Adventures In Home Brewing, Part One

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Last July, I was driving down my street, headed to a dentist appointment. I saw a neighbor and two other relatively young men sitting in a  camp chairs around a deep fat fryer. Odd, I thought, because who fries a turkey in July. But, as I was running a tad late, I couldn’t stop to investigate. However, when I returned (cavity-less, no less) 90 minutes later, they will still there. I quickly pulled into my driveway, barely getting the car parked, and skipped down four houses to satisfy my curiosity. Indeed, no turkey…they were BREWING BEER.  My interest in beer had been growing for some time, having been thoroughly entranced by the book, The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver.

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I had even gotten my first level Cicerone certification (Certified Beer Server…I have the pin to prove it). They were just ending the afternoon’s festivities, but Ben promised he would holler over when they were to brew again. True to his word, a month later, I was sitting in Ben’s driveway waiting for the magic.

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Ben, sitting in his driveway.

I was fascinated, snapping photographs and scribbling notes in my journal, trying to remember every detail. We drank beer and even tasted some of Ben’s homemade dandelion wine.

 

 

 

I was hooked, but in a quandary as well. I started reading brewing books, but found myself stymied when it came time to purchase the necessary equipment.  The move to Louisville, CO brought us closer to our friends Chris and Carolyn. Carolyn is a skilled cheese maker and fermenter of all sorts of things and her husband was not only interested in brewing, but also had a brother who had been brewing for quite some time and would lend us advice and some used equipment. Chris ordered what we needed and then we discovered the Lafayette Homebrew Supply (George Otteni, owner, http://www.lafayettehomebrew.com/) and purchased the last of our supplies there.

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Fellow brewer, Chris. And you can tell by his pose that he leads a life of danger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had always wanted to do an ESB (Extra Special Bitter), one of my first favorite beer styles, thanks to the fine folks at Fuller’s. I even had the name…ABD ESB. An inside joke as I had left a doctoral program before finishing my dissertation, a somewhat painful consequence when, after 34 years, I decided to leave the field of education.

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I sComplete-Joyhould also mention the invaluable assistance provided by Charlie Papazian, although I have never met him. This is Charlie.  This is Charlie’s book which to this day I keep close by at all times. Of course, we have a small house, but nevertheless…

21 dog-eared pages and countless underlines…

Chris arrived at my house around 1:00 pm. We, home brewers like casual start times (at least Chris and I do). We were fidgeting around, getting everything perfect, running back to the brew store to pick up some things we had forgotten, so we didn’t actually “flame on” until 3:00 pm and transferred the 5 gallons of elixir to the fermenter at 6:00 pm. It would stay in the fermenter for two weeks and then finish in the bottle for another week or so.

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Leap forward in time to May 2nd, 2014 and we have only one bottle remaining of that very first brew. Our friends and relatives are surprised by how good it tastes.

Much has happened as we have picked up neighbors and friends. Yesterday we bottled our fourth brew, a double IPA and completed our fifth brew, a Russian Imperial Stout, and are planning the move from extract and steeping grains to all grain brewing. Much more to reflect on in the coming weeks.

2018

The other guy…

Cheers,

Scott

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits

Relax https://www.mibrewsupply.com/info/homebrewing/relax-dont-worry-have-a-home-brew/

Brewmaster’s Table http://allthingsbeverage.com/the-brewmasters-table-by-garrett-oliver/

Garrett Oliver http://www.centralmarket.com/Blog/Posts/September-2013/Get-Schooled-By-Garrett-Oliver-for-Brewniversity

Charlie Papazian http://www.lootcorp.com/tag/charlie-papazian/

Joy Of Homebrewing http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/03/homebrewing-books-the-complete-joy-of-homebrewing-charlie-papazian.html

Stop Three In The Beer-muda Triangle- Gravity Brewing

To review…

Stop One. http://beeredland.com/2014/02/28/the-beer-muda-triangle-first-stop-twelve-degree-brewing/

Stop Two. http://beeredland.com/2014/03/20/stop-two-in-the-beer-muda-triangle-crystal-springs-brewing/

An unsuspecting reader may have detected a whiny note in the Stop Two post concerning my rejected application at Crystal Springs. Upon further reflection, I was actually rejected by all three microbreweries during our first weeks living in Louisville. I contacted Jon at 12 Degree through Facebook, talked with Tom at Crystal Springs, and slipped a resume through the door at Gravity. I guess serving beer is not in my immediate future, however I was quickly picked up by Whole Foods and LOVE working there.

