Quarter Hoop Crowlers FAQ

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By popular request, it's time for Quarter Hoop (Rye Whiskey barrel-aged American Barleywine), crowler edition!

Q: Why are these crowlers special?
A: Special size (750 ml), barrel-aged label, and rare (only 150 were made). Can be enjoyed now or aged.

Q: How long will they last?
A: These crowlers were purged of oxygen and filled from the bottom, meaning they can be aged for several years if they’re stored at cellar temp (65 or lower). We’d recommend trying one now and sticking one in the cellar to see how the flavors develop and round out over the next year. If you’ve never aged beer before, this would be a great one to start with. 

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Q: What's is a “quarter hoop”?
A:  A "quarter hoop" is the term for one of the metal rings that keep barrels together.  Specifically, the quarter hoop is near the top, which reminded us of this beer, as it's at the top of everything -- alcohol content and flavor!  At 13% ABV, it’s probably the booziest beer we’ve ever made.

Q: What does it taste like?
A:  Sweet and boozy. The spicy rye, charred oak, and massive malt, combined to create a chewy, lightly carbonated behemoth with notes of molasses, blackberry, tobacco, and charred oak.

 Q:  Where did you get the barrels?  
A:  The barrels are from J. Carver Distillery in Waconia, Minnesota, which is our brewer's home town.  

Q:  How many do you have left?
A:  We sold a lot on release weekend but we have plenty left.  Come and get 'um!  Limit 3 per person per day.  $20 each.

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80s Prom Winners

Prom King and Queen, Perry and Marla Buffington

Prom King and Queen, Perry and Marla Buffington

The ruffles! The neon! The popped collars! We had so much fun at 80s prom on Saturday and hope you did too. Thanks big time to our two incredible bands, Ruthless Ruth and Fernando Ufret, who did all-80s sets for us, and all the folks who were so enthusiastic with their outfits! We would also like to thank Today’s Your Day for the fun balloon arch and our hard-working staff for their endless hustle. Our 80s Prom King and Queen are Perry and Marla Buffington, who showed up in authentic vintage ruffles-for-days formal wear, real prom flowers, and super big hair. Totally rad!

One Vision’s Baseball and Brews recap

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Bucky Covington, Juni West, hot dog people, the local baseball team - oh my!  We have so many thank yous to make for the One Vision’s Baseball and Brews event last night. Wonderful musicians! Great food! So many volunteers! Great crowd! It was a fast, fun event we were very excited to be a part of. We heard today that the amount raised for the One Vision's Children's Autism Center was just under $3,000. Wow!

Fat Hill visits BSG Warehouse

Semis with our giant grain orders can’t get through the alley behind Fat Hill lately because of some bigtime construction stuff, so we took a road trip last week to the Brewing Supply Group (BSG) Warehouse in Shakopee to pick up ingredients ourselves. This may sound like a hassle, but whatever the city is doing in the alley sounds very important so we are absolutely cool with it, and our grain road trip turned out pretty darn amazing. Why? They gave us a tour of the warehouse!

Owning a brewery has given us the opportunity for so many unexpectedly cool experiences - tours, visits, or connections that would have been such oddball ideas back in our everyday-at-the-office lives a few years ago. The BSG Warehouse tour was definitely one of those we’re-going-to-do-what-now? experiences that we have come to love.

The first thing you notice about the 80,000 square-foot warehouse is obviously its vastness. It goes on and on and on, pallets of stuff stacked to the ceiling. BSG is one of the biggest distributors of ingredients for breweries in the US and pallets of grain, hops, and adjuncts come in and out of its loading dock all day long. Here’s the moment on the tour when BSG’s Warehouse Manager Matt Smith tells Brewer Jake that two silo’s worth of grain goes through their facility EVERY DAY:

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The automation they have in place is very cool. Here is a video of the bagger machine in its section where bags are fluffed out and then filled with malt. Much of the malt comes from BSG’s sister company down the street, Rahr Malting. The bagger machine can fill twenty 55-pound bags per minute!

