Brewday Hat-Trick

I posted last Friday about brewing up a Saison with some organic dry cereal; that was the first brewday of my weekend.

The second and third brewdays followed back to back, and were scheduled group-brews down at Magpie Brewing. (The beer is for the Fall Beer Festival, about which I’ll post more later this summer. It’s at the end of September.) For each of the group brewdays our goal was to brew up 80 liters of wort, boiling them in separate batches that would boil down to approximately 20 liters each.)

The Saturday brewday was a Saison day. We had planned on picking up some rye from the home of a local brewer whose sons are holding down the fort while he’s out of town, but that didn’t work out, so we went with wheat instead, as part of a very Saison-esque grist: mostly pilsner, with some Munich, Wheat, and a touch of oats. I also added about 600 grams of blue agave syrup and 200 grams of pale agave syrup. My Saison is going to be a big, powerful example of the style, I guess… I bittered it a little more aggressively than I planned, bringing it to about 30 IBUs. I’m not sure whether souring it is a great idea, but I’ll think it over and see how it tastes in a few weeks, once it’s fermented out. The yeast, by the way, is a blend of the Belgian and French Saison strains.

On Sunday, we brewed “ambers,” though without much serious concern for the style guidelines. In fact, I was so unconcerned I decided to try make my amber into a Belgian Dubbel, by adding some D-45 Belgian Candi Syrup, and some dark date honey from UAE, which I bought the last time I was in Indonesia.

What I added this to was my portion of a wort that had been made with a grist that was basically a third each of Munich, Pilsner, and Vienna, plus some Caramunich II and a few hundred grams of Carafa that we steeped in the last runnings of one of the two small mash tuns used. I think we maybe had some efficiency problems, as I was expecting a final gravity about 10 points higher. My “Dubbel” will be pretty light at 1.054, but ah well, that’s life. This beer I bittered to a mere 18 or 20 IBUs with some American Hallertauer, though I added some a little crushed pink pepper and coriander at 5 minutes left in the boil.

But while I talk about the brews, it was the brewers that made these days enjoyable. There’s something wonderful about sitting down with other people who are into the craft, and talking about process, about various decisions, about theories and techniques and all that stuff. It was cool on Saturday, as the bar got louder and busier into the night. It was cool on Sunday, which was a quieter and more relaxed day. It was fun to share brews — I brought a fair amount to keep the troops smiling, and other people also brought some great stuff to share — and the company was great, even as we struggled to sort out technical problems and avert the kinds of microdisasters that loom every brewday.

But man, was it tiring. I couldn’t have brewed another beer today even if I needed to. Luckily, I don’t have another brewday scheduled until Friday, when it’ll be time to make that smoky beer I promised for my friend Insu’s welcome-back party… It’ll be young when it’s time for the party, but I’m hoping the smoke will make up for that.

Oh, and: we invented a new and stupidly dangerous game, that one could make even more stupidly dangerous. It’s called brewer’s jenga. I’ll post a pic when I can.

If anyone is interested in giving brewing a whirl, there’s two more slots open on the Wheat beer brewday, which is in late August. If I’m in town, and nobody’s signed up the last spot, I’ll bring a keg into Seoul and collect some post-boil wort, which I can ferment into a Berliner Weisse. But that’s only if nobody signs up… if you’re interested, let me know either by a comment on this post, or by email, and I’ll sign you up and get you details.

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