The SOBs started 2021 out on slightly different note than usual. As compared to our normal holiday partying, our January meeting was a little more organized and informational. We hosted Bobby, owner of McFleshman’s Brewery in Appleton. Here is what Bobby had to say:
McFleshman’s started out as a brewery focused on traditional German and English beers and has remained true to that calling. In their hand-crafted brewery and taproom, you’ll find an impressive juxtaposition of German and English cultures; a stained-glass German image hangs behind numerous beer engines, instruments (ready to be played by anyone who can tune one) adorn the wood worked walls, while a hop laden biergarten sits in the bright southern sun. Although Bobby freshly refurbished the building that would house his brewery the brick and mortar is not unaccustomed to the smell of malt and hops as McFleshman’s is the 9th beer related business to be located at 115 State St. The location once used by Calumet County Brewery and as a Blatz distribution center now holds a copper gilded brewery and numerous taps.
Bobby began his brewing journey long before opening McFleshman’s. As he traversed textbooks on his quest to becoming an astrophysicist, he occasionally reduced his rent by brewing his now famous English Bitter, MSB, for his English landlord. After a spurt in academia, he decided to expand on his homebrewing passion by opening a brewery in the heart of Appleton, Wisconsin. Here he has partnered with local colleges to create one of the most true- to-tradition breweries in the area.
Bobby’s Czech built brewery is designed for decoction mashing to increase malty, bready flavors and satiating the lager lovers of the region. As a lager lover, I can only dream of so many homebrewed lagers. He says that beyond the ability to make lagers there is a stark difference from homebrewing and commercial brewing. In homebrewing we tend to go big and bold, holding nothing back. While in commercial brewing you need to consider a large audience. In commercial batches mindfulness needs to be adhered to in hop additions as lower IBUs are required due to higher hop utilization and a lot more yeast needs to be pitched to start a strong fermentation. But one thing remains constant – in recipe building less is often more as complex flavors are achieved through subtle malt and hop additions. With a little luck, like with Something Amber Vienna Lager, mixing fewer local malts to create a malty and delicious beer can be a winner in only a few batches. Even with many successes and GABF awards, Bobby still attributes connecting with homebrewers as one of the biggest rewards of big -time brewing.
As homebrewers we have begun to associate sour beers with craft, fruit ales with little room for tradition. In Bobby’s mind sours like lambics are at the heart of his traditional brewery, which is why he plans to team up with Appleton Beer Factory to deliver a new sour beer program. Moreover, the Dr. of Astrophysics (and beer) plans to install horizontal lagering fermenters. This will allow him more room for lagering German styles and to skim off fresh yeast for future repitching. Most of us think of immediate repitching but Bobby is once again looking to team up with Appleton Beer Factory to build a propagator that will increase healthy yeast cells by continually pouring in heat and oxygen. Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the beehives perched atop the white clad roofs of the McFleshman’s building. Last year the bees produced 200 lbs. of honey, which Bobby hopes to turn into mead in future years.
In all, we cannot compliment Bobby’s brewing or brewery enough. Many great beers have come from his 3-year-old brewery and we expect more to come. Even non-traditional styles seem to be amazing when brewed at McFleshman’s, which is why we raffled off 3 Black is Beautiful Imperial Stouts brewed at McFleshman’s. Congratulations to our winners and we can’t wait to see you all again soon.