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William Richartz

William Richartz

Where are you from?  Menomonie, WI “When in doubt, go to Stout.”

What is your favorite brewing topic to talk to customers about?  Really, I love to talk about any topic. Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus and their roles in sour beer top the chart. I also enjoy barrel aging, clean or sour, and barrel maintenance. I have a horticulture background, so any time people want to talk about unusual grains or herbs, I am game.

What was your biggest brewing blunder? Accidentally adding a pack of Brett. Lambicus to my yeast starter for an Russian Imperial Stout. Had two starters going for two different beers and made the cardinal sin of having one too many on brew day. It was not until I went to pitch the Brett starter that I realized it was just wort. The RIS went down the drain a few months later.

What movie have you watched the most times?  Star Wars Empire Strikes Back, and anything with Milla Jovovich. Seriously she is awesome, Return to the Blue Lagoon, Kuffs, The Fifth Element, Ultraviolet to name a few. My wife gets upset if we watch too many in a row.

What was your proudest moment in your fermentation history?  Traditional blended Kriek. Years to make, pounds and pounds of cherries and then it was gone in no time.

My first time in New Zealand I collected some spontaneous wild cultures and currently have a few batches of beers going from that. Hopefully that become my proudest moment if they turn out. So far so good.

Why do you brew?  At one point in my life I wanted to be a chef. I grew up watching all the great cooking shows on PBS. Yeah PBS, there was no Food Network or Cooking channel. I find that brewing is a great way to satisfy that same creative process, plus you get beer in the end.

When did you start brewing?  I believe it was 2010, shortly after buying a house. I finally had room to brew!

What is your brewing system?  A pretty simple 18 gallon kettle that I made into an electric kettle with the classic 10 gallon cooler, immersion chiller, and elbow grease. I think most people would be surprised to see my system, very basic. Oh, not to mention my notebook, refractometer, pH meter and my two cats that are WAY too much help.

What is your favorite style of beer for drinking and for brewing? Munich Helles, German Pils, and anything Farmhouse or sour. I try to brew a turbid mash lambic twice a year to keep a good stock for blending and fruiting. I also enjoy brewing historical and obscure styles. Otherwise I like trying out different grains to see the flavor profiles. Always trying to find grains that will help build body into Brett beers. Brett can real chew up beers and leave them with a thin mouthfeel. Spelt (raw or malted) has proven great for this but malted rye and malted oats are great as well. Honestly people need to play more with grains. Just no Hefes please.

If you could share a beer with anyone throughout history, of even fictional, who would it be?  Anthony Bourdain, but he better take me to Thailand for real deal pho.

Where do you spend your non-brewing time?  Gardening and Vacation! New Zealand anyone!? Everyone should have a chance to drink German Pils made with Nelson Sauvin hops while down under.

Who are your three favorite musicians/bands?  Trent Reznor/NIN does that count for one or two? Pink Floyd and Nirvana.

Aaron Finger Brewmaster at Northern brewer


Short Pour: HopShot for your Beer, Not your Eyes

Farley’s Feature – This is Not Your Father’s AB InBev!

This is Not Your Father’s AB InBev

I first got into homebrewing in the early 1990s after I spent a year studying in Scotland. While I was there, I traveled the continent and tried a huge variety of beers. Coming from the United States, I found European beer totally mind-blowing. I discovered malty 90 Shilling Ale in Scotland, well-balanced bitters in London, refined and wine-like Trappist ales in Brussels, bready and clovey Hefeweizens in Germany, and hoppy and robust golden pilsners in Prague. It opened up a whole new world: I had no idea there was so much diversity of flavors and experiences out there to explore.

In 1993, I found myself back in the States. Apart from a handful of visionary brewing pioneers, the United States was largely a beer desert. It was in that environment that I started a small homebrewing shop that I named Northern Brewer.

Northern Brewer’s mission was to educate our customers about the amazing diversity of international beer styles and to help people brew those beers on a hobbyist-scale. It was quite a challenge to convince somebody to brew a lambic, a stout or an IPA when 99% of the beer being sold was an American lager made with corn or rice.

But an amazing thing has happened over the past 20-odd years. Everything has changed.

