Snow days and kegged IPA

kettles

Test Batch #3, English IPA is carbonating and will be unveiled in a week or so. I was very happy with the flavor and dryness. I am guessing that everybody will want it to be more hoppy. Hopheads abound in the craft beer world. Therefore, I’m looking into using my mash-tun as a hopback, and also wanting to construct a Randle that will zap my beer with more hop aroma on the way to the glass. This batch tasted nice and dry, though. I’m a big fan of the yeast used, a British Ale yeast that has a mild fruitiness and a mineraliness.

snowstorm

Tuesday marked the second blizzard in a week here in beautiful KC. My crazy uncle used to say, “Take that, global warming alarmists” anytime a cold weather event swept in. Cindy and I decided to spend the night in the back of the restaurant. My recent decision to stay open during weather apocalypses has painted me into a corner. Now I feel that I would let people down if I closed for anything. Thus, we circumvented the drive home and slept in the adjoining theater. At least, Cindy did.

kettles2

I was milling grain by midnight, in some misguided attempt to get all my brewery work done in one day or less. I struck the mash at 1:00am with hot water, and by then, I was stuck staying up all night. Another wild late night brew session!

My plan is to have a hoppy Irish Ale out by St. Patrick’s day. I’m not a fan of rushing beers, but ales are taking me 2-3 weeks to condition with my ambient temperature, so I’ll be fine. A mix of Bohemian, German, and English malts will give me a rich, hearty flavor that should pair well with the Crystal, Strisselspalt, and Sterling hops.

Obviously, Irish Ale is not a hoppy beer. They do have a slightly hoppier flavor and bitterness than Scottish ales or British milds. However, it is an interesting style for many reasons. I had a bit of trouble researching it, as most brew books skip over Irish altogether. I needed to go back to an old standby, written by a Mr. Papazian, for a refresher course. He refers to what I think is a hallmark of the style, “…the subtle and evident candylike caramel sweetness-almost like freshly baked cookies” (Papazian 137). My interpretation is the flavor of sugar cookies. It is a flavor compound called a melanoidin, formed by the Maillard reaction that most people know as caramelization.

How to form melanoidins, you ask? The best way is to perform a decoction mash technique, a labor intensive process that to my knowledge, few commercial breweries perform. It is the only way to give Munich beers and Bohemian Pilsners that extra “oomph” of maltiness. If you are a brewer, I highly recommend you to try this technique, but put aside an entire day to do so. You can develop nearly any flavor you desire with this process. Then boast about it to all your brew-buddies, they will be impressed.

Other ways to develop these flavors? You can actually purchase melanoidin malt, or make your own, which is what I did. I simply toasted barley on a baking sheet in an oven at 350*F. This is a process that needs some refinement, however I ended up with a nice toasted barley flavor.

mewithbeer

After a long day, night, and morning of work, I channeled my frustrations into building a creepy snowman while drinking beer on my patio. My snowman was an interpretation of smoking and the impact of this habit to their bodies. The name? “Smokers Welcome”.

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard=perfect snow beer.

curtis

Curtis had me beat, though. He made an intricate snow dragon. It gave me a great idea for our next snowstorm: snowman contest!

curtis2

After working hard it is an amazing feeling to be passing the torch off to somebody else for a few hours. Curtis really helped out the last two snow days, not to mention everyone else that chipped in: Alice, Elissa, Noah, Hilliary, and Cory (OK, I mentioned them). I’m fortunate to have a great supporting cast that gets this place where it needs to go. I feel like we’re all helping each other, although the infinite complexities of it all can drive a man mad.

Getting a brewery going has turned into a lot of crazy things that I couldn’t have anticipated. In the end, in everything we do, it comes down to people. Specifically, how your relationships develop and how you treat them. I am still amazed at some of the brewery owners I’ve met, how they’ve been so nice and down to earth, easy to get along with. Maybe it is just a coincidence, or maybe there is something to that. Then again, most restaurant owners are stressed-out, tired, and overworked.

Hmmm, must be the availability of beer.

 

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