By DAVID KRIER
Noah Larkosh loves beer, not just drinking it, but also creating it. A recent “mistake” in the brew house by the new assistant brewmaster at the Potosi Brewery lead to a new and improved recipe for the brewery’s Heffe Weiss summer wheat brew.
“Sometimes mistakes can be good,” Larkosh says of the brewing experience. “Even though is was off on the hops schedule, it turned out awesome and now it’s our new recipe.”
The 1995 Boscobel grad began his work in Potosi in May after three years of similar beer making duties at the Galena Brewery. He improved his abilities after completing the Master Brewers Association of America’s Brewing and Malting Science course in Madison.
Beer making is a relatively simple process involving water, malted barley and hops, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
“It is simple,” Larkosh says of making beer, “but the more you get into it the more scientific it gets. For instance, how much and the type of oil in your hops can make a huge difference.”
On this day Larkosh is brewing 500 gallons of Potosi Light. He uses a refractometer to test the amount of sugar in his barley mash. Then he adds Mt. Hood hops for bitterness and Saaz hops at the end as an aroma agent. The brew house steams with a pleasant, heady aroma.
“From there we pump it into the fermentation tank where we’ve already added our yeast,” he says. “Then we let it sit, about 12-14 days for ales and 30-45 days for lagers. The yeast gets in there and eats up the sugars, which produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. It’s a lot of chemistry.”
Larkosh started out as a home brewer and over the years has continued to work on mastering the craft.
“I read all about home brewing and made about seven or eight batches before I started brewing with the guys at Galena,” he explains.
You can tell that this is a man who thoroughly enjoys his work.
“It’s fun; there’s a lot of room for experimentation,” Larkosh says. “Even as fast as craft brewing is growing across the country, it’s only about ten percent of the market, so there’s a lot of room for growth.”
The Potosi Brewery makes about half a dozen year-round beers, plus limited releases and seasonal brews.
“Every beer has its own tricks,” he says. “A lot of time it’s about the water, which we can alter using salt. This one’s about the yeast. We ferment it a couple degrees cooler, which stresses the yeast and creates esters, or different flavors, that come out of the yeast. I really enjoy the seasonal beers. Pretty soon we’ll be coming out with our Imperial Pumpkin.”
At the bar customers are enjoying Potosi Tangerine IPA, an India Pale Ale blended with tangerine juice and packing a punch, a 6.8 percent alcohol content. Even stronger is Potosi Fiddler, an oatmeal stout coming in at 8 percent alcohol. And then there’s Hopsmith Imperial IPA at 10 percent, although most Potosi beers are in the 6 percent alcohol range.
Larkosh is excited about the brewery’s ongoing $2.5 million expansion, and the upcoming Potosi Brewfest, set for Saturday, Aug. 23 from noon to 5 p.m.
“It’s a huge expansion that will double the size of our system,” he says. “We’ll be adding a bottling line, a lab, and a barrel aging room. Hopefully, it will be done by September.”
As for the Brewfest, Larkosh has a simple recommendation: “It’s going to be a really good time with some excellent beer to sample.”
For more information of Brewfest, visit www.potosibrewery.com