Barrel Cellar Tour

Originally posted: Feb. 19th 2013. 

I’ve gotten many questions lately about what we have going on in our barrels and how we prepare our barrels before use, so I figured I would give a rundown of the projects we have in the works and our procedures. I have to thank Peter Bouckaert, Lauren Salazar, and Eric Salazar of New Belgium for all their help and info they provided. A lot of procedures, information, and even some of our barrels came from them.

Over the past year or so we have grown our barrel collection quite a bit with the barrels falling into two general categories. The first are wine and spirit barrels that are for post-fermentation aging. The second are the sour program barrels that are inoculated with various organisms including brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. As the wine and spirit barrels become more neutral they move to the sour program. 

The wine and spirit barrels are used for infusing the beer with the aromas and flavors of what was previously in them along with the characteristics of the type and toast of the wood. These barrels are purchased through a broker when they are freshly emptied and given a quick hot water rinse before filling. Currently, we have four Rum barrels and one Cognac barrel aging Deceit and a number of Bourbon barrels aging Dark Prophet (which is currently being released). We aren’t sure at this point what will go into these Bourbon barrels after the Dark Prophet release but I’m leaning toward a Quadrupel.

Of the sour program barrels, most are aging a Belgian Oud Bruin that is coming along quite nicely. Some of the Oud Bruin is in red wine barrels inoculated by us in primary fermentation before transfer. The rest came from New Belgium and are Bourbon barrels that were used in their sour program. We also have some Leopold Bros Peach Whiskey barrels that were used by New Belgium and inoculated with brettanomyces and lactobacillus but still had quite a bit of character from the Peach Whiskey. In these we are aging Tropic King and they may get a dose of peaches at some point in the future.

Before we use barrels in the sour program we partially disassembled the barrels to remove the char or wine stone from the inner surface so the souring organisms have good contact with the wood. This involves loosening the hoops to pull the heads and scraping the staves and heads. At that point they are reassembled, the hoops are tightened, and then filled with hot water to swell before being emptied.

As far as releases from the barrels, there are no timelines set and quantities will be quite limited so don’t expect to see them go much further than our taproom.

Recently we did a beer dinner organized by Be Local and were paired up with Brent Lewis, Executive Chef at El Monte Grille and Lounge in Fort Collins, to come up with a pairing for one of the courses. We chose Brent’s Ancho Pumpkin Bisque to pair with Tropic King. We both felt the creaminess and subtle spice of the Bisque complemented the fruity effervescence of the beer. Thank you Brent for sharing your recipe!


Ancho Pumpkin Bisque:

2 cups heavy Cream

½ gallon Milk

1 C Roasted pumpkins

1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Vanilla

1 ea Ancho chili roasted

½ fl oz Mexican Crema


Cut pumpkins in ½ and scrape the seeds out, place upside-down on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and roast until soft (about 1 hour and 10 min) in a 350 degree oven.  Let the pumpkins cool so that they can be handled but still warm, scrape the “meat” out and discard the skin. Toast the Ancho chilis on the stove top  then place in a heave bottomed pot with the cream and milk, bring to a boil then add everything else, Bring back to a boil then blend everything together. 

To serve: 

Place in a cup or bowl, “lace” crema over soup and finish with a shake of dried and ground Ancho chili. 

Yield: 2 Qts

Gordon and Carolee’s Visit to De Dolle Brouwers

Originally posted: January, 29th 2013.

Another highlight from our trip to Belgium was our stop at De Dolle Brouwers. I’ve been a fan of Kris Herteleer’s beer since I first started homebrewing and although this was my second time visiting, it was my first time touring their brewhouse. The tours are given by Kriis’ ninety year old mother who is sharp as a tack.

The building had been a brewery for 150 years when Kris started De Dolle Brouwers in the 1980s with his brother. The brewery is as traditional as it gets with a copper coolship and fermentation squares. The only stainless steel in the brewery is the wort chiller only because the original one had a leak and could not be repaired.

During the tour we met some other Americans and it wasn’t until later that I found out it was the crew from Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont. After the main tour Kris showed all of us the barrel cellar where we got a chance to sample some barrels. We also got to see the modern bottling line that had just packaged the most recent batch of Stille Nacht. Kris pulled some yet-to-be-carbonated bottles and some older vintages of Stille Nacht for us to sample and compare.

This is my version of Carbonade Flamande. It’s kind of an amalgamation of various recipes I’ve tried over the years. Traditionally, this beef stew contains just beef but feel free to add vegetables such as carrots and potatoes if you wish. This would pair nicely with De Dolles Brouwers’ Oerbier.