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Grain orders usually come to breweries with a treat on the bottom of the pallet - a sort of reward for hauling 55-pound sacks of grain all over the place. Finding free candy at the bottom of a pallet makes any brewer’s day, so when the tour took us to the adjunct and “miscellaneous” room at the warehouse, we were pretty excited to see the candy section. Currently, BSG buys Pearson’s Salted Nut Rolls by the pallet. THE PALLET.

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The last stop on the tour was the customer pick-up area, in which Brewer Jake immediately recognized our order. It was the tiniest one on the shelf that day. Since we’re in our grocery-getter SUV, we only picked up stuff for one batch of beer. Still 600 pounds of stuff though, so not too shabby!

And guess what… they didn’t forget our treat!

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Miraculously, everything fit into the car:

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Thanks very much to BSG Warehouse Manager Matt Smith for the great tour! It was so fun to see where so much of our grain comes from!

St. Pat's 2019

Our new St. Patrick’s Day hero  -  glitter beer!

Our new St. Patrick’s Day hero - glitter beer!

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day weekend with us! We also want to thank our wonderful bar staff for their relentless hustle, Main Street Mason City for organizing such a busy bar crawl, all the taxi, DDs, and Lyft drivers that got everyone home safe, and total rockstars Betty and the Gents for an incredible show. There were so many enthusiastic costumes it was hard to pick just one so we ended up crowning a king and queen of St. Patrick's Day and they will share the honor! Our winners are John Richards, who rocked shamrocks his beard and a kilt, and to Kiera Jordan, proud owner of a dozen Irish-themed accessories, including the best light-up green fanny pack in Mason!

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this weekend so fun. We're already planning for next year.

FHB Team Holiday Party

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We love our staff here at FHB and we were so glad we found a quiet Monday night everyone could get together for a belated holiday gathering. Beyond the food and beer, this party was a bit special — your favorite bartenders competed against each other in a series of escalating beer-related challenges!

First, the Slow Pour Challenge. The winner is one with the highest foam, and because we don’t mess around, every beer was measured with not one but TWO levels.

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Next up, the Find the Rongorongo Mystery Flight Challenge! We had stocked up with different hazy IPAs the day before so wanted to see if we could trick the staff into not recognizing our beloved NEIPA. Everyone found it though. Darn it! They’re just too good.

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When you’re a bartender, feats of agility and precision are important! So the next challenge was the Keg Cap Toss. Harder than you think, especially when Brewer Jake makes a tiny keg at the end worth the most points!

We also tested our team with a FHB beer trivia contest and challenged them to list the current taps in order from one one to sixteen.

Thanks to our wonderful team for all they do every day! It was so fun to torture you with all these challenges.

And we guess the Christmas Card picture for next year is ready! Nice work, everyone! ;-)

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Ladies Day Out JDRF Designer Bag Fundraiser

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Wow, ladies, thank you! Fundraising grand total yesterday for JDRF Eastern Iowa is a whopping $5,608! WOW. One more time...WOW. Thanks to all who attended for your generosity, the volunteers for all their hard work, and the sponsors for all the donated items! There are plans to do another event like this in the future so please watch the Fat Hill Facebook for updates. Thanks again!

