8×8 Q&A: Cloudburst and Bubble Lab

As the 8×8 Collaboration Festival (November 3rd & 4th) gets closer on the horizon, our 8 pairs of brewers from Greater China and the Pacific Northwest are starting to get their collaboration beers ready. Over the next few weeks we’ll be checking in, asking 8 questions to each pair to learn a bit more about them and try to get a hint of what beers they’ll be sharing with us…  This week, Steve from Cloudburst Brewing in Seattle and Marco from Bubble Lab in Wuhan:

Q1: Where are you from, and how did you get into brewing?
Steve (Cloudburst Brewing): I’m originally from New England – I was born in Boston, raised in Connecticut, and educated in Maine. While in Maine, I spent a Summer working at Allagash Brewing in Portland and decided this was the industry for me.  The people, the passion, the physical labor, and the blending of science & creativity sealed the deal.

Marco (Bubble Lab): I was born in Taiwan, but I have spent most of my life in China and States. When I was living in Shanghai after coming back from U.S., one of the brewpubs my friend and I always enjoyed visiting was Boxing Cat. That was how I was inspired to start homebrewing, and eventually find work in their brewery, and now start my own! That’s how everything started to take off at Bubble Lab.

Q2: Tell us about three of your favorite beers made at Cloudburst/Bubble Lab. What makes them special?
S:
 Happy Little Clouds is our lightly dry-hopped Pilsner – it’s special because it’s the only beer we brew year round. Everything else we brew is essentially a one-off. For our pilsner we take pride in trying to improve and replicate the delicate and difficult style, and usually it takes about 8 weeks from brew to package.
Grande Mocha Nonfat Latte is an oatmeal milk stout with cocoa powder and house-made cold brew from a local Seattle roaster. It tastes just like it sounds!
Precious Freshious is our first barrel aged beer – it’s blend of French Saisons aged in white wine barrels. It’s a clean beer – so the oak is subtle and bright, with a dry finish.

M: Definitely the Bubble IPAGolden Porter and Vanilla Imperial Stout.
Bubble IPA is our flagship IPA that I spent the most time perfecting. It uses 98% Maris Otter which is my favorite Pale Malt, and a combination of 4 hops that provide a beautiful tropical aroma. It has a great balanced from both malt and hops, so it remains easy to drink.
Our Golden Porter is a specialty ale that I brewed together with my friend Seth Collins. It’s a blonde ale brewed with flaked oats, lactose on the hot-side and Colombian coffee beans, Bolivian cacao nibs, and Madagascar Vanilla beans on the cold-side. If you close your eyes, have a sip, you would think it’s a porter with all those flavors of a dark beer, but it’s actually light in color.
My Vanilla Imperial Stout was inspired by Mikkeller’s Vanilla Milk Shake, one of my favorite stouts of all time. My version is a like that beer’s little brother, with a lower abv that makes it more sessionable, so one can have several pints of this delicious thing in one go.

Q3: Where do you draw your inspiration from as a brewer?
S: Everywhere! Our city, our music, pop culture, our brewer friends, food, cocktails – there’s inspiration everywhere if you’re paying close attention.

M: Traveling. I try to go to as many places as I can, drink as much beautiful beer as I can, and then brew my own interpretations of what I experienced.

Q4: Have you ever used Chinese ingredients in a beer? If not, is there one that’d you’d like to use in a future brew?
S: Yes, I’ve used 5 spice mix in a beer before – it definitely needs to be well integrated into the base beer flavors to ensure it’s still balanced.

M: I once brewed a Sichuan Peppercorn Saison in Lexington Kentucky with Brandon Floan, head brewer from Ethereal brewing, but never get the opportunity to taste the finished beer… sad, I know! I would love to try brewing with some Chinese fruits in the future, especially in a sour ale.

Q5: Why did you decide to join 8×8, and what makes you excited about traveling to Beijing?
S: I’ve never been to Asia, let alone China – so it was a no brainer, once in a lifetime opportunity for me to go. I’m excited to learn more about the craft beer industry and craft beer drinkers in China.
M: I’m always excited to have an opportunity to collaborate with breweries from overseas. Collaborations always sharpens one’s skill and helps spark more ideas!