Today, whether you are in New York or Memphis, you can’t go into a restaurant without finding a variety of delicious, interesting, and often locally-produced beers on the beer list. Everybody, everywhere is demanding better beer. It is clear to me that homebrewers drove this change, transforming the United States into the most exciting and dynamic beer scene on the planet. And who are the proprietors of the thousands of new local breweries? Homebrewers like you and me.

So when I sat down recently and thought about our 20-year old mission — particularly the part about educating people about beer — I began to look around the office for a spot to hang the “Mission Accomplished” banner. And then the phone rang. On the other end AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer and parent of Anheuser-Busch. As you might imagine, I was more than a little skeptical that we would have anything at all to talk about.

What I soon realized is that this is not your father’s AB InBev! It turns out that the world’s largest brewer has also seen the light — which is something that was unfathomable even 10 years ago.

Our relationship with AB InBev is already paying dividends. We’ve joined the brewers at Goose Island to make an authentic homebrewed version of their wonderful Milk Porter. This is just the first in what will become a regular series of partnerships with brewers across the country. If there are particular beers, styles or breweries you’d like us to work with, send us an email or give us a call. We want to hear from you!

We’ve also been working with the AB InBev team to source ingredients that have never before been available to North American brewers. Southern Star — a unique, pleasant hop variety bred and grown in South Africa will be available later this month. You won’t find this hop available anywhere but Northern Brewer! We are also on a mission to bring European craft recipes to American shores through an exciting new program this year, and this is just the beginning.

AB InBev understands that today’s beer drinkers are looking for creative, flavorful beers that are produced by local breweries, often in settings like neighborhood tap rooms and brew pubs. And they are transforming their company to deliver that experience.

Over the past five or six years, AB InBev has assembled a truly remarkable portfolio of craft beer brands. While many craft beer fans were justifiably concerned that the world’s largest producer of “macro beer” would destroy these beloved breweries, they have in fact been allowed to operate independently and far exceed their dreams for reaching new levels of innovation with their styles and serving more beer lovers. When we agreed to join AB InBev, we did it so that we could continue our mission with a partner that shares our values about what beer can be. We want to enable tomorrow’s brewers to unleash their creativity, and continue to drive the brewing culture — not only in the United States, but throughout the world.

For our customers, of course we need to continue to earn your trust every day, just as we have since I started this business 23 years ago. Northern Brewer is still dedicated to helping you unleash your creativity and passion for great beer. We know the freshest and most exciting beer you will have this year is probably one that you made yourself. Knowing we will be moving forward in our mission with the proud backing and full support of our partners at AB InBev fills me with tremendous optimism for the future ahead.


Tim Vandergrift

Tim Vandergrift

Where are you from?  
I’m from White Rock, a little village on the beach just south of Vancouver, Canada

What is your favorite brewing topic to talk to customers about?  
I love to talk to folks about anything in beer that they’re passionate about–it’s what they love that makes it interesting, especially if it’s a topic they know more about than I do. Particular styles, their brewing setup, their favorite hop, anything someone is really engaged in makes for a great conversation.

What was your biggest brewing blunder?
Oh man, where do I start? I’ve been brewing since 1978, so any skill I have is due to the incredible amount of mistakes I’ve had time to make. Overall though, my sloppy note-taking skills early on left me with great beers I couldn’t replicate, and that’s a shame. It’s like the man said, “The difference between science and just screwing around is writing it down.”

What movie have you watched the most times?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The level of detail is amazing, and as a fan of Hunter S. Thompson I was impressed with how well it carried the spirit of the book.

What was your proudest moment in your fermentation history?  
My wife never drank beer before we met, but tasted a few of the ones I made. I did my first decoction mash on a Belgian Witbier (oh it was a miserable 9-hour brew day) that I thought turned out really well. When it was done, I kegged and carbonated it, put it on draft in my keezer and then left for a two-week business trip.

When I got home, I invited some buddies over to try it, and I was right: it was better than any other Witbier I’d ever tried. I went back to get a second pitcher of beer and the keg blew. I panicked, checked the keezer for puddled beer, looked around the patio for stains in case it had leaked, and finally asked her if she’d seen any pools of beer.

