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October 30, 2007

club brew 2007

a couple months back, jayc sent us all an email indicating that he was hoping to come and visit the toronto area sometime before christmas, likely in the october/november timeframe. he wanted to see as many people as possible while he was here, so we all started coordinating our schedules. as it turned out, the weekend of october 27/28 worked for everyone. jayw was even going to be up in toronto for a halloween party on the saturday evening. so the date was set.

we quickly started planning. my first thought was obviously brewing, since it isn't too often that jayc is around for a brew day. this would be a good time to try another "club brew".

when we did our club seasonal in october 2005, we managed to get 5/6 of the current biergotter crew out for the brew. at that time we envisioned it being a recurring event, at least a couple times a year in celebration of the seasons. in practice, it hasn't been that easy. with members in windsor, waterloo, and around the GTA it's pretty tough coordinating everybody's schedules to get together. that got even harder in the spring of 2006 when jayc moved from toronto to pennsylvania. when he visited in july 2006 he and i had a great time making a wheatwine, but it was just the two of us. his other visits hadn't involved any brewing, so it was about time.

we all started bouncing around ideas on what to brew and eventually settled on two 10gal batches: a belgian imperial stout and another stab at a rye barleywine (loosely based on the batch jayc+jayw did in sept 2005).

we also all figured it was a good excuse for a monster tasting. we've all got a bunch of good stuff in our cellars, and it was a perfect opportunity to break out a few. jayc went a little over the top, bringing back a ton of beer for the tasting and also throwing in a bottle of stone 11th anniversary for each of us. jayc, piera, and owen would have our guest room, jan spoke first for the basement couch, eric for the living room couch, and rob for some floor. tim needed to get back home so he'd have to cut things short and jayw would be heading back into the city for a halloween party.

friday evening jay, piera, and owen arrived around 6pm. we watched owen run laps around the house for a while we ordered some dinner and relaxed for a while.

once we'd all settled in and had some dinner, jay and i decided to break out a couple beers. first up was his bottle of de hemel nieuw ligt grand cru 2005. this 'barleywine with spices' was really interesting and deceptively drinkable. then i busted out one i've been hanging on to for a while, bristol xxx warlock. i'd heard it was pretty hot and a little crazy, but found that it was much more drinkable than i'd heard. we both enjoyed this one and thought it did pretty well for 18.4% abv.

saturday morning began like any other. the crew began to arrive and we started weighing out the grains and surveying the quickly growing stacks of beer in my fridge. tim arrived early, and we ran over to pick up eric from the go stop. jan arrived soon after we got back. we had just started working out in the garage when rob arrived, a little sooner than all of us expected. that left only jayw missing, but we knew he wouldn't be arriving until closer to noon.

with all the greetings, we got a bit of a late start. normally we've got things rolling by around 9:30am, but it was more like 10:30 before we got started. a little late, but not too big a deal. we had to stagger the batches a bit, so i figured that would delay things more, but nothing major. we were behind, but i didn't think we were in trouble yet...

the brew day begins with grinding the grain. eric giving the horns in support.

it was kind of a dull and crappy day to brew. initially i had the burners outside, but once it started raining i had to move them in the garage.

in the background jay and rob are talking on the left. on the right, it looks like jan is trying to describe the length of something to jenn, who is shaking her head in disbelief.

the blue bins have the grain for the belgian stout and the bucket has some of the grain for the rye barleywine.

tim's cooler tun, and a couple ounces of cascade.

rob, tim, and jay (hidden behind rob).

jan and i

eric cleaning some kegs

jan walking like an egyptian

eric and i were dumping the grain into the keggle and jan took the opportunity to start a punch fight with eric.

more of jay, rob, and tim standing around.

eric, jan, and i working on the next batch of grain.

rob, jay, and tim...more standing.

me still working, eric on a mission

our mini keggles. these little guys are 7.9gal warsteiner kegs. great for 5gal batches, more durable and easier to toss around than a regular pot.

most of the biergotter crew. rob, jan, jayc, tim, and rob. jayw hadn't arrived yet, and i was off working on something.

jan and i discussing one of the many things that was going wrong.


eric having some coffee

jan and i finishing grinding the second batch

breakfast! sausage balls, fruit, and kyoko and jenn's banana bread.

jan likes his grain

here he was showing off with his "behind the back grain pour".

eric checking temperatures and everyone else standing around. piera came out to check things out too.

grinding the grain

everyone waiting for the water to come up to temp

i've ben doubting the accuracy of our thermometer, so i had tim pick me up a new one. i was comparing the two here. there was definitely about a 4-6 degree difference between the two. about 5min later i dropped the new one on the ground...

eric doughing in

time to add the rice hulls. i've been told that they absorb a crazy amount of water, and that it's also a good idea to rinse them before use. i added about a gallon of water to them and mixed them up pretty well, then pulled them out of the water and added it to the mash. most of it i could scoop out with my hand...

...and the rest i poured through the strainer.

i started cleaning out the bucket+strainer, then jan took over for me.

me working in the rice hulls.

when the biergotter crew gets together, we do it right. almost everyone grabbed a few gems from their cellar and brought it up for our evening tasting. however, we ended up with so much stuff we figured we needed to start early if we were to have any hope of getting through it all. so shortly before 11am the glasses came out. here we see jay with the first bottle of the day, lost abbey devotion. rob was in the background checking out something on the computer and eric is out of frame but showing off some of our breakfast food.

me checking on the temp of the rye barleywine mash after doughing in. we did a protein rest on this one since it was about 30% rye.

the first bottle and the glasses all lined up and waiting.

needed to bump the temperature on this one, so i got rob to help out with stirring while jan was monitoring the temperature. that left me a few minutes to finally get a cup of coffee, but not before i got my first beer.

