Thursday, May 12, 2016

Martin House Riverside Shootout 2016

It's homebrew competition season!

We decided to run our newly assembled brew stand through a brew day Saturday before competition Sunday so that we wouldn't have a mess on our hands in front of the DFW homebrewing community. We brewed a slightly varied version of our Pale Ale that we originally fleshed out last summer for our friend's bachelor party (still haven't settled on a name for it!). I mainly wanted to make sure our new pump and hoses operated correctly, but the addition of a separate vessel for mashing was also on trial that day. 

So we went ahead and set up our folding blue awning in the driveway to invite any neighbors passing by to come try some beer and talk about brewing. Unbeknownst to our own damn selves, everyone thought we were participating in the neighborhood garage sale event that was happening on nearly every street in our neighborhood. People kept slowing down and stopping to come check out what we had, and here we thought, "Wow, look at all these people that want to see what we're brewing!"

While we weren't really prepared for an all out garage sale, we did have a few things we wanted to get rid of, so we slapped a few hasty signs on some bulky items we no longer had space for. We did still get a few people to come over and ask about brewing, so I still consider it a success: we managed to have a successful brew day. All systems go for Sunday! We celebrated like any good southerner should, with a massive crawfish boil at our friend Jeff's house. (Happy birthday Jeff!)

Sunday came soon enough, and we packed our car and Jeff's truck with all of our equipment needed to brew on site at Martin House. We arrived, got set up, and began mashing in with mercifully pre-heated strike water provided by the brewery. This cut a good hour or so off brew day and made cleanup a snap. The brewery also provided a good amount of the ingredients needed for brew day, including 2-row malt, several varieties of hops, and a nice fresh pitch of yeast to take home with us. The idea there is that whichever beer wins the competition should be as close as possible to the beer that will be brewed in the Pro-Am session at Martin House.

We had a relatively uneventful and efficient mash thanks to our new system, and began transferring wort over to the boil kettle to heat up to 212F. Now here is where we got a little wonky (technical term). We planned to use  Chinook hops (13% A.A.) provided by Martin House for First Wort Hopping to allow a smoother bitterness to come through in the tropical stout we were brewing. We collected our first running of wort in the brew kettle and threw our hops in at about 175F. The problem was that the wind blowing across the parking lot was playing hell with our burner flame. 

We didn't reach a boil until just over an hour later, which is an abysmally long time to have to wait for the familiar churn of 212F. Because our hops spent such a long time in the hot wort, we probably got 10-20 more IBUs than we intended, which was not ideal for the sweet stout base we needed. I adjusted the hopping schedule by pushing all of the aroma/flavor hops into the whirlpool phase, which occurs after the boil is complete.

With our nice fresh pitch of Martin House's house ale yeast, we brought our wort home to ferment. Apparently, the yeastie boys fought for their right to party, and we had ourselves a good ol' fashioned airlock blowout the next day. This is by far the most vigorous fermentation I've ever seen. The beer was LITERALLY churning with activity, pushing more and more krausen out through the clogged airlock every second. We evaded disaster by transferring some of the over-active beer into the smaller carboy (which had plenty of room) and replaced the airlock with a blowoff hose. Problem solved.

Fast forwarding to today, we've finished 2.5 weeks of primary fermentation and have split the batch into a 4-5 gallon batch for cold conditioning prior to pineappling, and the remainder is sitting in our wonderfully flavored and conditioned whiskey barrel. Once those condition for a few weeks, we'll bottle them and let them sit for a few months for competition and/or consumption in the cold weather months.

Our pre-competition pale ale turned out well, if not slightly more bitter than we'd like. We decided to dry hop this batch with Simcoe and Centennial for a nice floral and spicy aroma. We have a few ideas to up the mouthfeel and balance out the bitterness with a little more malt presence to make this one a staple beer once again. No diacetyl this time though, so I'll take it!

This weekend we'll be submitting 24 bottles of our rosemary, sage, and basil wit to Backcountry Brewing's Homebrewer Competition. We bottled a couple extras to make sure what we were submitting was the best possible version of our beer, and it definitely stands up to the fresh-out-the-keg offering! Hopefully we'll hear back on that one soon, and we just might have another Pro-Am on our hands!

As always, thanks for reading. If you or someone you know is getting into homebrewing, make sure to share us on Facebook and Instagram. Cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment