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Dave Hoops column: Curling, brewing a great match

We are very fortunate to have world-class curling and world-class breweries in the Twin Ports area and Minnesota.

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A curling stone sits at rest on the outdoor curling sheet at Wild State Cider in Duluth on Saturday, Jan. 1.
Dan Williamson / File / Duluth News Tribune
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Greetings everyone. I hope you enjoyed the last fortnight of the Olympics. I do find the winter version quite interesting, with all the on ice and skiing competitions. I am very proud of our men’s and women’s curling squads and feel that Minnesota and Duluth are truly the curling capital of the U.S.A.

As I was watching our teams compete, I was thinking of our team roles and the work and strategies that go into putting a championship team on the ice.

I could go on all day about the deep history beer has with humankind’s culture.

Each player has a role and a job to get to the end result. I have been brewing beer long enough that I can see similarities to this team dynamic in building a championship beer as well.

So, let’s break down the role of each curler and brewer.

Curling position 1 (lead): This player is very precise and usually a top sweeper. The lead places guards out to set up the future ends as the match builds to the final 10th end.

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Brewing position 1: Sourcing quality ingredients and laying the cleaning, planning and process steps down in order. Usually, cleaning is a huge part of this spot.

Curling position (second): A strong player who is responsible for many takeouts and draws to help set up the last two curlers. Usually Involved in strategy planning and team chemistry.

At the start of each New Year, in January, I do some thinking about what’s coming next in the beer world.

Brewing position 2 (hot side brewer): This brewer is responsible for the brewing of the beer on the brew deck. The only “cooking” portion of the brew the brewer helps to mash the grain producing sugars and boiling them, which also sterilizes the beer before the fermentation process.

Curling position 3 (vice): This curler is very involved in blocking and moving rocks around to either open up the end or create scoring opportunities for the skip. The vice is also deeply engaged in planning, as many curlers say that “as the vice goes, the team goes.”

Brewing position 3 (cellarmaster): This brewer is responsible for the post-boiling work. Cleaning fermenters and preparing yeast to be added to begin the fermentation steps:

  • Step 1 — primary fermentation,
  • Step 2 — secondary fermentation, maturation,
  • Step 3 — clarification, carbonation, packaging.

Curling position 4 (skip): This is the team captain, often the most experienced and a strong leader. A great tactician, listener and shot maker. Puts the team together. Often has the last throw of an end “the hammer,” allowing the skip to make scoring or game winning shots.

Steam rises from a large tank called a mash tun as Tim Nelson, founder of Earth Rider Brewery (left), along with co-lead brewers Allyson Rolph and Tim Wilson, check the progress of the steeping of the malts while making one of their first batches of wheat beer at the Earth Rider Brewery in Superior Thursday morning. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com
Steam rises from a large tank called a mash tun as Tim Nelson, founder of Earth Rider Brewery, left, along with co-lead brewers Allyson Rolph and Tim Wilson, check the progress of the steeping of the malts while making one of their first batches of wheat beer at the Earth Rider Brewery in Superior.
Bob King / 2017 file / Duluth News Tribune

Brewing position 4 (captain): As in curling, normally the most experienced team member and is involved in the entire operation. Writing recipes; education responsibilities for staff members and the public; beer judging and recipe formulation; hiring team members; sourcing brewery equipment and brewery design; and maintaining good relationships with vendors and manufacturers.

These roles do vary and many brewers and curlers have common skill sets that allow crossover roles to reach the final result.
I’ll say it again: We are very fortunate to have world-class curling and world-class breweries in the Twin Ports area and Minnesota.

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Speaking of world-class events, the Winter Olympics are four years away. But this May, Minneapolis is hosting the World Beer Cup — an international beer commutation that takes place every two years. This writer is humbled to be on the panel.

I’ll close by extending congratulations to all the U.S. Olympic athletes and great luck to the youth and high school teams competing in the statewide sports.

Stay warm.

Dave Hoops
Dave Hoops

Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Write to him at  dave@hoopsbrewing.com .

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Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge.
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