Q6: Agreed! Have you guys made a recipe for your collaboration yet?
S: We’re planning to brew a Triple IPA – something around 9-10% and hopped with American varieties to the MAX.

M: Steve brews some of the best IPAs along the West Coast in my opinion. I visited 20 breweries on my road trip there last month, and Cloudburst’s IPA was the BEST out of all the IPAs I drank. I love hoppy beers, so naturally we decided to brew one together, and since 8X8 will be held during chilly November, I asked, “Can we go big?”, and Steve replied that of course we can. So I kid you not, it won’t just be BIG – it’s gonna be YOOGE!

Q7: We’ll have to watch out for that! Now, can you tell us what your ideal pairing between beer and Chinese food would be?
S: A dry-hopped Pale – something light and refreshing but fruit forward hops and bitterness to cut through spice.
M: Wuhan 烧烤 (grilled skewers) with a cold IPA during the hot sweaty summer – you can imagine…

Q8: Seems you’re in agreement on that one. Last question, in addition to 8×8, what else do you have planned for your brewery through the rest of 2017?
S: We’ll be doing a couple festivals across the United States, and are currently gearing up for Fresh Hop Season!

M: Bubble Lab hasn’t been lived up to the “Lab” part of its name recently. We haven’t experimented with as many new beers as I would like, so for the rest of the year we’ll be catching up and making some new creative brews, including our 8×8 collaboration with Cloudburst!

Sounds great, thanks for your time, guys!
Look out for more updates on 8×8 in the coming weeks, and to get your tickets click here!

8×8 Q&A: Gigantic and Moonzen

As the 8×8 Collaboration Festival (November 3rd & 4th) gets closer on the horizon, our 8 pairs of brewers from Greater China and the Pacific Northwest are starting to move forward with plans for their collaboration beers. Over the remainder of the summer we’ll be checking in with 8 questions for each pair to learn a bit more about them and try to get a hint of what beers they’ll be sharing with us this fall…

First up: Gigantic Brewing from Portland and Moonzen Brewery from Hong Kong:

Q1: Where are you from, and how did you get into brewing?
Ben Love (Gigantic): Portland, Oregon. I had moved out to Wisconsin following a girl and was working as a courier for Fedex. I had to decide what to do next and its was either be a chef or start brewing. I decided to give brewing a try and got a part-time job at the local brewpub. I really enjoyed the work, so I enrolled in the American Brewers Guild brewer education program. That lead to a full-time brewing job back in Oregon at Pelican.
Laszlo Raphael (Moonzen): Originally from Mexico, now I live in Hong Kong where Moonzen is based. I got into brewing when I moved to Hong Kong. I couldn’t find any good beer to drink and my wife was obsessed with baking and in the kitchen every weekend, so I decided to take up a ‘manly hobby’ and make my own beer.

Q2: And the rest is history… Tell us about three of your favorite beers made at Gigantic/Moonzen. What makes them special?
G:
 Pipewrench – our gin barrel aged IPA. We take Gigantic IPA and age it for 3 months in locally distilled Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels. Ransom barrel-ages their gin for a year, then empties them and we get the recently emptied barrels that are soaked in gin. The resulting beer is a delicious combination of citrusy hops and botanical gin, with a french oak barrel flavor in the finish. Kölschtastic – we make it in the traditional way with German pilsner malt and a kölsch yeast. A simple beer that’s ridiculously delicious and perfect at almost any time. The City Never Sleeps – our Imperial Black Saison. A myriad of malts and a Belgian yeast create a black beer that is complex with dark chocolate, cherry, blackberry, toffee, floral, and peppery spice, yet still finishes light on the palate.
M: My favorite beers at Moonzen are the South Cloud Yunnan Lager, Yama Sichuan Porter, and Dragon King Fujian Radler. They are three ‘provincial style’ beers, drawing inspiration from a unique ingredient from each province in China: Yunnan raw pu’er tea, Sichuan peppercorns and chillies, Fujian honey pomelos.

Q3: Where do you draw your inspiration from as a brewer? Have you ever tried using Chinese ingredients in a beer?
G: Inspiration comes from other beers, drinks and food. I have never used Chinese ingredients in a beer, yet.
M: I draw inspiration from stories in Chinese mythology, and the unique ingredients from China’s different provinces.

