Burley Oak Wades Into Lagers

BERLIN — Burley Oak Brewery is tackling October in a big way with the release of a first-ever lager and the re-release of a favorite with a new charity twist.
Burley Oak has only produced ales up until this month, and the Berlin-based brewery views this first in an upcoming series of lagers as a huge technical achievement for the team.
“I think we went from the start-up phase of the brewery, which was like the Wild West, to now we’re in this growth phase where we’re organized,” said owner Bryan Brushmiller. “We’re more focused on consistent brewing and pushing the limits. Because now that we’ve kind of figured out how everything works, we can kind of push the limits of brewing and that will better our industry, too, because it’s going to showcase different beers and newer styles.”
Unlike ales, which are fermented in warm temperatures with the yeast on top, lagers are fermented cold with the yeast at the bottom of the tank. The lagering process also takes an extra five weeks after fermentation.
“So for small breweries to utilize a tank that long without turnover is tough, which is why most people don’t do it,” said Brushmiller.
But for those willing to put the extra time and effort into lagers, they offer a “distinct and different flavor,” he added, crisper than ales. This particular lager has been brewed specifically for this weekend’s Octoberfest in Berlin.
“This year we did the Octoberfest as it is traditionally supposed to be done, as a German Märzen,” Brushmiller said.
Since becoming available this month, the beer has had double the sales of any other brew at Burley Oak, and Brushmiller is looking to add a new lager every six weeks under the brewery’s “Oh Really, Lager,” series.
Also for October, Burley is bringing back its popular hibiscus saison, “Hi-Sea.” But this time around a portion of the sale of each beer at the brewery will be split between Women Supporting Women and Pink Ribbon Pinups in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Brushmiller said that he got the idea due to the distinct color of the hibiscus rich brew, which correlates with the official color of breast cancer awareness: pink.
“We used raw hibiscus flowers, which actually lends a little pinkness to the beer,” he said.
The Hi-Sea sales will launch Burley’s winter charity program, which last year raised over $25,000 for 19 different organizations through guest bartending events.