Standing Stone Brewing Company

Acacia Baldner

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!

Meet Acacia Baldner: Our Fantastic Brewery Intern

Acacia brewing up great beer

We had an incredible summer intern, Acacia Baldner, and asked her to share her experience. Her guest post follows. She’s an avid home brewer and a senior in biochemistry at Southern Oregon University who will be attending the UC Davis Extension Brewing program in 2012 to become a professional brewmaster. Acacia brewed a specialty beer, Butternut Brown Ale, that may still be on tap if you’re lucky!

My interest in beer and brewing began when I was a kid and helped my family harvest the hops my dad grew on the side of the house. Eventually I started brewing a few batches of beginner beers with my dad and fell in love with the artistry, chemistry and biology of brewing and fermentation. I found that I liked homebrewing enough to look into making brewing my career.

One of the best ways to get started in the professional brewing field is to gain experience by participating in an internship and obtaining formal brewing training. Knowing that Standing Stone makes excellent beers and is very supportive of the local community, I thought they might want to help me on the road to being a professional brewer by taking me on as an intern.

Things turned out perfectly. I started working with Larry Chase, the brewmaster, in late June to begin learning the tools of the trade. One of the first things I learned was that 75% of the brewer’s time involves cleaning and sanitation and 25% is spent actually making beer. Lots of hard work soon followed, including learning how to transfer beer from the fermenters to the serving vessels, fill kegs properly, mill and mash the grain and boil the ‘wort’ into the sweet liquid that would soon become beer.

At the end of my internship I designed and brewed my own beer, Butternut Brown Ale. It is a medium bodied, malty beer that is very flavorful and has a mild, floral hop aroma. For my first attempt at brewing professionally, the beer seems to be a great success.

Though my internship is complete, I’ll still be working with beer for one of the senior projects I’m undertaking for my studies at Southern Oregon University. This will involve taking samples of immature “green” beer from Standing Stone and analyzing its flavor compounds as the beer matures. At the end of the project I will determine whether a five-day maturation period in a fermenter is necessaryfor the beer, or if a shorter maturation period is adequate.

The internship has increased my knowledge about brewing one thousandfold. When I attend the University of California Davis’ Master Brewer program in 2012, I will obtain the formal training to complement the wonderful start I’ve received here.

I want to thank Standing Stone co-owners, Alex and Danielle, for allowing me to have this wonderful experience, and extend special thanks to thank Larry for taking me under his wing and teaching me so much about brewing and the brewery.

~ Acacia Baldner, Summer 2010 intern

Specialty Beer on Tap: Butternut Brown Ale

We tapped a new specialty beer this week at Standing Stone Brewing Company.  In honor of the great flavor nuances of the fall harvest, we’re calling it Butternut Brown Ale.  We sampled it at a preview event on 9/20 with a terrific response and tapped it for customers on 9/21.

This ale is particularly special because it was brewed by Acacia Baldner, an exceptional intern we had this summer.

Acacia is a biochemistry major at Southern Oregon University and an experienced home brewer.  She’s entering her senior year at SOU and has already been accepted to the highly regarded and very competitive UC Davis Extension Brewing program for 2012, where she’ll continue her training to become a professional brewmaster.  If the Butternut Brown Ale is any indication of what’s brewing in her future, we know she’ll craft some amazing beers!

About Butternut Brown:

Based on the American Brown Ale style, this beer features a deep brown hue and a rich, medium body. This malty, flavorful microbrew exhibits notes of caramel, roasted nuts, and a crisp, dry walnut-shell finish with aromas of mild hop and biscuit. 6.1% abv

Malts

  • Organic Two-Row
  • Organic Crystal 60
  • Organic Chocolate
  • Carabrown from Briess Maltster’s Reserve Series

Hops

  • Bittering: Nugget
  • Aroma/Flavor: Crystal & Cascade

It pairs well with autumn fruits such as figs, apples and pears, and bold cheeses like Rogue Creamery’s award-winning cheddar.  You’ll find these in several items on our menu and specials.

As with all specialty beers, this is a limited edition small batch and these always go quickly.  Come savor it while it lasts! Please feel free to share your comments about this beer on this blog post and chat with the brewmaster when you stop by to enjoy it.