'Twas the night before Christmas

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'Twas the night before Christmas, and in the brew house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The taplines were cleaned by I, the brewer, with care
In hopes that weird gunk would not grow in there
The customers were all home, drinking crowlers with friends
The high ABV beers causing visions in their heads
And I amongst empty fermenters and kegs, the quiet mash tun
Beer needed to be brewed, much prep work done
But after our anniversary the busy season did ensue
And I had been late ordering ingredients in time to brew
If grain didn't meet hot water, or yeast dance with glee
Taplines would be empty, all the fermenters totally free
Customers would sob loudly, the bank louder still:
"Why is there no beer," they'd cry, "and also please pay your bills!"
So with empty glass, heavy heart, and sad soul
I sat in silence, wishing the floor drain would swallow me whole
When out on the loading dock arose such clatter
I sprang from my misery to see what was the matter
Away to the alleyway I flew like a flash
Rolled up the door careful not my fingers to smash
Hand to my eyes, I squinted, not believing what it seemed
Off trucks, vans, semis, and borrowed U-Hauls, moonlight gleamed
A volley of "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas" and general good cheer:
The entire fleet of delivery folks had did miraculously appear!
There was UPSFedExDayton Freight Lines, Inc., and R+L Carriers
The US Postal Service with boxes, oh I couldn't be merrier!
Grain bags and yeast bricks and hop piles they brought
Also there were bulging envelopes of odd spices I sought
All was quickly unloaded, brought forth through the cold
Then they smiled, waved goodbye, and left for more stops untold
A grain sack in my arms, heart still aflutter
What relief I felt, so to the now-empty alley I mutter:
"This Christmas miracle is a strong reminder to me
That without deliveries how'd out of luck we'd be!"
Many, many thanks to our delivery folks this holiday season
If we're a successful business, you're a big part of the reason
I'll haul the grain now downstairs, ready to mill
Then sparge it, boil it, add yeast, and chill
My business safe once again, my worries are light
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

***

We are sharing our profound gratitude to all our delivery people today, who we've been watching work SO HARD the last few weeks especially. Everything we get delivered is gigantic or weird shaped or a million pounds, but our delivery people are such good sports about all of it. We couldn't do what we do without you folks. THANK YOU!

Holiday Extravaganza! 2018 recap

We had a great time getting festive last Saturday! We celebrated with an all-day event. First, there was our pop-up gift market….

Chipped Inscriptions was also around during the afternoon to do a Christmas pillow painting workshop.

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We transitioned from afternoon to evening at 5 PM when the Ugly Sweater Contest started and the Over the Hill Brass Band arrived. In a dramatic turn of events, our Holiday Extravaganza's staff-favorites ugly sweater contest had THREE winners! Returning champs Hollie and Brian Meyer showed up again this year, this time with hand-made sweaters featuring a Fat Hill Christmas tree topped with a picture of our owners, and a snowman made out of our logo. And Brian was in gold lamé pants, just to add another festive note. So they win! But wait! We decided that since Brian and Hollie already won last year, we should spread the love. So Wendy Veng, dressed up like a festive version of the Bird Lady from Home Alone, wins too! Congrats to the Meyers and Wendy - may you celebrate your victories with your $50 FHB gift cards.

Pictures of The Meyers:

Pictures of Wendy, the “bird lady”:

Pictures of everybody else below! Thanks for coming, everyone, especially the Over the Hill Brass Band!

Fat Hill Fun Facts

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In honor of our 2nd anniversary, we made a quiz about Fat Hill for our die-hard fans.  See how many of these you can get right!  (Thanks to Betty and the Gents for reading these at our party on Saturday!)

1.  What has been Fat Hill’s best selling beer in 2018?
Rongorongo

2.  How many pounds of hops are in the Rongo?
30

How many pound of hops are in the Scottish ale?
One!

3.  How many different beers has Fat Hill released in their first two years?
49

4.  Who is our longest serving employee?
Taylor

5.  What was the first beer we ever brewed at Fat Hill?
Wee Heavy

6.  What was Fat Hill’s busiest day of business ever?
St. Patrick’s Day 2018

7.  Brewer Jake doesn’t have a college degree in brewing.  What is his college degree in?
Photo journalism 

8.  What brand are those delicious pretzels you’re eating?
Snyders

9.  How many barrels are currently filled with beer, aging to perfection?
14

10.  When was our building built?
1925 

i-BEST recap

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Here’s just a quick thank-you shout-out to the Iowa Brewers Guild and Singlespeed Brewing for hosting a spectacular weekend of beer education in Waterloo last weekend! A small Fat Hill gang comprised of Molly, Jon, and Jake enjoyed networking with fellow beer nerds and going to classes about hops, yeast, legal stuff, and social media. They also got to have a beer or two!