somewhere along the way, jayw showed up. here we see jayw, eric, jayc, and tim crowded around the computer checking out something.

fast forward a little while. the belgian stout running off in the distance, breakfast carnage and several empty bottles, and i'm about to start loading up tim's tun with the rye barleywine.

fast forward about 4 hours. all hell had broken loose. i preheated tim's tun and loaded it up with the mash from the rye barelywine. after a successful vorlauf we managed to collect about 4gallons before the runoff slowed to a trickle. by the time we got to 6 gallons it had come to a complete halt. that's when tim mentioned that his cooler tun "always does this" but it usually works eventually. unfortunately, this happened with the more "fussy" of the two beers. we waited for the runoff on the belgian stout to finish and then transferred the mash over to my cooler. while we waited we heated up some sparge water to a boil so that we could try and keep the temperature up once we transferred the rye barleywine over. i preheated the tun for a few minutes and we started transferring over the mash. the good news was it didn't really seem to be stuck or clumpy, so we thought we might be in the clear. we weren't to be so lucky.

while this was going on, jan and eric were working in the basement transferring some beer around and cleaning carboys. in the process, jan dropped one. not a big deal, and fortunately nobody got hurt. with the vorlauf nearly done i left jayw in charge of things and went inside to survey the damage. nothing major, just needed a bit of cleanup. i checked on the status of the transfers while jan cleaned up the glass. unfortunately, since we were doing 20gal, i needed 4 empty carboys and now only had three. it was still fairly early, so jenn and jan ran out to see if they could find one at a local one shop. fortunately the local vin bon who i've bought used carboys from in the past had an extra 6gal carboy around, and at the bargain price of only $12.

i went back outside to check on the status of the rye barleywine and found that jayw hadn't ever stopped the vorlauf, so we'd basically run off about 4 gallons into our vorlauf pot instead of the collection pot. to make things worse, the flow had once again slowed to a trickle. this time when i put a stick down in the mash i found that the bottom half of it was now solid as a rock. the temp had dropped too far and the rye had gummed everything up.

so then we spent another hour or two in a never ending cycle of over heating our vorlauf and water in an effort to bring the temperature of the mash back up to a reasonable temperature and hopefully 'unstick' the rye. we'd get the vorlauf going and before we even really start collecting it'd be stuck again. so we'd loosen it up, add more hot water/wort, and repeat with the same results.

in the middle of this chaos, one of my propane tanks ran out. since it seemed nobody else was willing or able to go get a refill, i hopped in the car and ran over to my local canadian tire for a refill. when i got back i switched the stout back over to the full tank and went back to work. as i was to find out hours later when the beer was going into the carboy and we strangely had nearly 12 gallons at a lower than expected gravity, apparently when i switched burners this one never got back to a boil. two different people told me this hours later, but neither bothered to say anything at the time or turn up the heat to correct the situation...

eventually we just gave up on the rye barleywine. the 7gal we had collected up to that point had a preboil gravity of 1.077 so we just threw it on the boil. it continued to defy me, not boiling off as much as usual and resulting in 6gal at 1.081 instead of 5gal at more like 1.091.

the photos above show the aftermath of the rye debacle. my cooler with the rye barleywine mash was still very full of water, so i was scooping it out with a strainer in an effort to remove most of the water, letting it drain for a minute, then bagging it. when i got down to the bottom and it was too soupy i just took it outside and added it to the tops of my hop mounds.

jayc reviewing something. i was so busy working on the brewing all day that i missed out on about 1/2 the beers and only managed to review a couple.

fast forward again. the belgian stout was already downstairs and the rye barleywine was going into the fermenter. we ended up with a full 6gal of this one, so when i got inside i transferred it into our 7gal carboy to give it some room for krausen. it stll ended up blowing off and making a mess...

bottles opened during the brewing:

lost abbey devotion (jayc)
sierra nevada harvest ale (tim)
voodoo brewery voodoo love child (jayc)
weyerbacher twelve (jayc)
weyerbacher eleven (jayc)
mcchouffe (jan)
southern tier pumpking (tim)
half pints bulldog (rob)
half pints octoberfest (rob)
molyan's hopsickle (jayc)
stone 10th anniversary (jayc)
half pints stir stick stout (rob)
iron hill old ale 2002 (jayc)
jayw's rye pale ale
brooklyn black chocolate stout 07-08 (tim)

with the crowd we had, we figured we'd keep it easy for dinner and ordered pizza. you can also see our first post-brewing beer, ommegang ommegeddon.

and guitar hero. i was still in the basement pitching yeast and cleaning up and jayc and rob busted out the guitar hero. here we see jayc and eric rocking out with some coop guitar hero ii and rob looking on.

later in the night rob was playing a little solo gh2. it was either tiredness or beer that caused him to play laying down. or maybe just showing off?

another post-brewday staple: euchre! the cards were fairly kind to me today, with eric and i winning 2 of 3 against jayc and jan. you can see me, jayc, and piera here.

and jan and eric.

and me looking especially goofy for no particular reason.

rob and jayc, and more beer.

eric and i reviewing.

jan did not enjoy the flash...

the carnage of our insane evening tasting:

ommegang ommegeddon (me)
malheur curvee royale (jan)
three floyds alpha kong (eric)
three floyds fantabulous resplendence x (eric)
half pints humulus ludicrous (rob)
general lafayette 275th anniversary (jayc)
abbaye de st bon chien 2005 (me)
lost abbey judgement day (jayc)
ommegang chocolate indulgence (jayc + jan)
nogne dark horizon 1.edition (jan)
three floyds dark lord 2007 (eric) - skipped for another day
girardin 1882 framboise (jan)

Posted by grub at October 30, 2007 9:48 PM

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Last Modified: Saturday, 30-Jun-2018 08:44:48 MST