Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cigar City Brew News

Hill Farmstead/Grassroots/Cigar City Collaboration Recap....
Sunday I drove the last house guest to the airport. It was the end to a busy week in which we hosted brewers from Denmark and Vermont for a collaboration that will, when it is complete, result in a total of four beers, two brewed over two days at Cigar City and the other two brewed in Vermont and Denmark sometime in the near future. Things got started on Thursday when Ryan Witter Merithew of The Grassroots Brewery located at the Fanoe Brewery in Denmark arrived along with his brother Justin. We quickly got them squared away and headed to Cigar City so Wayne and Ryan (friends from their days brewing in North Carolina) could get reacquainted. Beers were consumed. The breeze, it was shot. And the evening ended late with myself, Ryan and Justin at La Terisita where I gulped down a chorizo and queso omelette and the brothers each devastated a Milanesa steak. True to his word Ryan awoke at 6 AM in time to be at the brewery by 6:30 for the start of the brew day. Justin and I slept in, hitting the brewery around 9 AM.

Later, we collected Henrik Brolling from Drikkeriget who will be assisting us in getting the results of the collaboration to Denmark. Still later we fetched Shaun Hill from the airport. Shaun got The Grassroots project off the ground in Denmark an endeavor that stemmed from his brewing days at Nørrebro Bryghus and Shaun recently opened Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend, VT on farmland that his been in his family for eight generations. Shaun was nice enough to bring a keg of his Abner (all the beers he brews are named after family members who have lived on the Hill Farm) Double India Pale Ale. It lasted about as long as you'd expect an amazing Double IPA to last in a brewery full of hopheads. A few of the regulars got to try it, but by and large it was crushed by the brewstaff.

About the Beer
We went back and forth over a month or more trying to come up with a name for the beers we were planning to brew. In fact the recipes for the beers were done long before the beers were named. The beers are basically black IPA's brewed with lots of citra, mt. rainier and simcoe along with Thai Thai honey from North Florida aged on medium toast Spanish Cedar. There are different hop additions in the Hill Farmstead/Grassroots version and the 2-row base malt in the CCB version is replaced with Pilsner malt in the Vermont/Denmark version. There are also some process differences which is one of the purposes of a collaboration; allowing breweries to learn from each other.

Anyway, we'd finally settled on a name for each beer which involved the physicists Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac when Shaun related a story and suggested what we all finally agreed was the perfect name for the beers. Remember the goal was to make two beers that were alike, but slightly different due to preferences in regional approach and access to ingredients. Furthermore the two beers are being packaged together in a split case with 50% of each beer per case. So beer buyers will be able receive both of these alike, but subtly different beers at the same time. So the final name selection just worked. The four beers in this collaborative series will be named:

Either, Or, Neither and Nor.
Either and Or will release first and the other two will follow. Both Either and Or were brewed at CCB, but Neither and Nor will be brewed as single batches in both Vermont and Denmark. Wayne and I will likely make the trip to Denmark and the current plan is to send our brewer Tim Ogden to assist Shaun with the Vermont brew, which I plan to be present for as well.

Getting back to the brew day. The first day of brewing on Thursday went well and Tim and Wayne ended with a great yield and all the numbers where they wanted them. The out of towners lunched on Cuban Sandwiches from The Columbia in Ybor and all in all things went as well as we could have hoped.

The following day, bright and early and after they managed to outsmart my house alarm, Shaun and Ryan got started on the Denmark/Vermont half of the collaboration. For us it was a learning experience because these guys know a trick or two and introduced us to their way of doing things all while getting some experience with how we approach brewing with the ingredients and equipment we have at our disposal. Like I said, I think the exchange of ideas and brewing philosophy is extremely valuable and everyone at the brewery was thrilled to be able to interact with and learn from the experience.

Of course as the brew day closed to an end more beer was tipped back, the breeze was further obliterated by a fusillade of conversation and we invented a new game of darts called Dartstraction that I have every confidence will sweep the nation and I am not saying this because I won the first game ever after only two hours of play. We made it to Mema's Alaskan Tacos for dinner and a quick beer at The Independent in Seminole Heights before finally calling it a night. We said goodbye to Shaun as he had to fly back to Vermont unfortunately missing out on a variety of excellent beers we'd set aside for the evening. The next day Ryan whiled away the afternoon looking up the word ejaculate (it has an innocent meaning, just ask Sherlock Holmes) and Henrik and then Ryan (after losing and the tracking down his passport) headed home.

It was a busy week and we have the craziness that is GABF coming up this week, but I feel like we accomplished much and learned even more and I am looking forward to seeing how this collaboration develops as it heads to Vermont and overseas to Denmark. As of today both Either and Or are happily bubbling away in their fermenters on their way to becoming the beers we imagined they would be.

Joey Redner

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