Jake spent much of his time photobombing Lake Time’s Instagram photos:

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Thanks so much to Iowa Brewers Guild and Singlespeed Brewing for organizing a great event! More photos below.

Halloween 2018

Our winners!

Our winners!

We celebrated Halloween with a staff-favorite come-and-go costume contest, grab free spooky cookies, and candy flights! Your servers for the party were A Taco, Where’s Waldo, Suffragette Lady, and Kristoff from Frozen. 🎃 Congrats to Cheryl Hills and Jerry Gatton as Olive Oyl and Brutus (and baby Sweet Pea) from Popeye! You will receive a $50 FHB gift card to celebrate your victory!

Fat Hill goes to Scotland!

Q: “What if we were to do a beer vacation THROUGH the brewery and invite anyone who wanted to travel with us to come along?”

A: “That might work! Let’s do it!”

Owning a small business is about learning new things so last year we got this BIG idea and decided to go for it. We learned a lot through the process and are very grateful for our dream team of travel agents and tour companies (Allen Travel of Clear Lake, Rabbies Tours International in Scotland and Scots Beer Tours in Scotland) for making it happen for us!

We spent ten days with 16 people touring Scotland in a loop from Edinburgh to Inverness to Mull back to Edinburgh, taking in historical sites, lots of pubs, brewery tours (Traquair House, Black Isle, Born in the Borders, and Allanwater), a distillery visit, and much more. We got rained on, sort of chased by sheep, were overfed, laughed a lot, and all got home safe and sound on schedule. A huge ten days but we had a great time.

Let us know if there’s a corner of the world where you want to drink beer next! We are currently exploring options for our next trip and might do another one in a couple years.

Some things we learned in Scotland:

  • Black Isle Brewery’s dog is named Jake

  • The Lochness Monster is shy

  • Bottles of whisky don’t last long when shared among 16 tourists

  • The longest stretch Mull went without rain this summer was just 30 hours

  • The 4th pint of Bellhaven Black tastes just as good as the first

  • Never fight the British army on an open field!

  • 2% of the whisky aging in barrels evaporates each year. They call this “the angels’ share”

  • Ian Oswald is a coward and a liar (whoever that is…it was written on a bathroom stall in Tobermory)

Thank you so much to our wonderful travelers! What a fantastic group!

Crisis Intervention Services fundraiser

Organizers and musicians

Organizers and musicians

We had such a great time on Thursday at Crisis Intervention Service’s Groove to End Violence night in the taproom! Not only was it an awesome evening of good vibes — they also raised quite a bit of money to continue their important work in our communities. With donations and the money raised through the tickets of the cheesecake flights, over $900 was raised! We have such generous, big-hearted customers! Thank you to everyone who helped organize the event, donated their time and talents as part of the entertainment, or came out to support a good cause. We love being a venue for this kind of good-karma stuff!

FAQ with Brewer Jake

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We get a lot of good questions at the bar every week.  We wrote down some of the most common ones and had Brewer Jake answer them!

1. What's the taste difference between wheat and blonde?
Wheat is more full-bodied and tastes like wheat. The flavor of wheat is pretty hard to describe, kind of snappy.

2. Can you describe the difference between bitter and hoppy?
Bitterness is sharp and kind of lingers in the back of the throat. It needs a sweet malty flavor to balance it. Hoppy is the fresh, floral, fruity aroma and flavor. When you smell fruit, resin, dank, etc…in an IPA, it’s the hoppiness.  Bitterness is made by boiling hops, hoppiness comes from hopping after the boil, like dry hoping during fermentation

3. Why does the Rongo change color from week to week?
Gravity is undefeated. The haziness from the wheat, oats, and hops fall out of suspension eventually.

