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I was a picky eater as a kid, at least that’s how it was put. Looking back, I would describe myself more as being a particular eater. It’s splitting hairs, but it counts. I didn’t shy away from things to have tiny power trips of “not wanting to” or fussing to make others bend to my will. I was just sensitive to flavors, aromas, and textures. In my head there was a clear method to my preferences. I never really outgrew it either; I’m just far more open to trying new things.

I remember a stretch where I only wanted to eat chicken sandwiches (baked or fried) when we went out to eat, and I built a catalog in my head of the spice blends, crispy textures, the type of bun used, and cross-referenced it with condiment choice. Once I had my ideal profile nailed down, I figured out which drink best accompanies that chicken sandwich (and other entrees) according to mood, weather, etc. Once I turned to the beverage portion, I realized how much I love various beverages, especially fruit juice. One universal truth I discovered is that almost every juice should be served as chilled as possible but never over ice, while apple juice should always be served in a glass packed full of ice. If you’ve trusted me with your beer thus far, trust me here. Moving forward 20 plus years these vexing mannerisms are key to being a good brewmaster. Now I can see some of the same eating habits appearing in my own children. While the parent part of me doesn’t enjoy the battle at the dinner table, I certainly empathize.

What does this have to do with the price of rhubarb? Not much. However, we just brewed my first-ever apple ale. Sounds awesome- “how do you even make an apple ale?” That’s actually a quote from me about 6 weeks ago. We read, researched, conversated, ran some thought experiments, and then read some more. I tasted different apple blends to nail down which to use on brew day and which should be used later. Then we ran a pilot batch on our new pilot system, and that made us hit the drawing board in a few areas. After some adjustments we were ready for brew day. This morning we pulled off some of the fermented apple ale and ran some more experiments on which apples to use for finishing flavor. We also had to devise how, when, and how much to use. Thanks to the particular eating habits of myself and others on the crack team at K4, we have cause to be really excited about this one. I am proud to share it with you.

Ryan Koga

PS – If you were wondering about the results of my quest for the best chicken sandwich, I’ve learned that it is to be a lifetime quest. The best chicken sandwich so far is the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich from Buxton Hall BBQ in Asheville, North Carolina. We went for the BBQ pork, and were not disappointed, but that chicken sandwich was on a whole new level. A solid go-to is the Spicy Chicken Club at Wendy’s (don’t judge- just try it).



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