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October 19, 2007


as our most junior member (both in age and brewing experience) jan always has many questions on brew day. i'm always happy to take time to answer questions, but brew days can be pretty busy making this difficult. i'm usually the most experienced brewer on hand, and as a result i'm usually running the show and busy coordinating everything. throw in the usual few guests on hand and things can get a little crazy...

so jan asked me about doing a brew day, just the two of us, so that he could ask as many questions as he wanted and get more familiar with all aspects of the process. i suggested an even better idea: a solo brew day. the recipe and the entire brewing process would be his responsibility, with me there to answer questions along the way and point him in the right direction if he got off track. brewing is one of those things where you can read as many books as you like, watch brew days, and ask lots of questions, but you never really get into it until you try to brew. jan agreed and we picked a date.

his first suggestion was to brew an orval clone. it's one of his favourite brews, so he was pretty excited about that idea. i loaned him my copy of brew like a monk to learn more about the trappist brews. the book also contains an award winning orval clone recipe called laVal Abbey Special by Dan Morey. this recipe uses white labs wlp510 and is rumored to be the primary fermentation strain direct from the brewery. unfortunately, this yeast is part of the "platinum strain" series and only available in november+december. knowing that jan wanted to get as close to the original, i suggested that he wait until we can get this strain before attempting the orval clone. he agreed, and we shelved that idea.

once orval was off the table, we started talking about other ideas. jan immediately came up with the idea for the "black kate moss", inspired by a kanye west song. he pictured something fairly big and malty, with lots of chocolate, and maybe something fruity and sweet like port involved. i suggested that he could brew a sweeter porter and age it in secondary with some cocoa nibs and oak cubes soaked in port. maybe some oats for that silky smooth mouthfeel and lots of head retention. jan came up with a pretty solid recipe, and after a little tweaking the PORTer-OHHH (aka) black kate moss was born.

eric, not wanting to be left out, also volunteered to do a solo brew of his own. he's been tossing around a few recipe ideas for a while and decided to go with his Breakfast Brown Ale, an imperial brown ale that'll get coffee and cocoa nibs in secondary. to add a little more excitement, he's going to age a gallon on straight oak cubes and another gallon on bourbon soaked oak cubes.

i spent most of the day sitting around, occasionally reminding the boys when they had something they should be doing, and answering questions along the way. a pretty easy brew day for me!

and now for some photos!

the grain for both batches: jan's porter on the left and eric's brown on the right.

brown ale after crushing.

ths was about the most work i did all day, helping the boys get their grain crushed. here i'm talking with jan while we load his into the mill.

jan working on something on the brew table and me standing around.

eric hitting the food.

more of me standing around.

jan working on a chocolate croissant and discussing the crush of his grain.

our solo brewers for the day: eric in the foreground and jan in back.

mmmmm, croissants.

more shots of eric's grain waiting for dough in.

and jan's too.

jan hadn't yet read the commentary i added to a previous brewday writeup. we got a good laugh out of it.

eric checking on their strike water. since they were both aiming for the same sac rest temp and had basically the same dough in temp they just did one big batch of water and split it between them.

this temperature checking stuff is hard work. just look at him slaving over that keggle.

more standing around, and jan posing in the background.

fast forward a couple hours. both beers have been sparged and are approaching a boil. jan's porter in the background and eric's brown in the foreground, with our scum skimming pot in front. you can also see my high tech wind screen in action.

jan skimming and looking angry. apparently he doesn't like skimming. his beer will though!

more hard manual labour for me. here i was weighing out some hops.

eric and i discussing the hopping for his recipe and running some numbers in promash.

jan keeping an eye on things.

eric doing one of his hop additions.

jan also talking hops.

i think this was the part where i said "hey jan, do you have the 2oz cascade addition that you were supposed to add 5 minutes ago ready?" he didn't. he also couldn't find the cascades in the freezer (the ink on the bag is fairly worn), so i had to go find them. as it turned out, the 2.3oz left in the bag was just the right amount for his now 45min addition to give the same IBUs as 2oz would have at 60min.

on to some tasting!

jan working on reviewing something. we had a bunch of great stuff on hand: sierra nevada 2007 harvest ale, three floyds brian boru old irish red, surlyfest (which jenn brought back from a recent trip to MN), and stone 2007 old guardian.

jan was clearly excited about something...

...and i think it was football. this is just after he ran out to his car to put on his jersey. try not to look directly at it.

here he is adding 1oz of my homegrown cascade hops.

mmmm. looks delicious.

jan showing off the 2007 old guardian in my old guardian glass. he was pretty excited about it.

he was pretty excited adding his liberty hops too.

time for dinner, featuring a growler of stone arrogant bastard that jan picked up for me on a recent stop at consumer's beverage in buffalo. thanks jan!

jan and eric brought over some assorted cheese, so jenn put together this spread to go with dinner.

jenn's spagetti and meatballs. delicious!

Posted by grub at October 19, 2007 2:19 PM

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