by Sally Colby
Paul Rinehart was working as a chef and successfully brewing beer in his basement, but his wife Ilonka wanted the space back. He found a warehouse space in Rockville, MD and moved his start-up brewery to that location.
“I started going forward with the paperwork, and was going to leave the restaurant after the paperwork came back,” said Rinehart. “I submitted everything to the TTB and the Maryland comptroller, then was laid off. That was right when I was ready to open — about three and a half years ago.”
As he was considering names for the brewery, he knew he wanted a dog theme. Rinehart’s wife Ilonka suggested the name ‘Baying Hound,’ and Rinehart says it was the one name that stuck out. “People are surprised to learn that there’s a brewery in Rockville, MD,” he said, “just a short drive from the nation’s capitol.”
Rinehart comes by brewing honestly — he’s been home brewing since he was about 14 years old. “My dad would tell me stories of my great-grandfather home brewing, and how my grandfather would help him with bottling,” he said. “There was one story where my grandfather was told to put one tab of sugar in each bottle. He thought if one tablet was good, two would be better. Of course that meant bottle explosions.” Rinehart says that his paternal great-grandfather was a bootlegger, although he never sold anything. “He made hooch during the 1920s at the height of the Spanish Flu Epidemic. My great-grandmother took bottles of it and dropped it off at neighbors’ homes after church. As family legend goes, either everyone who had the flu was cured, or they never got it.”
Formal training in the culinary arts has helped Rinehart formulate beers. “I think of food, then what kind of beer might go with it,” he said. “I wanted to start simple, so I started with a pale ale.”
Rinehart soon found that there was demand for a slightly darker beer, so he created a smoked porter that he named Marmageddon after his beloved Bloodhound’s nickname.
When he’s considering a brew, Rinehart thinks about what he can brew to go with specific foods. “There are certain beers that go with foods better,” he said. “When pairing, I take a lot of things into account — alcohol content, body, color, maltiness, hoppiness, and even the yeast. Formulating a beer around a food and then doing a beer dinner makes the process a lot easier. I would never drink an IPA with Thai curry, but I’d drink it with a Japanese or Indian curry. The two curries have different flavors, and there may be more citrusy notes in a Thai curry so I’d go for something like a pilsner.”
Although planning and executing beer dinners can be challenging, Rinehart enjoys that challenge. “The first beer dinner we did was for Flying Dog,” he said. “We only sold 12 tickets, but the next was a Baying Hound dinner and we sold out, and even had to add seats. It felt good to have local support.”
Currently, Rinehart operates the only class of brewery in Montgomery County, MD. “There are three brew pubs but only one brewery,” he said, adding that he takes orders and distributes to pubs throughout the county. “It’s easy in some ways — we don’t have to worry about dropping off beer ourselves, but at the same time, if we were able to self-distribute in the county, we’d be able to mark it up and keep that mark-up.” Rinehart noted that small wineries in the county can self-distribute, and breweries might soon be able to do the same. He’s had to deal with local level politics, but says he has enjoyed learning about the process.
Craft beer fans can purchase Baying Hound Aleworks beer at liquor stores and at several restaurants. “We only distribute in bombers,” he said. “Sometimes they’re a little hard to stock for restaurants. We’ve purposely marked our product low so that it can translate to more savings. At one point the average was about $6 a bottle, but I saw it at a restaurant for $20.”
For the 2013 holiday season, Rinehart offered Saison’s Greetings (6 percent), a light saison brewed with green tea and caramelized figs; Three Legged Amber (7 percent), brewed with a hint of three different smoked malts and oak aged for a little mellowness and oakiness; Ridgeback Vanilla Stout (10 percent), an imperial vanilla stout brewed with real vanilla beans; and Thomas S’Moore Stout (12 percent), the third edition of an imperial stout offered every year with roasted marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. “Roasting ten pounds of marshmallows with nothing more than a fork and a lighter is a pain,” said Rinehart as he described the Christmas stout.
Rinehart is currently working on creating a new sour beer in two old bourbon barrels. He says there are several ways to create a sour beer, but the process hasn’t been easy. “I was making a Lambic, but was hesitant to add fruit because the brew was taking on an oak characteristic,” he said. “We’re going to do a limited release, then take the remainder and blend it for another sour beer.”
As for the sour beer process, Rinehart explains that some breweries use Brettanomyces, but that can infect everything. “We let it open ferment, but it still wasn’t sour,” he said. “Then we added some Ethiopian buckthorn, which has some wild yeast on it, and it still didn’t sour. I talked with a fellow brewer who told me to take a handful of malt and toss it in, and that worked, but it still wasn’t overly sour.” Someone suggested he add miracle berries, which temporarily change the way the palate perceives sour flavors.
“One of the advantages of being small is that we can do an experimental batch fairly easily,” said Rinehart. “We can play around with botanicals like rose hips, hibiscus, orange, chamomile and juniper.”
Chris Kuhn, who works with Rinehart as a brewer, also started as a home brewer with a love for craft beers. After a hiatus from brewing, Kuhn learned about Baying Hound Aleworks and has continued to learn from Rinehart. Kuhn is a student at nearby Montgomery College, and spends at least one day a week at Baying Hound Aleworks.
“A lot of people have a glorified view of what working in a brewery is like,” said Kuhn. But it’s a lot of standing on your feet on concrete and a lot of lifting. Not everyone is cut out for it.”
Baying Hound Aleworks spreads the word through their website at www.bayinghoundales.com, and also maintains a Facebook page for fans.
Another dog in the mix
by Sally Colby