In the Plant: Small-Batch Brew Day

If you’ve spent much (or perhaps, any) time in the Greenbush taproom, you know that we frequently roll out what we call “lab beers.” These brews are experimental batches we turn out five gallons at a time, be it a Wasabi IPA, Sour Cherry Pie Ale or a Black Belgian brewed with honey. A couple weeks ago, it was my (Jen’s) turn to create a small batch beer. I worked with Joe (Carlos) on the recipe–one we’d been talking about, or I’d been talking about, but never actualized. Here’s the rundown on my day, once again from the perspective a novice brewer (read: give me a little leeway here).

We wrote the recipe a few days prior using the magical program Beer Tools Pro. We input the grain bill, hop additions and times, extra ingredient additions (peppers!), and yeast. That then churns out all the particulars that the recipe should yield–original gravity, terminal gravity, color, ABV and bitterness (measured in IBUs). Our 18 lb. grain bill was to yield a beer right around 8% with the hops bringing the bitterness to 40 IBUs. Perfecto! The finished beer, to be named Rick Dazzle, is quite possibly going straight to Winter Beer Fest in Grand Rapids on February 23, so if you’re there, be sure to try it and give me your feedback (positive only, please… kidding). Rather than boring you with every little detail that happened after that (you can read my first intro to the brewing process in a previous blog), let’s continue with a picture story.

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Grinding grain. Professor Carlos says don’t pulverize it, we need to extract those sugars!

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Stirring the mash to even out the temperature for a good reading.

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Checking the temperature on the mash—looking for that magic 152-154 degrees.
Officially “mashed in.”

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Setting up to sparge: hot water on top, mash in the middle, and boil kettle on the bottom (note the sparging tool that Scott created, saving us from having to sparge by pouring hot water over a spoon).

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In the mean time… I was toasting the chile peppers in the kitchen. Guajillo peppers first, then habanero peppers. I ground them coarsely to ready them for addition into the boil.

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Frothy brew looking like a cappuccino.

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Boiling! Start timing (1 hour and 30 minutes)!

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With 60 minutes left, it was time for the first hop addition (Target for bittering).

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With 15 minutes left on the boil, I added more hops (Fuggle this time) and the ground peppers. 14 minutes later, I threw in one more hop addition—Fuggle again—for aroma. Wort: created.

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The highly sophisticated chilling method (hooray, wort chiller!)

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All cooled down to temperature, we could now transfer the wort into a clean carboy and add the yeast. There will be beer.

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All transferred and ready to go, Carlos moved the carboy to its happy place, the “fermenting closet” (formerly known as the corporate shower and later the merch closet).

Thanks for joining me on my latest brewing journey. Until next time…

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