Hops with #HeyLuke: She didn’t start the fire with Elk Brewing

Hops with Luke Laster

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s a Hops with #HeyLuke first this week: an all-female brewing team.

Elk Brewing in Comstock Park is led by head brewer Sydney Cannarozzi. Not only does she head up the only all-female team to appear on this series so far, she’s also the first female brewer to appear on the show at all.

The all-female staff at Elk Brewing in Comstock Park. (Courtesy Sydney Cannarozzi and Sheerine Theurer)

We took a seat at the bar to try out three beers unique to this West Michigan brewery: the Fire Starter IPA, the Kettle Soured Berliner Weiss and Tina’s Raspberry Chocolate Milk Stout.

The Fire Starter IPA was the first recipe that one of Cannarozzi’s brewers made. Its name couldn’t be any more fitting.

“She happened to light the building on fire that same week” the Firestarter was first brewed, said.

Cannarozzi explained that one some of the brewing equipment was pushed up against a wall, which was a little too close, and that caused the inside of the wall to catch fire. As you can see by the photos below, the fire department was able to get to the building in time to put the fire out without much damage.

As for the beer itself, it’s an American IPA made with Amarillo, El Dorado and experimental hops. I asked what experimental hops were and Cannarozzi explained that they’re exactly what they sound like: experiments.

“From my understanding, hops companies are going to grow all of these weird varieties. They don’t what to call them so they just number them. We get the opportunity to buy them and kind of play around with them,” she said.

The Kettle Soured Berliner Weiss might be one of the lightest beers I’ve had the opportunity to try on Hops with #HeyLuke. Its color is almost transparent. This is Elk’s first kettle sour and comes in at 3% ABV.

“We sour it in the kettle itself,” Cannarozzi said.

She then explained some of the science behind it. As she mentioned, they sour it in the kettle itself prior to fermentation. They add a dose of lactobacillus, which is a type of bacteria that creates its own lactic acid over the course of 48 hours at around 90 degrees. They proceed to boil it to kill off the bacteria so they can protect their equipment.

May sours I’ve had are flavored with some sort of fruit. This one was unfruited, making the flavor raw and unique.

Elk Brewing staffer Heather in a kettle. (Courtesy Sydney Cannarozzi and Sheerine Theurer)

Last, we tried Tina’s Raspberry Chocolate Milk Stout, 7.2% ABV

This stout was a complete 180 from the sour. A production employee named Heather had brewed this recipe for years for her mother Tina. Cannarozzi knew they had to bring it to Elk Brewing.

“We threw a bunch of Dutch cocoa powder into it with some raspberry concentrate and it’s a really nice solid milk stout,” Cannarozzi said.

As we close out the summer months, this stout gave off a brief taste of winter, as stouts normally do.

Elk Brewing staffer Casey shows off a kettle. (Courtesy Sydney Cannarozzi and Sheerine Theurer)

For more Hops with #HeyLuke, head over to WOODTV.com’s Live Desk page. Also be sure to follow our Instagram page (@woodtv) for exclusive clips. If you would like your brewery featured on an episode of “Hops with #HeyLuke,” you can reach out to Luke via email at luke.laster@woodtv.com or find him on Facebook or Twitter.

*Correction: In the initial version of this article, two photo captions swapped the names of Elk Brewing employees. We regret the error, which has been fixed.

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