Carbonade Flamande

3lb. beef chuck cut into cubes and floured

500ml dark Belgian ale (Belgian Dubbel works great)

2 slices bacon, chopped

2 Tbs. peanut oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 C. chicken stock

2 Tbs. tomato paste

4 oz. pitted prunes, chopped

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 Tbs. brown sugar

½ C. applesauce

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. thyme


Marinade beef in beer overnight in the refrigerator. Strain beef reserving marinade. Place marinade in slow cooker. Pat beef dry and flour. Fry bacon in a large skillet. When done, strain from fat and place in slow cooker. Add peanut oil to skillet. Add beef and fry until browned. Remove meat from skillet and place in slow cooker. Add onions and garlic to skillet (add more peanut oil if needed) and sweat until translucent. Add to slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Heat on high for an hour then turn to low and cook for 3 hours. Salt and pepper to taste.

Brewday at Brasserie a Vapeur

Originally posted: December 17th, 2012.

After a whirlwind GABF week and the following two weeks trying to catch up, my wife Carolee and I could finally start thinking about our vacation in Belgium.  We landed in Brussels, jumped in our GPS-equipped Peugeot, and headed straight to the southwest edge of Belgium and the town of Pipaix. Our destination was Brasserie a Vapeur where, on the last Saturday of every month, they hold a public brew day.

Originally known as Brasserie Cuvelier, the brewery has been producing its flagship Saison Pipaix on the same site since 1785 and is the last steam powered brewery in the world.  In 1984 when it looked like the brewery would close for good, a schoolteacher by the name of Jean-Louis Dits stepped in to save it.

The brewday started at 9am as crushed malt fell from the hundred year old Meura mill on the second floor and was hydrated before it hit the iron mash tun. The crowd watched as the steam engine chugged along, driving an axle via pulleys that in turn drove the mash paddles to mix the mash. The mash was very thick at the initial rest of 113⁰F and additions of hot liquor raised the mash temperature through various steps before finally reaching 165⁰F.

When the mash reached its final temperature rest and was readied for vorlauf, the crowd was ushered across the street to dine on homemade soup and rolls, 40 different local cheeses, smoked salmon, Ardennes ham, and of course, beer. It’s at this point most people lost their interest in brewing, but not Carolee and I. We repeatedly made our way across the street to monitor the progress of the runoff and observe the boil. I even got to lend a hand with graining out. By the time the boil was over in the evening the wort finally received its first touch of stainless steel by way of the new counter-flow wort chiller and cylindroconical fermenters.

At the end of the evening, we sat down with Jean-Louis to talk shop and sample some beers from the cellar. The conversation turned to perception of flavor and variables that affect how a beer tastes. Jean-Louis claimed that the vessel used to drink out actually affects the flavor of the beer. To prove his point, he produced mugs made from glass, new pewter, old pewter, and ceramic to sample the same beer. To our astonishment he was right, there is a difference!

Jean-Louis was a wonderful host. If you are planning on visiting Belgium and touring breweries you must make a point of visiting, it is like stepping back in time.

Here is a recipe for Belgian Waffles. I’m trying to replicate the waffle we had in Poperinge with limited success but this recipe is pretty close.


Belgian Yeasted Waffles

3/4 stick butter

2 C. milk

2 t. dry yeast

1 T. sugar

½  t. salt

2 C. flour

3 eggs, separated

1 t. vanilla extract


Melt butter in small pot on low. When melted, add milk and heat to lukewarm. Add yeast, sugar, salt, and flour and combine. Let sit for 1-2 hours for yeast to rise. Separate eggs. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract to batter and combine. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and fold into batter. Cook in waffle iron.

New Hops

Originally posted April 16th, 2013.

With the explosion of craft breweries in the past few years the hop market has become very tight. Unless you are contracting your hops a few years out you may be out of luck. This is especially true of some of the ‘hot’ hops such as Citra and Sorachi Ace. Seeing the writing on the wall early last year, we contracted for hops I’ve wanted to play with. These include Nelson Sauvin, Sorachi Ace, and Galaxy. We made our first batch of Saison using Nelson Sauvin hops two weeks ago. This is an extremely pale Saison fermented with 10% Muscat grape must. This should be out in April.

Of course, necessity is the mother of invention. Not having access to some popular hops in the short term forces you to dig deeper into the hop varieties to find the hidden gems. We will be making some single hop beers in the next year to test out some newer varieties that look very promising. These include Australian Summer and New Zealand Moteuka. There are a few new German varieties I have yet to see available including Mandarina Bavaria, Hallertau Blanc, and Hüll Melon. I was able to smell the Hüll Melon at the Craft Brewers Conference and it has a distinct cantaloupe aroma. I may be able to get a small amount to try, stay tuned.

Exploring Colorado

A beautiful view from the Million Dollar Highway

 Originally posted: September 12th 2012

 People travel from all around to visit Fort Collins and check out all the wonderful breweries that the city has to offer.  As an employee of Funkwerks who works in the taproom I get the benefit of encountering people from all around.  Nothing is better then chatting with individuals that go out of their way to check out what Funkwerks has to offer, especially when they are visitng from other breweries. So as soon as I had the chance, I made time to do the same thing- Nicole (who also works at Funkwerks) and I took four days off together to travel through beautiful Colorado and cram in as many brewery visits and activities as possible.

We drove from Fort Collins to Palisade where we stayed the first night.  Palisade was great to us.  Not only do they have multiple wineries and a meadery that we had the luxury to walk to from our carefully planned hotel, but we also hit up the wonderful Peach Street Distillery and Palisade Brewery that are right next to each other. How convenient. The people working were informative and helpful and gave us advice on the must-sees of Palisade as well as Grand Junction.

The next morning, as early as we could possibly get out of bed, we hit the road because we knew we had a lot of stops before we hit our final destination of Durango.  The next stop was Grand Junction and since we were on a time crunch we only stopped at Kannah Creek Brewing Company, and I'm glad we did.  The service was great, the food was fabulous, and the beer was delicious. They even let us peek in the back and check out their brewery set up too.

Jumping back on the road we drove through Montrose, where we stopped at Horsefly Brewing Company before taking off to Ouray as our next stop. Ouray is where Colorado drastically changes

from Fort Collins.  The landscape was something pictures just cannot justify. The Ouray Brewery was fun and laid back and had swings that we sat on right at the bar.  We heard all about the Million Dollar Highway and how beautiful and scary the drive could be.  So what else could we do but hit the road and check it out. I drove, and admittedly I am scared of heights, so I took my sweet time as I clenched the steering wheel through most of it.  The day was beautiful and the hour drive to Silverton flew by.  We stopped at the Silverton Brewing Company where we met some nice people and checked out the cute shops. 

After budgeting our time we realized that we needed to get to Durango so we could settle in for the night. I have heard nothing but wonderful things from people about Durango and I could not have

agreed more. We spent the next two days eating great food, drinking awesome beer and soaking up the wonderful weather. We ate breakfast at Carver Brewing Co, dinner at Steamworks and enjoyed beers at Durango Brewery and Ska Brewery. We could not have planned it any better. 

After all that fun we headed back on our eight-hour drive to Fort Collins. We had to squeeze one more place in so we stopped to have lunch at Rockslide Brewery in Grand Junction.  It was sad to have to end the trip, but the Front Range is a pretty good deal too.

The conclusion of my travels was not only that Colorado is a beautiful state, but the camaraderie that the other breweries showed us was so awesome that it made me respect and like this industry even more.  I recommend everyone who loves beer and chatting it up with great people take some time to take advantage of this great state and all it has to offer.  Thank you to all the wonderful breweries that showed us a good time on our mini vacation.

Cheers Colorado! And thank you for making great beer!


New Brewhouse

Originally Posted - Saturday, June 26, 2010


Last week we ordered our new system from Premier Stainless. 15 BBL's of brewing fun. Our system will allow us to do step mashes. I believe Gordon and I both fall asleep every night dreaming about its arrival.



Funkwerks' New Ride

Originally Posted - Saturday, July 10, 2010


We just picked up our van. It is a 2002 E250. We had to drive out to Sterling CO to get it.... twice. Needless to say Gordon and I don't want to do that drive again any time soon. The van is in excellent shape and it is begging for a Funkwerks paint job.



Moving to the new location


Originally Posted - Saturday, August 21, 2010


We are back. The move is going well but we are a long way from over. We will be updating the blog regularly again (every Saturday.) During the week check us out on Facebook or Twitter at the following addresses:


Face Book -


Twitter -


I can promise you more pictures similar to the above of Gordon inspecting our first tank!




Originally Posted - Saturday, June 19, 2010

So no sooner do we get up and running and we are already expanding. Fort Collins Brewery has been in the process of building a brand spankin new brewery/restaurant and are planning to move in mid-July. That leaves an empty brewery in Fort Collins and as luck would have it we could use a brewery. So just when we get done jumping through one set of hoops, we get a whole new set. Hmm, do we go with a 10 barrel or a 15 barrel brewing system. Decisions, decisions.


Craft Brewing in Ireland

Originally Posted - Monday, June 7, 2010 

The reason for the lack of updates is that I have been in Ireland the last two weeks. One of the most notable things in all the pubs we have visited is that none have any craft brew. Even more interesting is that Budweiser and Coors Light are incredibly popular with the locals. In fact, we learned that Budweiser actually outsold Guinness a few years ago.

Craft brewing in Ireland is very, very small, mostly in the brewpub format. Whenever I bring up craft brewing with an Irish person, they always mention that they don't think the 4.5 million population could support any craft breweries. Then I consider Fort Collins, a town of about 130 thousand supporting several craft breweries. Given how popular craft brewing is in the United States, I think a population of 4.5 million could easily support a few craft breweries.