Q4: Why did you decide to join 8×8, and what makes you excited about traveling to Beijing?
G: It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with brewers in another part of the world. The ideas that come from collaborations can be incredible, and I think with brewers coming from different parts of the world the ideas can be even more exciting. This will be my first trip to China, so I’m looking forward to experiencing as much as I can when we are there.
M: We decided to join 8×8 because it’s a great opportunity to get involved with a group of other breweries and foster the beer community in greater China. We are always excited to travel to Beijing – that’s where Michele and I met in Peking University!

Q5: What’s it been like to work with the brewery you’ve been paired with?
G: Laszlo from Moonzen and I came up with a number of ideas. We have a fairly similar outlook on brewing. I’m excited to present our finished beer to everyone.
M: Good stuff, we share similar values and tastes in beers and easily agreed on a final recipe.

Q6: Great! Can you share some of the ideas you’ve tossed around for your collaboration beer, and have you picked a final recipe yet?
G&M: The final beer with be a sour (lambic) fermented beer using an ingredient from Oregon and China.

Q7: Sounds great, that’s an ambitious brew! A couple last questions.. what’s your favorite pairing between beer and Chinese food?
G: Chengdu Hot Pot with a cooling lager.
M: Beer and pan-fried jiaozi.

Q8: They must have pretty good hot pot in Portland, Ben, considering you’ve never been to Chengdu before. I think your answers are both spot-on. Last question: if you could sit down with anyone (living or dead) and have a beer, who would it be and why?
M: I’d have a beer with Genghis Khan just to see his reaction to drinking a Sichuan Porter.
G: Leonardo Da Vinci…
He would have made one hell of a brewer! Thanks for your time, guys, now get back to brewing that lambic!

Look out for more updates on 8×8 in the coming weeks, and to get your tickets click here!

Breweries of 8×8: Fat Fat Beer Horse

Hailing from the beautiful coastal city of Xiamen, FAT FAT BEER HORSE opened its doors in 2013. Their portfolio of beers is founded on evolutions of classical European beer styles, such as their Shapotou Kölsch, and Hippocampus Seaweed Gose, and Yangmei Witbier. For special occasions like 8×8, they’ll send their beers out into the world… but generally they prefer to drink their beers where they belong. Fat Fat Beer Horse is located in a stunning 500sqm former seafood processing plant one the shores of YunDang Bay. All beers are brewed on-site to be enjoyed at their brewpub.

Breweries of 8×8: Culmination Brewing

Culmination Brewing Company is a brewery and taproom in the heart of Portland… celebrating their 2-year anniversary this month!
Voted Oregon’s best new brewery of 2016, Culmination is on pace to brew just over 4,000 BBL’s of beer in 2017. Driven by creativity yet firmly rooted in tradition, Culmination’s brewing team has produced over 200 unique styles from Brett-forward, blended barrel-aged flanders-style beers to dank and citrusy IPA’s. Culmination Brewing is built around the idea that sustainable manufacturing and building practices can and will lead to superior products and customer satisfaction. Great beer, with good food and community can be brought together in one concept, under one roof.

Breweries of 8×8: NBeer

Next up in our brewery lineup for 8×8… NBeer Pub 牛啤堂! Founded in 2013 in Beijing, NBeer was one of the first natively-owned craft breweries in China, the brainchild of two intrepid Beer Geeks. Their brewmaster, Yinhai, was originally a computer engineer, but early on became one of the first Chinese homebrewers and craft beer advocates. A founding member of the Beijing Homebrew Society, he is the author of the bestselling NBeer Bible – one of the first Chinese-language guidebooks to craft beer. NBeer’s other co-founder, Jin Xin AKA Xiaobiar – one of China’s foremost outdoorsmen by day – is by night (and sometimes day), China’s most famous beer bottle collector, a shameless Beer Geek and graphic designer. He is the creator of the bilingual Chinese-English Beer Family Tree poster. The two co-founders’ family names each mean “Silver” and “Gold” respectively – and with both their auspicious names and diverse skill-sets they strive to produce China’s best beers, both inside and out. In early 2016 NBeer launched a production brewery in Yinhai’s hometown of Chengdu,Sichuan, giving them the ability to distribute our beer throughout the country – and beyond!