Turns out she drank the whole thing. I wasn’t even mad.

Why do you brew?  
My initial motivation was to make beers like I read about in books. Growing up in rural British Columbia we didn’t get any beer other than industrial lager–even the stuff labeled Guinness was actually an industrial lager with caramel color in it. If I wanted to taste Bass Ale, I had to make it myself–so I did!

Nowadays, I do it to challenge myself. I was trained to cook in a French Brigade kitchen, and I’m a professional winemaker, and brewing, along with cheesemaking, pickling, smoking meat, roasting my own coffee, hunting, gathering mushrooms, gardening and a dozen other hobbies keep me grounded and connected to the world around me.

When you come right down to it, I have Attention Surplus Disorder, and brewing really feeds that monster.

When did you start brewing?  
My first batch was in 1978. If anyone does the math, I was underage even for liberal Canada. I was actually nerdy enough that I didn’t brew just so I could have access to alcohol, I did it because I was curious and it seemed cool–it still does.

What is your brewing system?  

I’ve literally gone through a dozen iterations of brewing setups, looking for the one that suits me best. For the most part, I use a three vessel setup based on the Fermenter’s Favorite® ten gallon all-grain rig, combined with a 15 gallon Edelmetall Brü® Kettle and two Edelmetall Brü Burners, along with a Steelhead pump and a Shirron Plate Chiller. It’s super versatile and having a pump is like having a brewing assistant right there.

I had a Blichmann Top Tier system, but I didn’t have a dedicated space to leave it set up, and it was always a huge brew day. Lately I’ve been experimenting with a Grainfather and that’s pretty cool–I can brew indoors and knock out a five gallon batch while I do other things (I work from home, so multi-tasking is a huge benefit).

What is your favorite style of beer for drinking and for brewing?
I’m with Charlie Papazian, my favorite beer is the one I’m drinking right now. However in the last year I’ve put a lot of effort into lager brewing, and after a lifetime of pursuing the hoppiest IPA’s I could make it’s been great to make balanced, crisp beers with rich malt.
But if you’re asking me what I think the best beer in the world is, it’s definitely Duvel.
There, I said it.

If you could share a beer with anyone throughout history, of even fictional, who would it be?  
That’s a tough one, there’s a whole pub full of people I’d like to sit down and shoot the breeze with over a few pints. If I had to pin down just one, it might be H.L. Mencken. He was pretty amazing and I get the feeling he had a lot of great stories that never made it into print.
Either him or Benjamin Franklin. You look at that picture on the hundred dollar bill and you can tell he loved a good time in a tavern, and he was a pretty clever guy.

Where do you spend your non-brewing time?
I like to ride my motorcycle (Kawasaki ZZR1100) really fast, or go hiking–there’s so much beauty outdoors in British Columbia that you can never get tired of it. We have every type of terrain you can imagine, including true desert and glaciers, along with temperate rainforest and amazing mountains.

Who are your three favorite musicians/bands?
I’m a big jazz fan so I could fill up this page with all the stuff I like, but that would leave out classical and rock. I’d go with Miles Davis, Pink Floyd and Mozart.
Really, only three? That leaves out the Punk I grew up on, the guilty pleasure of Prog Rock, Southern Fried Rock, Opera, Fusion, Cuban music, Spanish guitar, Thrash Metal . . . sorry, my Attention Surplus is acting up again.

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Brew. Share. Enjoy Brewery Series Kits

The Brew. Share. Enjoy.® Brewery Edition is unlike anything we have ever created before. For the first time ever, homebrewers like you will have exclusive access to the most sought-after, limited-release beers in the world, complete with first-hand insight from the world-class pro brewmasters who created them.

Brewery Edition Kits

The Brew. Share. Enjoy.

Brewery Edition

These ARE the beers you’re looking for.

The Brewery Edition is unlike anything we have ever created before. For the first time ever, homebrewers like you will have exclusive access to the most sought-after, limited-release beers in the world, complete with first-hand insight from the world-class pro brewmasters who created them.

With these kits, you’ll be able to brew the beers that even the most passionate beer lovers in the world can only dream about…tap room exclusives, discontinued recipes and experimental batches that have become the stuff of rare beer legends.

