In anticipation of a busy summer selling season, Ale Asylum has undergone another equipment expansion that includes one 400-barrel (bbl) fermentation tank, one 400-bbl conditioning tank and one 400-bbl brite tank. The brewery is also releasing a new beer, Unshadowed Hefeweizen, to be distributed in Wisconsin and their newly entered territory of Illinois.
After two weeks of selling their products in Illinois, Ale Asylum realized sales figures that tripled their expectations. To ensure a constant and steady stream of production, the brewery immediately purchased three additional tanks that will permit them to keep up with demand in all distribution channels.
Custom made by Wisconsin’s Quality Tank Solutions, the addition of these three 400-bbl tanks allows the brewery to produce twice as much beer. All three tanks will be solely designated to the brewing of Hopalicious American Pale Ale, the brewery’s flagship product. The tank expansion has created the need to add a third brewery shift as it will take 41 hours of continuous brewing to fill the 400-bbl fermenter. The output of these new tanks equals 5,400 cases of bottled product. Moving Hopalicious to these larger tanks opens up new opportunities for the brewery, such as releasing their first new bottled beer in four years, Unshadowed Hefeweizen.
As of mid-April, Unshadowed Hefeweizen is available in bottles at craft beer retail outlets and on draft in bars and restaurants in Wisconsin and Illinois. Previously called “Hatha-Weizen,” this beer was the first style brewed by the brewery in 2006 and only available on draft in their tasting room until now. For Illinois craft beer retail outlets, adding another bottled brand from Ale Asylum has generated excitement from their customers. This especially rings true in Chicago where Hefeweizens represent the top-selling style of beer whereas IPAs usually take the lead in other markets.
Chris Quinn, Certified Cicerone and co-owner of Chicago’s The Beer Temple, gives his take on Chicago’s fondness of this style: “At first, Chicago’s love for Hefeweizens puzzled me. But as I thought about it more, things began to make sense, as the climates in Germany and Chicago aren’t that different. Both have cold winters, short springs and moderate summers that are highly anticipated by the local population. Come summertime, Chicagoans and Bavarians alike immerse themselves in the season. And no beer shouts summer like a fresh Hefeweizen. Unshadowed is like a banana cream pie, both in its appearance — opaque, with canary yellow color and a healthy dollop of white foam — as well as its creamy texture and bright banana flavor.”
The recipe for Unshadowed was created by Ale Asylum Co-Founder and Brewmaster Dean Coffey, a brainchild that he began perfecting in the early 1990s. The evolution of this style wasn’t always easy.
“Brewing with American yeast is like training a good dog,” Coffey said. “It’s obedient and does what you tell it to do. Brewing with Hefeweizen yeast is like trying to train a cat. It does whatever it pleases whenever it pleases.”