The Logistics to Plan an Anniversary Beer Lineup

A 10th anniversary is usually celebrated with tin or aluminum but those aren’t great flavors in a beer so The Phoenix Brewing came up with better ideas to celebrate.

Planning the concept of this celebration for co-founder Carmone Macfarlane, who is the head of creative and marketing for the Mansfield, Ohio brewery, began nearly 18 months ago. But new beers and styles to celebrate with are always being kept track of in a notebook that runs up to 60 ideas deep.

Narrowing those down to five new releases along with having up to 30 beers on tap for the brewery’s party next weekend has been in talks since about the start of January, though, added co-founder Duncan Macfarlane.

The most exciting part, he told Brewer, was the chance to R&D a lot of the new brands, which include using new hop oils, fruit powder, extracts, and new techniques in hoping and dosing.

Since the brewery’s third anniversary celebration, they have had at least 30 beers on tap — with 16 in the taproom along with cask firkins or others put on tap outside in the beer garden.

“And you can’t back that off,” Carmone said. “Once you do that, you have to continually do it. And the question for the next year was ‘Are you doing 40 for your fourth?’ And we said no, 30 is hard enough.”

Not all the beers have been brewed just for this celebration. The staff planned to hold back some kegs of popular beers from the year along with keeping a few brands that were made for the April 8 Eclipse celebration.

“There’s just a lot of things on that list that we’ve kind of been working for and kind of compiling that we’ve done for a while,” Carmone said.

The experimentation aspect and being able to go outside of the typical brew day of pumping out core brands excited Macfarlane and the brewing team.

One such brand that is being released is Dimmer Switch, a 7.3% Hazy IPA made in collaboration with Montana’s Glacier Hop Ranch.

“We use Ahhhroma hops and Hopszoil,” Duncan said. “We were looking for pineapple flavor and we found Ahhhroma from them. They were gracious in letting us try some samples of their Hopszoil for this batch.

“So because of the collaborative effort from both of us, we’re going to have their logo on. It’ll have pineapple and coconut notes from the Ahhhroma hops.”

First developed in 2015 and commercially available since 2016, Glacier states that Hopzoil starts with a different raw ingredient than all other hop extracts; fresh, wet hops straight from the field at harvest time instead of dried and pelletized hops.

With AA% ranging from 15.4%-18.8%, Glacier says that Ahhhroma is an ideal super-alpha bittering hop, or for dry-hopping.

READ MORE: How Fresh Hop Season Can Now Be More Flexible

“There’s some newer techniques or products used in some of these that we’ve not used, including True Citrus,” Duncan added. “It’s a concentrated fruit powder that I’ve not used before. It does not add any sugar, but it gives you a lot of the citrus fruits that are hard to get purees for, like orange juice and pineapple juice. This is a dried powder without sugar.”

Tropic Plunder, a tart ale with pineapple, orange, cream of coconut, nutmeg, and a little bit of cinnamon and vanilla is a take on the Painkiller cocktail. Using a new-to-them Philly Sour-ish yeast from Apex is something new in that brand.

“You learn a lot about dosing rates and with new products, you don’t exactly know,” Duncan said. “There’s recommendations so you get at least close to what it should taste like.”

One of Phoenix’s most requested beers to be made again, and this time it will be canned is a riff on the company’s Oatmeal Milk Stout, Ferryman. This time they will have the Buckeye Ferryman available on more than just draft. A take on the popular Ohio candy of a peanut butter ball covered in chocolate.

Phoenix will also have a cask of a beer that will be out in the fall called Decadent, an Imperial Amber Ale that is wood-aged with honeycomb staves from Black Swan that have been soaked and infused with Orange Tiger liqueur from nearby Toledo Sprits and New Riff Bourbon from Kentucky.

“They have a little bit of a flavor from both of those seeped in the wood and then a little bit of cherries in the bottom of that,” Carmone said, “It’s kind of like an Old Fashioned cocktail.”

That beer, along with Tropic Plunder are helping celebrate that the brewery opened a Spirit Room upstairs and Decadent will be only available there. The rest of that batch will eventually be released closer to fall with the rest being used in a couple of different ways.

The last beer will get the anniversary namesake for the event, called Tensomnia, a white chocolate and coffee Blonde Ale.

It’s a different take than the normal Krampus Kandy White Stout the brewery normally has.

“This kind of goes into a different spectrum,” she said. “It’s a little lower on the ABV, it’s only 6%. It’s a little easier to drink a little less gusto.”

Duncan said they used a medium roast coffee with natural white chocolate flavoring — new to him — and vanilla.

“We knew we wanted to do a Coffee Blonde, but we didn’t have the name for the beer yet,” she said. “It’s hard to come up with, things that truly reflect on this without getting all mushy, because, I do that.

“It’s hard to come up with some things for your anniversary event and it’s not just all having ‘ten’ in it. But Tensomnia just really worked out really well with a Coffee Blonde. It’s fun because we tried to come up with some different things.”

With 30 beers planned to tap, it’s hard to name them all, but the Macfarlanes are excited about the opportunity to continue to be a part of the central Ohio community.

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