Belgian Beer In Texas? Beer Alien Interviews Scott Hovey Of Adelbert’s Brewery
Adelbert’s Brewery is an Austin, Texas brewery committed to brewing Belgian-style, bottle conditioned ales. Started by Scott Hovey, Adelbert’s Brewery is a tribute to his brother, George Adelbert Hovey (nicknamed Del) (1953-2000). Del always took time to enjoy a good ale with family and friends. He visited and resided in many regions of the world, whole-heartedly embracing the local people. He was a generous individual, genuinely concerned with the welfare of everyone he met. Whether he was working with the president of his company or a worker hand pollinating flowers in a green house, he treated them with respect and dignity. He lived to a high standard of empathy and self-sacrifice.
Scott Hovey and head brewer, Taylor Ziebarth, have both been passionate home brewers for many years. While both are in constant pursuit of brewing knowledge, Scott completed the Master Brewers Association of the Americas’ Malting and Brewing Science Course and Taylor attended the American Brewers Guild’s Intensive Brewing Science & Engineering program.
Beer Alien interviewed Scott Hovey to find out more about Adelbert’s Brewery:
Adelbert’s Brewery focuses on Belgian style beers. What led to the decision that Austin, TX would accept a brewery producing Belgian style beers?
I lived in Austin already and knew that was where I wanted to start my brewery. I chose Belgians because it’s the style of beer I like to drink. I like to brew beer I like to drink. I also appreciate that Belgians are excellent for pairing with food and love the idea that they improve with age. I didn’t want to be another brewery that made IPAs/Porters and was the only Belgian-style brewery when we opened.
You utilize a multi-temperature decoction mash technique during brewing. Can you explain that process?
Decoction mashes were a traditional brewing process used in Belgium for a long time. Before thermometers were invented it was a necessity. Many modern breweries don’t use the process, but most old school breweries do.
There is a caramelization and maillard reaction during the decoction process that adds more flavor and complexity to the beer. I wanted my beer to both be brewed by traditional brewing methods as well as taste like authentic Belgian beer – not just a loose interpretation of it. Using a decoction mash allows us to get the traditional complex malty flavors we want.
The yeast you use to brew with is propagated at your brewery. Was the original yeast culture specifically harvested from somewhere or was it bred from existing cultures?
We purchase traditional Belgian yeast strains from yeast suppliers. We do the final propagation here at the brewery.
Your beers have some great names such as ‘Scratchin Hippo’, ‘Dancin Monk’ and ‘Naked Nun’. What is the process you go through to come up with beer names?
The brewery is named in honor of my brother, George Adelbert Hovey (went by Del), who passed away in 2000. When I decided to start the brewery, I couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute my brother than name the brewery after him. Then after seeing a commercial about “the most interesting man in the world” I knew that made up character had nothing on my brother and his real life experiences. That’s where all of our beer names come from. Each is named after a different story Del would tell.
Naked Nun: Naked Nun was named to mark the time in Colombia when Del was robbed by bandits while hiking down from Cerro de Monserrate. They took his wallet, watch and every stitch of clothing. After hiding for a while behind some sheep, he finally got the attention of some local nuns, who were nice enough to give him a blanket and bus fare to get back home. Technically, he was the naked one, but Naked Gringo just didn’t have the same ring to it!
Scratchin’ Hippo: Named to commemorate a night in Kenya, when his house was shaking so strongly Del thought it was an earthquake. He shot out of bed and ran outside to see what was happening. It turned out to be a massive hippo from nearby Lake Naivasha, scratching itself against the house. Don’t worry – this ale is much more subtle.
Tell us about your barrel aging program.
I find barrel aging to be sexy and romantic. I was initially inspired by Goose Island’s Sofie and other barrel aged beers. In addition, I’ve always had an appreciation for good red wines and really like flavors and complexity you get from aging in wine barrels. Our barrel aging program began with wine barrels (leading to Vintage Monks – barrel aged dubbel and Vintage Nun – barrel aged wit). We started with a variety of wine barrels that had held different wines and toast levels because we wanted an array of flavors we could blend together. In the last few months, we’ve packaged up a batch of both Vintage Nun and Vintage Monks that spent over two years aging in the barrels.
In the last year, we’ve also expanded into aging in rum barrels (Tripel Treat – Tripel B aged in Treaty Oak Distillery Barrel Reserve Rum Barrels), gin barrels (Contemplating Waterloo – Philosophizer aged in Treaty Oak Distillery Waterloo Gin Barrels), and whiskey barrels (Barrel of Love – a bourbon barrel chocolate stout).
What is next for Adelbert’s Brewery?
We recently built a new climate controlled finished goods warehouse to better serve our customers and expand our tasting room (which is where the bottles conditioned previously). We look forward to releasing several new beers over the coming year in addition to maintaining the outstanding quality of our year round offerings. Our next new releases will be a Belgian-style blonde and pale ale. Official names and details to be release soon. More are in the works but we aren’t ready to go public with those just yet.
To learn more about Adelbert’s Brewery, visit their website here: http://adelbertsbeer.com/