The California Common style is a hybrid of a German Lager and an American Ale. For Geoff’s beer he’s honored that tradition by uniting the best of each style. The result is a flavorful ale that is nicely hopped and sessionable. AKU = All Kinds United.
As Geoff moves on, we raise a toast and hope you enjoy this beer as much as we do.
Words from apprentice brewer Geoff Burgess
After tasting my first batch of homebrew, I knew immediately that I wanted to learn how to brew for a living. I guess you could say I got the bug. While sipping the first of many glorious batches, I laid out my long term plan. After a few years of brewing, and learning at home on a modest five gallon system, I set out to find a brewery willing to teach me the process. So I started emailing and visiting breweries in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts. Unfortunately I had no luck, until one day while I was at Jasper’s Homebrew Supply store. I noticed some beer bottles that I had never seen before and asked about them. I was told they were the first Nano brewery in New Hampshire, White Birch Brewing. I did some research when I got home that day and right on the top of their website were the words “Apprentice Program”. Bingo, I finally found one. After reading about the program I promptly sent them an email expressing my desire to learn more about the production of beer. One day went by before Bill got back to me with the details and perks of the apprenticeship. We exchanged some more emails and I finally got an interview. A few weeks went by before Bill called offering me a spot starting in July. I had to figure out how to balance my day job with brewing and once I did I called Bill back and gladly accepted.
On day one I was thrown right into it, brewing a 20 gallon test batch (the largest batch had done up to that point). I really didn’t think I would get the chance to brew so quickly. I figured it would be at least a few weeks of learning and cleaning before I got my chance. So as you could imagine I was pretty overwhelmed, but extremely excited to get started so fast. During my apprenticeship I got a chance to learn everything from proper sanitation procedures to how to move a brewery (which I didn’t expect), to some of the more behind the scenes aspects of running a brewery.
Overall my experience here has been nothing short of amazing. I got to be part of something only a handful of beer geeks get to do. All in all, I am truly thankful to have been given an opportunity to prove to myself and others that I can brew on a production scale. It was a lot of hard work, but honestly one of the best experiences of my life. It’s something that I’ll cherish and remember always.
I brewed a California Common Ale not only because it is one of my favorite styles, but it’s also a style that doesn’t have many commercial examples other than Anchor Steam and a few others. So it leaves a bit of room for creativity and experimentation. It’s also one of the truest American styles, made out of necessity during the gold rush. The brewers at that time had to completely change their brewing methods because they didn’t have proper refrigeration. So they used coolships which are rectangular open top fermenting vessels on the roof of the brewery that utilized the cool air off the Pacific Ocean to chill the wort down.
I first used the name AKU with a group of friends who skateboarded together. We eventually turned it into a very small and unsuccessful clothing line we sold out of the trunk of my car during our high school years. Those were really some of the best times of my life and I miss them every day. I know that my friends that were involved and those that have past are still with us each and every day. The name AKU stands for All Kinds United. A California Common is a hybrid of a German Lager and an American Ale, it’s uniting the best of each style. I hope you enjoy AKU as much as I do, and that it puts a smile on your face when you first sip it.
Lastly I need to thank everyone at White Birch: Bill, Ellen, Brian, Chris, and Dave. It has been great working with each of you and you have taught me so much more than I ever expected to. With your help and patience, you have given me a chance to better myself and the beers that I make. You have all become great friends whose advice and wisdom I hold very high. I really can’t thank you all enough…..but I must, THANK YOU!!!