Look out for their Raspberry Beijinger Weisse, Niubi Black IPA, and Zhongnanhai Rauchbier, named after China’s most famous brand of cigarettes.

Breweries of 8×8: Breakside Brewery

Up next in our profiles of the breweries coming to Beijing this November… Breakside Brewery!
Their slogan is “Seek and Enjoy”, and we’re going to make the first part of that easy for you – just grab a ticket for the 8×8 Brewing Project at https://yoopay.cn/event/8x8brewingproject. To enjoy, just show up to the festival on November 3rd & 4th. The Breakside team will be pouring 8 different beers over the two days, plus a new collaboration brewed with NBeer Pub 牛啤堂 specifically for 8×8!

In the meantime, here’s a bit more background on them…
Breakside opened in 2010 in Northeast Portland as a restaurant and pub brewery, gaining attention early on for their innovative, experimental and diverse beers.
By 2013, they had expanded operations to a 30 bbl production brewery in Milwaukie, Oregon, filled with 30, 60 and 120 barrel tanks, barrel rooms for wild and non-wild/sour fermentations, a high speed bottling line, and a 24-tap tasting room.
The next year, Breakside was awarded the highly coveted Gold Medal for American-Style IPA at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival for their flagship Breakside IPA, which was also named to ​Men’s Jo​urnal’s 100 Best Beers In The World and “The Best Beer in Oregon” by ​The Oreg​onian.

Breakside is known for their wide ranging portfolio of beers (with 526 unique brews listed on their Untappd profile!) Highlights include barrel-aged and sour beers like their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Aztec, a strong amber ale with chocolate and chilies, and their Passionfruit Sour, a fruited berliner-weisse that earned a Gold Medal at the 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Most recently, they opened a third location in the Slabtown district of Northwest Portland, and continue to pick up accolades, with Breakside named Brewery of the Year at the 2017 Oregon Beer Awards and the 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Breweries of 8×8: Bubble Lab

We’ve got 16 great breweries coming to Beijing this November for 8×8…
Grab a ticket at https://yoopay.cn/event/8x8brewingproject

This time we’re putting the spotlight on one of the 8 Chinese breweries – one of the youngest of the whole lot: Bubble Lab!

Bubble Lab was founded in 2015 by Marco Chao in Wuhan, aka the “Chicago of China”.
They brew over twenty different styles, including a Scotch Ale, Helles, Pilsner, Golden Porter, Saison, and Stout, but Bubble Lab specializes in IPAs, using a variety of hops like Centennial, Mandarin, Mosaic, Equinox – and a Double IPA with Amarillo. Their beer does not simply cater to any specific palate. Instead, Marco and his team strive to master the art of craft brewing to create beers that can be enjoyed by both connoisseurs and newcomers alike.
You can try 8 different Bubble Lab beers at the 8×8 Festival this fall, plus an exclusive new collaboration brew they’ll be working on with Cloudburst Brewing!

Breweries of 8×8: Cloudburst Brewing

We’ve got 16 great breweries coming to Beijing this November for 8×8… time to get to know one of them a little better: Cloudburst Brewing!

Founded in 2015 by industry lifer & veteran brewer Steve Luke, Cloudburst Brewing is nestled in an inconspicuous 115 year old building just north of Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. They produce a wide array of beer styles, with an emphasis on ever changing, hop-heavy IPAs and Pale Ales, coffee-laden Stouts and Porters, fruited & spiced French Saisons sourced with ingredients from the nearby market, and slightly bastardized Lagers. We can’t wait to find out what they’ll be shipping over for 8×8 Brewing Project and which of the breweries from Greater China they’ll be teaming up with to make a new collab brew!

Cloudburst beers can currently be found at bars and restaurants in the greater Seattle area (and soon in Beijing for 8×8!); as well as their industrial-rustic-derelict-chic tasting room in the brewery load zone with a picturesque view of the 10bbl brewhouse and cellar. Cloudburst Brewing takes their pursuit of creating the best beer incredibly seriously – everything else, not so much.

8×8 Tickets are Live!