Back to Gravity Brewing. NOTE…the place is a little hard to find even though it is only a 5 minute WALK from 12 Degree. Part of my confusion was due to the sign on Pine Street.

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As you can see from the Google satellite imagebelow, Gravity Brewing is located in the building behind Mountain High Appliance and shares space with the Walter Rhoades American Legion Post 111. You actually have to drive further south to find Gravity.

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The owner of the fronting building was kind enough to allow the Gravity folks to put their name on the sign. Typical of me, the first time I tried to find the place I walked all the way around with my eyes so focused on the front building that I never glanced toward the south. I got back to my car, muttering, checked my map on the phone and set out one more time. Eureka!

It just so happened that on my visit the head brewer, Julius Hummer, was finishing up some tasks before heading out to his birthday celebration. Julius is the son of David Hummer, co-founder of the Boulder Brewery, and has brewed beer all around the world. 2035

Wanting to return to Colorado, a serendipitous connection was made with John Frazee and Ryan Bowers who happened to be looking for a master brewer. After some searching for an available space, Gravity brewing opened in September, 2012.

Walking through the doors, I got the feeling that I was a part of the brewery operation, with fermenters, barrels, bags of malt and hops in plain view. Very inviting atmosphere to have a brew or two, especially with a ping pong table and a pool table. Lots of open space to move around. Fortunate if you happen to be a fairly mediocre ping pong player.

 

 

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The brews were inviting as well. Pictured from left to right are- Tsar Bomba Russian Imperial Stout, Ebb and Flow Double Red Rye, Newtonian ESB, Mendacious Belgian Golden Strong, Louisville Belgian Dubbel.

Mendacious Belgian Golden Strong Ale, 6.5% ABV, 25 IBU’s. This beer screams “nectar of the gods in summertime”. Definite bu not overpowering fruity esters, banana. Low carbonation, cleansing aftertaste leaves you always ready for another sip. Pair with a fruit tart.

Newtonian ESB, 5.7% ABV, 35 IBU’s. ESB, Extra Special Bitter) was really my first favorite kind of beer. Medium body, honey-colored, subtle malt sweetness with just a hint of orange. Nice lacing in the glass and a subtle hops kick on the back end. I could pretty much drink this from dawn to dusk.

Ebb and Flow Double Red Rye, 9.0% ABV, 70 IBU’s. Definite grain on the nose, hint of sweetness, coupled with an earthier taste, strong hops on the back end. Pair with smoked gouda and almost anything on the grill.

Louisville Belgian Abbey Dubbel, 6.5%, 25 IBU’s. Copper-colored, light to medium malt sweetness (another touch of banana, clove?). I had an interesting palate reaction with the fruit overlaying the hop bitterness with the fruit slowly decreasing and the hop increasing, although sensing both throughout.

Tsar Bomba Russian Imperial Stout, 10% ABV, 60 IBU’s. I am biased here. Wait…I’m always biased when it comes to good beer. But I do love stouts!!! Tan head, typical roast smell and something sweeter. Slightly sweet on the palate which balances the roast. Medium body which I found refreshingly surprising. This would be a good introduction for folks that say they don’t like stouts. Simple and straightforward.

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It was a cool Friday in early April, but the Beer Garden out back looks like a lovely time to spend part of an evening.

 

 

 

Gravity Brewing has several other fine brews, but I have learned that five tastings is just right for me. Check out the website at http://thegravitybrewing.com/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GravityBrewing

In Other News…

BBSometime in mid-July, we will be going on a leisurely 11 mile bike ride. Beginning in downtown Louisville, we will be visiting and socializing at 6 local microbreweries, 3 in Louisville and 3 in neighboring Lafayette. Feel free to join us for a stop or two or the entire circuit. On the map, Stop G is actually the starting point at 12 Degree, but we will actually complete our taste tour there.