Sunday, May 6, 2012

Big Beer at Barry's 1st Annual National Homebrew Day Extravaganza!

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

{River Horse Hop Hazard and Bob Marley Exodus}

Saturday, May 5th was the also the 1st Annual National Homebrew Day celebration at Barry's Homebrew in N. Libs, Philly.

Thursday night I developed a recipe using Sorghum trying to give some of the known lighter recipes some body while pairing other ingredients that would work well in a citrus realm.  I came up with ginger, molasses, demerara sugar, coriander, orange blossum honey, and orange peel.  I also added lactose for a little "mouthfeel" and was hoping that some of the wild yeast in the honey as well as in the outside environment in which I was brewing would help ferment a little of the lactose (not really knowing what would happen with the taste of the lactose if it did, but in the spirit of this beers' motto "Eff it").

On Friday I was down checking the scene, scoping some Gluten Free supplies because I was itching from waiting for chestnuts to be mailed to me for a recipe that I want to try and both Nick and Jimmy were like, "Hey, come on over tomorrow, should be a fun time, meet some people!"  At the time I was thinking "get the canoe ready for the show, work, work, work", but later on my walk in Pennypack with my Dad my mind changed.  It seemed pretty important to go to this event.  So I tweaked the recipe that I had a bit to fit more of a Belgian palate and changed my pacific northwest hops to Hallertau to see what would become of this experiment.

I should have prepped my ingredients Friday Night but I said "Eff it" to my buddy Joe and had a few pints of Mocha MaryAnn instead.  It just took a little bit more scrambling around in the morning to get things together.  I basically had to dissolve the lactose in boiling water for a little while and weigh out my ingredients as I loaded R2 with the keggle and supplies.  I ground the coriander in a great little coffee bean grinder and off I went.  

First stop:  WaWa for a couple bottles of water for hydrating my yeast and various other stuffs.  Most bottled water is sterile so you can use it straight from the bottle for brewing.  I really like Fiji water for some reason, so I got some for my yeasties.  R2 was out of diesel, so I stopped to get some (thanks for the fuel money Andy!) and then arrived at Barry's parking lot about 9:45.  I'm glad I didn't hurry, there was no need to hurry at all.  This was such a mellow event and everyone was so cool that hurrying would have been like a condom dispenser in the Vatican.

 {Natural Mystic-BMW}

By 11:00 I had my boil going.  This was the first time I used my old burner outside and was wondering if she would perform.  She did fine.  She might not have been real efficient, but all was good.  The shape of the base of the keggle contains heat better than a brew pot.

By this time all the different brewers were milling around to see who was brewing what because this was the scene:  Nick and Jimmy had two used Oak Barrels to ferment in.  One barrel was for a Scottish Wee Heavy and the other for a Lambic.  In six months all the beers would be split back up to the perspective brewers.  All the brewers were doing 5 gallon or bigger batches to add to the barrels so they were finding out who was doing what so that they could compare notes.  I would have helped out with the Lambic as one guy who was supposed to brew 3 batches never showed and they had space anyway left for more brewers, but I had committed my resources to this gluten free experiment that Joe and I had contrived a very rude sounding name and ingredient list for.  I'm not sure if I should share that recipe.  HA HA HA.  Tell you what, if you are interested in the real name of the beer and the ingredients, send me a shout and I will send you a pic of my log book.  Anyway, folks were milling about.  I guess there were about 20 homebrewers there as well as a good amount of interested folks off the street.  I can see this event growing into one of Philly's biggest events over the coming years and I was glad to be asked to come!  Everyone was interested in what I was doing and I laid down some gluten free statistics and told them why I thought it was important for me, as a celiac and as a brewer, to do the beer world justice by experimenting with my first batch of gluten free beer and how cool it was for Nick and Jimmy to ask me to come on down.  I even handed out a few more cards for the Lucky 13 Homebrew Club as I feel it is always great to meet brewers and learn, learn, learn.

By Noon, my beer was ready to chill.  I had to carry my keggle over to the hose area and all the brewers chipped in to help me carry it over and set up my chiller.  Bystanders got good pictures and I hope to see them around the internet somewhere because I really didn't get many good pictures.  Just these following ones that my buddy Joe got of me pitching the yeast.  The yeast I used was Nottingham from Lallemand who produces all gluten free yeast (cultured on gluten free media).  This was an experiment as I know nothing about this strain of yeast yet.  We will see...


Shameless Plug for Straub Beer here.  Jason the new rep for Straub was brewing the Wee Heavy across from me and was such a cool guy giving everyone cases of free beer!  I only had one as I had to drive home (but I kept the bottle!).  Anyway, Straub is one of the only breweries that still offers returnable bottles and being the kind of guy that I am I totally respect that for many different reasons.  One reason is being that it is a "Little bit of that old style", but mostly it is the best form of recycling that there is and I am a firm believer in that!  Straub helped me out when I first started brewing as I just paid the deposit on the case and kept the bottles for myself and it was an inexpensive way for me to get excellent 16 ounce size bottles for my homebrew!  I just need to find where to get them from now...

So, below I am transferring my chilled wort to my fermenter.  I forgot the elbow for the spout and had to deal with the mess of splatter everywhere.  I just call this pic, aerating the wort.
 Clogged valve!  What? 
 Trusty number 2 pencil.  Never leave home without it!
Well before the boil started I sanitized the outside of a Fiji bottle and dumped half out and added the dry yeast to it.  In the future I am going to culture my own yeast and start them in nutrient days before brewing as this appeals to me as a science guy.  So the yeasties hydrated in the bottle for about two hours and actually started growing on their own, so I have that going for me.  I pitched the buggers and recycled the bottle.
Messily aerating the wort.  At this stage I am almost hoping for wild yeast and such which may prove to be an interesting developement.  I'm going to let this ferment a long time and if I get a sour flavor to it, I think it would still work.  I haven't heard of a gluten free sour yet, soo.......  at this point I took my initial gravity and it was 1.o5o so this might be quite nice!!!
Yeah buddy!  The whole time I am eying up the BBQ truck behind me and waiting for some of that pulled pork!  Actually, I had no cash and had to eat gluten free LARA bars, but I did partake on a bite of free bbq chicken that Barry's supplied.  Great stuff Nick!

I got my gear all cleaned up and chilled with the Fall Guy and Jason over at the Straub set up.  I chilled with the two fellas that I saw that were doing the Lambic for a bit.  I was totally curious about that mash, man that was a bit different!  I forget their names, of course, but they brought a truly tasty double IPA that they had brewed.  Nick and Jimmy also had like 8 beers on tap in the shop that were free, I had a smidgeon of the Berliner Weisse.  OMG that was a nice beer!  Very champagne-like in  quality is what I remember most of that one.

So the gig had a riding bull, blues band, great food, and all the free beer that you could drink.  Nick, Jimmy, I thank you!  I can totally see this becoming very popular!  I'm totally down with coming to next years event!  Of course, it wouldn't be much without all the coolest brewers in the country in one location.  Philly brewers ROCK!


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