Student Brew

Note: I wrote this last night, but fell asleep before posting it.


So I mentioned a while back how I’d be hosting a learn-to-brew session with some of my students, with the goal of producing two (approximately 5-gallon) batches of beer for a cocktail party being held later this semester.

On Wednesday night, we met up and I pulled a bunch of samples of different styles for them to try, including a Belgian Dubbel, a pretty hoppy American Pale Ale, a hoppier-than-style Belgian Pale Ale, a bottle of Leffe (for a proper BPA), an ESB (commercial bottle of London Pride), my Belgian Wit, my Belgian Saison (the Secret Agent recipe), and a German hefeweizen (I think it was an Erdinger), and my chocolate stout.

Ironically, the most popular style among the students was the one we decided not to make, because, sadly, we can’t get our hands on the grain that really makes British beer styles shine: that is, Marris Otter and the ESB style, as exemplified in our tasting by London Pride. (Which, incidentally, I was told later isn’t made with M.O. but rather Pale — not that we can get Brit. Pale malt either.)

We struggled to figure out how we could make it work, until finally we realized that without the ESB style in the runningour terrible decision could be skipped. After all, half the participants wanted to make a Saison, and the other half wanted to make a hoppy APA. I asked them to decide whether they wanted to have the yeast do the work, or have the hops do the flavoring work. Since we were split on that question, I finally suggested we try both approaches once, and put off doing an ESB until next semester, and until I can get some tips from the brewers I know on how to do an ESB right.

So that’s what we’re doing: a parti-gyle of 40 liters, split down the middle: half will be an APA hopped with Galena (for bittering) and Cascade and Willamette (plus a little more of my leaf hop Cascade dry hop before bottling, or after kegging), and a Saison fermented with Wyeast 3711, with a little spice added at the end of the boil. (Some ginger, some kaffir lime leaves, a spoonful of crushed black peppercorns, and maybe some fresh rosemary at the end of the boil.)

We will meet up tomorrow morning, early (10:00 am!), which meant today involved a lot of running around. By the time I’d formulated my recipes, it was too late to order grain and besides, for some reason (in a society where vast amounts of commerce is done online) Administration at my university frowns on receipts for reimbursement when the purchase occurred online. (Explain that.) I went to the LHBS which is on the absolute other side of Seoul, got the grain and hops, realized I’d underestimated the cost of hops in Korea, and headed home, only to have dinner and then head back out again in search of a bigger brewpot, some bleach, and some ginger. As I mentioned in the post linked above, this is an excuse for me to buy a bigger brewpot, and after some searching I managed to find one (aluminium, 50L, which should do for my bigger double batch brew sessions, in cases where I’m using same hops/different yeast.

(While I was at it, I found a 10L cooler with a spigot that I think I can use to do sour mashing, of which I plan to do a certain amount this fall. I’d prefer to have a round 20L cooler for both sour and non-sour mashing for single-batches, but didn’t see anything that size.)

Next Morning: Well, brewtime is half an hour away but Miss Jiwaku and I got up early, so we have installed our new fridge, rearranged fridge contents, put the old fridge out in the common room (I’ll clean it on Sunday), and done a bunch of other stuff. We still have to install the new semi-compact drum washing machine in the brew room, which will deprive me of a brewing-dedicated space (unless I can get a heavy-duty shelving system), but will free us up to do laundry without going up and down 3 flights of stairs twice per load. It’s a tradeoff I think I can live with… until spring, anyway.

Okay, so now I need to get showered and start hauling stuff out into the hallway. I’ll have the students helping me join in on carrying down the cooler, grain, boil pots, and so on… it should be a good start to the day. But I’d better go get organized. (I need to tuck my carboy of California Common into a bucket to cool or something…)

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