LOWVILLE — It’s not just milk that has consecrated north country ground since normal markets and supply chains were disrupted. About 1,800 gallons of beer flooded a spot in Lewis County a few weeks ago in a quality-control measure by Skewed Brewing.
“By the time the beer would have made it to consumers, the taste profile would have changed and I’m not willing to do that,” said brewery owner Ryan N. Chaif. “So I dumped what was in the vats to make room for the new batches.”
Those batches were put into cans and labeled on Wednesday via a mobile cannery franchise based in Albany. The beer will be sold directly to customers for the first time on Friday in a makeshift drive-thru loop for take-away beer and barbecue in the parking lot of their Trinity Avenue brewery.
“Because the COVID (pandemic) has been so devastating to a lot of places, the best way to help local breweries is to purchase directly from the brewery,” Mr. Chaif said. “It really helps us to keep our employees around and it helps the local economy.”
Skewed was able to get a Payroll Protection Program loan to help keep their team together to this point, however, with restaurants and bars not targeted for reopening until the last phase, direct-to-consumer sales made sense.
“Some of it will have to go through distribution, unless I have a line around the block. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but we’ll see. That’s a lot of cans,” he said. “I have the tap room license, I just don’t have the tap room.”
Twenty-five barrels of beer were canned over about seven hours. That translates to about 9.300 shiny silver cans of beer emblazoned with brightly stylish labels: Disco Mom, Peach Milkshake IPA and Blackberry Lime.
The mobile brewery produces about 35 cans every minute and quality is carefully monitored throughout the process.
“They always take cans randomly throughout the run and age them to make sure there’s no microbial stuff. The thing with beer is that with the pH level, there could be growth there but the growth wouldn’t be harmful, it would just taste disgusting.”
Mr. Chaif said beer, an “alive” product, will oxidize over time which impacts quality and taste.
“We test the oxygen levels with a device to make sure it’s shelf stable. If it’s not, it will give off flavors,” Mr. Chaif said.
Fruits, often touted for their antioxidant properties, prove themselves in the beer causing the two brews with fruit to have lower oxidation levels than the India Pale Ale without.
People will be able to buy four-packs of their choice of Peach Milkshake IPA, Blackberry Lime Kose — as in “There ‘Kose’ the Neighborhood” according to the label — and their best-seller, New England IPA Disco Mom.
The recipe and the name are, in a way, a tribute to his wife, Cheryl M. Chaif, who owns two restaurants, the Hops Spot in Clayton and Syracuse.
“My wife wears these super comfortable pants around the house and they have this super-crappy pattern on them. Me and the kids started referring to them as her disco pants,” Mr. Chaif said. “She kept complaining about all the IPAs I was doing, she didn’t like them, so I said, ‘That’s it. I’m making an IPA exactly how you want it,’ and I called it Disco Mom.”
In addition to beer, Mr. Chaif’s Tree Cake Cider brand, which is gluten free, will be available on Friday.
This round of canning also serves as a test run before Mr. Chaif follows through with his intention to buy a canner this summer.
Mr. Chaif has been in the beer industry since 2011 and began making beer in 2013.
While there are no plans at this time to open Skewed in Lowville, he said he hopes it happens eventually.
Friday’s drive-through fresh canned beer and barbecue sale will be in a loop in the brewery parking lot at 5501 Trinity Ave. beginning at 3 p.m.
The Chaifs said masks will be worn and social distancing respected. People are asked to stay in their cars.
There is road work on two sections of Trinity so detours may be necessary.
For more information and prices for the beer and food, go to the Skewed Brewery page on Facebook.