From a gorgeous landscape, to it’s clever native folk language (Boontling), Anderson Valley has a lot to offer. One of those more notable offerings is their craft beer. Founded in 1987 as a 10 barrel brew house, it has very successfully expanded to holding 100 and 85 gallon copper brew kettles with a green initiative that takes 40% of it’s energy directly from the solar panels on their roof. Head brewer and Anderson Valley Brand Ambassador Fal Allen was kind enough to talk some shop with us, and he had more than a few interesting answers.
GPBR: What is Bahl Hornin’? Can you give us a little insight into the (antlered bear) logo?(For a further explanation of the language, check out the brewery’s video below).
FA: Bahl Hornin’ means goods drinking and that’s what we do at Anderson Valley; make some good drinking beers. The Antlered bear (Bear + Deer = ……. Yeah, a Beer )
GPBR: Do you speak any Boontling? If so, what are some critical phrases every beer drinker should know?
FA: Yibe, a harp a wee slib of the ling (yes, I speak a little Boontling).
Bahl harpins for steinber horners ? well, firstly Boontling is a ling of a heelch of nonch harpins, so cardy grey matter on harpin, before harpin nonch or shattequaw to kimmies n appleheads, or eeldems – cause some feather leggy might get sommerset, or teepsed, and want ta cockin a fister.
1) Yibe, dub horns here - Yes, two beers here please (two beers because you should always buy one for your friend)
2) Eeee Tah, that’sa mightly bahl Steinber ! - Damn, that mighty good beer !
3)I gotta kerk, Wheres the taipin nook ? (Ladies: Please, wheres the teebough nook) - I have to make water, where’s the toilet (Ladies: Please where’s the ladies powder room)
4) Bahl Neech appleheads (or Kimmie), you all are deekin mightly bahl – Good evening ladies (or guys) you all are looking mighty good
5) What? Nee stooks? Must be a wheeler, you’re bahlness n nee chuckish – wanna treek (I got some tigey tobes) – Oh, you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend? I find that hard to believe as smart and attractive as you are – would you like to go outside for a walk (I have some of Mendocino’s finest we could share)
6) And a course never horn n jape a moshe, (Never drink and drive)
GPBR: What inspired you to get your start in brewing?
GPBR: How do you come up with your beer concepts?
FA: We try to design most of our beers as a group (I think you get better and more well rounded beers that way). We get together with any of our brewers that want to participate and we talk about different beers and then we kind of discuss out a beer and make a pilot batch. Once we try the pilot we might refine the flavors a bit more.
GPBR: As I understand it, this is Anderson Valley’s first foray (with Fall Hornin’) into pumpkin ale territory. What made you guys decide to brew one up this year?
FA: Well, this is not really our first foray. I made a pumpkin beer for the Elysian Great Pumpkin Beer Festival a few years back. But our decision to make Fall Hornin was twofold – first the popularity of pumpkin beers has grown in the last few years and people kept asking for one and secondly one of our brewers (Christian Toran) made a great homebrew batch of Pumpkin beer last year. Christian’s homebrew was so good we decided to try his recipe out on our pilot brewery (~8 bbls). We like it again and so we made a few very minor changes and went full production with it.
GPBR: What are your thoughts on Pumpkin ale as a style? Do you have a favorite one? What sets Anderson Valley’s apart?
FA: Pumpkin beers are a phenomenon – People love them – but really the pumpkin itself has very little flavor and what flavor it has is very delicate, easily overwhelmed – thus pumpkin mostly has a supporting role in flavor contribution. What people seem to like most is the pumpkin spices in the beer. So making a good Pumpkin beer is all about your spice mix and not letting the spices overpower the underlying beer and the delicate pumpkin flavor.
Elysian’s pumpkin beers inspired me to make a pumpkin beer and so I guess I would say that Elysian’s Dark O’ the Moon is one of my favorites. They do a great job of intertwining the dark malts with the mild cinnamon spice and the pumpkin flavors. It is really a great beer.
What sets Anderson Valley’s Fall Hornin’ apart ? I think that we have blended the brown ale’s malt flavors nicely with a mild pumpkin pie spices and the delicate pumpkin flavor, and it is a little lower in alcohol than most Pumpkin beer. It is a very sessionable easy drinking beer.
GPBR: Now that there is a fall seasonal in the line, is there any chance of a sweet equinox themed Untappd badge?
FA: We are working on it so I would say yes, look for a spring seasonal from us next year (fingers crossed)
GPBR: What do you feel makes Anderson Valley special versus other craft beers on the market?
FA: Well, I think that all craft breweries are special in their own way, and that is one of the things that makes our industry such a great one. Anderson Valley brewery is unique in its special location. The Anderson Valley is a special place, there is nowhere else like it that I have ever been. I think that unique and special nature of our valley comes through in our beer.
GPBR: What has been your most satisfying moment as a brewer thus far?
FA: The most satisfying moments as a brewer are those times when I am sitting anonymously in some pub (or at our pub) and I overhear someone saying that they really enjoy drinking our beers. I really like that. Making something that people enjoy, something that enhances their day – that for me is a very satisfying feeling.
GPBR: Are there any brewing trends currently going on that you like or dislike? Anything you’ve been aching to try out?
FA: Like: Lower alcohol “session” beers with flavor – I love those. And when I say session beer I mean below 5% ABV. Those are my favorite kind of beers right now. We have made a string of them over the last couple of years (I think about 10 of them, all draft only). And all of them have been delicious (IMHO). I like that I can drink 3 or 4 of them in place of the 2 or 3 that I can have of the 8 or 9% (or 11%) beers you find in some places. Big alcohol beers have their place, no doubt, but I am really enjoying drinking a bit lighter craft beer that still has great flavor. We are see a lot more of these lighter alcohol beers out there now so I do not think that I am the only one enjoying them.
Dislike: There’s not much I dislike when it comes to beer
GPBR: Do you have a dream brew that might be a little too out there for the current market?
FA: At this time there is NOTHING that is too far out there (I once had a beer with goat placenta juice in it – Thank you, Larry - So how much further out there can we get?)
As to what I might like to try – I am a big fan of using local and unusual spices. Of blending them into the beers, intermingled with the malt and hops flavors. I don’t want for these spices to overpower the underlying beer, but I want them to enhance the beer and give it a unique characteristic, especially if it is a characteristic unique to that local. There are hundreds of spices out there, most of them that we are not familiar with (in Asia, in South America, in Africa or NZ or India) – all of them just waiting to get tried out is a delicious beer someday. I am pretty excited so see those spices integrated craft brewing – creating locally flavored beers.
GPBR: What are the up / downsides of being a brand ambassador?
FA: Upside: travel, excitement and meeting great new people. Downside: Lack of sleep, missing the relaxation of being at home, and smiling all the time.
GPBR: Any advice for the home brewers in our audience?
FA: You (well, your brewing) can never be too clean; keep it clean and use good quality fresh yeast, most of the rest of it is just the trimmings