Two big updates on 8×8 Brewing Project, our upcoming Beer Festival connecting the Chinese Craft Beer community with friends from across the globe: Tickets are on sale stating at Noon, Beijing time, and we’re ready to reveal the collaboration match-ups!
We picked names out of a hat to pair up these 16 breweries from Greater China and the Pacific Northwest:
  • Cloudburst Brewing (Seattle) X Bubble Lab (Wuhan)
  • Gigantic Brewing Co. (Portland) X Moonzen Brewery (Hong Kong)
  • Breakside Brewery (Portland) X NBeer (Chengdu/Beijing)
  • 10 Barrel Brewing Co. (Bend) X Fat Fat Beer Horse (Xiamen)
  • Culmination Brewing (Portland) X Master Gao (Nanjing)
  • The Commons Brewery (Portland) X Taihu Brewing (Taipei)
  • Holy Mountain Brewing (Seattle) X Jing-A Brewing Co. (Beijing)
  • Parallel 49 Brewing (Vancouver) X TAPS (Shenzhen/Chongqing)
Each of these pairs will now start working together to develop a new beer that brings together the experience, culture and personality of both breweries, to be released at the 8×8 festival in Beijing, November 3rd and 4th.
We can’t wait to see (and taste) the beers they come up with! 

GET TICKETS HERE!

The first 50 tickets for each session get an early bird discount – just use the code EARLY1 if you’re buying a ticket for Session 1, EARLY2 for Session 2, and EARLY3 and EARLY4 for the other sessions.

Announcing the 8×8 Brewing Project!

Jing-A is thrilled to finally announce the 8×8 Brewing Project, China’s first collaboration-based craft beer festival, coming to Beijing on November 3rd & 4th, 2017!

Each year, the 8×8 Brewing Project will pair 8 breweries from Greater China with 8 breweries from a chosen region around the world to brew 8 kick-ass collaboration beers. For our inaugural year we’ve teamed up with some of the hottest breweries from the Pacific Northwest, one of the birthplaces of the modern craft beer movement.The brewery pairs will be revealed soon – they’ll have the whole summer to work together and prepare their collaboration brews. Then, on November 3 & 4, we’ll gather everyone in Beijing to release their collaborations, pouring them alongside each brewery’s own specialty beers at the 8×8 Festival. All the brewers will be there in person, so you’ll have a chance to learn the stories behind what you’re drinking – straight from the source!

From the Pacific Northwest, our partner region for 2017…
  • Breakside Brewery (Portland)
  • Cloudburst Brewing (Seattle)
  • The Commons Brewery (Portland)
  • Culmination Brewing (Portland)
  • Gigantic Brewing Co. (Portland)
  • Holy Mountain Brewing (Seattle)
  • Parallel 49 Brewing (Vancouver)
  • 10 Barrel Brewing Co. (Bend)
From Greater China…
  • Bubble Lab (Wuhan)
  • Fat Fat Beer Horse (Xiamen)
  • Jing-A Brewing Co. (Beijing)
  • Master Gao (Nanjing)
  • Moonzen Brewery (Hong Kong)
  • NBeer (Chengdu/Beijing)
  • Taihu Brewing (Taipei)
  • TAPS (Shenzhen/Chongqing)

-The 8×8 Festival is spread over two days, with 4 free-flow tasting sessions.
-Each session is three hours long, so you’ve got plenty of time to try as much beer as you’d like!
-The collaborations brewed for 8×8 will pour at all sessions.
-In addition, each brewery will feature two unique beers each session.

In total we’ll be putting on tap:
40 unique beers at each session (32 beers + 8 collaboration brews).
136 unique beers across all four sessions (4×32 = 128 beers + 8 collaboration brews)

8×8 Festival Schedule:
  • Friday, Nov 3: 
    Session 1 – 8:00-11:00PM
  • Saturday, Nov 4:
    Session 2 – 11:00AM-2:00PM
    Session 3 – 3:30PM-6:30PM
    Session 4 – 8:00-11:00PM
Tickets go on sale May 25th – you’ll find the link to yoopay at 8x8brewingproject.com
Single Session – 300 RMB
(first 200 tickets at an early bird price of 258)
All-Festival Pass – 988 RMB
All-Festival VIP Pass -1188 RMB
(includes exclusive pre-festival bottle-share with the brewers and 8×8 T-shirt)
 
Venue: The UCCA Pavillion
UCCA, 798 Art District, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing