This summer, Greenbush added a new brewer/life saver, Pete Hasbrouck. We’ve known Pete for a while now as the sous chef at Soe Cafe in Sawyer, but for now he’s splitting his time between the two spots separated by less than a mile (Pete apparently doesn’t like to stray too far from “home”–though home is really Grand Rapids). You all probably know Pete best (or only) through his self-referencing small batch beers: Smells like Pete, Pistol Pete, Eau de Pete… you get the picture. But he’s also an integral part of our big-batch brewing, jumping on the system 4 times per week in addition to his 1 small-batch brew each week. I had a chance to sit down with Pete for a few to ask him all sorts of fascinating questions. The following is the result.
How do you compare cooking food and brewing beer?
A lot of cooking involves knowing your ingredients and palette. Working with them, manipulating them so that they blend and support each other nicely and contrast each other as appropriate. Brewing beer is like cooking but with a new medium–all of those same thoughts apply. It’s like making bread (water, yeast and grains), stock (hop additions, aromas, flavors) and sausage (aging and fermenting).
Tell me more about the Eau de Pete series.
It started when I was foraging for wild black raspberries a few weeks ago. I wasn’t doing it with beer in mind, but when I told Scott it immediately turned into an idea for a small batch beer. After how well that beer went over, Jill suggested we turn it into a series of beers featuring local, seasonal fruit. Next came a blueberry ale with fruit from Rambo Blueberries incorporated. That one’s going straight to Summer Beer Fest, though.
How do you approach brewing beer with fruit?
I want to have something that isn’t sweet but still has a fruit presence. Fruit beers don’t have to be confused with wheat beers–it’s okay to have a straightforward focus. When you eat a steak, you want to taste the steak, not everything else. Too many elements can be confusing.
What do you think about how well Eau de Pete has gone over with customers?
Woohoo! [Ed’s note: that’s really what he said.] It’s nice to see success.
Who wrote the recipe for the original Eau de Pete, your wild black raspberry beer?
Scott gave me a paradigm to work with when I wrote the recipes for both the black raspberry and blueberry beers–a crisp, clean base that allows fruit to shine through.
What’s next in the Eau de Pete series?
Some kind of cherry beer with cherries from Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph, MI.
Do you enjoy brewing beer–the Eau de Pete series in particular?
It’s nice to still get to work with local, seasonal ingredients. It’s almost like taking it back to the old school ways–the idea of people using ingredients that are the most accessible to them. Everybody’s gotten so used to having anything at their fingertips whenever they want. Proper seasonality doesn’t support that.