Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 85: MY FIRST BREW!!!!

YESTERDAY I BREWED MY FIRST BATCH AS A PROFESSIONAL BREWER! It is not the most exciting news though because it was only a 10 gallon batch, and I didn't have to do any of the work to get the wort... but I am proud nonetheless! Here is the story:

It was a dark and stormy Tuesday. I showed up to work a little late, I'm afraid to admit; so I snuck in quietly, hung my coat on the rack, and began working diligently. Suddenly, Uncle scrooge storms up behind me, I knew I was going to get it for being late (and I put an extra piece of coal on the fire to warm up our icy brewery), boy was he going to be mad! He says, in a calm yet upbeat voice, "Check out this article about the new beer laws in Montana." I was taken aback. No mention of my tardiness (of course he didn't mention the coal, that was a joke, if you hadn't caught on yet).

After reading the article, I learned about a certain liquor store proprietor who is celebrating Montana's new law, allowing beer above 8% alcohol by volume (abv) to be produced and sold. He is celebrating by visiting each of our 23 or so breweries in the next few months to try the strong beers that we are now going to make. I mentioned this to Steve, implying that we don't have a strong beer to serve this guy. Then the wildest thing I have ever heard came out of his mouth. "How much grain fits in our mash tun? Lets make an Imperial IPA." WHAT!?!?! I exclaimed. You see, Steve isn't actually like Uncle Scrooge very much, but he does keep a very watchful eye on his resources. This is the main reason that Lone Peak has been as successful as it has, and will continue to be in the future. There are sooo many ways to waste money in the brewing world, one of the only ways to run a lasting and successful brewery is to be very tight about what you choose to buy and don't buy. In this situation, I never thought that throwing an ass ton of grain and nearly 3 pounds of hops per barrel would ever cross Steve's mind. But, here is a lesson that I taught him with our Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout: people will pay more for big and extreme beers! Using that justification he is now all about there beers!

So, yesterday, we brewed the Fatal Exposure Imperial IPA! To answer Steve's previous question, 850 pounds is how much grain fits in our mash tun. Check out the picture below. We are about two inches below the sparge (spray) balls!!!

Here is the "hop mountain" on the inside of our kettleafter transferring the Imperial IPA into the fermenter. Notice the small moat of wort around the mountain of hops. We added nearly 21 pounds this time!

That is one full mash tun! In order to get the gravity of our beer up to where we wanted to, we decided to only brew a 7 bbl batch, which also saved us money on our hops! Let me stop here and say that my day was already very very exciting. On top of this Imp IPA, I hooked up a nitrogen tank to a sixel of Lone Peak IPA so we could start experimenting with nitro beers! I'm super stoked about this (more later). But my day got more exciting! As we were lautering, we realized that the gravity of the wort coming from the mash tun was about a 1.050, and we were almost done filling the kettle to our 7 bbl mark! Thinking on my toes, I quickly ran to the basement, grabbed our pilot system, and began lautering into two 7.5 gallon pots. I was going to make my own beer!

Here is the begging of the lauter into the first pot. Because the pots were so heavy, I pushed them on a dolly over to my brewery... check out the following picture of the first pot beginning to boil and the second waiting to be hoisted into place.

Now wait a minute... what kind of beer was I going to brew? I suddenly feel like the homebrewers who are getting (or have already gotten) wort from Surly, except I have less than 30 minutes to decide on a style, brew it, while completing the rest of my brewery responsibilities! After pondering, I decided to brew a beer that I have dreamed about for a long time: an all-hop IPA. As a homebrewer, it would be difficult to make a beer like this because I would have to buy so many damn hops! Here is what the beer contains: E.K. Golding, Willamette, U.S. Challenger, Galena, Styrian Golding, Palisade, Ahtanum, Chinook, Centennial, and Columbus. I would have added a few more varieties, but we are still waiting for a few hop contracts to show up this year!

Below is a picture of our sweet cooling apparatus. Luckily Steve has two copper cooling coils lieing around (who the fuck has two!?!).

And here is my favorite picture of the day. Before I post it, here is a question: when you work in a brewery, how do you get yeast for a pilot batch of beer? Steve had an ingenious solution! Sanitize a ziplock bag, then fill it with yeast from the bottom of a tank! Then just throw it in the sanitizer bucket again until you need to pitch it.

What a silly method. I never saw that coming!

And what about these nitro beers that I mentioned earlier? Check out the new 3-tap tower that I installed today! The middle tap is a nitro tap! Our plan is to constantly rotate our nitro beers as Steve and I please. Today I got to try my very first nitro IPA after installing the tower... OMG! It was better than... well you know.

Fun times at Lone Peak Brewery this week!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

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