Day three of Wolf Creek Unplugged!
Today was brew day! Typically we have up to two brew days per week, seeing that our fermentor and bright tank space is limited. This week’s single brew was Surfin’ Monks. I was up at 5:45am, inhaled a mug of coffee and headed over to the brewery.
We mashed in with 850lbs of grain.
Delicious malted barley!
It was so windy this morning that we had to wedge the used bags underneath the truck tires, and they still tried to fly away on us.
Breakfast was next. Meghan, the pastry chef at Wolf Creek, has to trim the edges off of her brownies and lemon bars so they are pretty when served, and we get to reap the benefits! I make multiple trips per day to the kitchen to chow down on these. I should probably stop doing that…
We do a step mash where we slowly “step” up the temperature at different intervals then allow it to rest so the starches can convert to sugars.
After the final temperature step is hit, we begin sparging and transferring the beer over to the boil kettle.
Water is sprayed over the grain bed in order to drain all of the sugary wort from the mash tun.
While we wait for the boil kettle to finish filling with said wort, we consume more foods. Chipotle tenders with a side of asparagus! If I add asparagus, then my meal is healthy. That’s just how it works.
We came back from lunch to find a wonderfully drained mash tun and a full kettle, rapidly approaching a rolling boil.
(Relatively) dry grain bed.
At this point, Rick and I open up the mash tun and start scraping out all of the drained mash into big garbage cans so I can hop in there and scrub it out.
It’s around 92 degrees when I get in there, and I’m kneeling on 174 degree steel plates. I lose about ten pounds of sweat every brew day. It’s a very glamorous job as you can see…
After the boil is complete, we whirlpool the wort so all of the hop residue and other junk piles into a cone in the center of the kettle so we can rack off all the good stuff.
Trub! That’s the real name for “hop residue and other junk”. After I drain this, I jump in and scrub it out. Luckily, this one is a nice cool 85 degrees and I’m not kneeling on top of a hot liquor tank, so I don’t have the overwhelming urge to pass out.
Brewing is an incredibly hot job. Seriously, overheating all the time. There’s steam everywhere, all the time! The beer is then run through the heat exchanger to cool it down and oxygenated on the way into the freshly cleaned fermentor. Yeast is pitched, the lid is closed for a few weeks, then suddenly…
It was a lovely 10 hour day and now I’m relaxing with a Stone Ruination IPA and a full mug of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream. Decompressing commence.
Yesterday I awoke at 4:30am, made a gigantic mug of coffee and rolled out the door over to Enegren Brewing Company for brew day!
When I got there a few minutes after 5am, Chris and Matt were already set up, prepping for the mash in.
In order to fill one of their 6 barrel fermenters, Enegren has to brew TWICE in one day. It’s a crapload of work and makes for a long day, so I tried my best to help out in any way I could, as well as not get in the way.
And this is just the first batch.
Here’s what’s in one of those buckets that Matt’s lifting. There were five buckets of this size. TWICE, they lifted five of those to the mash tun. Macho men.
oatmeal breakfast mash! Such a heavenly aroma.
While the mash tun does have a thermometer on the side, it isn’t the most accurate way to read temperature since there can be hot pockets and uneven heating througout. Matt, Chris and Joe use a long harpoon-style thermometer to check for those hot spots and make sure their readings are accurate.
Checking the pH.
While they did the scientific stuff, I stirred in my required brewniform.
Tacky boots were a necessity – of course.
In my attempt to be helpful, and since the brewers were excessively busy with creating delicious beer, I filled these kegs with beer from Joana – the fermenter full of their California Alt beer.
So. Many. Kegs.
They showed me how to fill, and after a getting soaked by a few minor beer showers, I finally got the hang of it.
Lauter tun with a false bottom, extracting the sugary wort from the mash.
Once all the liquid is extracted, they open the door to a wall of caked grains, and try to get the bucket underneath before it spills all over the floor. They succeeded – this time.
I think I need to do more weight lifting if I’m going to be in the brewing business…
11am rolled around, so I changed out of the brewniform and stepped behind the bar with Brie to help serve the masses of craft beer lovers that stopped by.
Wave after wave of groups came in to taste, fill growlers and chat with the brewers. They stayed for a couple of hours, but I don’t think they really enjoyed themselves or liked the beer that much… The couple in the center is actually getting married soon, and Enegren will be serving their beer at the wedding! I guess they do kind of like it after all.
While brewing is a very, very serious business, there’s ALWAYS time to play Whack-a-Mole when Chris is cleaning out the mash tun.
Brie has had serious training when it comes to Whack-a-Mole.
You can never practice too much when it comes to Whack-a-Mole.
I lasted until 11pm before I decided that I wanted to survive the drive home and not fall asleep behind the wheel. The guys were getting close to finishing up the second brew, but still going strong when I left. It was a LONG, exhausting day for me – the fact that the brewers hold 9-5 jobs AND do this on the weekends astounds me. I’ll be back there as much as possible, until they kick me out. And just to end this post on a gratuitous note:
See you guys soon!
Filed under brewery, brewing