It’s the most intimate brewing experience possible, because you get to appreciate the beer, its history and character, from the inside out. The only thing better would be an all-access brew day at the brewery itself!

Ready to brew with the greats? We created the Brew. Share. Enjoy. Brewery Edition just for you. Cheers!

Brewery Edition #1 Goose Island Milk Porter

We’re kicking off the Brew. Share. Enjoy. Brewery Edition with a true original. Until now, Goose Island’s legendary Milk Porter has been available exclusively to lucky patrons of the Fulton & Wood Street Tasting Room. But now, you can be among the first to brew this Chicago house favorite at your house.

We partnered with Goose Island Brewmaster Jared Jankoski to scale this recipe perfectly for homebrewers while retaining every last drop of its decadent, deep chocolate hue and oh-so-sippable character. The result is an unbelievably memorable brew that captures the creamy essence of the eggnog cocktail that inspired it, along with notes of milk chocolate, nutmeg and a big, toasty malt backbone. Brew plenty, because this is one beer that tends to acquire a following, and you’ll want to savor it as long as you can.

Goose Island Beer

For years, patrons of the Goose Island Tasting Room have enjoyed a privilege shared by a lucky few – exclusive access to the house favorite Milk Porter poured only at the Fulton & Wood taproom in Chicago, and nowhere else on earth.

Today…that changes. With the launch of Northern Brewer’s new Brew. Share. Enjoy.® Brewery Edition Kits, we’re making it possible for homebrewers everywhere to join the ranks of those lucky few. For the first time ever, homebrewers will have exclusive access to the most sought-after flagship and limited-release beers in the world. And we’re starting with a true classic – Goose Island’s legendary Milk Porter.

We partnered with Goose Island Brewmaster Jared Jankoski to scale this recipe perfectly for homebrewers while retaining every last drop of its decadent, deep chocolate hue and oh-so-sippable character.

Ready to taste it for yourself? Here’s everything you need to know to get started. Cheers!

One Taproom Legend, Two Ways to Brew

The BREW: Goose Island Milk Porter

This unforgettable Milk Porter actually has its roots in a Goose Island brewing throwdown. Every year, Goose Island employees from throughout the company get the chance to dream up and brew up experimental beers alongside Goose’s top brewmasters. One winning recipe is selected to be brewed and offered in limited release as part of the brewery’s Fulton & Wood series.

In 1995, a porter aged in rum, brandy and bourbon inspired by a holiday cocktail called the Tom & Gerry won top marks in the competition and soon became a taproom favorite. The brewmasters continued to perfect the profile, adding warm and spicy notes, along with a toasted, creamy character. The result is a Milk Porter that has become a Goose Island house favorite.

Our brewmasters partnered with Goose Island Brewmaster Jared Jankoski to craft a homebrewing recipe that perfectly captures the complex flavors and character of the Goose Island original.

The result of that collaboration is an unbelievably memorable brew that evokes the creamy essence of the eggnog cocktail that inspired it, along with notes of milk chocolate, nutmeg and a big, toasty malt backbone. It also conveys the complex flavors of barrel aging that have become a Goose Island trademark…without the barrel aging. A feature the brewmasters won’t stop talking about.

Brew plenty, because this is one beer that tends to acquire a following, and you’ll want to savor it as long as you can.

The Good Stuff: Brewing & Tasting Notes


SRM: 31

IBUs: 22

ABV: 6.6%



Milk Chocolate • Approachable Roast • Smooth Body • Complex Creaminess • Malted Milk Balls

Brie • Sirloin Steak • Spicy Chicago Dog • Swiss Cheese

Brewmaster’s Tasting Notes:

Dark chocolate porter with creamy tan-colored head. There is an aroma of milk chocolate and approachable roast. The flavor is amplified by a noticeable mouth coating smoothness and a lingering wood-like aftertaste. Chocolate, roasted malt, oats and a lactose backbone further encourage a uniquely inspired porter that sips oh-so-smoothly. Think Malted Milk Balls with a crisp, delicious finish.