4. Why do some beers cost more than others?
There's different ingredient costs, different time needed in the fermenter, different fermentation temps, leading to higher energy costs.  Some beers need 1 lb of hops, some need 33 lbs, hops range from $6-30/lb, and the highly hopped IPAs usually use the more expensive stuff.  Lagers take 3-4 weeks in the fermenter, then another 3-4 in kegs to lager. Time is money.  They’re also fermented colder, which increases energy cost.  Special ingredients like herbs, spices, honey, fruit, etc…are very expensive.

5. Why don’t you make sour beer?
The bacteria needed to sour beer can infect parts and fittings and that can turn clean beers into sours. Maybe we’ll make some one day, but not right now.

6. Why don’t you make gluten free beers?
I’ve never had a good one.

7. What did this building used to be?
Built as a Kreske’s dime store in 1925. Has been several businesses since then, most notably Damon’s Too.

8. Do you distribute?
Not right now, we like having full control over our beer so we keep it in house. We know that the beers is being poured at the right pressure, through a clean tap line, into a clean glass, and the staff is knowledgeable about our beer.   

9. What does Rongorongo mean?
 It’s an indecipherable language that researchers found etched on tablets on Easter Island.

10. What’s in the barrels right now?
A little of this, a little of that…keep an eye on this newsletter to find out!

11. What hops are in this IPA?
Hops for each IPA are included in the menu description. Most are from the Pacific Northwest, a few are from Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. We’ll be using some beautiful Iowa-grown hops soon!

12. What malt is in this?
Nobody asks this. We use a lot of Weyerman Pils, from Bamberg, Germany, and Golden Promise, grown in the UK.

13. What yeast strain did you use?
 Hey, what’s going on here...

14. What does your water profile look like?
You’re trying to steal our recipe, aren’t you?!

15. Can I take a peak at all those clipboards in the brew area?
Goodbye!!!

Barrels for sale

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Anyone looking for a project?  For you creative and handy folks out there, used barrels can be used for all sorts of things  -  furniture, crafts, decor, etc.  Right now we have two furniture-grade, not-quite-water-tight 56-gallon Chardonnay barrels.  They are $100 each and if you have questions or would like to look at our supply, please email Brewer Jake atjake@fathillbrewing.com.  

To get the ideas flowing, check out this article on Craftbeer.com (21 Gifts Made from Reclaimed Barrels) and this Google image search.

Molly's Scotland Pre-Trip

FHB is gearing up for its first "educational" international beer vacation in October!  We're taking 16 people around Scotland for ten days and we couldn't be more pumped.  FHB co-owner Molly got to do a quick pre-trip last week to check everything out to make sure the company trip goes smoothly and had a great time.  Here are some random pictures from her trip.  (And a chill-out video of Loch Ness above.)

A barley field in Aberdeenshire.  Some of our grain probably comes from a field very near this one.

A barley field in Aberdeenshire.  Some of our grain probably comes from a field very near this one.

Scottish beer = VERY GOOD.

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Haggis "crisps"  =  an acquired taste

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It was pretty crowded at times due to August being the "high season" in Scotland.  It will be more serene during October when FHB goes.  This picture is what happens when a Spanish tour bus spots a really cute Scottish "coo" (highland cow).

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The weather was pleasingly misty and spooky!  Nice atmosphere for castle wandering and sitting by the fire in pubs.  Here are some more atmosphere pics below.  Looking forward to the real trip in October!  We're also looking forward to planning more trips, so watch the newsletter for an announcement this winter some time for news about more travels.

Staff Field Trip Summer 2018

We have so many thank-yous to make for our staff field trip yesterday! First, to our bartender Tim Huey, who gave us a (safe distance) tour of his bee hives In Nora Springs to show us where the spotlight ingredient in our Honey Kolsch comes from. Next, to Keri at Cedar Falls Hops Co. for teaching us so much about hops (and taking our Chrismas card picture?). And then to SingleSpeed Brewing Co. for the all-brewers-on-deck tour of the brew area and incredible hospitality in their beer hall. Lastly, we have the kind of people on staff who give up a day off to learn stuff. How awesome are they?! We're very lucky to have them. Thanks, everyone!