials featuring seasonal ingredients. To experiment at home, dig into this delicious pizza making blog.