Brewmaster’s Pairing Ideas:

Perfect with creamy baked brie or a nicely-seared sirloin. But it’s got the character to stand up to a spicy Chicago dog, too. Its crisp finish makes it ideal for foodies who want their brew to complement the meal instead of weighing it down. And its warm notes make it the perfect match for anything chocolate. Also, smoked brisket, Stilton cheese, beef stew and vanilla ice cream.

Meet the Brewmaster

Promoted to Goose Island Brewmaster in 2015, Jared Jankoski has built his brewing career on a near-fanatical devotion to both quality and innovation.

He’s helped shape the direction of the wildly popular Bourbon County Brand Stout series from the start and tackled this project with the same creativity and expertise he brings to every other Goose Island brew.

“Being brewmaster is about a commitment to quality from raw material to packaged beer, scrutinizing every process in between to always try to improve.”

The inspiration for Goose Island’s Milk Porter is the Tom & Gerry, a holiday cocktail often mixed with rum/bourbon, sugar, warm milk and nutmeg. “This beer was made to impress many of these flavors without actually utilizing them.”

“Similarly, the recipe takes the most desirable characteristics from the many stouts I’ve made in my past and combines them for the ultimate experience. Lactose and oats for mouthfeel and flavor, and a massive dark malt backbone to drive a delicate, but delectable flavor experience.”

Beer Lovers: Brew Your Heart Out

The Brew. Share. Enjoy.® Brewery Edition Kit is unlike anything we have ever created before.

For the first time ever, homebrewers will have exclusive access to the most sought-after flagship and limited-release beers in the world, complete with first-hand insight from the world-class pro brewmasters who created them. Here’s a peek at how we worked with Goose Island brewmasters to make that vision come true.

Brew Day at Goose Island

Amazing, right? With the Brew. Share. Enjoy.® Brewery Edition Kits, your brew day won’t be anywhere near this complex. But, after exhaustive testing and tasting, we can tell you the results are spot on. Our kit is the next best thing to an all-access brew day at Goose Island itself, because we’ve worked hand-in-hand with Brewmaster Jared Jankoski to get it just right.

The Milk Porter recipe and brewing process has been perfectly scaled for homebrewing, so you’ll be able to tap into nearly 30 years of Goose Island brewing innovation behind each kit.

Home Brew 101 – New


Farley’s Feature – Brewing an Exciting Future

Brewing an Exciting Future

Friends – I started this business 23 years ago this month because of my passion for quality beer and the joy of brewing from my own home. We have seen tremendous growth in homebrewing in that time. Our community continues to expand as does the diversity of quality ingredients and equipment available.

Northern’s family is much bigger today than it was in 1993, but I’m proud to say that we have never lost our identity. Our employees and managers come to work every day with a commitment to be the best in the industry, period. Someday we want homebrewing to be as common a household craft in America as cooking or gardening. But we all know that we won’t get there through complacency.

Many of you have seen the news that we’ve closed a deal to be acquired by ZX Ventures, the global Disruptive Growth Unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev.

I’ll admit, we didn’t share this with you the way we should and for that, I apologize. I think this is a really important moment in our company’s history and an important moment in our shared passion for brewing great beer. Let me tell you what that means.

First, nothing will fundamentally change as the result of this deal. Our entire leadership team will remain intact and our company will continue to be independent. Our staff of dedicated employees will continue to serve our customers and help our industry innovate. Our culture will remain as it is today: vibrant, energetic, fair and dedicated to our mission and to you.

Second, this partnership with ZX Ventures is about growing our company and providing our customers with unparalleled opportunities. This deal will make us stronger and able to pursue our passion with even greater focus, better tools and ingredients.

We are convinced that this partnership will be good for us and great for you. We share the same mission with ZX, to provide “consumers with exceptional beer experiences, anytime, anywhere.” That is, after all, why we’re all here.

This is a really exciting opportunity that doesn’t come around that often. We’re proud of this deal and are excited to begin working with the team from ZX. We’re confident that in time, you will realize just how much we’re going to gain from this partnership and how everyone – you, our company and our community – will be better off because of it.

You have made our community thrive and made our business what it is today. Here’s to more than twenty years of brewing great beer together. Cheers to you and to the future.