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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Change of Plans

It's not unusual in this industry, or any other.

I was thinking about my Russian Imperial Stout--the one I was going to bourbon barrel age.

But, this one would take up at least four 53 gallon bourbon barrels.  That's fine.  I'm game.

The problem lies in my ever-shrinking cooler space. 

Sure, it's easy to tuck away a couple of 15 gallon bourbon barrels in the auxiliary cooler.  Big barrels are an entirely different animal.

I'd rather not be at the mercy of wildly fluctuating summertime temperatures in our warehouse, and right now that seems to be my only storage option.

So, the Russian Imperial Stout will go on as soon as the Irish Dry Stout dries up.  I'll figure out a new barrel aged beer when the weather cools off.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Other Stuff Goin' On

A previous post told you about my acquisition of a couple of small bourbon barrels.

I ended up filling one with Doppelbock.  After a couple of months of aging, the beer was pretty amazing.  I ended up bottling it in Belgian 750 ml bottles and corking them.  We launched it as our "Pride" series, and the bottles sold out within a couple of weeks.

The next Pride will be a bourbon barrel aged Scotch Strong Ale, and it should be available around July 10th.  Get them while they last, as there are extremely limited quantities.

Due to the success of the bourbon barrel aged beers, I'm going to get my hands on some 53 gallon bourbon barrels and I've already brewed the beer that I intend to fill them with.  It's a Russian Imperial Stout--a really big beer.  You'll have to wait however--I intend to give them about a six month aging, so they'll be ready around Christmastime.

Oh, and if you haven't been around, our beer is in stores now!  I'll talk a little about that in a future post.

Sometimes Incompetence is the Mother of Invention

Yes, I know it's been ages since I've posted.

With my increased use of Facebook to relate the goings-on in the Brewhouse, I've neglected this blog.  There is no guaranty that this is the start of more frequent postings, but I'll indulge myself a little this morning.

Back to the post title, and a little back-story:

I order nearly all of my yeast through Brewing Science Institute.  In years past, I would either call in or email my yeast orders.  Now, they prefer that orders be submitted online.  They've got an online form that you fill out.  Idiot-proof, yes?

Apparently not.

BSI offers two ways to receive yeast.  Starters and Pitchables.  A Pitchable is the proper amount of yeast to pitch into a specific-sized batch of beer, and it is what I always order.  But, I clicked the wrong button and received a Starter.  A Starter is a very small (10%) amount of yeast for the beer you want to brew.  They are much more economical--about half the cost.  So, I open up my yeast box and I find this adorable little pouch of yeast.

I start to panic. 

A quick email to BSI later tells me that they can either ship out a Pitchable size late next week, or I can "easily" make my own starter with the yeast they sent.  Easy for someone who uses starters all the time, not so much for someone who has never done it professionally.  I make starters when I homebrew, but the scale and stakes are so much smaller, that I'm comfortable doing it.

A few minutes (okay, maybe hours) of brain grinding led to this solution:

Here you see one of my homemade homebrew fermenters.  Inside is about twelve gallons of wort with the starter added.  I'm happy to relate that is was chugging along great within 5 hours of pitching.

What happens is the yeast propagates (reproduces) at an exponential rate until the desired levels are reached.

Fast-forward 36 hours and I'm brewing one of our seasonal favorites:  Summer Night Saison.

I will pressure force all of this yeasty wort into the fermenter when I'm done brewing and with any luck, it will take off like a champ.

People ask my what my schedule is like here at the brewery.  I always say that I work around the beer's schedule.  My days are determined by what you drink.  Sometimes the days are relatively short.  Some are quite long.  But I also always say that a bad day in the brewery is still better than a good day at "work".  Today is one of the occasional Saturdays spent in the brewery.

So, depending on the success of this project, I may resort to starters in the future.  We'll see how it turns out.

Now, on to the Saison.

This is one of my absolute favorite beers every year.  It seems to be one of yours as well.  One of the luxuries of working in a small brewery is that I get to use the finest ingredients:
Castle Pilsner Malt Imported From Belgium

I also use the aforementioned special Belgian yeast strain, and British hops.

Saison is a Belgian-style ale that was first brewed as a low-alcohol ale offered to Belgian farm workers.  Saison translates to "season".  Like all good American bastardizations of traditional styles, that whole low-alcohol thing goes out the window.  The ABV will hover right around the 7% mark.

The tapping for the Mug Club is scheduled for July 10th and everyone else can have theirs starting the 11th.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Next Experiment

I picked up a couple of these bad boys from a local barrel broker:

These are used bourbon barrels from the Few Distillery in Evanston, Illinois. 

Today, I'm going to rack some Doppelbock into this one.  In about six months, I'll carbonate and bottle it.

There's a Strong Scotch Ale scheduled for February and I'll do the same with that one.

This summer, keep an eye out for this special reserve edition of our usual beer line-up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Not All Glitz and Glamor

Long day today.

Cleaned 19 kegs.
Kegged off Amber
Cleaned/Sanitized the Serving Vessel
Transferred and Carbed the K.K. Weisse
Cleaned the fermenter
Set up to brew Kolsch tomorrow


The good news is that the Weisse will be back on tonight.  Also, if you haven't tried the Chocolate Hazelnut Porter since the 12/5 tapping, I would encourage you to try it now.  It's delicious.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Brewery, Tea Shop or Bakery??

The popularity of our tea-infused cask ales has grown to the point that I've had to buy my Chai and Rooibus teas in bulk.

Also, the Chocolate Hazelnut Porter will make it's annual return in time for the Holiday Season.  I'll be brewing it up on Tuesday, so if some chocolatey goodness wafts into the dining area, it's just me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The “forecask” calls for ale!

We’re selling the cask beer faster than I can make it.  That’s a good thing.

Here is a list of the next several casks I have planned:

Triple red

I took our “Double Red” ale—a strong red ale—and added Jamaican Red Rooibus tea.  Malty, red, spicy, fruity, strong and delicious.

(I’ll be a) honey’s dunkel

This is our Heimkehr Dunkelweizen combined with a lot of locally harvested Orange Blossom honey.

Oak-aged chocolate porter

Our Christmas Ale this year will be our Chocolate Hazelnut Porter.  Before I add the Hazelnut, I will pull one cask and add some oak spirals which will infuse a nice oakey, bourbon flavor.

Chai amber

This one tends to be pretty popular.  I’ll bring it back for its third go-around.