Beer and Me

I think I had my first beers in Germany at the age of twelve - a sampler. My father, a beer enthusiast, took me overseas during a business trip and thought it was time for an introduction. It may have been at Schiessstatle Koniglich Bayerische Biergarten, in Munich. I imagine that they were great beers but I have little recollection. I do remember odd juices and that a DM at that time would provide you with a sampler of 12 shots of beers.

 Beer has beer in my family for centuries. My great-grand father's brother was George Ringler who owned a large brewery, George Ringler and Company Brewery, in NYC from 1872 till just after prohibition. My family also had a farm in New Jersey that grew apples. Yes, there was cider and distilled “Applejack”. When prohibition came (January 16, 1920), the brewery failed to survive. Non-alcoholic 'Nourishing Brew' (see bottle at above link) failed to carry the business. Actually the brewery survived under the ownership of George Jitter (William Ringler's son-in -law) until April 1, 1925 when the brewery was fined for brewing 'real' beer. The officers were each fined $1000 and the brewery was ordered closed. It took over 100 locks to close the brewery. The farm's apple trees were also cut down and destroyed. Maybe this is why I now brew beer and grow apples.
 My other great-grand father, Henry Schiess owned and operated the Laclede Exchange, a large tavern in the mercantile area of St. Louis. This was a favored "watering hole" for those preparing to venture west before 1900. Drink and sundries were purchased by many Pioneers. Henry's son Fred married George's niece Marie and their first son, Justin, was my father.
 

Prosit

Four of the seven Ringler brothers. L->R, F. A. Ringler, John Ringler, Justin August Ringler (my great-grand father) and George Ringler owner of his Brewery.


Geo. Ringler & Co. Brewery

My other great-grand father, Henry Schiess owned and operated the Laclede Exchange, a large tavern in the mercantile area of St. Louis. This was a favored "watering hole" for those preparing to venture west before 1900. Drink and sundries were purchased by many Pioneers. Henry's son Fred married George's niece Marie and their first son, Justin, was my father.

       

The pictures above are of the Laclede Exchange saloon in St. Louis owned by Henry Schiess, standing in the doorway of both pictures. The date is about 1890 as the posters on the buildings advertise Excelsior and Winklemeyer beers at the their addresses of that time.

My father continued to make wine in our cellar until the great grape explosion of '68. After that my mother put an end to my dad's vintner activities. Later, while in n college, my girl friend and I made "Old Normandy" wine in my and her dorm rooms. At a "dry" and strict campus where these things were just not done ;-). All went well until we had a rather cloudy batch. I was a  chemistry/biology teaching assistant and decided to use the laboratory and all of its filtering capabilities (and then add some of the labs grain ETOH). I overspent my time as filters kept clogging. Several professors walked in and laughed, told me how sick we would be if we drank any of this batch, and that there was to be no more 'Old Normandy'. The Chemistry-Biology building smelled like grapes for a month!


    The college attended above was in Ohio and at that time only 3.2% beer was available to those between the ages of 18 and 21years. I did not care much for the beer. I had turned 18 in New York and at that time 18 was the legal drinking age for all liquor. We headed for the 'Jack' and Coke, the gin and tonic, the Daiquiri etc. Beer was a so-so occasion, the 3.2 tasted watered down. Cocktails were big in those days with the adults, so that is what I drank even thought my father, and all his male relatives preferred beer. I was too inexperienced at that time to appreciate the brew – this would change.  

In the summer and I returned to New York for work I had found at a 'boat yard'. A friend and I were sanding the bottom of a nice sloop - It must have been about 130 degrees and there was no shade. The owner of the sailboat came by and complemented us on our work, talked awhile and then...he handed us a two six-packs of Carlsberg-the real Denmark stuff. This was a divine experience - as this was truly nectar from the gods. Nothing had ever quenched my thirst as well as this. Beer is great. Beer is the drink for me. The world became a better place for me from that time on. While working in Denmark 25 years ago, I continued with these “imports” at the Carlsberg brewery. Still to this day beer is the choice beverage for me.

Me and Homebrewing.



 

Had the pleasure of a 'beer' and dinner with Michael Jackson several times at Chalkies! - Spring '03. My inspiration to explore more beer.

