Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cigar City Brew News

Wayne's Bruery/CCB Collaboration Brew Diary
What follows is Wayne's account of his trip to California where he brewed a collaboration beer with The Bruery:

I roll out of bed at 5:45 AM on a Sunday morning. Some irritating alarm that needs a good smashing has its way with me. I consider rolling back over and decide to get up instead. I grab my suitcase and my backpack, after washing my face and brushing my teeth, and throw them into the back of my girlfriend’s Element. The sun is slowly coming up as we cross the causeway, headed towards the airport. Her son is half awake in the backseat and I am trying to explain to him that I am going to be on the other side of the country by 3 PM his time. No response. I fall out of the car at 6 something. I grab my bags and scurry towards the ticketing counter, e-ticket in hand. Time to check in…so I enter my info and it directs me to the ticket counter…seems I missed my flight cut off by 5 minutes. Time to be rebooked…looks like I am going to Philly first to catch a connecting flight to Phoenix and then on to Santa Anna. Not a big deal, right? If 14 hours in terminals and on airplanes is not a big deal, then it was a perfect trip.

Patrick picked me up at the airport at 6 pm Pacific. I was ready for a beer and food to say the least. We went to a small barbecue place in Seal Beach called Beacon’s. Pliny the Elder was a treat as I tasted a California interpretation of Southeastern BBQ. It was a well deserved retreat after a long day of travel. Monday morning finds me waking at 6:15 AM at my hotel in order to get ready to brew the first half of the collaboration. I’m shifting about the hotel room listening to CNN and the Weather Channel, while constantly thinking about the percentage of dark malts that we are putting into this beer. Will the color be right? Will the roast character be harmonious or astringent? Did I bite off more than I can chew with those formulations?

Out the door…I walk up the street based upon last nights’ delivery. I end up walking the wrong way and have to turn around and walk the other way. Nope, it still doesn’t make sense so I jump the fence into the back parking lot of the brewery and head in the back door.

Tyler and Jay are standing around Tyler’s desk when I walk in.
“We still have to mill grain”.
“We were waiting for you”, Tyler says.
“Fine by me”, I said.

We went over the grist and started milling. The mill at The Bruery is fairly slow due to restrictions out of the mill and into the grist case. Two bags at a time get fed out of the hopper and through the mill, then into the grist case. I won’t get too in depth here but it takes time to mill grain. Most of the time the grist is milled the day before but they were just being extremely kind and wanted to review the grist with me before the first mash.

We start mashing in. Jay is at the helm to begin with. The smell of caramel and Cocoa Puffs starts drifting into the air. Wonderful! Thirty minutes later and we are going into vorlauf…the moment of truth. What color is it? A nice rich brown color…that works. I look at the three valved grant and smile. Time for lauter…we start to ship high gravity first runnings to the kettle. After covering the bottom of the kettle, we turn on the direct fire kettle and the caramel and toffee aromatics waft into the air. We decide on a two hour boil based upon the original volume and gravity… time to get some caramelization.

Final gravity ends up being 16.55 degrees Plato based upon an average of the first and second batch. The beer is actively fermenting after day two, which is highly unlikely with the yeast strains that we used. I think that we were all pleased. The brew went very well and I have to give a big thanks to Patrick and all the guys at The Bruery for treating me like nobility while I was there.

My favorite Bruery beer was Mischief. It is a Belgian Golden Strong that is hopped like an American IPA. I love both the styles but putting them together was just awesome! This is just the beginning. The beer has a long journey to go through. I will be anxiously awaiting the end product as well.

Drink you in the Summer of 2010…patience brings great and unique rewards.
Wayne Wambles
Head Brewer

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