CIBAS, the Central Indiana Beer Appreciation Society, was founded over a decade ago in  beer-centric Chalkies Restaurant by me and three other beer lovers over a few beers. Repeatedly gathered at Chalkies for their great selection of good food, famous Belgian beers, imports and microbrews we would plan a way to share our experience and promote good beer in Central Indiana. After several weeks the CIBAS website went up and a monthly newsletter was produced that provided beer news, listed local beer events and promoted beer appreciation. Years ago I worked an event at a German restaurant in downtown Indianapolis. I was paid with bottles of German beer! Not being able to drink all the beer and not being able to sell it, it was suggested that we have a German beer class at Chalkies and give the beer away. The restaurant provide the German Food - excellent Brats. People showed up we ate I talked about beer. When it was over there was one problem - we still had left over beer. The owner suggested that we do this again with Indianapolis' homebrew club - the "Foam Blowers". Peopled listened at the meeting cause the beer was. free! These people knew allot about beer and BREWING. At this time I was a frequent patron of the “Chalkies” Billiards Bar. Belgian beers were a focus there – I now wanted to make these beers for myself. These homebrewers steered me to Anita at Great fermentations who helped me get started with brewing.  

 

          

Free lecture, German beer and food at Chalkies!

FBI Homebrewers at Chalkies Dinner - 2004

    Eventually, Chalkies closed and these original four people went their separate ways heading to different areas of the country. That was many years ago and I have enjoyed many fine beers since then -many of these were homebrews from friends. After my meeting with Anita, I converted my office shower into a mini-brewery. What a wonderful place to brew beer! I have an acre of apples and also grow grapes, hops and some barley. I figure my family has always brewed and with the yard and all these apples it is time to hold up the tradition and make beer, some wine and cider. Beer is the preference though. Wine may come later. Cider maybe next fall. I have some of the best apples which should not go to waste. With the advice from friends and salespeople, I started brewing  once/month (Totem Pole Porter, Fireplace Irish Stout, Nockvemberfest). Spring Ale and 'Fish on a Bicycle-Hoosier Stout.  Now there is usually something always fermenting in that shower stall but the brewery has taken over the basement. What a great time for me, friends and family. Please original - click here for pics. I now keg most my beer as the quantity increased. This has led to the need to build a refrigeration system and my "Bar-Tap “cart to serve my brews publicly . More on my homebrew situation - Homebrew and Me.
    

My friend Greg has left Indianapolis and now works for Dogfish Head. He introduced me to Sam Calagione - my inspiration to start a Brewery.

Today, I am just a homebrewer with an appreciation for good beer. I usually brew in small batches of five gallons but I try to brew a large variety of styles each year. Brewing small allows for experimentation and if you have an off brew it’s no big loss. I also can do odd brews with for example - peppers, sweet potatoes, melon, spices, adjuncts and other ingredients that are not usually present in commercial beer, especially years ago when I first started brewing. I work long, varying  and stressful hours in a hospital. Homebrewing provides me with relaxation and stress relief. Homebrewing also allows me to use skills I have gathered from other jobs I have had in the past. It is a good blend of art and science.

 I belong to three homebrew clubs; the FBI (Foam Blowers of Indiana), the THC (Tippecanoe Homebrewers’ Circle) and the BHJ (Bloomington Hop Jockeys). With my work hours, I am unable to attend many meeting and I do not do any these clubs justice in service. However these people, and most of the other persons, I have met through brewing are some of the nicest, smartest, and most interesting people I have encountered. Wherever I travel I try to enjoy a brewpub and meet the brewer(s) – They are always proud of their profession and the brews. I have learned allot just by talking with brew people. The more I learn and study about brewing the more I realize I do not know and need to study more. I have spent the last several years studying “beer color” and its’ relation to malt components. This turns out to be more complex then I wanted to know. I doubt this project will ever be finished.

If you have looked at some of the brewing pictures from this section you will realize that this beer-centric life involves my friends and my family also. My family puts up with my home brewery and my brewing. Whenever we travel they know that our dining will usually be at a brewpub or restaurant that serves good brew.

 

Family at Dark Horse Brewery - Marshall, MI on our way to Mac's Is. 2008

 At the Brickskeller in Washington, DC on a Spring Break  2008

 

At Schmidt's in Columbus, OH - Where I used to Live. 1998  Somewhere here in this photo. 2008

CIBAS WEBSITE NOTICE – APRIL 2010

For the past 12 years, I have maintained the CIBAS website and have posted the “Monthly Beer Newsletter”. Year 2010 now finds me with a new (and very time consuming) job and with many other commitments. The “Monthly Beer Newsletter” has less email recipients than before and online hits are less than in times past. Thus, I have decided that the “Monthly Beer News” will no longer be posted or distributed. Nor will any more email subscriptions or memberships  be accepted. I simply cannot devote the time needed to do this work in a worthy fashion at this time. The need for this newsletter in not as important as it was years ago. Central Indiana is now immersed in a great selection of craft beer and craft breweries – a blessing envied by many other areas in the country. The distribution of local beer information is also exquisite.